By Lia Hudgins
Take (slang): Simply put, an opinion.
A statement about a piece of media that is usually insightful, controversial, or popular.Noun
In the two months since its release, Encanto has proven itself to be one of Disney’s more profound films with powerful, well-developed characters, an engaging story and soundtrack, and connected themes of family, worth, and potential.
I didn’t grow up watching Disney movies that looked like this. And in Encanto, I saw so many treasured aspects of Latin culture that were properly attended to, and the effort that was put into making the film authentic in tiny details like lip pointing and wrist snapping. I saw the protagonist that looked like me, and the family that reminded me of where I came from.
So, it goes without saying that Encanto was not Disney’s usual regurgitated story about magic, romance and a fairy-tale family. It was moving. It was just a little fast paced at times, but, overall, exactly what we needed. I walked out of the theatre holding hope that Encanto was another step in the right direction. Something that Disney had failed to do for a long time but was finally coming around to. I was so excited for the future of a corporation like Disney that actually seemed to care…for once.
And for once, it wasn’t Disney that ruined this movie.
ABUELA AND ANTAGONISM
“Abuela was the antagonist of the story, and she ruined the miracle.”
“Abuela didn’t care about Mirabel because she didn’t have a gift.”
“Abuela only cared about the miracle, not her family.”
I saw so much of this in the comment section anytime there was mention of Abuela. Was her character flawed? Yes. She did not always do or say the best things, and many times she undermined Mirabel because she did not have a gift.
Abuela did cling to the miracle. She did so because it was all she had left after she watched her husband get slaughtered while fleeing from her home. Yet, she was not the villain of the story. She was deeply traumatized from her husband’s murder, and then raising three children and running a village by herself. She passed that down, without meaning to, in her struggle to continue after she lost everything.
Generational trauma is something that is commonly dealt with in Hispanic/Latin families. It’s deep in the history. If you think Abuela was the “villain” of the story, you completely missed the point of the movie (also the point of the short film that played right before, the one about the racoons). Worse, many fans insinuated that because Mirabel called her grandmother out on her behavior, that she somehow didn’t love her…Mirabel was breaking a cycle of generational trauma passed onto her. In calling out the behavior of her Abuela, Mirabel was proving how much she actually loves her.
Abuela didn’t behave the way she did with intent to harm her family. Traumatized, hurt, and only having her Encanto, she felt that the miracle was what helped her protect her family, and that took priority over everything. We can say that her actions were flawed, but failing to understand them is failure to understand the entire movie. I don’t even think you need a background in Latino history to understand this point, you just need some critical thinking skills…
15 and 50
This take started before I even saw the movie, a few days after the initial release. I was seeing so much Camilo content on the web that I walked into the theatre anticipating that Camilo was a major character.
He had less than five minutes of screen time, no song, and due to his shapeshifting ability, he spent half of his time onscreen in the form of someone else. He’s also 15-years-old and has the most sexual attention of anyone in the film besides Bruno.
His character was blatantly oversexualized, not just by those in his age group but by plenty of adults. Like, 30 year old’s that frequently used terms like “exotic” and to my shock, “tropical.” I saw a lot of conversations online insinuating some really inappropriate things about his abilities.
I understand that Camilo is a fictional, animated character, but he’s visibly 15. Of course, people like this aren’t harming a real child, but it’s the implication that counts. Somehow, I saw a lot more comments about Camilo’s ability to “please” the commenter than any insightful conversation about how he ties into the plot.
Same with Bruno, though at least he’s… legally more age appropriate. He’s also actually a main character, so I thought that talking about Bruno wouldn’t be difficult for fans. I didn’t see much about why Bruno decided to stay hidden in the house instead of leaving, but I did see a lot of people say that they wanted Bruno to be their sugar daddy.
“Luisa is strong, so she must be transgender.”
People are SO transphobic sometimes. There’s nothing I have to say about Disney characters being trans. I would love it if there was more representation of that in Disney, but Luisa is the last example we should be turning to. People only attempt to cast her as transgender because she has the gift of super strength, that’s where my issue is.
Just because she’s strong. Just because she has visible muscles and a large build.
I don’t have an issue with it, but there’s no evidence to support that she is. In her song, “Surface Pressure”, Luisa lays out her insecurities, and all of them revolve around the pressure that her family puts on her to constantly remain strong…
It’s ridiculous to headcanon that just because she doesn’t appear to have a traditionally feminine body, that she isn’t one, when several aspects of her character (dancing, mannerisms) embrace her femininity. It also completely diminishes the actual trans community, by trying to cling to a stereotype in order to classify her.
So Luisa can’t be a girl and be strong at the same time?
Headcanon: A fan interpretation or idea about a character that makes sense to the character and could be canon, but is not confirmed to be canon.Noun
She’s a woman. An incredibly strong one
Flowery or Fruity or Whatever You Wanna Call It
“Isabella didn’t want to marry Mariano, so she must be a lesbian.”
A wildly popular opinion that, as a queer person, upset me greatly. Commentary like this may seem like an attempt at inclusivity, but just like with Luisa, is making a joke on the community’s behalf..
Isabella didn’t want to marry Mariano, but that doesn’t automatically make her a lesbian. For all we know, she might be! Straight isn’t the default.
My issue is the implications behind so many people immediately latching onto these theories.
Most of the people giving these two theories any support are queer, yes, but they’re also white.
And let’s face it. Encanto, the love letter to Colombia about breaking the cycle, was not primarily written for white people.
So what it seems like, to a Latina and queer viewer like myself, is that the moment the film wasn’t for them, they found a way to cling to anything they could use to make it about themselves.
I would love it if there was some queer representation in the movie, but ultimately, there isn’t. I don’t see the white audience making these kinds of theories for many other Disney characters (the majority of them up to this point, white) either.
For once, the spotlight is on another group. Let them have it. Let us have it without trying to make it about you.
Encanto was a great film, but it is unfortunate what the weak, inconsiderate, and selfish commentary circulating around it have done to the common perceptions of this film.