The Persistence of Memory
Forgiveness, Forgetting, and Cultural Assimilation
Keywords:Classical Reception, Coco, Immigration, Ancestors, Underworld
The 2017 Pixar film Coco and the 2021 Disney film Encanto form a small part of an increasing modern wave of media focused on parent-child conflicts caused by intergenerational trauma and rejection. Other recent works in this genre include the video game Hades, the films Turning Red and Everything Everywhere All At Once, and the television series Ms. Marvel. The traumas in all these films, some directed explicitly at a younger audience and some pitched more broadly, serve as a distinct set of meditations on the immigrant experience, even while not necessarily focusing on literal immigration. They also all invoke imagery of ghosts and death, both echoing specific classical Mediterranean motifs and tropes and incorporating a wide variety of other cultures’ supernatural traditions. These works’ concern with familial traumas of separation, culture shock, and loss of ancestral memories and connections contrasts sharply with the individual-focused myth of the American Dream common to earlier generations of American media, in which a lone individual typically emigrates, assimilates, and succeeds in a new culture, forming a new family and set of myths. However, themes of assimilation and questions of cultural imperialism also form a bridge between ancient Roman and modern North American anxieties and traditions.
Copyright (c) 2023 Anise K. Strong
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with thersites agree to the following terms:
- Publishing in thersites is free of any charges.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication.
- Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, so long as the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes. The journal is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. More information about this license is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).