Sorry, Mickey I’m just not into you.
August 29, 2008
Next week my family is going to Disney World for an end-of-summer fling. Pretty normal behavior, save for one detail: I ain’t going. I would rather pay a sitter to accompany my wife and 3 girls than set foot there myself.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve not been interested in the Magic Kingdom or its byproduct. I never saw Pirates of the Caribbean and I’ve never been on the ride. I have almost no interest in digital animation and all the movies, rides and toys it has spawned, much of them Disney. When I hear my parent-friends discussing the “wry” dialogue and double entendre in Toy Story I cringe. Dumbed down references to heavily filtered hip-hop is hardly wry. Like 99% of the overpriced food served at Disney resorts, it’s crap.
Ironically, given my profession, it is Disney’s profound commercialization that irks me the most. Everything they do is tied to a revenue stream. Everything. The movies are connected to the characters, which are connected to the rides, which are connected to the toys, which are connected to… my children.
Insert scream here.
And herein lies the rub. I have three little girls all in Disney’s sweet spot. For the pre-teen there’s Hannah Montana, Josh and Drake, iCarly and others. For my little ones, it’s all about the “Princesses.” Venerable icons like Snow White and Cinderella are now packaged together, joining forces in a pink and purple domination of our rumpus room. Thank God all three of my children currently prefer Sponge Bob and the Simpsons (shows that actually do possess wry writing), but this does not keep Disney from trying to get them back. We all know it is not if Disney captures my children’s imagination again (emphasis on captures), but when.
I could go on ranting on all things Disney and, if you read my new novel, The Happy Soul Industry, you’ll find that I do. An entire chapter takes place at Disneyland, giving me ample opportunity to observe and skewer. In my novel (and worldview), Disney is much the same as Scientology. They are both moneymaking operations wielding huge influence (cult like?) on our culture. By design, Scientology is more covert. For all the negative publicity about Tom Cruise’s “religion” little is actually known about it. Disney, on the other hand, is so out there that it basically passes for American culture. In this regard it’s the more offensive of the two. At least Scientology is not polluting the mainstream.
Of course, Disney is a huge client to several ad agencies. And I worked at one. Yet, I seldom, if ever, touched their business. If required, I would treat them with utmost care and respect. Two faced? You bet. But that’s my job. I’ve written copy for cigarettes and hooch. I’ve said it before: “With the right art director I could sell venereal disease.”
Favorite Disney joke: Why did Mickey Mouse break up with Minnie Mouse? Because she was fucking goofy.