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Hispanic Heritage Month: How Disney Pixar’s Coco Explores Cultural Pride

By Skylar DeNoyer, BSW Intern

September 15th-October 15th is Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a period of time where we recognize the contributions and influences of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.

One way to celebrate this month is to look at the way the Hispanic culture is displayed in the media.

Disney Pixar’s Coco (2017) is a wonderful depiction of the culture of the Hispanic community.

It displays a sense of humanity in every character on screen and provides children with a beautiful aesthetic to understand the importance of cultural competency and pride.

Coco follows Miguel, a young boy who aspires to become a musician despite his familial disdain and ban on music.

Our children follow Miguel on screen through his journey to the truth about his family’s history.

The movie also does a wonderful job teaching us about the Día de los Muertos celebration and the significance it has in the Hispanic culture.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is associated with the Catholic celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Families gather on November 1st and 2nd to pray for and remember the lives of friends and family that have passed on.

It often includes beautiful artwork, flowers, music, and traditional Hispanic food dishes.

To the Hispanic culture, their dead are not necessarily mourned, but celebrated.

The colors, music, and dialogue in the movie Coco are attention grabbing and beautiful, just as are many of the Hispanic celebrations and traditions.

All the while, the movie emphasizes that being yourself is okay.

One quote from the movie that warms my heart up is Miguel saying:

“The rest of the world may follow the rules, but I must follow my heart.”

At the end of the day, Coco circles back to the idea that it is okay to express individuality.

However, remembering where you come from will always help set your path to success.

Cultural factors also relate to mental health, often determining the level of support that an individual may receive from their family and community.

For many, loving and engaging in their culture brings them happiness.

Others may struggle with their cultural identity and how to accept it if they feel it hinders them from being who they truly are.

If there is a disconnect between an individual and their culture, they may struggle with self-identity and resent their culture for not receiving support or approval.

In the case of Coco’s Miguel, he felt that his culture and his family were preventing him from doing what his heart was set on—music.

When our children view movies such as Coco, there is a hope that they will gain a sense of personal pride in who they are.

Not only this, but our children are being shown that the Hispanic culture is full of incredible gifts to the world.

As a practice that includes bilingual clinicians, Graceful Therapy takes pride in supporting those of various populations.

If you or your loved one would benefit from therapy, please give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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