Anger and ridicule expressed on social media, largely by Latinos, began circulating. On Tuesday, Disney said it was no longer seeking a ``Dia de los Muertos'' trademark request because the film's name will change before its release.
``Disney's trademark filing was intended to protect any potential title for our film and related activities,'' a company statement said. ``It has since been determined that the title of the film will change.''
Disney has not said that social media responses were responsible for the withdrawn trademark request. The company did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.
Whatever the reason, the episode showed how quickly reactions to even the smallest corporate move can spread online and lead to calls for boycotts.
The Disney request momentarily replaced immigration as the hottest topic among Latinos on Twitter, said Elainne Ramos, vice chair of LATISM, a nonprofit group Latino social media group.
``It was not social media that start this. It was Disney that started this,'' said Tom Garrity, head of the Garrity Group, a public relations firm that advises companies on social media practices. ``Social media only highlight the deficiencies in Disney's planning and what people saw as cultural insensitivity.''
The Day of the Dead honors departed souls of loved ones who are welcomed back for a few intimate hours. At burial sites or intricately built altars, photos of loved ones are centered on skeleton figurines, bright decorations, candles, candy and other offerings such as the favorite foods of the departed. Pre-Columbian in origin, many of the themes and rituals are mixtures of indigenous practices and Roman Catholicism.
In the last decade or so, this traditional Latin American holiday has spread throughout the U.S. along with migration from Mexico and other Latin American countries where it is observed.
Not only are U.S.-born Latinos adopting it, but various underground and artistic non-Latino groups have begun to mark the Nov. 1-2 holidays through colorful celebrations, parades, exhibits and even mixed martial arts fights.
Lois Zamora, a University of Houston English professor who has studied the Day of the Dead, said Disney's interest shows how much this once obscure holiday has grown in the U.S. But she said the trademark attempt was odd.
``Disney doesn't quite get it,'' Zamora said. ``It would be like copyrighting `Christmas or `Easter' or, for that matter, `Halloween.'''
On the Internet: http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2013/05/muerte_mouse.php