For years, Disney's animated films didn't make many of us feel like we were being seen. This was particularly the case with color communities. I will never forget the incredible amount of joy and excitement the Latinx community experienced in the Disney / Pixar film coconut came out. It was an important step for Disney when it came to positive Latinx representation. Many of us had a very similar feeling about Disney's release Encanto, a story about a gifted multigenerational family in Colombia. The film celebrates the importance of family and respect for Latinx culture. Recently the soundtrack too Encanto reached number 1 on the Billboard charts, beating Adele's "30". That's pretty important considering Adele has held that place for six straight weeks. The success of both the film itself and the soundtrack speaks not only of the importance and importance of this type of portrayal in animated films, but also of how films like this are really changing the way Latinx stories are told.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is the genius behind the songs on the Encanto Soundtracks that range from salsa to hip-hop. But when the album was first released in November, it first landed at number 197. It has since made its way to number 1, with a big surge after Christmas Eve when the film made its streaming release on Disney +. In fact, the album is not just the first soundtrack to have been number 1 on the Billboard charts since 2019 Frozen 2, but the track "We Don't Talk About Bruno" actually became the most streamed song on Spotify. Why is Encanto that made everyone so overjoyed?
It is the fact that we do not have this type of representation every day – especially in animated films. But the good news is, it looks like we're going in that direction. In the past few years we have seen some animated films celebrating Latinidad. It started in 2017 coconut and last year alone we had the release of Maya and the three, Vivo, and Encanto. What all these films have in common is not only that they are animated stories about Latinxs. It's animated stories about Latinxs written by Latinxs, with characters voiced by Latinxs, and a plot that the Latinxs communities actually celebrate rather than stereotype us. This type of representation is long overdue and any halfway-driven attempts will no longer do it for our communities.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda released the film adaptation of his Broadway play In the heights last year the community was disappointed. While there was much to be appreciated about the film, it also dropped the ball heavily when it came to portraying Black Latinx. In the heights is a story about the Dominican community of Washington Heights and yet there were no main characters played by dark-skinned black Latinxs. As a result, there have been many fears surrounding the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story. I honestly had low expectations of how it would turn out, but Spielberg pleasantly surprised me. The film did a lovely job of staying true to the original story while creating a positive portrayal of the Puerto Rican community. The film was filled with Latinx orgullo without resorting to outdated stereotypes. This seems to be the direction Hollywood is finally taking when it comes to telling Latinx stories, and I am both happy and thrilled that it is finally happening. At this stage of the game, less is to be accepted.