Disney’s Encanto isn’t just about representation — it’s an act of defiance – Polygon

If the questions I repeatedly answered on beginning dates while living in Los Angeles were any indication, Americans tend to think of Colombia as a crimson, drug-ridden failed state, half-slum and half-jungle, which besides happens to be the source of their coffee and Sofía Vergara. But who can blame them ? They largely learned about Colombia from movies and television, and there international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate a lot room for nuance in the exoticism of 1984 ’ s Romancing the Stone, the trust violence of Netflix ’ s Narcos series, or Gloria ’ s humorous otherness in ABC ’ s situation comedy Modern Family .
so when Disney announced Encanto, a new inspire feature of speech that takes stead in my home country of Colombia, it was true arouse and validate .
This agitation had its caveats. Disney has a complicate history of depicting non-European cultures. even beyond the clear cases of “ This film was made in a different earned run average, ” such as the portrait of Native-Americans in 1953 ’ mho Peter Pan or the soften racism of 1995 ’ south Pocahontas, Disney creators hush struggle with clichéd depictions of people of color, which intelligibly come under endless examination in today ’ second more race-conscious environment .
Disney ’ s first Black supporter, The Princess and the Frog ’ mho Tiana, was introduced in 2009. While she herself has become a popular calculate, her movie took immediate fire for its handling of race. A few years late, Moana was by and large well-received, but suffered its own criticisms from Pacific Islander communities. still, it marked a clear turning point in the way the studio handled its colored characters and settings. Moana found its heart in the amalgam of cultures it was portraying. Its nods to polynesian culture aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate good set-dressing, they ’ ra keystone components of her fib and its themes.

Enter Encanto, which isn ’ thymine just set in a medley of alike cultures, like Disney ’ s Latine-inspired display Elena of Avalor. Encanto writer-directors Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith wanted to explicitly set their floor in the very substantial country of Colombia. Their company ’ second late track read of representation was surely a good signal, but Hollywood ’ s history of portraying Colombia was argue adequate for doubts. These concerns all found a invest amid the collective colombian agitation as Encanto ’ s opening nox approached, but for me, at least, they disappeared a few minutes into the movie ’ mho prologue. Once we learn that the cardinal family, the Madrigals, like millions of substantial Colombians, have been displaced from their home by that abstract, omnipresent force we tend to just call The violence, it seemed apparent that Bush, Howard, and Smith weren ’ metric ton just coming from a place of understanding, it was besides a put of sexual love .

The Madrigal family in Encanto

Encanto tells the history of Mirabel Madrigal, who was born into a charming class where everyone has a limited endowment except her. One of her sisters is super-strong, another can produce flowers out of nowhere, her ma can cure any ailment with her food, and so forth. But Mirabel was never given a special gift, and her lack of powers is a regular beginning of tension between her and her Abuela .
These gifts aren ’ metric ton natural. They are given to the family by a charming candle the Madrigals call “ our miracle, ” a coerce that saved Abuela and her three kids when she was young when they were forced to flee their hometown. As The Violence caught up with them, killing their Abuelo, the candle gave the outlive Madrigals a home : a charming house that became a reservoir of recourse, quilt, and the subsequent generations ’ particular gifts .
The movie follows Mirabel as she sees that the house, their Casita, is starting to crack at the foundations, which her Abuela adamantly denies in an feat to maintain holy order. It ’ s up to Mirabel, the least special Madrigal, to find out what ’ sulfur endangering their miracle and to protect the home plate that has protected her family all these years .
That quest to save her beloved sign of the zodiac makes Encanto not just a report set in Colombia, but about Colombia adenine well. There ’ sulfur nothing more colombian than the desire to find a home in an inherently break country .
Colombia ’ s problems are so intrinsic that being mindful of them from birth about seems necessary to feel colombian at all. The genocidal seduction by Spain, a well as the subsequent decade-long independence process, set the stage for a identical messy 200 years of history. Nine civil wars between liberals and conservatives during the nineteenth hundred resulted in an insolvable national schism where the only lap between the two sides was the exploitation and judgment of dismissal of a largely racialized rural underclass. Class tensions steadily grew until the global second coming of Communism gave birth to leftist guerrilla war, spawning fascist militias across the area in response. In this arm conflict, both sides finally gave up ideology in privilege of the blood-stained profits of drug traffic .
This is a very brief and even generous summary of our national history, but it ’ s hush more detailed than the picture the First World tends to have of us. It makes smell, though, that as this fierce environment became permeant, most of the media made about us focused entirely on that. The Violence, after all, stains about every colombian family. This focus on the nation ’ s tensions happens in Colombian-made media besides, as exemplified by the “ narco-novelas ” that clutter our networks. We have come to believe that this is all we get : an echo chamber of drugs, massacres, kidnappings, deaf politicians, and a population that lacks memory, but hush bears its baggage .
The colombian Cultural Trust — a collection of consultants from a wide kind of fields, brought in to ensure the film ’ s authenticity — may have spoken to the writer-directors about this trouble. Disney ’ s movie about our country couldn ’ t overtly include our crimson past and give. But at some point, they decided not to ignore it, either. Disney ’ s colombian movie centers on finding a place free of that natural distress : a place its people can safely call home.


the magical madrigal house with mirabel standing in front of it

so how fantastic, truly, that we get to indulge in the fun, the color, the gladden of Encanto when so much of the media about ourselves is focused on these evil cycles of ferocity that we ’ re trapped in. What a miracle that we inactive, after all this time, have such beautiful things for Disney to portray, from singular musical stylings to delicious food and a rich storytelling custom. good as the Madrigals discovered, it ’ s a miracle that we can still share these gifts at all .
“ Representation matters ” has become a cliché, specially since representation only superficially addresses the larger cultural problems of Hollywood media. however, there ’ s no deny that there is office in seeing your own global elevated to the ranks of iconic fairytales and inspire blockbusters .
The cultural Trust helped Encanto leave behind caricature and stereotypes to create something that rings true to its subjects. This approach, first implemented with the Oceanic Story Trust in the production of Moana, is proving to be a step in the right direction for Disney when it comes to telling stories outside of the European bubble .
Is this the product of a multi-billion-dollar corporation that ’ south coming to understand what good business it is to appeal to increasingly diverse markets ? Of course, but that doesn ’ t prevent the smaller players within this organization from approaching a personal project with love. They set out to create something that would resonate with people around the world — but besides specifically with Colombians, knowing that we don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate always get to feel that way. And if initial reactions here in Colombia are any indication, the film is resonating. not because of cynical corporate decisions, but because the artists behind the movie cared .
But this is about a fortune more than good representation. The happiness portrayed in Encanto international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine just escape, it ’ s defiance. It ’ randomness about challenging that notion that we Colombians have to be miserable everlastingly .
After arguing throughout the hale movie about how to save the house and who ’ s to blame for its impend destruction, the Madrigals ultimately have to accept that their miracle wasn ’ t the charming house, or their charming gifts. In fact, the miracle is that after all these years, the family has somehow figured out how to thrive in the confront of calamity. The magic gave them their Casita, certain, but they were the ones to create love, beauty, and community in it. A broken history got them there, but it ’ s a miracle that they ’ re inactive there regardless. And at the end of the sidereal day, that ’ mho worth a draw .
In the process of deeply rooting the film in colombian culture, whether through Lin-Manuel Miranda ’ s well-researched music that spans all sorts of regional genres or the unique cast of characters meant to encompass a eldritch and disparate nation, Encanto celebrates the diversity of Colombia, the happiness to be found in its art, its nature, its heritage, and, more than anything, its people .
possibly the most tattle detail is the consider choice to not give The Violence a face. If the brief history moral above is any reading, this force that displaced the Madrigals could have been anything from militia to warlords. certain, Disney was probably avoiding details because they ’ d be besides graphic or complicated for young viewers ( or, more cynically, because they might be taken as a political statement ). But I choose to see it differently.

In Encanto, unlike all other american depictions of Colombia, there ’ s no room for The Violence or its perpetrators. The focus is on the survivors. It ’ mho about the miracle of thriving when you seem about cosmically predisposed to suffer ad infinitum. Because that ’ s what Colombia is : a nation of people trying their best to thrive in cattiness of themselves .
We ’ re a nation of Mirabels, all struggling to figure out how to fix these evils that seem like our birthright. Like Mirabel ’ s prognosticating Uncle Bruno, we ’ re overwhelmed with an undeniably desperate future. Like Abuela, we sometimes fight to pretend these threats aren ’ metric ton there, because we can ’ triiodothyronine bear the idea of facing them again. Like the Madrigals, we ’ rhenium each trying to deal with all this alone — and recognize, possibly through projects like Encanto, that possibly we don ’ t have to .
Encanto is in theaters and now streaming on Disney Plus .

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