Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos, But Don’t Worry, The Internet Shut That Down Real Quick
It's A World of Laughter A World of Tears
Yesterday the Internet flipped out in response to the news that Disney had filed several applications to trademark the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, which is the subject of an upcoming Pixar film. The freak out-age is completely justified: Trademarking Día de los Muertos would be exploitative, appropriative, and disrespectful of Mexican culture, plus it’s just downright insane (owning trademark to a holiday? C’mon, Disney).
Luckily the massive amount of criticism got Disney to back off. We did it! We climbed this whole mountain.
Said Disney in a statement released last night:
“As we have previously announced, Disney-Pixar is developing an animated feature inspired by the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Disney’s trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities. It has since been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our trademark filing.”
Suuuure, Disney. You withdrew the applications because you decided to change the title. Completely unrelated to people calling attention to your BS. Plus there’s the fact that, while they could have trademarked Día de los Muertos in the U.S., they might’ve had trouble doing the same in foreign markets, where the system’s not set up to allow a corporation to claim legal ownership of things that should be in the public domain. *coughfairytalescough*
The trademark applications now being de-submitted are those that would have applied to food (cereal, candy, etc.), cosmetics and toiletries, audio books and computer games, jewelry, “printed matter,” and all the other tie-in merch Disney’s still planning to sell. They’ll just have to do it under a different title now, one they can trademark.
So now let’s shift this conversation over from Disney trademarking Día de los Muertos to Pixar making a Día de los Muertos movie in the first place. Of note is the fact that there are actually two Día de los Muertos in development; the not-Pixar one is being directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, both of whom actually are Mexican. The Pixar version, on the other hand, has non-Mexican Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 2 and 3, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc.) as its director. As long as the final result is respectful of Día de los Muertos, is it OK that Pixar’s making this movie? Or is an American company and a white American director making a movie about a holiday that’s an important part of another culture inherently too problematic to live? Sound off in the comments.
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