Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Big D

Okay, upfront a confession, Bush: I have never liked Disney. I cried when I saw "Bambi." When I was eleven years old, I was made to sing the lead role in my boarding school production of "Snow White," with seven of the litle junior boys roped in to play the dwarfs. I can't begin to tell you how humiliating this was for an eleven-year old, and reason enough in itself to despise Disney for the rest of my life.

What I find truly unforgivable, though, is the Disney cute-ification of some of the great works of children's fiction--"Winnie the Pooh," "The Jungle Books," "The Just-So Stories." And of course the great fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. These are stories that were read to me as a child and which I read to my children, and they do not--repeat, do NOT--need the help of Disney to make them cute and palatable to the tastes of over-protective parents who seem to fear that their children will grow up to be axe murderers if they hear the real adventures of "Red Riding Hood." Disney, to my mind, is responsible for much of this pernicious adulteration of the sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible experience of childhood, whose traumas none of us escaped.

Oh, and I could go on and be a real grouch about the money factory that is Disneyland, where the first building you encounter on entering the happiest place on earth is a bank! And where the ubiquitous gift shops do a brisk trade on the innocent acquisitive nature of the very young. I could tell you about the atrocious food, Bush, and the outrageous prices. I could tell you about the hour-long lines for two-minute rides.

But--and this is a big but--that would be to neglect the very real joy of watching the rapt faces of my grandchildren on the "Small World" ride, the giggles and wiggles as they charged around Toon Town, the look of wonder when they ran into Goofy and Pluto in person. They'll remember their day in Disneyland long after the tears of frustration have been forgotten, long after the stifling boredom of waiting in line has receded to a big blank in their memories. So I don't regret our visit there one bit, even if it did put me in mind of my old prejudices.

And of course, Bush, as we have mentioned many times in these pages, there is always something interesting and profitable to be learned from the prejudices themselves.


PK said...

Parts are sad to read. I went there about 2 years after it opened, with my Sib's and my 2 cousins. We got to go on all the rides, and see some of the little movies along the way. There was nothing but orange groves all around at that time. Our Grandmother took us:), an English woman who normally was pretty strict, sorta melted a tad there:). I think I enjoyed watching her as much as going on the rides. Yes, I too cried at 'Bambi', and I have 'The Grimmest of Grimm', and a lot of the original stories. It is sad that they have taken classics and taken away the moral of the stories for the kids. Didn't hurt me or mine, don't see where it will hurt the new generations either. Like everything else, it's all about the money.

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