Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Controversial Nature of Disney

I have just finished reading my 748th blog post on why people hate Disney and it is the metaphorical straw that broke my back. I am ready to rail, rant and rave. Are you ready to listen? Too bad, because here it comes:

I don't get it. I don't get how so many people are so deathly opposed to Disney. I married one of you freaks and I would just like to say to the masses of Disney haters: I don't get you.

I, frankly, love Disney. I have Disney trivia games in my game closet and they are not for the kids. In fact, I get kinda pissy when Brynna wants to play one because she loses game pieces, and I love my little pewter Alice. I could spend all day making a list of arguments I've read in favor of hating Disney and try to debunk them. I really could, but that sounds boring to me. Instead, I'm making a list of things that I, personally, think are really, really great about Disney.

1. The lack of commercials on Disney Channel. Okay, so I'll admit that the commercials on DX are a little overwhelming, but it's only because we spend hours watching Disney East and Disney West and when we flip over it's like walking out of a dark movie theatre. But, seriously, I spent years prohibiting Brynna from watching channels that have commercials. At the time, that meant she could watch Disney or PBS. And only PBS for about a half hour after we got home, because then it switched over to the earn-your-GED shows, which are great, but not for a 2 year old. In any case, now that I have loosened the rule, with the understanding that we will talk about advertising and it's impact at regular intervals, I get asked for every freakin' toy that is peddled on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

2. Phineas and Ferb. I may have sung my praises to this show previously in this forum, but here it comes again. I freakin' love Phineas and Ferb and I truly think that it wouldn't be a bad idea for Disney to create a channel completely dedicated to these guys. Without commercials, of course.

3. Diversity. Okay, I know a lot of you are spazzing out because diversity is a relatively new idea for Disney and hey, there still isn't a black Princess and don't think I haven't noticed that. But, let's talk about the varied levels of diversity. Yes, racial diversity is important and I would like to see a little more of it on some of the older kid shows. Like Hannah. Hannah could use some kids of color. And mean, racially ambiguous Ashley doesn't count. But, there is more to diversity than skin tone and Disney does get this. There are a ton of Disney characters, for instance, living in nontraditional homes. Like Hannah, living with her widowed dad and her best friend Lily living with her divorced mother. Or, let's talk about Higglytown Heroes. Kip is the only kid with a nuclear family and he has like 19 sisters, so it's not exactly normal, is it. Eubie lives with an aunt and uncle and Wayne and Twinkle live with a single mother. Now, Brynna has a "nuclear" family and a pretty normal homelife, but I grew up living with my mom and my grandparents and I wish there had been more of this when I was a kid.

4. Princesses. Okay, I'll admit it. I hate the freakin' princesses and their freakin' pink world of exploding prettiness. I could do with less play makeup and tiaras and more play... well... anything. But a few things the Princesses have done for us: a. de-emphasize Barbie and her fashionista, big boobied, always wearing high heels self. Brynna's princess dolls look much more like real people and only have a few outfits, because guess what, none of them have more than a couple costume changes in their movies. b. expand the definition of princess. Princesses used to be the daughters of royalty. Period. Now, Belle can be a princess even though her father (hey another widower, there) is a poor, misunderstood inventor. Cinderella can pull herself out of the muck and dust herself off and be a princess. Mulan, my husband pointed out to me is neither a princess by birth or by marriage and sits in that castle on the poster in Brynna's room anyway. What makes these girls princesses isn't good marriage or breeding or even those stupid tiaras, it's who they are. They are charming, nice, kind, thoughtful girls who win in the end because they are not spoiled whiney brats. A lesson a lot of little "princesses" out there could stand to learn.

5. The superb animation. Face it. Turn on Oswald. Now flip to Roly Poly Olie and tell me that it's even comparable.

6. The Disney stars. When was the last time that a Disney star got her little 16 year old butt pregnant? Okay, there are nude picture scandals and well, Brittany. But for the most part, while Disney stars are under Disney contract, they manage to hold onto some sense of role-modelyness. And I appreciate that. I appreciate that Walt asked Annette not to wear a bikini until she was an adult. Frankly, my daughter won't be in a bikini until she can buy her own freakin' clothes. And it's possible that those kids get in just as much trouble, but the magical Disney machine covers it up, but you know what I say to that: "Thank you magical Disney machine."

7. Shredded Wheat. When we walk down the grocery aisle and Brynna wants every cereal with a cartoon on it and I can talk her into Hannah Montana Strawberry Shredded Wheat, I say Thank-you-Disney.

8. The vault. Okay, I understand that the vault was invented so I'd have to re-buy the same movie a hundred times and so that the prices on all Disney movies stay high and never fall. But, here's what I love about the vault. Brynna's current favorite movie: The Aristocats. She also loves Peter Pan, Cinderella (of course), and 101 Dalmatians. The vault means that she has been introduced to each of these like it's a new and exciting thing. Worthy of her attention. Not some dumb movie that mom watched when she was a kid. But a cool, new thing. I love the Aristocats and I could watch Thomas O'Malley all day long. Brynna knows about jazz and rag-time now because of that movie and she knows about London because of Peter Pan. Everything old is new again when you are four and there is a vault.

9. Trust. I trust Disney with my kids. Penises on the cover of the Little Mermaid aside, I trust that I can head to the basement to do some laundry or turn on the radio in the kitchen while I cook and there will be no sex, no drugs, no inuendo, no violence on the Disney channel. I don't trust Nick and I don't trust Cartoon Network. We were watching Scooby Doo on Cartoon Network one day and there was a commercial for Family Guy. That I spent 20 very uncomfortable minutes trying to explain some things that would have been best left unexplained. Now, I love me some grown-up cartoons in Adult Swim, but I don't love seeing things that only play during Adult Swim advertised at 6 p.m. I don't have to worry about that with Disney. And my sanity loves that.

10. The dreams. Okay, I know this is cheesey, but I cherish my Disney World memories. My Disney on Ice memories. My memories of watching those iconic movies for the first time. My memories of taking my little brother to see those memories when he was a kid. I love those memories and I want Brynna to have them, too. I want her to dream of seeing Cinderella's castle and watching Tinker Bell fly to the top of Epcot and then realize those dreams. I want her to go to a princess breakfast and hug Sleeping Beauty and shiver and giggle in the Haunted Mansion. Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth when you are a kid and I want her to have a few days of unfettered happiness.

Because of all the things I love about Disney, my favorite is that they treat kids like kids. They don't talk down to kids, but they let kids live their kid lives and forget about all the other crap they'll have to deal with when they hit middle school and suddenly Disney isn't so cool anymore. They have their whole lives to be grown-ups and only a few short, precious years to love a puppy named Penny and a cat named Marie and a mouse named Mickey.


Strangeite said...

When went to Disney World in January, and Sophie talks about either the castle or It's a Small World, every single day.

When Anna and I took Riley to Disney World the first time about 6 years ago, she had never been. She was a little bit of a Disney hater and really didn't think she was going to have a good time. I think we were there about 2 hours before she became a convert.

Oh and by the way, the next Disney movie will feature, Disney's first black princess.

p.s. Tinkerbell now flys from the top of Sleeping Beauty's Castle into Tomorrowland during Wishes.

Jessi said...

I can't imagine getting to adulthood without a visit to the World. It's crazy. I am hoping against hope that Brynna won't make it to elementary school, but that is going to be cutting it close.

I had heard that the next princess was going to be black and I had also heard (separately) that the next princess is going to be Rapunzel. And since I LOVE Rapunzel and hate Barbie Rapunzel and all her dragon-best-friend-having idiocy, I sincerely hope both of these rumors are true.

Thanks for the heads-up about Tinker Bell

Steph said...

Penises on the cover of the Little Mermaid? Whoa! What did I miss?!

Jessi said...

Back about a million years ago, when the Little Mermaid was first released to VHS, there was a cover that got yanked (teehee) pretty quickly that had some, um, castle spire things, that looked like an entirely different kind of spire. Couple that with the supposed SEX spelled in the wind in Lion King and something about someone saying hate your parents and there's a war with Disney.

Here's a link: That page shows a list of the Disney myths, 99% of which are false, but the penises are real.

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

The priest with the erectile issue in Little Mermaid is also real. Tee hee!

The next princess is black, but she is not Rapunzel, she's the nameless princess that kissed the frog. Or at least, I don't remember her name.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah. I saw the preview. I don't remember her name, either, but it looked like a super cute movie. Oh, no, wait. I think she's Indian, but she does have dark skin. I was with Daniel and he said she was Indian (as in India Indian.)

I didn't go to Disney World until I was in college. By that time, I wasn't a big fan of Magic Kingdom, but I love(d) the rest of the parks and would go again to Epcot or Animal Kingdom in a heartbeat.

Love many of the movies, and the animation, too. Also love Disney Pixar. Not into the Disney Channel, but after reading this, might be if I had kids. (Except for the witchcraft. That's my only beef with Disney, I think.)

Strangeite said...

You would be amazed how "cheap" you can do a trip to Disney World if you plan ahead.

When planning our trips, I found the an invaluable resource. This forum has over 30 million posts and 200 thousand members.

On a different but very related topic, send me an email, I am working on a project that I think you might be interested in.

Jessi said...

I don't mind the witchcraft. The way I see it, it's all fantasy and witches and wizards are no different from fairy godmothers and evil queens.

I'll have to check out the disboards. I've never planned a trip before and I find the website kind of overwhelming.

Strangeite said...

I went a little overboard when I was planning the last trip, I was a literal walking Encyclopedia of Disney World.

A couple of key tips. Unless you are taking advantage of a package from Disney (i.e. the free dining promotion), then don't buy your tickets from Disney. I bought my from Undercover Tourist, using the discount link from Mousesavers. Will save you about 15% off the price of the tickets.

Also, you can save a ton of money by staying in a place with a full kitchen. The only places like this on the Disney property are the DVC resort villas, which are member only. However, you can rent points directly from DVC members to stay in a villa. Depending on the time of year, you can stay in a 1 or 2 bedroom villa for about the same price of a hotel room.

Also, since the kids are not in school yet, DO NOT GO IN THE SUMMER. We went in the middle of January and the longest line we waited in the entire time was 15 minutes.

Also, adding days is insanely cheap....ok, I realize I have gone on way too long.

Sorry about that.

p.s. I love the witchcraft. I am still pissed that Disney let Universal Studies by the rights to build the Harry Potter theme park (which should be open sometime in 2010).

Anonymous said...

I'm probably the only person I know who doesn't like witchcraft because I think it's real. I used to get so frustrated with my parents when I was a kid and they didn't want me to watch things like Bedknobs and Broomsticks (my favorite), because I thought it was all made-up anyway. But since I've met a few witches and seen someone who was demon-posessed, I don't feel the same way anymore. The witches I knew were nice people, and all, probably with good intentions--that's not my point--just the opposite. I believe it is real, and that it works--just that it is not good. That's why I don't like it, and that's still my only beef with Disney, I think.

And maybe that all the princesses are princesses because they're pretty. I want somebody who looks like Cathy Bates or Venus Williams (really really buff, but admittedly very pretty) the lady from Sewing with Nancy or me or my mom to be a princess, and not turn out to be a "beautiful" princess in the end, either.