This Disney Dia de Los Muertos situation touches something deep, strikes that delicate and high decibel chord of the indignad@ in us. As one who, before I even understood anything about death, was taught to honor his grandmothers on Dia de Los Muertos, even the attempt by Disney to “trademark” this tradition passed on over the (non-Western) ages feels barbaric on imperial steroids. And as one who still goes through personal Dia deLos Muertos rituals, attends events and celebrations to honor family and loved ones- friends robbed of precious life by AIDs, compañer@s destroyed by war, homies annihilated by senseless violence and family embraced by nature- I really am really, deeply, offended by what Disney is doing. Profoundly so. And I am not alone.
This trademarking of Dia de Los Muertos raises many questions for many, many people. Makes one wonder what Disney & the rest of corporate “America” that brought you “Drinko de Mayo” will do for Dia de Los Muertos.What’s next? “Dia de Los Nachos”? “Tequila Party de Muertos”? “Mucho Macho Muertos Power Drink”?
Regardless of the profit-driven inanities to come, one thing is certain: cultural matters matter; They mean much to many of us in more and more places, especially in Mexico and Centromamerica, where this tradition has been part of the fabric of our consciousness for thousands of years and for millions of families. Also means much in a “majority-minority” United States on the verge of a Latino breakdown.
I, for one, confess to having some sublimely strange feeling come over me around Dia de Los Muertos. There’s something in knowing and sharing with others who live with and celebrate and feel their loved ones lost as you do. Something. This something comes from América and is swallowing “America”; It is the spiritual reason this war-crazed country is deploying Disney, one of its most powerful cultural drones, to destroy that which it fears like it fears immigrants, to commodify that which defines the the immigrant and their descendant’s ferocious espirit de corps as much as fighting for their children’s future does: fighting to defend their dead, their past, their cultura.
There’s nothing in Christmas, in Thanksgiving or any of the zombified, corporate excuses the United States props up as the center of “family” and “culture” to match Dia de Los Muertos. Nada.
If Disney wants to eat up our traditions, wash it down with the blood of our ancestors and stuff itself in money made off of our cultura, then let us show this zombie of dead culture what a living, breathing and vibrant tradition looks and feels like…
I think people-and I- rightly, even righteously perceive Disney as a threat to one of our few cultural flowers that still blossoms in air that is still mostly free from the disease of commodification. In response, many of us choose to try and prevent these very real, very dangerous attempts to kill even those last, truly free things in the spirit world some of us choose to inhabit and honor. That’s a little of what I think is underneath this latest Disney attempt to kill our culture, a little about why it’s important to fight it as if fighting to defend the living among us.