Friday, November 1, 2019

Role models in Disney's Coco

I loved Disney's Coco. I enjoyed the vibrant colors and the uplifting story about family. Perhaps most of all, I love the soundtrack. I don't always listen to mariachi music, but it can be really fun. (There will be spoilers. We're past the statute of limitations on this one. You've been warned.)

It's now on my playlist that has basically everything on it and it comes up occasionally. The thought has struck me over and over that the characters are woven into the music. Take, for example, the contrast between Ernesto de la Cruz and Héctor Rivera. Héctor was the one who wrote all of the songs, but eventually wanted to return to his family. De la Cruz, in contrast, only cared about being successful. We eventually learn that de la Cruz killed his friend for the songs he had written.

Even the way they sing shows what they care about. It's noticeable in just the audio and virtually impossible to miss in the video. I'll show them in Spanish for two reasons: first, because they're better in Spanish; second, because my readers who don't understand it can focus on just the music and such. You don't need the words to see what they care about.

First, let's look at Ernesto de la Cruz in La Llorona. His ex-partner's wife is accidentally on stage and he wants the picture in her hand so he can silence Héctor by killing him again. Startled, she makes the best of it and is giving a terrific performance. But de la Cruz has other plans and he inserts himself into her song and chases her across the stage, grabbing the picture of her husband from her hand in plain sight of an enormous crowd.

In fact, the same thing happens with a movie playing in the background when Miguel sings El Mundo es mi Familia:

In contrast, Héctor only even enters the stage during Poco Loco when forced on stage by the dog who turns out to be a spirit guide. Although he is a seasoned performer and could easily have upstaged Miguel, he's there as a guide and seems intent on building Miguel up.

The only other times we see Héctor sing in the movie are when he's serving people; on one occasion, he comforts a dying friend. On another, he sings for his daughter before leaving for work:

Every one of us has talents and opportunities. We can use them to serve other people or we can use them for self aggrandizement. (Being on center stage does not mean we're being selfish, but it's healthy to ask why we want to be there.) We can use them to enable other people to act or to have our way with people.

It's worth taking a moment to ask ourselves about how we treat others. In what ways do we act like Ernesto? Like Héctor? How would we like to act and how can we change to better align ourselves with that ideal?

This post was inspired by a project a friend of mine created a few years ago: Pop Culture Parables. You might enjoy some of what's there if you liked this.