Coco

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

It would be easy, all too easy, to dismiss this flick as a politically-correct attempt by a major motion picture studio to cater to the Hispanic demographic. I was apprehensive, myself. But my doubts were quickly swept away, as the movie hit all of my right buttons: a paean to family, honesty, love, and courage. Which still crosses ethnic lines.

It's also gorgeous to watch.

The hero is not Coco. Took me a few minutes to get that straight in my head. It's Miguel. He's a young boy with big dreams in a big family. Unfortunately, his big dreams do not involve the family business, which is shoes. He wants to be a musician, like his hero, the late Ernesto de la Cruz, a movie star/crooner.

Miguel's problems also involve the Day of the Dead, the Mexican holiday where everyone's passed-away ancestors are officially remembered. Due to some supernatural mixup, Miguel is transported to the Land of the Dead, where everyone's a skeleton except him. He gets to know his non-living ancestors. But—hey, just maybe—he can meet up with de la Cruz and get his blessing…

One amazing thing about this movie is its consistent rules about the interactions between the real world and the dead world. Yes, once you buy the premise, and why shouldn't you, it all makes a certain amount of wonderful sense.

Small hint/spoiler: as is common in Pixar movies, the villain is… I can say no more.

Also, I liked the doggie. Pay attention to the doggie. More there than meets the eye.

My Local Paper Lies

[Newspaper Fail]

A page 3 article in the Sunday, April 21 edition of my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, caught my eye: "UNH task force pushes for more inclusive campus". The news hook is the release of the long-awaited Final Report of the "Presidential Task Force on Campus Climate". Which you can read, if you like, here. It is the crowning achievement of the task force, set up last year to mollify dedicated campus activists. People familiar with academia will recognize the report's word-salad muddle, filled with euphemism, obfuscation, and general fog.

But I wanted to point out a few paragraphs from the Foster's story, which is also dreadful:

UNH senior Gabrielle Greaves, BSU co-chair and task force member, said Friday the task force’s almost 40 members have spent months creating recommendations aimed at growing a campus where a diverse student body and faculty is welcome and safety is a mission for all persons of color.

Now look at that last phrase: "where … safety is a mission for all persons of color." Does that even make sense? Is "safety" reasonably described as a "mission"? And is it correct to say that only "persons of color" are on that mission?

No, of course not. This is the mark of someone typing boilerplate phraseology, without really paying much attention to what the words mean.

However, she said the 61-page report and many diversity training events this school year were developed in response to racial incidents after Cinco de Mayo last spring, yet students of color are already unnerved as they have begun to see sombreros on campus. A student of color last year posted a video of her interview with a student wearing a sombrero and this sparked increased violence and threats on social media, which resulted in a sit-in and march and the creation of 16 student demands.

Yes, we are "unnerved". The sombreros are sprouting even before the tulips and crocuses!

But what really bugs me is categorizing that infamous video as an "interview". You can read a contemporaneous, sympathetic article about the incident at The Tab: Video shows sophomore taking on a white student for wearing a poncho on Cinco de Mayo. Note: "taking on", not "interviewing". You can also see a short excerpt of the video, made by the "student of color", Danique Montique. (You'll also notice another signal of Foster's sloppiness: the student is being berated for wearing a poncho, not a sombrero.)

Or you can read the (definitely unsympathetic) coverage at Campus Reform: White student accosted for wearing serape on Cinco de Mayo. Samples:

One of the student’s companions attempted to explain that they were simply “celebrating” the holiday, but was interrupted by Montique, who shouted, “celebrating what?” and “it’s not your holiday!”

This prompted another student to ask which holiday would be appropriate for him and his friends to celebrate, but the query was only met with another lecture about Cinco de Mayo.

“That’s stuff for you white people to figure out. I don’t fucking know! Cinco de Mayo is not your holiday,” she again declared. “You’re perpetuating the stereotype that Mexicans drink and wear ponchos for a living. That’s what you’re doing, and you also have to keep in mind the racial tension that’s happening right now where your president claims that Mexicans only come here, drink, and steal your jobs.”

[…]

Michael then attempted to suggest that his interlocutors were making “too big a deal out of it,” but they quickly dismissed his attempts to settle the dispute, saying “that’s how you feel because you’re not a part of the culture.”

“This stuff actually affects people’s lives, and I don’t think you understand that,” Montique carried on. “You’re perpetuating the stereotype, Michael. It’s not just about you wearing it. It’s about you as a man—a white man, who has the most privilege in this whole fucking country—knowing what’s happening in this country right now.”

Can this be fairly categorized as an "interview"? Only by someone attempting to downplay the aggression and hostility displayed by the "student of color".


Last Modified 2018-04-24 6:22 AM EST