The movie Coco is a film full of Mexican Culture and takes place during the Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead celebration. It’s directed by Lee Unkrich and released in 2017. The main character, Miguel Rivera loves music and struggles with the fact that his family despises it. His family hates music because of a family tragedy that happened to Miguel’s great-great grandmother Abuelita long ago, therefore music was forbidden in their home. Despite that, Miguel’s dream was to be a musician like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel accidentally travels to the Land of the Dead and he must seek a blessing from de la Cruz to get home before sunrise, or he will turn into a skeleton forever. He teams up with Hector, a skeleton trying to see his daughter again, and they go on an eventful adventure to find out. The three sociological elements that I recognize in this movie are: total institution, nature vs. nurture, and re-socialization.
Total Institution: The term total institution means a person’s life and any other aspect is regulated under a single authority. For Miguel that single authority is his grandma, Abuelita. She makes sure that no music, of any kind, is played in or around the house whatsoever. For example, when Miguel blows in a bottle making a beat, when he’s looking outside and a car just so happens to pass by playing music, and when a group is sing outside of the house, she immediately shuts it down by yelling “NO MUSIC!”. But she ran the house just like her mother, Mama Imelda, did. In addition to that, Miguel nervously comes out to his family saying he’s going to sign up for the Día De Muertos Talent Show and Abuelita quickly dismisses it saying, “It’s Día De Los Muertos, no one’s going anywhere, tonight is about family”. Yet Miguel decides to not listen and “cease [his] moment.” His grandma and his family try to tell him that he’s not a musician and he will join the family shoe business instead. Miguel rebels saying he doesn’t want to be in the family anymore and runs away.
Nature vs. Nurture: Nature vs Nurture is the question on what determines who we will be. For Miguel, by nature he thought he was nothing like his family and he needed to follow the footsteps of his idol and be a great musician. His nature was to go to de la Cruz because he felt they had a connection and he was meant to be a musician. However, Hector nurtured him through their journey. De la Cruz only tricked him into thinking, and he could get him back to the real world, but Hector became his friend during the journey. Only to find out that Hector is his real great-great grandfather
Re-Socialization: Re-socialization is discarding former behavior patterns and accepting new ones during transitions in one’s life. Miguel transitioned from the real world to the underworld by abandoning his social values, beliefs, and norms. An example of abandoning his social values is stealing de la Cruz’s guitar, which got him cursed. He then ditched his beliefs by ditching his family to try and be a musician. And norms, he gave up his norms by running away. His behavior changed from wanting to be like his hero, de la Cruz, to appreciating his family and their history.
The theme in this movie is the celebration of life and death. And from a sociological perspective, this movie has total institution, nature vs. nurture, and re-socialization all wrapped up in it. Miguel learned that nothing is more important than family saying, “Family comes first,” and to never forget how much his family loves him.
- Coco. Directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, 22 Nov. 2017
- Pond, Neil. “Review: Pixar’s Colorful Coco Celebrates Family, Music & Memories.” Parade, AMG/Parade, 4 Jan. 2018, https://parade.com/620355/npond/review-pixars-colorful-coco-celebrates-family-music-memories/.
- “Coco.” IMDb, Amazon , https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2380307/plotsummary.
- Griffiths, Heather, et al. Introduction to Sociology 2e. OpenStax College, Rice University, 2017.