From the Right



'Coco' proves Latinos are best at telling their own stories

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

And no one played a housekeeper or a gang-banger? What kind of crazy movie is this?

"It was never even a choice. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to have an all-Latino cast," Unkrich said in an interview. "From the moment we conceived this idea, we wanted a film that wouldn't have any cliches or stereotypes and that would be as respectful as possible."

Latinos love a good paradox. And so my compadres managed to make a fun film about, of all things, death.

I'm not surprised. For Latinos, death is not this sad and dark ending. It's just a curve in the road on a journey into the afterlife. We take comfort in our belief that, one day, we'll all be seated again at our abuela's table savoring her chile colorado and homemade tortillas.

For years, Latinos tried to tell Hollywood the first step to courting us as customers was to respect us as human beings. People have to be able to tell their own stories in their own way. Alas -- on diversity issues, as with sexual harassment and pay inequity for women -- Tinseltown has a tin ear.

Hollywood only respects the color green. Hopefully, entertainment executives will look at the box-office success of "Coco" and get the message. Maybe other studios will push through those Latino projects that have been stuck in development since California was part of Mexico.

And as long as we're doling out messages, Bratt has a strong one for his fellow Americans. The 53-year-old actor -- who was born in San Francisco to a Peruvian Quechua mother and white father -- has been doing television and films for three decades.

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"What I'm really excited about is that although the story takes place in Mexico, [it's] also on some level representative of Latino culture in general and American Latino culture, which you recognize is as American as anything else," Bratt told a reporter. "Latino culture is as American as apple pie. As American as chips and salsa. So the film celebrates that fact on some level."

Bravo. That sentiment alone is worth the price of admission.

You had better believe that, somewhere on the other side, as dinner simmers on the stove, our abuelas are beaming with pride.


Ruben Navarrette's email address is His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group



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