Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Disneyland Hypocrisy

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.


  1. Wait until Liam is old enough to watch movies. I am occasionally shocked by stuff I didn't remember at all. "Hey, look, that other deer was about to rape Bambi's girlfriend but Bambi fought him off so now he gets the girl." o.O

    Of course, you can always pick and choose as well, but that's a mixed bag. Mulan and The Black Cauldron remain favorites because the romance is almost non-existent. Even Tangled kept it as a secondary plot line.

    Sadly, I regularly forget one important lesson told to me in Literary Theory - "Don't think about any of this while raising kids." :p


  2. I know. I have to keep reminding myself that just becasue The Little Mermaid was my favorite movie when I was five didn't mean I went on to want to be a princess for the rest of my life. It's just interesting watching the movies and being at Disneyland with this whole new perspective and makes me wonder how these movies and the place itself does influence our kids. With that said, Droidlet has been to Disneyland about four or five times already and he's only five months old! :)

  3. My favorite movie when I was younger made me never want to grow up. But that was inevitable and I knew look at me now! I am the next best thing, a spoiled princess :)

    That may be more the way I was raised though. I do occasionally like the idea of being rescued by my prince charming however (like Prince Harry of England or Prince Carl Philip of Sweden) but I'm pretty sure thats why the fairy tale movies are bad for girls like me. Gives me false hope haha.

    How about, while watching Disney movies with Droidlet, you can point out that there is a penis in the castle of little mermaid, a boner in the man who is performing the marriage of Ursala to Price Eric, the word "sex" in dust and leaves as Simba flops down on the hill in The Lion King, and so much more...Its very entertaining reading about the "naughty" things in Disney movies. Oh, and how about my sisters favorite movie, Alice in Wonderland....definitely not a fairy tale "save me prince I'm helpless" sort of movie. :)

    Disneyland just makes me feel like a kid again, HELLO, you've seen me at the Aladdin musical and Fantasmic, and even though I don't agree with how much the charge for EVERYTHING (ummmmm "Steph, I am NOT with you if you get caught for stealing that ring....") I will NEVER give up having a pass or going as much as possible!

    OK so I guess back to your post, even though you don't agree with how Disney runs things, you are entitled to be happy and you are happy when you are there. Its sort of like, when you are in the moment, you aren't thinking "Oh no, I think that corn just cost me my sons college fund" or anything. At least they recycle there :) Disneyland is supposed to bring out the child in you. You aren't supposed to really think about money or what you learned in school.....but is supposed to make you always be forever young.

    Oh, and the day that Disney makes a character that is homosexual is the day that hell freezes over. They would receive so much crap about it from families that dont think its "OK" to have two boys or two girls kiss. But who knows, maybe one day long in the future.

  4. What I want to make sure to do with the Disney movies is also share with Droidlet the other stories that the Disney movies were based on. The Cinderella where the stepsisters end up cutting off pieces of their feet in order to fit the shoes (to help show how ridiculous those women are) or the Little Mermaid where she doesn't end up with the prince. I want him to be able to see the other myths - I even have a book about a queer "Cinderella" character (the book is called Ash) and it's amazing.

    But you're right, Disneyland does make me happy, and that's why we continue to go :)