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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Split Personality of Disney

I love Disney so much that as soon as I got a full-time job in my field of study, I bought Disney stock. It was a good investment. Over the years I have heard many opinions on Disney. Several members of my family are dead-set on boycotting the parks because they feel they're "wrong". I guess you either love the brand or hate it, but make no mistake: Disney is a brand. A very well-built brand tied to a driven man who apparently has the ability to run the company from the grave. (Think I'm exaggerating? Explain the Polar Vortex that moved through half the nation during the release of Frozen. Coincidence? I think not.) Sure, the company's a huge conglomerate that puts out some mind-numbing teen shows and the odd bomb at the box office, the parks commercialize dreams (I can't afford to take my kids to Disneyworld, unless I part with my stock--and even then: debatable), and the princess thing is getting out of control (Then again, if there are plans to "feminize" Merida by giving her an hourglass figure and larger breasts, it probably has more to do with a flaw in our culture--the same one evident in every comic-book portrayal of a female character--than a problem with Disney studios' execution of its brand.).
     I still love Disney. Their formula is magic. The creatives behind the films build believable relationships between the characters in a very short period of time. I walked into the movie theater during the release of Frozen and prepared myself to be disappointed. You see, I loved Brave and didn't think they could top that with regard to a feminist message and gorgeous scenery.
     I was proven wrong. Frozen knocked me out with its pacing, its frozen landscapes and the realistic portrayal of sisterly love. And the song. The song! (I'm taking a moment to go belt it out in my powder room right now. The acoustics in there are divine.)
     Okay. I'm back and feeling empowered, though hoarse. Where was I? Ah, yes. Even the less familiar movies, like Treasure Planet and Meet the Robinsons, have moments of pure Disney gold. Marketing-wise, Disney's timing is spot on. They know just when to bring out an original concept (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.. Enchanted) and when it would be better to use old reliables like the Muppets or the fairy tales in the Once Upon a Time TV series and Maleficent. They certainly must have a finger to the pulse of the nation to know just when we're at our most nostalgic.
     The only problem is, Disney-the-Brand has a split personality, which--as everyone knows--is a serious form of mental illness. Check it out.
In Frozen, they told me to Let it Go (they kept telling me over and over and over and then the entire nation took up the anthem.) I'm gonna go out on a limb here and conclude that everyone wants me to LET IT GO!!!!

This is in direct contradiction to Goob's advice in Meet the Robinsons. He said--and I quote-- "NO! Everyone will tell you to let it go and move on. But don't. Instead let it fester and boil inside of you."
So now I'm stuck. Oh, to whom should I listen? Elsa and Anna are so pretty and spunky. They seem to have it all together. Goob is, well, Goob. A failed villain. Cute kid turned repugnant adult. He's how I imagine Charlie Brown would've turned out if the poor kid were ever allowed to grow up. Charlie Brown, in middle age, would be struggling with the mental scars from all of Lucy's bullying. Sometimes I want to step into the TV, grab that football from her and smack her with it. Then I'd hold it for Charlie, reassuring him all the while that I can be trusted not to pull it away at the last minute. Seriously! What right does Lucy have to open up a psychiatry practice? The one bright spot of Charlie Brown's theoretical middle age is that he wouldn't have to get used to the idea of going bald. He's been there.
     Anyway, since I have way more in common with Goob than with Elsa or Anna (Oh sorry, it's Ah-na. Of course it is), I'm going to NOT let it go. (My next blog will investigate exactly what IT is.)
     Which brings me to the last reason I love Disney. Disney loves Goob enough to give him superior character development. So here's their brand in a nutshell: Princesses and bawdy pirates, weird-looking, bitter men with personal vendettas up the yin-yang, authors of iconic nannies battling personal demons and economic ruin, malicious christening-crashers (with super-chiseled cheekbones). Split personality.
God, I love Disney.

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