The hit Disney animation film featuring the first-ever all Latino cast now has a No. 1 theme song that has also gone viral on Tiktok.
The "Encanto" breakout hit, "We Don't Talk About Bruno," written by Latino songsmith Lin-Manuel Miranda, is Disney's first No. 1 hit on the US's Billboard Hot 100 chart since "A Whole New World," the theme from 1993's "Aladdin."
An ensemble song sung by 10 "Encanto" Latino cast members, "We Don't Talk About Bruno" is part of the movie's soundtrack, which also topped the charts in January. Miranda, who also composed the music and wrote the script for the hit Broadway musicals "Hamilton'' and "In the Heights," was surprised by the song's success.
He had gone on holiday when it was released, and, when he returned, "'We Don't Talk About Bruno' had kind of taken over the world along with the rest of the 'Encanto' soundtrack,'' he told AP.
"Encanto" is a family adventure film that portrays the members of an Indigenous family living in the Colombian mountains who have been given magical powers — except one, the protagonist Mirabel who remains a mere mortal and whose secret could threaten her supernatural family.
A social media sensation
While the film has done well at the box office — about $230 million (€204 million) in current global revenue against a budget of around $50 million following a 30-day run in theaters (the film is now streaming on Disney+) — its soundtrack has inspired a frenzy of pop culture reinvention, especially on the video app Tiktok.
Hundreds of thousands of members have reinvented the song on the app, including Stefanie Beatriz, the actor who plays Mirabel in the film and whose "We Don't Talk About Bruno" self-duet has about 1.7 million likes on Tiktok — where the #Encanto hashtag has had 15.5 billion views.
The medley of 10 voices in the song allow impersonators to engage in diverse roles — including one gender-fluid performance from a Latinx TikTokker that has near 2.5 million likes — and Miranda has been encouraged by the way people are interacting with the music and playing on its themes.
The song, which so far has over 160 million likes on YouTube, is about Mirabel's outcast uncle Bruno and the misfortune caused by his ability to see into the future. As the different characters gossip about Bruno against Latin, hip-hop and Broadway musical flavors, the song embodies the diversity of the multi-generational family saga.
"There's kind of a part for everyone to play in singing along with the song," Miranda, who has Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage, told AP. "If you're not bopping to this melody, another melody is coming along in two seconds because almost every character gets a little feature in it,'' he said.
Indigenous representations in music and film
With Disney accused of portraying racist stereotypes in the past, the film has also been called out for pushing tropes about Indigenous South American cultures.
Though the makers of "Encanto" also worked closely with Zenu artists and craftspeople to create an authentic representation of Indigenous cultures, critics accuse Disney of simplifying the reality of Indigenous lives.
"In Colombia so many Indigenous people are murdered because they are standing up for their rights. Do you think this is going to be seen in 'Encanto'?" said filmmaker Keala Kelly, who lives in Hawaii and who is Kanaka Maoli, the traditional name for Native Hawaiians.
"We call what Disney and Hollywood does whitewashing," she said. "Everything is changed and rearranged so they can tell the fairy tale. That's the American narrative of Indigenous peoples. Falsified, watered down, guilt-free cultural entertainment."
But the film, which has already won a Golden Globe for best animated feature, did in fact consult Disney Animation Studios' Latino employees, according to Screen Daily, in addition to the Colombian Cultural Trust.
"They became an important resource," Charise Castro Smith, a Cuban American playwright, told the film magazine. "We shared drafts of the script with them to get a gut check on whether this movie was true to families they knew. We got a lot of good details that found their way into the movie."