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How Pop Culture Influences Día de los Muertos

In recent years, as Día de los Muertos is increasing in popularity, the holiday itself is being influenced by pop culture. Some might recall the famous opening scene of the James Bond "Spectre" movie, which starts with a spectacular Día de los Muertos parade in Mexico City. The only thing is, Mexico City never actually had this parade, until the movie came out, and then they did. 

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Hollywood movies, zombie shows, Halloween and even politics are fast changing Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, which traditionally consisted of quiet family gatherings at the graves of their departed loved ones bringing them music, drink and conversation.

Mexico’s capital was holding its first Day of the Dead parade Saturday, complete with floats, giant skeleton marionettes and more than 1,000 actors, dancers and acrobats in costumes. Lourdes Berho, CEO of the government’s Mexico Tourism Board, said 135,000 people were expected to attend.

But that impressive spectacle has never been a part of traditional Day of the Dead celebrations.

The idea was born out of the imagination of a scriptwriter for last year’s James Bond movie “Spectre.” In the film, whose opening scenes were shot in Mexico City, Bond chases a villain through crowds of revelers in what resembled a parade of people in skeleton outfits and floats.

It’s a bit of a feedback loop: Just as Hollywood dreamed up a Mexican spectacle to open the film, once millions had seen the movie, Mexico had to dream up a celebration to match it.

“When this movie hit the big screen and was seen by millions and millions of people in 67 countries, that started to create expectations that we would have something,” said Berho, “We knew that this was going to generate a desire on the part of people here, in Mexicans and among tourists, to come and participate in a celebration, a big parade.”