Many people don’t understand Disney, thinking “It’s a kids thing.” Sure, it was sold as that, beginning in the 1960s, maybe even not until the 1970s. But people also forget the cinematic and business history of cartoons. The first and major customers of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck were adults, and the cartoons of the late 1930s and 1940s were especially targeted towards adults. Disney also included some Mark Twain stylism, in the sense that Twain felt his audience wanted to be subtly educated as well as entertained. Disney did a lot of that, with its science and nature shows. But beginning in the 1970s, for whatever reason, the American public got tired of science. And the 1980s, the decade of greed came, and then science and maths looked too hard, and preserving natural systems too unprofitable. So Disney had to appeal to other things, and it lost its way.
It found it again under Eisner, and in many ways he tried to get it to be more grown up, more adult, seeing itself as part of the real world. Recall that mid-tenure, Disney bucked the Southern Baptists and gave health benefits to same gender couples. And Disney acquired brands whose movies were far realistic and adult. (I remember debating some Disneyphiles at the time who argued “What would Walt think?”, and I said he would have been no longer qualified to judge.) They brought out or bought the Miramax brand and others. Remember Disney insisted that the Palestinian Authority deserved a space at the Millennium Celebration?
I also think nancyabramsblogger is spot-on the symbolic interpretation. If you don’t get it, you should really read more Shakespeare. I also think many who think this is beyond Disney are trapped in their own pre-conceptions of what they think is not cool. As for me, I’m healthy and happy. What do I care what other people think? I think Disney is fabulous. I also think as Disney shifts its central business model, as they have, they are tracking the sentiments of the American public. I gotta say, I don’t like what I see there, and the United States are much worse for their changes. I think there’s a certain widespread pride in being poor uneducated white trash.
That’s certainly not what Disney or they who he admired wanted of the United States, whether Jules Verne or H. G. Wells.
I really liked this post.
Image taken from Tangled’s Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangled
I may be in my twenties, but I absolutely love Disney. You may be wondering where that fits into a blog about religion and politics, but trust me–it does.
Disney has shown itself to be fairly progressive. For example, several years ago, the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie aired a much anticipated episode featuring a lesbian couple. But sometimes Disney is a bit more subtle, addressing serious adult topics through its much-loved children’s movies in an indirect, even symbolic way.
Take Tangled for example. It’s a song-filled adaptation of the well-known story of Rapunzel. Like most fairy tales, it has fantastical elements, and it’s definitely intended for children. But I was thinking about the film the other day and realized it can be argued that in some scenes, Rapunzel’s crown stands in as a symbol of her virginity. If that is the…
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