Once news broke on Tuesday that the Walt Disney Company had filed 10 trademark requests for “Dia de los Muertos” for an upcoming Pixar animated movie, social media began to boil with anger and ridicule.
A woman from Colorado, Grace Sesma, posted a petition at change.org and in less than 24 hours, more than 20,000 signatures were posted. Here is part of her introduction:
“Our spiritual traditions are for everyone, not for companies like Walt Disney to trademark and exploit. I am deeply offended and dismayed that a family-oriented company like Walt Disney would seek (to) own the rights to something that is the rightful heritage of the people of Mexico.”
Disney apparently hoped to market toys, cereal, jewelry and other merchandise with the “Dia de los Muertos” phrase when a Pixar movie of the same name comes out.
For those not in the know, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday in Mexico that has been around since before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. Families pray to the deceased before private altars and trade favorite candy and foods. A common symbol of the holiday is the skull, thus dancing skeletal figures like in the AP photo above.
An L.A.-based cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz, created a cartoon in which a mouse rampaging through a cityscape bears the name: Muerto Mouse (Dead Mouse). Click here to see.
With this kind of reaction, Disney went into retreat. It said in a statement:
“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.”
Word so far is that Halloween and Christmas are still safe from Disney's lawyers.