Greetings & salutations, dear comrades!
While I keep most opinions to myself and don’t remark too often on current events, my Facebook feed & various other social media spots have been blowing up this week with outrage against Disney and their attempt to trademark "Dia de los Muertos" due to an upcoming film they're apparently working on with Pixar. Friends & family sent me links to articles and petitions to stop it. Generally, everyone is pissed off.
If you have no idea what I’m referring to check out this article: Disney withdraws trademark filing for "Dia de los Muertos"
You see me, you see my work. I'm 100% Latina (half Mexican, half Costa Rican, if you wanna split hairs) and currently make my ENTIRE LIVING off my art - Dia de los Muertos inspired and otherwise. I've celebrated the holiday personally for most of my life. Obviously I don't take my work, the holiday or it's traditions lightly.
However, just stop.
It’s necessary to understand how business works. This is Disney. When they put a film out, there is everything that goes with it: ads, events, products, partnership tie-ins, etc. It’s necessary to protect all titles and trademarks - no matter the size or industry of your business – with one common label. I suppose they initially chose “Dia de los Muertos” and while that was a poor and vague decision, it’s within anyone’s right. Yes, they intend to put out a film inspired by the holiday. Yes, there will be TONS of hideous merchandise to go with it. Yes, it’s making money on a holiday & culture. No different from other Disney films – from Nightmare Before Christmas to Mulan. That doesn’t make it right – we’re just looking at the big picture here. I don't even just mean nationalities - ask elder goths how they feel about Tim Burton.
I don’t work for Disney nor do I desire to. I have, however, dealt with them as a professional artist and find it necessary to look at all sides to an argument. There are genuine creatives behind the desks, comrades – including latinos – who are excited at the opportunity to showcase our aesthetics and values to the world.
This trademark ordeal was not to stop the use of “Dia de los Muertos” for everyone else. There is a huge difference between a trademark and a copyright. It wasn't to take away our culture or identity. It’s to label product. A trademark does not take away from a people, a country, an art form, a history that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. In the process of making something popular it will – unfortunately – expose something we hold special to a whole bunch of people that might not GET IT but it’s not personal or malicious, it’s business.
Fundamentally, I believe most art should be free. The mixture of color and light doesn’t belong to anyone, it’s put on this earth to express, enhance & beautify. However, we live in a society where artists need to pay for rent and groceries too. There can be harmony between art & business when there is proper understanding of both sides. A phrase might be for sale but the spirit is not.
In the end, it doesn't matter. The internet was outraged for it's own reasons and trademark filings have been withdrawn. My hope is that perhaps when this project resurfaces it's beautiful, respectful and met with more curiousity than criticism.
What are your thoughts, my dears? and how the heck are you, anyway?
current sounds: Moonlight Cruisers - Baila
current beverage: costa rican terrazu cafe