Monthly Archives: April 2015

Walt Disney’s Linguistic Portrayal of Aladdin and America by Kristi Bezhani

CaptureWalt Disney lead a life which was not handed down to him after experiencing the life of hard farm labor, beatings from his father and experience in working for the newspaper back in the 50’s. However, the introspectiveness that he gained along with his success from producing Disney movies was not as evident as his financial success. It is clear that Disney is a large corporation which is primarily concerned in entertaining people to make money, however the stereotypes condemned in Disney movies detest the morality of entertainment.

Although movies, are meant to harmlessly entertain children, although Disney only seeks to gain money through entertainment, it does not have to resort to stereotypes to make movies enthralling for child viewers. For instance one particular movie that I used to love watching as a child was Aladdin. In this movie stereotypes are quite evident and clear from a linguistic, socioeconomic, and racial lens.  Specifically, in the scene when Aladdin meets Jafar, some very interesting dialogue arises in their first encounter. Jafar is an old, Arabic man who seems to appear crippled from the scarceness of his body weight and poor conditioned teeth, he wears a long white beard, dark skin, a big nose, and tired eyes. In the movie he is made out to be an evil character due to his appearance and Arabic dialect. Also, the fact that he is made out to be evil in the setting of an Arabic kingdom, his home country, is very ironic and insinuates a bad image towards Arabic men.

Contrastingly, Disney tries to make the fact that Aladdin speaks Standard English in the movie, superior to Jafar’s use of language, due to his dialect.

Such a political undercurrent of dialect is present in Aladdin, as Aladdin’s humanity and dialect is viewed with greater trust in respect to Jafar’s Arabic dialect.. Throughout the scene, as Jafar shows his treachery through wicked laughter, conniving movements (which only add skepticism and stereotypical reference to his image as an Arabic man), his choice of words does well to show his treachery above all else. He deviously says to Aladdin, “You’ve heard of the Golden rule haven’t you? The one that has the gold makes the rules.” In this sentence, Jafar syntactically changed the modifiers of the sentence as he pertained modifiers to a person in command as he says “the one.” Yet the original phrasing of the Golden Rule, does not have modifiers that pertain to a person, but rather holds the heart of the message, which signifies the act of giving.

Therefore, language discrimination is another reason to undermine someone when one is already discriminating against race and culture, as language is immersed into one’s culture and can be defined by culture through dialect. Evidently, Disney does not appreciate heterogeneous dialect, as it negatively and stereotypically portrays the content of a foreign dialect. On the contrary, linguistically speaking, Disney appears to encourage homogeneousness with the incentive that Standard English is more sincere and trustworthy as that of Aladdin’s since he is presented in a good light throughout the movie. From one single scene in Aladdin, it is understood that Disney uses dialectic differences to determine superior and acceptable use of language as Aladdin’s Standard English in the movie is superior to Jafar’s.

In that light, Disney is not exactly welcoming linguistic diversity by stereotypically condemning the language of a foreign dialect. It does this through using social dialect to reference what is perceived as good and bad language. This leads many watchers to be subjected to prejudice. It is for that reason that Disney insinuates a lack of sincerity from discriminating the heterogeneous importance in language as discrimination of labeling someone with a stereotype for Arabic descent occurs. Mike Wallace sums this up perfectly in his article Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory as he says: “The Disney people do not consider this retrospective tidying up an abuse of the past, they freely and disarmingly admit its falsification, pointing out that this is, after all, just entertainment.” (Pg. 137).

As this is “after all just entertainment” it is entertainment which is done in American and with that comes certain American exceptionalism incentives and political undercurrents within Disney movies. For instance Aladdin possesses heroic features of light skin, and a small nose, using a Standard English accent. This comes to show how much more an Americanized character is perceived as a hero in contrast to a foreign character by Disney’s standards. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, one could say that Americanized dialect, appearance and culture is superior to all else, and as true as this may be in the world, it is ironic to American liberal values.

Tagged , , ,

Disney—Childhood Takeover by Deja Sloan

For almost all people growing up in America, Disney seems to have an inescapable death grip on childhood. Aside from the obvious Disney channel and Disney movies present in many households, there are deeper examples of Disney presence exposed to children at very young ages. Consider, for example, Playhouse Disney or Disney Junior. Theses two channels are owned by Disney, specifically aimed at children 0-5. They feature bright and colorful educational programs, and even feature shows starring Disney’s mascot himself, Mickey Mouse.

As children grow older they are expected to graduate to watching plain “Disney Channel” which features shows aimed at kids about 7-13. Before this, however, consider Disney merchandise that is also aimed at young children. Growing up, almost all of my toys had to do with Disney. Weather they were replicas of those toys featured In Toy Story or stuffed versions of animals side kicks from Disney princess movies, they were just about all I had. What is so interesting about Disney’s hold on youth is how institutionalized it is. I am almost certain no child exposes itself to Disney, but is conditioned by their parents to love it, giving them no choice.

dfbsfbsgMy nephew, for example, recently celebrated his first birthday. My sister was very excited to plan his party and though his favorite TV show is Peppa Pig, (A British TV series having nothing to do with Disney) she went with a Mickey Mouse theme without so much as a second thought. I asked why she chose that over his favorite (and only show capable of really holding his attention) and all she had to say was “He’ll love it, every kid loves Disney”.  So of course, I went along. Another factor to take into consideration is the recent popularity of viral video of children’s reactions to finding out they’re going to Disney world. In many cases, it seems the parents express more excitement than kids, and the kids just go along until they’re old enough to form their own opinions, and even then they still express excitement after being conditioned by their parents for their entire lives.

With all the reading we have done in class regarding “Disney History” it seems many children (including some in our class) remember having their first historical experience through Disney.  The historical accuracy of the information however, was to be determined later in most cases. The fact of the matter is Disney has something for everyone. Whether it be Playhouse Disney, Evil villains, enchanted princesses, or even live action pirates, the iconicity of Disney stretched over many demographics of people in every stage of life. Parents see this, and take it upon themselves to prepare their children for a life of Disney.

 

Tagged ,

How My Child Proves He Isn’t Corrupted By Disney by Annie Persico

This may or may not have been me all week. That may or may not be a representation of my mom comforting me in the upper left hand corner as I expressed my true disappointment in the lack of iconicity discussion around the subject of Disney and instead a discussion of what was up with Disney’s portrayal of history and it’s damaging effects.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

On to the real issue at hand, How My Child Proves He Wasn’t Corrupted By Disney

As most Disney haters are known for presenting all the reasons that Disney is corrupting our youth, I’ve decided to prove just how much Disney has NOT damaged my child. Listversehttp://listverse.com/2012/11/22/top-10-ways-disney-corrupts-children (along with countless others) presents a list of the Top 10 Ways Disney Corrupts Children. To be honest, I understand how some of these themes in Disney movies can be seen as harmful to children, but as I mentioned in class there’s some parental responsibility when you expose your child to ANYTHING so the blame can’t be placed solely on Disney’s shoulders. I may not touch on every one of the 10 “evil corruptions” of Disney for the sake of length, but I’ll touch on two that have been pointed out and proved to be wrong by my own seven year old.

IMG_6903Poor “corrupted” kid

Historical Inaccuracies

“Perhaps one of the most obvious points critics have grilled Disney over are historical inaccuracies in their few films which are actually based on real events.”

OK…I’m going to combat this one by saying that ART, which Disney movies are, are allowed to take poetic license as much as any other form of art. We don’t all think Picasso’s version of the Spanish Civil War is true to life, do we? To assume that every child is taking the Disney Canon of Animated Films and believing in them as the literal truth is to accept that every child is a moron- something I’m just not down with. Instead of looking at the historical inaccuracies as damaging, I’ve always taken them as an opportunity to educate my son on the history that INSPIRED the film. When Ryan watched Pocahontas and asked if it really happened like that I told him “quite honestly no, Pocahontas was actually 10 when that happened and she married a different English settler” and then I took him to a museum to show him some Native American Culture. Obviously I’m not getting into all the atrocities of the settlement of the New World with a 7 year old, and neither should Disney. But if I choose to sterilize history for a seven year old, what is wrong with Disney choosing to do the same? We have a whole national holiday based on a friendly dinner between Native Americans and Pilgrims and Disney didn’t start that… just sayin’.

These movies are geared towards children, not history majors. Please raise your hand if you are going to show your child accurate historical portrayals of violent events in our past. Oh no one is, you’d rather let them see at least an aspect of history that opens up a questioning of the events you say? Oh maybe you should put a Disney movie on for them, they’re great conversation starters.

Skinny People are THE ONLY Pretty People

I guarantee there will be a blog post about how harmful the body types portrayed in Disney are- and I’m not saying they aren’t, NOONE in the world could ever have a waist as small as Meg’s from Hercules…unless they were two years old. But maybe, once again, kids aren’t as judgmental as we think. Maybe I’ll kids aren’t looking at skinny princesses and thinking that’s the beauty ideal.

True story:

I take my seven year old to Disney over spring break, we meet Merida from Brave and Ryan straight up says to this beautiful girl dressed up as Merida, “ya know, you’re a lot prettier in real life, your too skinny in the movie.” Now aside from Ryan blatently commenting on a human’s weight (which we had a later conversation about) I was proud of him for telling this “Princess” to her face that he didn’t think her super exaggerated skinny self was what he was looking for. Bravo kid, you aren’t a judgemental little jerk who defines your views through television.

“corrupted kid” tells Merida she’s prettier with some meat on her bones

Maybe I have a well adjusted kid, I don’t know. But I refuse to let an Animated Film define my sons point of view of the world. I see the problems in Disney movies, the portrayal of skinny princesses and the fact that all of the parents are dead, I see the historical inaccuracies but I choose to use them to my advantage. I have conversations with my child about the things I expose him to. Maybe, just maybe, the corruption isn’t coming from Disney, but from parents who refuse to have honest conversations with kids thinking that they are all idiots and don’t understand the difference between Art and real life.  When my child proves his “corruption” (cause what kid doesn’t eventually show some signs of corruption?)  I’m not blaming it on Disney. If he fails world history, I’m not going to blame that on Disney either. And if he decides he wants to date a skinny girl or a curvy girl or a frog princess, I’m not going to blame that on Disney either.

With that being said, I’ll continue to give thousands of dollars to a Mouse to take him on vacation to Disney World after I put the monthly college contributions in the bank AND I’ll continue to let him watch movies where cats dance across pianos and dogs share pasta because I know he’s smart enough to ask me a question if he has one and I’ll take the responsibility of answering it, not leaving it to Disney.

Tagged , ,

Disney owns what? Historical Inaccuracies and Media Consolidation by Brittany Cozzens

As with Barbie, American Icon Walt Disney has created a worldwide network of 9203904_1people wishing to be in a fantasyland forever.  Through massive parks such as Disneyland and Disney World, to movies and their beloved characters, and even a Disney themed town, Walt Disney created something more than just a place to love, he created a place where dreams come true.

However, after reading Mike Wallace’s “Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory” I began to see that “The Happiest Place on Earth” is just a successful money pit created from false happiness that consumers are ever so willing to invest in.

This false happiness comes from the Disney imagineers invention of creating a Disney realistic society when at the parks- it becomes a place that is  “utopian in nature, where we carefully program out all the negative, unwanted elements and program in the positive elements” (Wallace 137). As someone else in class Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.30.13 PMpointed out that though Disney may be full of historical inaccuracies, it wouldn’t be as popular or sell as much if it included the negative moments from our histories past. While this may be true, the problem arises people, especially young kids, growing up thinking those historical inaccuracies to be true.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.31.57 PM

But just what is the reach of the Disney brand and its inaccuracies? With further exploration I came to find that not only is Disney a family favorite but also is one of the worlds biggest and most loved media conglomerates. The Big 6 as they are know control 90% of everything Americans see, hear and consider important. That’s right; GE, News Corp, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, and yes Disney pretty much rule the media world and how you get all of your information. But what all does Disney own you might ask- ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Miramax, Marvel Studios just to name a few. Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.21.37 PMIn an almost $276 BILLION dollar business, Disney has major say in not only what your children watch for fun but also everything else. Being such a large monopoly, it is scary to think that a company that prides itself on creating a new type of history, void of anything deemed negative that is integral to our nations history, is also the same company that rules the airwaves, TV stations, and so much more.Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.21.57 PM

Disney- the happiest place on Earth, media conglomerate, monopoly, and more apart of your life then you will ever know.

http://www.freepress.net/blog/11/11/22/media-consolidation-illusion-choice

Tagged , ,

Maleficent may not be a communist, but she is the devil by Angie Indik

hnsnnWhen choosing a Disney movie to examine for historical context, Pocahontas or Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, may appear to be the obvious option. I chose to view and analyze Sleeping Beauty instead. I did not do it for the challenge, I did it, truth be told, because it is the only Disney movie I own! It is also one of my favorites. This film was released in 1959, but the story is much older. It is a fairytale that Charles Perrault has been credited with writing back in the seventeenth-century. Historians believe there are even earlier versions dating back to the fourteenth-century. No matter how old the story is, the Disney interpretation of the tale would no doubt reflect the time period of the 1950s. My goal in watching this film was to try and decipher the less obvious historical messages in the movie.

For those unacquainted with the story of Sleeping Beauty, it is about a princess who was put under a curse by the villainess Maleficent. The Princess Aurora was to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and ultimately die before her sixteenth birthday. The curse did not work as intended as Aurora ended up falling into an eternal sleep, but would awaken with true love’s kiss.

Knowing this movie was made during the Cold War, I automatically felt I should see Maleficent as a communist. It must be there somewhere, right? Nope. She was not spreading a message of anti-capitalism. She was not against individuality. Perhaps she was against free speech as Princess Aurora could not speak during her deep sleep, but I think that’s stretching it a bit. I mostly saw a jealous woman hurt because she was not invited to a party celebrating Aurora’s birth.

adhahWhile the movie did not strike me as having a particular anti-communist message, it did have religious undertones to it. The 1950s brought about a religious revival. This was a result of the anti-communist, anti-atheist feelings on the 1950s. Maleficent is presented as having big devil horns on her head. She breathes fire as she is transformed into a dragon. The villainess is seen as evil as the devil himself. On the opposing side, there are the three fairies, Meriwether, Flora and Fauna. They represent the good. They look like nuns. The trio wear dresses and habits; the only difference is they do not wear black and white, but rather blue, pink and green. They adopt and raise the princess Aurora just as nuns would in an orphanage.

The movie Sleeping Beauty also shows how the 1950s valued motherhood and the female being the homemaker. The three fairies were thrilled at the chance to raise Princess Aurora. Motherhood was something that was denied to them. Now they had a chance to take on the “sole important role” for a woman and be a mother. When it came to doing domestic work such as baking, sewing and cleaning, the film pokes fun at them as they could not tackle these projects without using magic.

While Sleeping Beauty is not inspired by a particular historical figure or event, history can be found in unlikely places such as this Disney cartoon.

 

Tagged , , ,

Dangers of Disney by Sarah Klein

Controversy seems to surround Disney as much as their perfect, pretty princesses. Princesses who always look gorgeous, who have the ideal slim yet curvy body, and who always find their prince charming. For a children’s company that heavily appeals to young girls, Disney sure does manage to lump sum all types of girls into one narrow slot.sleepingbeauty1

If an icon contributes to nuanced negativity, should it really be an icon? And furthermore, is it unfair to expect such perfectionism out of icons as large and all encompassing as Disney, even though they primarily reach America’s impressionable youth?

Let’s look at the facts. A quick Buzzfeed search sends me to an article posted April 7, 2015–yesterday. The title: “16 Terrible Love Lessons We Learned From Disney Princes.” I’m not even surprised. Disney certainly has a sordid past of promoting no sexual consent (Sleeping Beauty AND Snow White), changing yourself for the man you love (The Little Mermaid), and allowing yourself to be abused by your true love (Beauty and the Beast)… Just to name a few.

The model Walt Disney created as far back as 1923 certainly lived in a world very different from today. Only three years prior woman finally won the right to vote.

In 1937 Snow White almost gets killed then has to run away until a man savesPrince_17 her by kissing her while she’s unconscious. In 1942 Planned Parenthood is established.

n the 1950s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have to be saved by their prince charmings to live a happy life, while in 1960 the FDA finally approves birth control and in 1963 Congress passes the Equal Pay Act.

In 1989 The Little Mermaid changes herself for a man; in 1991 Belle lets the Beast be abusive. In 1992 the Supreme Court reaffirms the validity of women’s rights to abortion under Roe v. Wade. Hey, that’s when I was born!

sleepingbeauty1As women have been making leaps and bounds in the real world, Disney continues to follow their outdated model of confining women to the life of princesses, in a role that is usually subservient and passive. Isn’t an icon supposed to change with the times and remain relevant? How can Disney continue perpetuating cold hard sexism to generations of impressionable little girls?

Oh yea, for this thing called money.

It certainly appears that when an icon is intertwined with making people money problems arise and morals and progress remain locked in the tower with the princess.

Too bad that intelligent little girls get the shaft.

 

Sources:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/terrible-love-lessons-we-learned-from-disney-princes#.qfly8qKgLg

http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/about-disney/disney-history/1960-01-01–1969-12-31

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline2.html

Tagged , ,

The Grimm Truth by Alexandra Margaret Vene

As most people my age probably have, I grew up with Disney starting as far back as I can remember. When I was 3 or 4, my grandfather started taking me to the Disney store and I used to pick out items for my whole family. To this day, he has saved every Disney t-shirt and sweatshirt I’ve “bought” him (cute, I know). I have seen and loved almost all of the cartoon films, but as a little girl my absolute favorite were the princess movies. Surprise, surprise. Something about them was just so fascinating, and the “happily ever after” endings definitely added to the charm.cinderella 1

It was wasn’t until I was older that I realized many of the Disney princess stories are based on German fairytales dating back to 1812 and were written by brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Princeton press). Disney, for the most part, just used the main character and the overall theme of the original fairytales and there’s an important reason why: the real stories are not quite Disney or even child appropriate…

Let’s use Cinderella as an example. I’m sure everyone knows the basic storyline of how Cinderella secretly goes to the ball and leaves her slipper which the prince uses to find her again. The Disney version has that same idea, to say the least, but there are some intense details that are left out. We don’t get as much back story as to what happened to Cinderella’s mother. In the fairytale, her mother dies and Cinderella plants a tree on top her grave. Cinderella’s tears over the grave prompt a bird to fly down and dress her in the ballgown and gold slippers (not glass!). There is no fairy godmother business at all. And for 3 days, Cinderella went to the festival (not a ball!) and got away from the prince, except on the third day he put tar down on the steps to try and catch her (stalker status).

cinderella 2Little did the prince know, Cinderella wasn’t dumb and she ditched her shoes. To find her, the prince set out to have all the maidens in the land try on a shoe to see whom it belongs to. Because all girls wears different sizes, obviously. So far, this doesn’t sound like a story that could be a problem for Disney, but this is where shit gets a bit gruesome. In the Disney version the two evil stepsisters attempt to stuff their feet in the slipper with a fail. In the Brothers Grimm version, however, that just wasn’t enough. To make the shoe fit, the stepmother cuts a toe off one sister and the heel off the other. Obviously, this is way too gross and graphic for Disney to put in a cartoon and I can understand why they changed the story around.

So who cares? I don’t have problem with Disney changing the original stories around to make them more appropriate for kids today. It’s completely understandable. But Disney’s films and stories have become so iconic that not many people know the real stories and where they came from. Even I grew up thinking the Disney versions were the real deal. Disney stole the ideas right out from under the Grimm Brothers and since they are dead nobody seems to really care. These iconic fairytales don’t actually belong to Disney, yet it gets all of the credit for the iconicity. I think it is important to know that the people behind Disney are not as original as we give them credit to be. It’s “Grimm”, but it’s the truth.

Sources:

http://www.grimmstories.com/en/grimm_fairy-tales/aschenputtel

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10300.html

Tagged , , , ,

Der Fuehrer’s Face by Daniel Cannon

Both of the readings discussed in class this week have had to do with how Disney treats history. Their tendency to only want to show the good parts of history along with their frequent conflicts with historians about their desire to do this are both chronicled in Mike Wallace’s essays. The question is, how does Disney treat contemporary events? We have read two different articles discussing their treatment of history but how did they handle things that would one day become history?

Years ago, I came across an image of Donald Duck as a Nazi. At the time, I Ducknazithought that this was just some clever play on the fact that Walt Disney was an Anti-Semite and did not put any more thought into it. I had not really thought about it again until this week. I was researching Disney and trying to figure out what their response was during World War II when I came across Nazi Donald Duck again. This time I read into it and it turns out that this is from Der Fuehrer’s Face, an Oscar winning short made by Disney in 1943 that was used as propaganda (see below). Disney, even though its leader hated Jews, seemed to hate anything that was anti-Capitalist even more.

The short animated feature opens with an excerpt of a Wagner piece and then transitions into a performance of “Der Fuehrer’s Face” done by a German oom-pah band consisting of Goebbels, Himmler, Mussolini, Tojo, and Goering. They march onto Donald’s house and force him awake so he can eat his rations and then go to work screwing on the tops of artillery shells and saluting pictures of the Axis leaders. The machine speeds up to the point that Donald cannot keep up and he draws the ire of the Nazi leaders. He wakes up in his bed at the end and he realizes this has all been a nightmare. He is wearing American flag pants and he kisses the Statue of Liberty while he praises his home country.

This is propaganda at its finest. It provides caricatures of famous leaders of the opposition and everything, while truthful, is driven up to the extreme as to scare the viewer at home. By casting Donald Duck in the title role, Disney makes the audience connect emotionally as they watch one of their icons being forced to live under Nazi rule. The very pro-America image at the conclusion of this cartoon along with the tomato in the face of Hitler at the end drives home the pro-American point very well. Disney entered the propaganda game to protect their own interests and to show the American people that they supported what the boys overseas were doing. This seems like a PR move and a good one at that.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Disney and The Truman Show by Sarah Butler

I have always been a fan of the Disney brand. It is something that I grew up with and because it is such an integral part of American culture it is hard to escape from. I went to Disney World as a child but don’t remember a lot of it because I was so young, but I went back twice during high school for spring training for my high school lacrosse team. While there we go to explore all of the parks and have an amazing and “magical” time.Epcot-Concept

One thing that stuck out in my memory from these trips was being in Magic Kingdom and wondering if there was anything in the houses along main street besides the store fronts. I wanted to live there and never leave Disney but, I have learned that it is all a facade. Learning that EPCOT was originally meant to be simulated community made me rethink what Disney is all about. The “Mickey Mouse History” by Mike Wallace described EPCOT as, “Disney dreamed of “a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research,” a permanent testing ground for new ideas in urban planning. Under its gigantic bubble dome, American know-how, ingenuity, and enterprise would overcome the ills of urban life”(142).

This to me did not sound like the kind of place that anyone should want to live. It sounds to me like you would be a test rat for Disney and is frankly creepy from the pictures. You wouldn’t be living a free life you would always be monitored which feels morally wrong and corrupt.

1353349429-screen-shot-2011-03-29-at-5-09-52-pm-2This planned community sounded a lot like The Truman Show film starring Jim Carrey who plays Truman. In the film Truman’s life is staged and being filmed for the enjoyment of the public. Truman has no idea this is happening and is actually living inside of a bubble and make-believe world. Things start to fall apart and he realizes that his whole life has been a lie and he has just been a product of entertainment. If EPCOT turned into what it was meant to be, I feel that all of its residents would be like Truman and become products of entertainment and consumerism. The inhabitants of this city would all be products of Disney and Disney ideals. This presents a fundamental problem with Disney. Disney is meant for entertainment and when they try to create places like EPCOT and Disney’s America they are creating a false consumer reality. Disney would be controlling the thoughts of the public in an inhumane and immoral way. The fact that EPCOT did not become what it was planned to be is a blessing and shows that the public does not want to be controlled by a conglomerate just like Truman didn’t want to be controlled by a TV show.

Tagged , , ,

History; As a Whole, It Wasn’t Very Happy by Calvin Thrall

Disney World markets itself with the (arguably brilliant) slogan “The happiest place on Earth.” While walking around the bright and clean streets of The Magic Kingdom, smelling the $8 elephant ears and listening to the cheerful and familiar music playing through PA speakers, one would be tempted to agree. Why is it that Disney World manages to be so goddamn happy all the time? What separates it from the dreary and unpleasant realities of our day to day lives?

DisneyWorldPicIn his essay entitled Mickey Mouse History, Mike Wallace provides an answer, sort of. Wallace points to the fact that, in order for Disney World to instill in its visitors a sense of enjoyable nostalgia about past times, imagineers must first whitewash the past. Gone from the rustic streets are the impoverished and the ill living without medicine, gone are the enslaved Africans, gone is almost any negative imagery at all (besides, as Wallace points out, the comical Disney villains present on various rides). What’s more, the imagineers truly believe that this sanitization of bygone eras actually captures more accurately the essence of those times.

You know, because Americans are inherently good – they occasionally just make silly mistakes like slaughtering and enslaving millions of people. Right?

Disney will never be able to present a comprehensive history of any topic, ever, because of its refusal to depict unhappy or unsavory events whatsoever. And that’s fine, because it doesn’t really pretend to be a historical site, nor does it pretend to be a place of education. And when you consider its status as a vacation spot for families (specifically familes with young children) you really can’t blaim them. Young children don’t want to feel that they’re being manipulated into learning when they set out to have fun (a truth that is exemplified in the attached image), and few people of any age would likely consider being taught about the horrific realities of America’s past as “fun” or “relaxing.” Disney World is only able to manufacture it’s “happiness only” zone through shutting out unhappiness in all forms, and because so many parts of human existence are unhappy, the “happiest place on Earth” feels distinctively artificial. When one exits Disney World after a trip to return to the “real world,” there’s almost a level of culture shock involved. Disney World is not a place people go to experience human history, it’s a place people go to get a taste of something that the world has never known: total peace, love, and happiness.

Tagged , , , ,