Why We Must Talk About Bruno, the ‘Encanto’ Icon

in Disney, Movies, Op-Ed

Luisa, Mirabel, and Isabela in 'Encanto'

Credit: Disney

Let’s be clear here: Bruno was the uncle who lived in the walls and spied on the youngsters in the magical Madrigal household; Disney’s Encanto has some serious problems.

Bruno in We Don't Talk About Bruno from Disney's Encanto
Credit: Disney

Disney’s Encanto: The Bruno Song Sensation

This all started with the release of Disney’s Encanto back in 2021. Amidst the lockdowns, people couldn’t get their dose of magic from Walt Disney the theme park. Instead, they turned to Walt Disney Animation Studios, namely Encanto. Just like that, the Madrigal family was a smashing success. Replete with Walt Disney magic, the Madrigal family dysfunction was the central theme.

Abuela Alma took the role of the figurehead while Disney’s Encanto icon Mirabel Madrigal was the ‘crack’ in the magical family. Walt Disney Animation Studios used Encanto to hold a mirror to the isolation in society, and that is the face value of Bruno as a character. The outcast. The dark horse. The isolated character inspired endless TikTok sensations of the “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” song. In this sense, it was magical realism. Children got the magical gift of the family Madrigal’s musical sensation, but at what cost?

Mirabel (L) and Bruno (R) in Disney's 'Encanto'
Credit: Disney

Disney’s Use of Coded Messaging

Regardless of how many people saw the Disney film, there is no doubt that the audience focuses on family. It was the real magical gift, after all. Yet the Bruno song leaves some concerning messages for kids, especially those who cannot yet grasp the concept of metaphor. In that case, the literal version of the Walt Disney Company feature is ignoring, and never talking about the creepy family member.

Bruno with his hood on during the "We Don't Talk About Bruno" musical number in 'Encanto'
Credit: Disney

It endlessly reinforces the values of pride in family, while ignoring the risks of failing to acknowledge an issue with a family member. The fact that “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” the song was the thing that took off for Disney’s Encanto is the main root of the concern. Kids are less likely to remember the full story; Time Magazine even reported that we remember music better (even adults).

There are plenty of people who believe that the Bruno character held a coded message about autism. Others believed that it was a matter of inappropriate intrafamilial relationships, adding a creep factor to the iconic Disney Encanto song. Many were quick to Disney’s defense, suggesting that these claims were outlandish. But were they really?

Disney’s Encanto Canned: Show Delayed Indefinitely

It seems that Disney’s Encanto encountered more than one problem after recent news reported its indefinite delay. Encanto 2 fell behind other projects like Frozen and Zootopia sequels. While many assume that the Madrigal family will return, the state of Walt Disney Animation Studios productions remains in flux.

Felix (L) and Pepa (R) in Disney's 'Encanto'
Credit: Disney

Why We Must Talk About Bruno

Walt Disney Animation uses heavy themes, relating to family dysfunction, fear, war, love, death, and more. Through magical realism, Disney films can provide lifelong impressions on those who need the extra juice offered by a Disney original song. Empowering, when done right, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” missed the mark entirely. It was neither “woke” nor “asleep”; the song simply sent the wrong message.

Mirabel Madrigal in Encanto
Credit: Disney

Protecting the Innocent

If that original song is the best-remembered part of the Disney film, then any ordinary Madrigal in the making is likely to get the wrong message. In the age of #ImWithHer and awareness of violence, it’s important to speak out about Bruno. Sure the movie brought him out of the shadows at the end, but that’s not the rallying cry of the musical hit.

Sure, the Disney film had a valuable lesson about an extraordinary family and how an ordinary Madrigal could heal it. However, if the Times is correct and we remember Bruno better, it leaves a lot of kids thinking they shouldn’t speak about a family member that’s worrisome. There is help available, but speaking out about the metaphorical Bruno lies at the heart of accessing it. Hopefully, in the sequel (if it happens), Disney’s Encanto can capture its core message in an original song with a better battle cry.

Do you side with the Redditors that claim it’s all an innocent story, or are you one to see the coded messages that Disney’s Encanto has in spades? Make your mark in the comments below!

in Disney, Movies, Op-Ed

Comments Off on Why We Must Talk About Bruno, the ‘Encanto’ Icon