Disney: The Evil Empire?
Both the left and right despise Disney’s theme parks, equating them with mindlessness, exploitation, consumerism and the perpetuation of Disney’s nefarious agendas (pick either agenda; I weary of repeating them). Neither camp can force themselves to admit that these parks are not only entertaining, they are massively attended by the populace, all of which can’t be fooled all of the time. Most of them seem to come home with considerably fewer funds yet readily admitting to a fine time for both self and family.
Again, dear readers, this is a free market. The patrons of Disney parks attend of their own free will. Smug and/or angry ideologues are not exactly forced through the gates at gunpoint, either. These watchdogs are free to pursue whatever high-or-lowbrow entertainment they please. It’s time to allow everyone else to do the same without labeling them dupes of an evil empire.
I have not always agreed with Disney’s every decision nor have I enjoyed every film that the studio has produced. In particular, I am disappointed with the company’s decision to produce direct-to-video sequels of its classic masterpieces, an endeavor I believe to be artistically impossible and aesthetically corrupt. As a longtime fan of the National Hockey League, I was discouraged by the corporation’s purchase of an expansion team that seemed to be a blatant promotion for a series of films and, later, a desultory cartoon series.
Not long ago I decried the decisions that resulted in the deep-sixing of a possible sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Still, some objectivity must be retained. These actions do not signify an Evil Empire, merely a corporate giant operating in a free market, making the decisions it deems best for its own survival and prosperity. Deciding whether or not we agree with Disney should depend more on our own free will, critical judgment and individual taste than on dogmatic pronouncements from pulpits or ivory towers.
(Parts of this column were originally published as reviews appearing in TOON Magazine during 2000 and 2001) - Dr. T.
Dr. Toon would at this time like to express his appreciation to departing editor Heather Kenyon, who “adopted” his persnickety little column from Animation Nerd’s Paradise nearly four years ago and gave it a home on this esteemed website. Ms. Kenyon’s guidance, encouragement, honest feedback and sharp critical eye made these columns — and this columnist — far better than the rough drafts they often were. Thanks, Heather, and best of luck!
Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman is a longtime student and fan of animation. He lives in Anderson, Indiana.