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The News Website for Glendale High School


The News Website for Glendale High School


The Tragic Misinterpretation of Encanto

Did the point of this movie go over the fandom’s head?
Alma “Abuela” Madrigal


The new Disney movie Encanto, which was released on November 21, 2021, has been a great hit worldwide. Its amazing soundtrack, loveable characters, and wonderful storyline have gotten a lot of attention, and the Encanto fandom has grown quickly. 

In the fandom for most movies, there’s always a collection of fanart or a bunch of headcanons for its characters. Giving headcanons to characters is like guessing a bunch of quirks or traits for them that aren’t canon (meaning that they aren’t confirmed to be true by the creators). 

For example, some people have proposed that Dora the Explorer is allergic to shrimp, or something more complex and dark, like Swiper the fox is a kleptomaniac. And then fans will proceed to talk about how lonely Swiper must feel being alone in the jungle and that’s why he follows Dora around. 

There’s a lot of discourse in fandoms about what is fitting and what isn’t. In some fandoms, there’s even a “fanon” instead of “canon” version of characters, because of how much the fandom projects onto them, changes their original traits, and dismisses everything about them. 

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to give headcanons to characters, but in the case of Encanto, yes, it is. Let me explain.

Lately in the Encanto fandom, people have been dismissing characters’ identities and dynamics, and fans have even gone as far as sexualizing the characters from this children’s movie. The whole plot of the movie has to do with intergenerational trauma, how unhealed trauma affects later generations, and how we are all victims of victims.

The movie also takes place in Colombia, with representation from not only paler Hispanics, but also Afro-Latinos. This leads to some issues with the fanart. 

People have drawn NSFW and incestuous artwork, and when the art isn’t sexualizing the characters, they don’t draw their correct skin tone, skin texture, hair or other ethnic features. These artists will make lame excuses, like “This is just my art style” or “I don’t know how to draw ethnic features or texturized hair.” 

Camilo Madrigal

Well, then… maybe they should learn? If not, then they shouldn’t even draw these characters at all, because representation is a huge issue for a lot of minorities and it shouldn’t be taken away from them.

Secondly, fans have misunderstood the character of Abuela, the grandmother, who indeed is the indirect cause of the issues for her grandchildren. Some people feel that she is the movie’s villain, because the trauma of seeing her husband die at hands of conquistadores, and having to start over in another place with three newborns, is not an excuse for the pressures she has placed on her family. 

I agree that she did not need to do all of that, but that’s the whole complexity of her character and her dynamics with her family. This is something that happens in real life with a lot of minority families. It’s obviously a personal choice to forgive or not to forgive someone who’s hurt you, but Abuela should not be villainized because it’s not that simple. I know a lot of people who can relate to having someone in their family that may have done something similar, but people should not project these feelings onto a children’s movie.

Let’s speak about the LGBTQ+ community now. I obviously support them, but the people in the fandom HAVE GOT TO DO BETTER. There’s nothing wrong with giving headcanons to characters about their sexualities or identities, but it’s a problem when being a gay icon is the only thing you recognize them for. 

Isabella Madrigal

When Isabela Madrigal admits she doesn’t want to marry Mariano, everyone instantly jumped to say, “Oh my God, she’s a lesbian!” This completely dismisses every other part of her character. Maybe she is queer-coded, because of the colors of the WLW flag that appear in her flower creations, but saying that she’s a lesbian because she doesn’t want to marry Mariano is unnecessary. 

Another issue that irks me is when people say that Camilo is genderfluid and has an identity crisis because of his shape-shifting power. While gender fluidity is normal and valid, and identity crises are definitely real, this is not what Camilo’s character represents at all. If anything, he is included in the movie for comic relief. 

Luisa Madrigal

But the worst one out of all of them is the misinterpretation of Luisa, the sibling that has a strong build and superhuman strength. Because of her ability and body type, people are calling her a transgender woman. Is the fandom okay? Do they not see what they are doing here? 

A woman of color, not to mention a strong woman, should not be assumed to be a trans woman, because it is a way of masculinizing her. This is a harmful stereotype and can place women of color in danger. 

It is a very insensitive thing for people to start saying that Luisa is transgender, when her issue in the movie is literally causing her to crack under the pressure of always having to be strong. She’s obviously going to have muscles if she’s strong, so why assume that she was born a man?

Hispanic people have been calling out the fans who have fed into the white-washing, sexualizing and stereotyping of the Encanto characters. Overall, a meaningful plot has been diminished and watered down by the people in the fandom. It’s almost like everyone has missed the point of this movie on purpose, or they’re just so self-centered that they dismiss everything and make everything about themselves. 

Enjoy this amazing movie, but please do it respectfully!

About the Contributor
Marian Martínez
Marian Martínez, Staff Writer
Marian Martinez is a senior in Glendale High School. She likes reading and writing and art (mostly sketching). She can be the most productive (or laziest) person during her free time. She’s always willing to learn new things and see different perspectives from others. She’s also amazing, funny, cool and smart. (And did I mention amazing?)
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