If there is no struggle, there is no progress. -Frederick Douglass
We are just home from a vacation in Disneyland, California which I feel very fortunate to have experienced.
At the same time, I find myself internally conflicted by Disney and everything it touches. It feels a bit like having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other and I’m not sure which voice deserves my attention.
Let’s start with the devil voice. Disney is a machine it tells me. It is all about selling more shirts, coffee mugs and lunch boxes. It is about selling movie tickets and CDs and DVDs. As a corporate entity they continue to acquire more rights to existing movies and as they do they just get bigger and bigger. Recently Disney announced plans to create a new Star Wars land in their theme parks and Disney also owns the rights to Marvel and Winnie the Pooh. How would A.A. Milne feel about all this? How can they market to young innocent children? Its just not fair. What chance does a 3 year old have against the Disney marketing machine? What chance do the parents of a 3 year old have? And what about California’s drought? There are fountains everywhere and crowds are misted to keep cool. And that doesn’t even take into account all of the water rides. It is not environmentally friendly.
Then I hear another voice. It is the angel on the other shoulder. Think about the origins of Disneyland 60 years ago. What was Walt’s vision? Walt was a creative artist who wanted to tell stories and spark children’s imagination. He had a sense of humour too and laughter can bring so much to a person’s life. I can appreciate that as I consider myself to share those values. The stories of Snow White, Peter Pan and Dumbo are all classic children’s favourites. And new stories with universal appeal like Frozen continue to be told and added. Think of the many children who may not be exposed to these stories had it not been for Disney theme parks. Think of the imagination it can spark and the experiences that are shared by families across generations. Think of the happiness and joy it brings to so many people. The family entertainment factor is off the charts without the need for censorship. It is good clean fun.
So although my inner Disney conflict may never be resolved, I’m happy and content on one fact: I can see both perspectives and for that I am grateful.