Coco is a great Pixar film. It is about a boy learning the importance of honoring families, understanding kindness, and overcoming the harsh realities of impassable borders. It is the exact sort of movie that we need to be talking about right now, and the exact sort of movie someone should make Donald Trump sit down and watch, because families are not meant to be separated and borders -even between the living the and the dead- are not meant to keep us apart from those we love.

The Land of the Detained
Pixar took a risk by creating Coco. Miguel is Pixar’s first non-white, non-robot, non-car, non-monster, non-talking toy protagonist, and setting the story around a holiday steeped in Mexican traditions could have been a recipe for disaster, but it wasn’t. The story was respectful, uplifting, and entertaining. It did not treat death or Dia de los Muertos as a joke, but as a reverent tradition worthy of praise and honor. By extension the story conveyed the importance of family and connectivity between generations. It is a powerful message, especially for the time we are living in right now. Unfortunately, the story we must now tell is lot less whimsical, and a lot less colorful… unless you count the Naranja en Jefe.

Donald Trump, has done everything he can to tarnish those connections and tear apart families at the American border. For weeks, a policy set forth by Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump separated parents and children, at border crossings, even those people legally coming to America to seek asylum. Parents were lied to, and their children were essentially kidnapped to be held in holding facilities. They were then listed as “unaccompanied minors,” which they were not, because they had literally just been taken from their family. This policy earned the US condemnation from the UN and was a barbaric practice which Trump seemed intent to inflict upon children that looked like Miguel, or like little baby Coco. Last Wednesday, Trump –hombre grande de pollo– caved under public outcry and signed an executive order that ended the policy of child separation, but did not solve the problem.

Trump’s new executive order now keeps children and parents together, except that it keeps them together in detention facilities. Yet, that is not strictly legal. According to a 1997 decree, known as the Flores Statement, authorities are prohibited from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days, even with a parent. The White House is going to try and get around this ruling, If they are successful it would mean that families will be kept together in detention camps, indefinitely. If that makes you uncomfortable it should. Detention camps -for adult immigrants- are actually not new. They existed under Obama in 2014, and for the record that doesn’t make them right either. There is a genuine and nuanced difference between the immigration policies of President Obama and the Rey Bastardo, Trump, but those distinctions are not what we are here to talk about. For the record creating concentration camps to keep people in -even if they are together as a family unit- is wrong, but Trump will need these new concentration camps because his executive order also does one other thing. It solidifies Sessions’ policy of Zero Tolerance, which increases the criminality of border crossing by making them criminal prosecutions instead of civil ones, as has been the norm in the past. This means that adults are now treated as criminals and sentenced to serve time, but thanks to the Flores Statement, children are not supposed to serve more than 20 days. That is how this whole mess started.

Even worse the executive order does nothing to address the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents and scattered across the country. It is also worth mentioning that the executive order does not even explicitly end the practice of child separation. It merely states, that families will be housed together “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”

An Ofrenda is a Friend Indeed
Please know that despite what he and his gang of bandidos says, this is not a Democratic policy. This was not a law created under Obama. Child separation and zero tolerance are policies created by none other than Trump himself, and it is so heinous that even he admitted -kind of- he was wrong and backed away from it. In Coco, Miguel learned that people in the Land of the Dead can visit their families across the border of life/death once a year on Dia de los Muertos. However that is only possible if their picture has been placed on an Ofrenda. If not they cannot get past the border -which has border security and everything- Even worse if a person in the Land of the Dead no longer has anyone left on  Earth to remember them, then they will permanently fade away… the final death. This is the conflict of Hector whose daughter is beginning to forget him and he is beginning to cease to exist.

This concept of two deaths is very interesting and something worth talking about in relation to America’s larger immigration policy. Ultimately that is what an immigration policy is meant to enforce, not so much a physical death, but a final death. Walls, especially ‘Yuuge Walls’ are built to keep people out and also keep people in. Families separated by the border will be unable to see one another. Immigrants will be unable to connect with their past and their families will be forgotten. Their traditions will be forgotten. They will fade away like Chicharrón -which is kind of Trump’s true point when you think about it- and yet we will all be worse off for the loss. The traditions of immigrants -from Halloween to Dia de los Muertos- enrich America as much as the immigrants themselves. Isolationism and radical paranoia hurt everybody. They make us less strong and ensure that those people trapped on the wrong side of the border from their families will suffer a final death, as they do in Coco.

We believe, that it is no coincidence that the Pixar film portrays the border between life and death as a sort of modern immigration process. Its inclusion puts a modern and familiar face on the process of border crossing, and that is not by accident. The experience of Hector in the movie: facing rejection by border agents; attempting to lie, cheat, and ultimately just rush through the border; and being heartbreakingly unsuccessful at it is a part of the immigrant experience. And much like how certain Morón Presidentes claim that those jumping our border are “bringing crime,” Hector at first appears to be nothing more than a two-bit-hustler, a conman… err con-skeleton. Yet, as the story goes on we start to learn that he is a father, desperately trying to see his daughter, Coco. He is trying to escape a fate worse than death and wants nothing more than to get back to his family. He is the type of person that his reality has made him, but he is a good person and someone we come to cheer for by the end of the movie. There are a thousand people like Hector out there, right now. They are escaping violence and gang warfare. They are just trying to see their daughter, or their son, or their wife, or their family. They don’t want to be killed by very real violence in their own countries, and then shut out and forgotten by their families in this one.

Donald de la Mar-A-Lago
And yet that is exactly what is happening. They are already forgotten. To the people of this nation they are just statistics and to Donald Trump they are just faceless pawns, people to be held hostage for a political agenda. Make no mistake, Donald Trump is the Ernesto del la Cruz in this story. He is the pompous, self-important imbécil who will sacrifice anyone or anything that stands in his way. He will use any means possible to keep his star burning, and he is certainly using children, like Miguel, as he sees fit. At least Ernesto seemed somewhat remorseful at his betrayal. We see none of that from El Donald. Yet, it is he who cares the most about being forgotten. He is the one who fears that final death more than anyone. His constant tweeting, his petty grabs for attention, political stunts, and many many crimes point to a man that is terrified of fading from memory, even for a moment.

So, let’s give the hijo de puta what he wants. Let’s show that we will never forget the atrocities he commits in the name of his own vanity. Let’s come together as a family -an American family- and drop a liberty bell on his head. This Saturday, June 30, 2018, take part in one of the Families Belong Together rallies going on around the country. Do it for all the Miguels and baby Coco’s out there. Do it for the families being held apart by borders and detention centers. Do it for those who have already suffered that final death so that no more will feel the slow sting of that fate. America is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Let’s prove to every child, every immigrant currently trapped in cages or shut out by walls and fear that we mean what we say. Show them that the land of the brave is not afraid to stand up to Ernesto de la Trump for the freedom of everyone.

We will be marching in NYC on June 30. Come out and join us, or find another march near year. We have to keep fighting or Miguel will be trapped in the Land of the Dead forever.


There has been a lot of buzz lately about the Great Barrier Reef, between Outside Magazines viral article and at least two Pixar movies. The barrier reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been declared the greatest aquatic wonder in the world. The GBR is firmly ingrained in our collective human consciousness, and in Australia’s annual tourism brochures. Unfortunately, 22% of the reef is already dead, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Climate change is an undeniable fact, and we now have a 1,400 miles long mound of evidence that we can no longer ignore.

Mr. Ray’s Science Class
The Great Barrier Reef is made up of 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands. It is larger than the United Kingdom, has more biodiversity than all of Europe, and can be seen from space. It is home to 1,625 species of fish, 3,000 species of mollusk, 450 species of coral, 220 species of birds, and 30 species of whales and dolphins. It is also the largest breeding ground for green turtles and has the largest population of dugong -or sea cows- in the world. The  is roughly 25 million years old, and is one of the most vibrant and beautiful places on the planet. We speak that last part from experience.

In 1975, Australia designated large parts of the GBR  as the Great Barrier Reef Maritime Park. This move limited fishing and other activities in the area that could be considered harmful. In 1981, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization declared the area a World Heritage Site. This designation further came with a lot privileges and protections. Unfortunately, also in 1981 the first mass bleaching occured, meaning that the coral lost its color due to soaring ocean temperatures. It would only the be the first in a long line of such incidents, enough over the 35 years to make UNESCO question if they should put the barrier reef on their World Heritage in Danger list as well. We cannot deny the facts any longer, because like a character at the beginning of a Pixar movie, the GBR is dying.

A Crush-ing Reality
During the past 27 years the barrier reef has lost half of its coral covering. Sitting about 1,250 miles off the coast of Queensland, Australia it has been affected by severe storms, invasive species, pollution run-off, coastal port development, dredging, and increased coal shipping. However, even those factors are minimum compared to the coral bleaching that has been caused by massive shifts in ocean temperature, thanks to climate change. The color of coral -as well as their nourishment- comes from the algae that live on their surfaces. The algae photosynthesize the sunlight and make sugars that the coral feeds on. But when temperatures are too high the algae produce too much oxygen. That can be toxic in high concentrations, and the coral are then forced to discard the algae to survive. Unfortunately, that leaves them without their main source of nutrients until new algae can grow back. These coral bleaching events have become incredibly common in the past 35 years, and if they happen in rapid succession the coral starves and dies. Currently, it has been happening every two to three years since the turn of the millennium.

This is compounded by other related factors, such as the explosive growth of seaweed, which thrives in warmer waters. As ocean temperatures increase so does seaweed, and much how trees compete for sunlight in a forest so do the algae and the seaweed. When the seaweed begin to thrive the algae does not and the coral beneath it begin to die and break apart because they are not getting the nutrients they need. The acidity level of the ocean has also been increasing over the past two decades, thanks to an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and they then eat away at the coral itself, weakening the reef structure.

It’s hard to really fathom the ecological impacts of what the world will look like if -or when- the Great Barrier Reef finally does die. We have already seen what happens on smaller scales. Sections of the barrier reef are already dead. When the coral of an area dies the algae actually starts to consume it. After that, the whole structure is doomed to collapse, along with the entire ecosystem. Small fish -like Nemo and Marlin- that eat the coral no longer have a food source or a place to live/hide from larger predators. Larger fish who eat those smaller fish eventually wipe out their prey, and then they too start to die off without a food source. The same happens to the larger fish and birds that eat them. Without coral acting as homes and breeding grounds for fish and other aquatic creatures the entire landscape of an area undergoes a radical change within only a few years. If that happens to the entire GBR, you are talking an ecological disaster that will affect hundreds of thousands of species up the food chain… including humans.

Finding Common Sense
Maybe that is fitting, considering that it is humans that started this slowly rolling environmental disaster. There is no more way for us to deny that the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere are increasing, and have been increasing exponentially over the past decade. We are the factor. We’re sorry if that upsets you, but it is the overwhelming scientific consensus. Our factories, cars, and even farming has dramatically increased CO2 levels. This means that more sunlight is being trapped in our atmosphere and warming the planet, and a lot of that heat is absorbed by the oceans. Yet, that is not our only problem. As we mentioned earlier, the oceans -which are three-quarters of our planet’s surface- are very good at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. This increases not only the acidity of our high seas, but also speeds up the process of ocean warming and the growth of nutrient choking life forms, like seaweed.

Thankfully, those aren’t the only things we’re doing. There are also many people on this planet working hard to try and save natural landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef. Leading the charge in this area is Australia itself, which makes sense. The Land Down Under receives almost $6 billion in tourism revenue from the barrier reef each year and that means they have an economically invested interest in saving it as well as ecological. The Reef 2050 Plan is a report of a 151 actions that need to be taken to save the GBR. It also constitutes a $2 billion dollar investment of resources aimed at improving the barrier reef’s health. So far they have accomplished 29 of the stated 151 actions, but it has been acknowledged that the process needs to be accelerated if we truly do hope to save the GBR from destruction.

You see, if the the CO2 levels in our atmosphere reach 450 parts per million -which is estimated to happen in 2025- than there will be no saving the Great Barrier Reef. It will be gone forever and our children will not only live in a world with less biodiversity, warmer oceans, and less seafood buffets, but in a world where they will never get to experience the beauty and wonder of the barrier reef. To them it will just remain as some fantastical and unreal setting in old Pixars movie.

This weekend marked the annual D23 Expo, one of the biggest Disney Conventions dating back to 2009. D23 is the official name of the Disney Fan Club, named because 1923 is the year that Walt Disney left Kansas for California and begin his domination of the planet. Over the past few years, and thanks in no small part to the Disney Corporation’s need to buy major brands from the Muppets to Pixar to Marvel to Star Wars, D23 has become one of the biggest places for Geek-related news, rivaling even San Diego Comic Con. In fact this year D23 even had more Marvel related news than SDCC.

We here at The NYRD are going to give you some of the highlights that came out of Anaheim this weekend.

Jump to: Disney Live Action, Disney Animation, Marvel, Star Wars

Disney Live Action:
Perhaps the two biggest properties announced were the two movies no one expected or even really believed we would ever see again. They also have one eye-liner heavy character in common, Johnny Depp. Disney will be producing Alice Through the Looking Glass in 2016, which isn’t being directed by Tim Burton, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales in 2017, because surely those were the movies that everyone had been clamoring for. Depp will step back into his roles of the Mad Hatter and Jack Sparrow respectively, and even more interesting Orlando Bloom will also be reprising his role as Will Turner, because Hobbit cameo money doesn’t last forever. If there is one thing you have to hand to Disney, they are more than ready, and able, to squeeze blood from a dry stone, and we can only wait and see to how much money these two properties have yet to make the House of Mouse.

In other news, a live action remake of the Jungle Book is also set for 2016, staring Bill Murray as Baloo, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken as himself in the role King Louie. There will also be a live-action/CGI remake of Beauty and the Beast, staring Emma Watson as Belle, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, and Ian McKellen among others. That movie is set for 2016. Lastly, there will be a remake of Pete’s Dragon, staring Bryce Dallas Howard also in 2016, because that is certainly a 1977 classic everyone was clamoring for.

alice-through-the-looking-glass-poster-1bjpg-4352a3 JBPoster-720x1066

It seems that Disney is putting all their eggs in the live-action remake/sequel basket. Other than Chris Pine’s new Finest Hour there was not one original live action movie announced under the Disney title for next year.  This is a bit disheartening, especially since, for better or worse, Disney is a large trend setter for the entertainment industry. They have the resources, the money, and the time to burn and experiment on new projects, but perhaps after the middling response to this year’s Tomorrow Land, the corporation giant has backed off on taking risks for a while.

Disney Animation/Pixar:
On the animation side of things, there is some hope, other than the announcement of Toy Story 4, where Buzz and Woody go on an adventure to find Bo Peep, because why let a movie trilogy end gracefully and on that right bittersweet note when you can just keep pumping it for more cash? The Pixar movie is set for 2017. Disney and Pixar also announced Finding Dory, which will be hitting theaters in 2016, staring Ellen DeGeneres. They also premiered an Inside Out short entitled, Riley’s First Date.

In other news, Disney will also be producing a 2017 animated cartoon called Coco, based upon the Dias de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. The Rock himself then took stage to promote his new 2016 musical animated movie, Moana, which is based in South Pacific mythology, and will be about a young girl who teams up with a legendary demi-god named Maui, played by the Rock to figure out why people have stopped exploring. Disney is definitely trying to reach more diverse audiences with these two movies, which is a good thing.

Clips were shown from 2016’s Zootopia, which is a buddy cop movie that takes place in a city made up of anthropomorphic animals, staring Once Upon a Times’ Ginnifer Goodwin. Lastly, Disney will be producing Gigantic, the supposedly “definitive” Jack and the Beanstalk story for the big screen. This movie very much seems to be aiming to be in the tradition of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, to become another Disney animated musical classic.


Perhaps one of the most anticipated panels of the Expo, Kevin Feige took to the stage to introduce the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War. The trailer is not currently released for public consumption, except in leaked form. Please note that we will not show you that trailer, because we at The NYRD do not support leaked footage. Also, why would you want to watch some grainy, shaky-cam footage that some jerk took on his phone from the 103rd row? Disney and Marvel will release the trailer on their own schedule and we are sure it will turn plenty of heads when it finally hits YouTube and movie screens. Until then, we are content to wait for all the Civil War goodness.

Marvel also premiered a small movie showing concept art from Doctor Strange, along with a video love letter from Sir Benedict Eggs Over Easy Cumbersome Batching. He has the best, most British name. Unfortunately we have no footage of those pictures, either. really we are saying we have nothing visual to show for Marvel. However, it was announced that Tilda Swinton will be playing Strange’s mentor, the Ancient One, though she admits that she is yet uncertain if she will be playing the part as a man or as a woman.

Star Wars:
Last but not least, it was Star Wars again that shook down the house. The panel had everything, complete with a show stopping appearance by Han Solo himself. Well, it had everything except for a new Star Wars trailer, which JJ Abrams said would not be out till the Fall. The audience also got to hear from Gareth Edwards who will be directing the first Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One. The movie is set to be a gritty war drama that takes place during the Rebellion Against the Empire, and possibly involves the stealing of the Death Star plans. In other words, forget everything you learned while playing Dark Forces, Kyle Katarn forgive us. We did get the first cast photo. This movie stands out as a interesting concept, though we are still unclear as why they called it Rogue One. After all, that would have been Luke or Wedge Antilles’ callsign during the Rebellion, but then again, who really knows what is canon anymore, Wes Janson forgive us. The movie began principal photography this month.


Finally, and perhaps the biggest announcement was the fact that Disney World and Disneyland will both be opening new Star Wars-theme parks. The new parks will be based around two signature rides, including one where you will be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon. The second one will give guests the chance to be in the midst of a battle between the First Order and The Resistance. Both will be based in the lore of the new trilogy, because why base rides on classic Star Wars. When will we get Admiral Ackbar’s Crazy Trap Ride?

Despite our snark and our disbelief, we will ultimately end up going to the parks and seeing the movies, because of course we will. No matter what your opinion of the mouse-led entertainment behemoth, there is one thing that you have to admit is for certain, Disney stands to make all the money… like all of it.

Photos and video courtesy: