Love It/Hate It: Disney

Crystal ColemanOp Ed7 Comments

oped

Today’s biting LI/HI is about a subject we know was an important part of many of your childhoods.

Selena: Walt Disney, the dude, was an interesting and resourceful fella. I have respect for the man behind the mouse. I also have tons of respect for the digital artists and computer whizzes who make Disney’s visually breathtaking animated movies. Having known a few, I even respect those poor saps that have to spend their summers wearing giant costume heads at the Disney branded theme park experience. The rest of Disney, however, can get bent. Here are my reasons why Disney is terrible.
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  • Disney, second only to marketing genius George “Screw You, Fans” Lucas, is a certifiable master at separating parents and guardians from their money. Disney will merchandise anything, and charge three times as much for it as any other retailer. Children, not yet being gifted with the simple beauty of a cynical streak, eat that shit right up.
  • Name five strong female Disney characters. How many of them are human? How many of them existed before 2000? How many of them are in movies that pass the Bechdel test?
  • While they have shown some improvement, Disney has a terrible history of alienating LGBT individuals.
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Crystal: When I was in second grade, I finally learned how to swim. Why? Because I was a redhead and since I was a redhead, I could be a mermaid like Ariel (the logic made sense to my eight-year-old self). Ariel was my idol at the time. I can hear the feminist gasps. Don’t worry, I didn’t grow up thinking it was okay to give up your life for a man. Nor did I grow up waiting for some prince to wake me with a kiss or thinking that every beast had a charming man inside him, if only I could love him enough. While the Princess culture that Disney admittedly perpetuates is concerning to many, I think that as part of comprehensive childhood media consumption (that also includes superheros, dinosaurs, and every other awesome thing out there), it’s not harmful. Other reasons I just love Disney:

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  • The Walt Disney World resort in Buena Vista Florida created the tourism industry in Florida. Before Walt bought all those orange groves, Central Florida was just the swamp that snowbirds flew past on the way to Miami. Today, Florida is the number one tourist destination in the world, with a $67 billion impact on the state (source). Do you really want to put all those people out of work just because you hate Princesses? For shame! (Just kidding.) The Disney Parks ethos is also one of the most well-regarded customer service training programs in the world.
  • The 1990s golden age of Disney Animation brought life back into the movie musical, a genre that hadn’t been in vogue for nearly two decades. With talented Broadway composers like Tim Rice, Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, and Stephen Schwartz, not to mention pop legends like Elton John and Phil Collins, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that their films inspired a whole generation of singers and musicians.
  • Without Disney, we wouldn’t have Miramax (which formerly existed under the Disney umbrella) or Pixar. No Up or Finding Nemo or Toy Story 3 or  Brave. Nor would we have the movie of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which is a damned national treasure.
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Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses. http://thatgirlcrystal.com
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Crystal ColemanLove It/Hate It: Disney

7 Comments on “Love It/Hate It: Disney”

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  1. Profile photo of Stephens
    Stephens

    As some one who is from the Orlando area, I have a very much love/hate relationship with Disney. Yes, it employs lots of people, but I know from a dozen friends that they treat their employees like crap and they are grossly underpaid. Yes, it drives my area’s economy as does Seaworld and Universal (who don’t treat employees much better) but the traffic and rude tourists make me stabby.

    I do enjoy going to the parks occasionally, but I go during the off season when it’s not boiling. It is fun but I’m not obsessed. Tbf, I have friends here who love all things Disney so there is that.

    1. Profile photo of Crystal Coleman
      Crystal Coleman

      I will admit that the Disney internship program is total BS, too. Although, I have had a few friends go on to solid character roles in the park from it.

      Off season is definitely the time to go.

  2. Profile photo of freckle [M]
    freckle [M]

    Oh, this conflict. Can I say I love nineties and earlier Disney (GIMME MY DRAWN FILMS) and turn one blind eye to their feminist and LGBT problems? Please? B-Because you can’t take Lion King, The Little Mermaid or Aladdin from me.

  3. Profile photo of GwenBear
    GwenBear

    Can I say that I love Disney while realizing that it is problematic? Because I freaking love Disney. Beauty and the Beast is one of my top five favorite movies, and Belle was one of the first heroines I encountered who was a bookworm like me. Plus, the music! The jokes and hilarity! The pretty!

    But I totally get that Disney is actually super problematic, and the whole “Princess” marketing thing makes me want to punch something.

    Also, I promise, someday I’ll actually take a stance on on of these love it/hate it things – it’s just that you all make such good points, and I have such a love for Disney despite my smart/critical side.

    1. Profile photo of Crystal Coleman
      Crystal Coleman

      I think you can definitely love something while acknowledging that it’s problematic. I totally recognize that some of the reasons I love Disney are some of the reasons others find it distasteful, and thankfully, there’s room on Persephone for both sides of the coin.

  4. Profile photo of DrMrsJamesCole
    DrMrsJamesCole

    Hate Disney overall, but like a few aspects of it. Their buy-out of Pixar was depressing albeit predictable.

    My issues, besides the ones stated: The attempt at normalization of over-melodramatic behavior. Everything is intensified to an absurd level, and I tend to find that people who grew up with it conditioning their youth tend to take a long time (if ever) to get over melodramatic, fatalistic thinking. The oversimplification of bad and good, and women who are either martyr-complex princesses or ‘empowered’ princesses (read: ones who act ‘like guys’ to the shock and dismay of everyone yet still essentially revolve around Needing a Man, so it’s okay). Everything that is ‘for kids’ does not need to be about Princesses if it has female characters. We can’t dumb down stuff for kids to such a ridiculous degree and then wonder why people have such a hard time with critical thinking skills when they grow up. That sort of brainwashing takes a long time to get past.

    The good: The theme parks and physical locations are amazing, even if they are money pits. The Imagineers. Lilo & Stitch. The fact that my teenaged sons readily admit that the beginning of Up makes them cry. And Lilo & Stitch, again!

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