Bell Let's Talk and the Corporatization of Mental Health

Bell Let's Talk is important, but it's no substitute for actual year-round support and reform.

Today is the 10th anniversary of Bell Let's Talk, a Canadian initiative designed to inspire conversations about mental health.

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Día de los Muertos is about remembering the dead, celebrating their lives, and acknowledging the pain of losing loved ones.

It's a sacred day in Mexico and parts of South America, and it's very much not Halloween.

For Day of the Dead, we've compiled a selection of traditional and contemporary Mexican folk songs meant to honor the holiday, as well as everyone who has made the passage over to the other side.

You might know the last one, "Remember Me," from the film Coco, but Day of the Dead has inspired countless traditional songs, poems, and brilliant works of art. Ultimately, attendees at typical Day of the Dead celebrations will often play the kind of music that their departed loved ones enjoyed, so if you're looking to honor departed loved ones on this day, you might just want to spin their favorite tunes. That said, the Mexican folk music tradition is rich in tradition and sublime in sound, and some of these songs are too gorgeous not to share.

Remember, though, if you're not part of the culture that celebrates this holiday, be careful if, when, and how you decide to partake in this day. Make sure you're not appropriating these cultures, avoid wearing costumes, do some research on the holiday and its meaning and sacredness, and support Mexican artists and causes.

1. La Llorona

This folk song's origins are wrapped in obscurity, but it is known that the song originated a long time ago in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In 1941, the composer Andres Henestrosa popularized the song. There are numerous modern versions, with everyone from Chavela Vargas to Lila Jones lending their voices and finger-picking skills to the track.

The tune's lyrics are said to come from the original legend of La Llorona, the ghostly "Weeping Woman" of Mexican and South American folklore. Some of the verses were probably written during the Mexican Revolution, and today, it's frequently used to scare children into going to bed. Since it tells the story of a ghost (or a woman who won't allow her lover to leave her, depending on the interpretation), it's a natural fit for Día de los Muertos.

2. La Bruja

Just as La Llorona tells the story of a wicked, ghostly woman, so does La Bruja, which translates loosely to "The Witch." According to legend, La Bruja is a kind of witch that sucks blood like a vampire. Lyrically, like La Llorona, it's also been interpreted as being about a woman who goes out on the hunt for a man, though there are many legends about what its lyrics might be trying to say. Most of the song is from the perspective of someone getting stolen by a witch. Some believe it references the old folk story that witches would dance with candles on their heads, making it look like the candles were floating; others believe it has more ominous implications, but it's really up to the listener.

The song is often used as a children's rhyme, but it's also been gorgeously covered by many artists.

Vincente Chavarria | La Bruja | AEA

3. Calaveritas — Ana Tijoux, Celso Piña

This song was released by Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux to honor the dead, specifically those lost during the Pinochet dictatorship. The title, "Calaveritas," means "little skulls," and it's full of loving messages for those whose lives were lost. Recorded with Mexican musician Celso Piña, it's a blend of traditional, folk, and experimental sounds with a powerful message. "We all carry within us / one who died before us / who appears when night falls and the sun goes out," read some of the lyrics. It also includes a quote from a revolutionary named Pierre Dubois who opposed Pinochet during his regime: "It is not enough to say that justice takes time but it arrives. Justice that is not exercised when appropriate is already unfair."

Ana Tijoux -

4. Amor Eterno

This song was written in 1984 by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel and quickly became the most popular song for funerals in his native country. It's a rich, sad, and nostalgic piece, one that pays tribute to loves of old while acknowledging the pain of loss in the present. It's been covered magnificently by countless artists, but Silvana Estrada's version is incredibly moving in its delicacy and compassion.

Juan Gabriel - Amor Eterno (En Vivo [Desde el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes])

This well-known song has a way of reappearing in times of need. After the shooting in El Paso, Texas this summer, the song became a staple at funerals and memorial services. "How I wish that you still lived that your precious eyes had never closed so that I could see them eternal love unforgettable," go the lyrics, which ensure that there's never a dry eye when this song is played.

5. Remember Me, Coco

This movie beautifully portrayed Día de los Muertos and was tied together by the gorgeous ballad "Remember Me." In the film, the song is capable of crossing the boundary between life and death, forming an everlasting bond that keeps memories alive and inspires new generations to continue old legacies. It perfectly captures the message of Día de los Muertos: Even after our loved ones say goodbye, they're kept alive by memories and in song, and that's something to celebrate.

Carlos Rivera - Recuérdame (De "Coco"/Versión de Carlos Rivera/Official Video)

Benjamin Bratt - Remember Me (Official Video From "Coco") [Ernesto de la Cruz]


"The Witch," Lana Del Rey, and Satanic Feminism: The Trope of the Wicked Woman

Given feminism's occult origins, it makes sense that witchcraft and activism are both so popular right now.

This article contains spoilers for "The Witch."

At the end of Robert Eggers' movie The Witch, the main character—a young girl named Thomasin—removes her bloodstained clothes and wanders into the woods, following what appears to be an iteration of the devil who's been masquerading as the family goat.

She stumbles upon a circle of other naked women, convulsing and dancing around a fire. They start to levitate. So does Thomasin. In the film's final frames, her face breaks out into an expression of ecstasy.

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How "The Farewell" Came to Be the Best Movie of 2019

Lulu Wang's The Farewell encapsulates the absurdity, frustration, warmth, and depth of family dynamics.


In an interview with The Ringer's Sean Fennessey, The Farewell's director, Lulu Wang, explained how she wanted to prove it was possible to make a film about people who looked like her but with whom all people can identify.

The very personal story "based on an actual lie" grapples with what's culturally acceptable in the East and the West. The Farewell follows a very indie protagonist, Billi, a 30-year-old first generation Chinese-American writer living in New York City, struggling to make ends meat. Billi's life becomes more complicated when she discovers her grandmother, Nai Nai (Zhao Shuzhen), has Stage 4 lung cancer and that her parents are leaving in the morning for China to say goodbye. The catch: No one is telling Nai Nai she's sick. Sitting in her parents' bedroom, Billi's mother, Jian (Diana Lin), turns to assure her daughter, "Chinese people have a saying: When you get cancer, you die."

Initially, Lulu Wang struggled to sell the film to both American and Chinese investors. With a Chinese-American as the protagonist, The Farewell was "too American" for Chinese investors; but with the cast primarily speaking in Mandarin, the film was "too Chinese" for American investors. In America, Hollywood executives might as well have a saying, "When there are subtitles, people won't want to watch the movie."

After years of fighting to make the film, Wang considered leaving the industry—that was until she met This American Life producer, Neil Drumming. At a film festival where her 2015 short film, Touch, was playing, Drumming asked her if there were any stories she hadn't been able to tell. Their conversation spun into the creation of an episode called "What You Don't Know." The episode is on the exact story explored in The Farewell.

The movie featured the unexpected casting choice of Awkwafina (born Nora Lum) as Billi. The director didn't expect to cast the YouTuber-turned-rapper-turned-actor in the film, especially because Lum is largely known to be Korean-American. But then Wang discovered that she's in fact half-Korean, half-Chinese. When the two met, the actress immediately fell in love with the script. Lum herself was raised by her Chinese grandmother after her Korean mother passed away when she was four years old. Awkwafina's connection to the film translated into a warm, heart-wrenching performance.

The film itself is primarily set in China, with Billi spontaneously buying a flight to Changchun against her parents' wishes. The entire family is concerned that Billi will not be able to hide her true emotions about her grandmother's diagnosis and will end up revealing the truth. In China, the family has a collectivist mindset, prioritizing the unit over the individual, and the audience comes to see that perhaps there is something to be said for keeping Nai Nai's diagnosis from her. Viewers are faced with the choice between harsh honesty and protecting someone's emotional well-being, a dilemma that clearly strikes a chord with conflicted audiences.

Meanwhile, the film operates at a nexus of celebration and mourning. In Nai Nai's eyes, the family reunion is occurring because her grandson (Billi's cousin), Hao Hao, is getting married to his Japanese girlfriend, Aiko. The wedding also brings together two brothers, Billi's father, Haiyan (Tzi Ma), and Hao Hao's father, Haibin (Jiang Yongbo), for the first time in twenty years. Nai Nai is elated by her children's reunion, contrasted with her family members' sadness that this is the last time they'll see Nai Nai. While the family members attempt to maintain Nai Nai's ignorance, she is giddily planning the wedding and lovingly feeding her relatives.


Zhao Shuzhen, who plays Nai Nai, envelops herself in the warmth and pride of a grandmother who gains purpose from her family's reunion. Shuzhen seems to miraculously embody every family member you've ever had—the one who gives sound advice, the one who feeds you endlessly, the one who questions your romantic life, the one who dishes out perfect, hilarious soundbites, and the one who acts like a third parent.

Nai Nai represents so many parents; she aspires to give her children a better life and to see them thrive as independent people. Shuzhen's performance is a heartwarming, destructive force that gives hope and draws light in a film full of despair. She adds love and much needed laughter as the film grapples with how one can enjoy their time with a loved one on the heels of an impending, final goodbye.

As Billi spends more time with her grandmother, she becomes more nostalgic for her early life in China. Recognizing that she's been away from her family all these years, Billi grows resentful towards her parents because they took her from her home country. Any first-generation immigrant can relate to the loneliness of being disconnected from their relatives and their culture. Similarly, any person can relate to longing for more time with their older relatives—wanting to know more about them and establishing a true love for one another despite generational differences. While Billi's inner conflicts come to a head, she begins to come to terms with who she is and what she values.

In the end, The Farewell accomplishes just what Lulu wanted—it's a movie any person can watch and see a reflection of their own life. Anyone who has lost a family member or felt conflicting emotions about their weird, dysfunctional, but loving family can relate to Wang's deeply personal film. Conversely, the film flourishes in the specifics of who this story is really about: a first generation Chinese-American woman, struggling to accept her grandmother's illness while growing fond of and grappling with her familial bonds and cultural roots. Lulu Wang's film harmonizes the powerful feelings of guilt, uncertainty, wonderment, merriment, and catharsis, and does so without skipping a beat.