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In one memorable scene from Pixar's "Coco," Miguel's abuelita scolds him and threatens to whack a mariachi guitarist with her sandal.
Originally, the scene was written with the grandmother wielding a wooden spoon. Cultural consultants, hired to keep the film accurate and honorable to Mexican heritage, said the spoon had to go.
"We said no, no, no. A Mexican abuela or a Mexican-American abuela would use her chancla," said Marcela Davis Aviles, one of the lead consultants. "It's kind of a cultural thing where you know, the grandma picks up her chancla and threatens to throw it to you or actually does throw it at you."
This scene of #Coco almost had the grandmother wielding a wooden spoon until cultural consultants said a REAL abuelita would use her chancla! I spoke w one of those consultants about keeping Coco culturally accurate. pic.twitter.com/LKWNN9Z36R— Elissa Harrington (@ElissaABC7) December 21, 2017
Aviles says that's just one example of the lengths Pixar went to keep Coco culturally accurate. Aviles was brought in early on, in 2013, to steer the film away from stereotypes, and to keep the movie authentic and respectful to Hispanic culture.
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Aviles was disappointed in the way Hispanics and Latinos had been portrayed in Hollywood over the years. "I couldn't find a movie that portrayed Mexicans or Mexican-Americans in a way that wasn't stereotypical."
She says every last detail in "Coco" from the music, to the clothing, to the language was carefully studied.
Filmmakers took trips to Mexico. Aviles hired folk dancers to perform for the artists so they could study their movements and their traditional attire.
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"The importance of getting it right is really to have an understanding of what the community is about culturally," she said. "And portraying it in a way that is accurate and in a way that understands where the heritage is coming from."
Aviles is a first generation American. Her parents grew up in Mexico. Aviles went on to study at Harvard and Stanford and now lives in Alamo.
She says she's proud of Coco and the way it celebrates Mexican culture. She hopes other film studios use similar consultants for future films.
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