On a normal basis, I am very pro-small business. I actively try to attend the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning to get fresh, local produce (and use public transport to get there – yay!). I stay as far away from Wal-Mart as possible. When the bank allows, I try to shop at all my favorite mom and pop stores. We love supporting local, independent breweries and I try my hardest not to waste (we recycle, use cloth diapers, that sort of good stuff). When we eventually have a yard, I want to grow my own veggies and practice composting. I always make jokes about “the man” and corporations, yet…
I love Disneyland. LOVE Disneyland. Love as in the we-have-annual-passes-even-though-we-really-can’t-afford-it, any-time-we-come-to-Long-Beach-we-go, smooshy-ooey-gooey, unicorns and rainbows, kind of way. And Disney, well, it basically is the epitome of consumerism and waste.
I don’t even like the whole “rescue me, oh prince, because I’m a helpless princess”story lines. Or the fact that all the princesses are unrealistically thin and have to be saved by a man in order to be happy. I mean, where are all the queer, genderfck princesses at?
Yet, when I enter Main Street and hear the Disneyland band playing a tune and walk up the middle of the street to that big, pink castle, I’m filled with giddy happiness. I love the Buzz Lightyear ride and geek out on all the Star Wars merchandise. I spend way too much money on one ear of corn from Frontierland and love my ride through hell on Mr. Toad’s. The carousel is always a must and I am ever so excited for the opening of The Little Mermaid ride in the near future.
But I know it’s all fake. And I know the Disney corporation both makes and spends copious amounts of money all so that people can indulge in these fantasies that usually reinforce heternormative, patriarchal society. You should have seen me go into a gender theory reading over the Tiki Room. I could write a whole blog post about the phallic symbol of that burst of water in the middle of the room, about how all the birds that actually talk and have names are male, and that the only female birds we see don’t have individual voices but sing, in unison, in over-feminized costumes and are beckoned from the ceiling by the main male bird. Yet, I still skip and dance right past the Tiki Room on my way to New Orleans.
I guess it’s hard to always, no matter what, practice what you preach. I recognize the hypocrisy in my love for Disney but I also recognize how it is yet another example in my life about how everything is not just black and white. On one hand, Disney can be seen as evil reinforcement of societal norms and the constant need for more-more-more. On the other hand, Disney does donate to charities and brings happiness to lots of people. And maybe it’s good to get alternative culture into the middle of something so big and so mainstream to start changing it from the inside out (like the LGBTQ weekend at Disneyland every October. It’s not technically Disney sanctioned, but oh man, is it practiced). We’re obviously a long way off from seeing a gay princess and his prince but by people participating in the Disney culture in their own unique ways, we’ve begun our process of storming that pretty, pink castle.