Jewish World Review Feb. 12, 2004 / 20 Shevat, 5764
It really is a Small World After All
Some New Yorkers grumble that they miss the sleaze of Times Square.. Personally, if I had to choose between weaving around skanky hookers and winos on a Saturday night, or window displays of pewter mugs in the shape of Donald Duck, well, it's a toss up. That's just me.
It is weird. Not long ago, Disney and McDonald's were the scapegoats for everything wrong with American's role in the world. Shoving burgers and cartoon characters down the throats of third world countries.
Now Disney is in trouble. Pixar is severing relations. Roy Disney, Walt's brother, is trying to oust CEO Michael Eisner, and the cartoons Disney has produced recently, sans Pixar, have tanked.
Well, I remember when Eisner hosted WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY or whatever it was calling itself- back in the eighties. No reflection on the man, but avuncular is not a word I would use to describe him. I recall seeing him dwarfed by Goofy on television, and thinking,"He's either going to hug Goofy or fire him." There didn't seem to be any in-between.
But I don't think Eisner's warmth or lack of it is the problem with Disney's woes. It is overload.
Look at the history here. Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge and Mr. Toad and Swiss Family Robinson and Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean and Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs and Goofy and Pluto and Dumbo and Pincocchio and Mickey Mouse. Hercules and the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and the toy cowboy and the toy astronaut and Brer Rabbit and Sleeping Beauty and ants and the hunchback from Notre Dame and Aladdin and the Princess and the panda from space and the kid with floppy hair on a skateboard from space
It has just become too much. We want to have our cartoon friends, but when the cartoon friends become an army, well, now it's time to step back. Disneyland and Disney world may be the happiest places on earth, but if we walk through the doors, and we are engulfed by underpaid kids in costume, all coached in low key ways to part us from our bucks, and leaving us warm and fuzzy, well, all I can say is: Enter the happiest place on earth, if you dare.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2003, Ian Shoales