Thursday, May 10, 2007
Every once in awhile, something comes across my desk at the office which forces me to get up out of my chair as quickly as possible, run across the street to Duane Reade and buy duct tape so that I can completely wrap my head to hopefully keep it from exploding.
I'm not quite sure how to put into words the relentless and punishing insanity of one particular news item currently making the rounds -- the one involving the surreal, state-run "Bizarro Disneyland" now open in Beijing.
Apparently, Having exhausted every other form of copyright infringement possible, China has opted to go for broke and open its own version of the so-called "Happiest Place on Earth." Shijingshan Park -- or, the "Happy Fun Good Place on Earth Go!" -- is quite simply the weirdest goddamned thing you've ever seen. It's a mirror-image of Disneyland, provided the mirror in question is the kind you'd normally find inside a carnival funhouse. The park features a cast of characters that look eerily similar to the ones popularized by Disney -- there's a large-eared rodent, a white duck which appears to be on meth, and a raven-haired temptress surrounded by seven little people; upon closer inspection though, something about each of them seems just a little bit, off. It looks as if they've all been exposed to toxic waste and have consequently mutated into something that remains recognizable, but in the same maddeningly confusing way that your high school classmates appear at your ten-year reunion.
Your brain instantly responds because it knows what it's seeing, but then begins to turn cognitive somersaults in your head because something just does not compute.
China of course claims that all the characters and images in Shijingshan Park are original creations.
On the one hand, you have to hand it to the Chinese for their audacity, not to mention their bravery; Michael Eisner alone spent a good portion of his time at the helm of the Mouse House crushing outright and drinking the blood of anyone who dared display an unauthorized reproduction of Mickey and Company on his or her daycare, school bus, private ranch designed to entice little boys into having sex, etc. It's surprising to think that Disney is only now dispatching its 102nd Airborne Attorneys Unit to China to chopper up onto the park from out of the horizon while blasting It's a Small World in an effort to terrify the locals. On the other hand, the Chinese have turned product piracy into -- well, if you'll forgive the irony -- an art-form. Bereft of any apparent imagination of its own, China has created cheap, inferior clones of practically every form of mechanical, technological and intellectual property currently in production; what's worse, it's done it under the protection of a socialist government which opts to feign naivete while playing a clever little shell game with the very people it's ripping off.
"No, see -- this Disneyrand, with an 'R.'"
The end result of course is that the U.S. winds up with a 233-billion-dollar trade deficit with China.
And Mickey Mouse winds up looking even more ridiculous than usual.
(Just to add an entirely separate layer of mind-pulverizing lunacy to this story, take a look at the Asian television report on the Disneyland controversy. Believe me when I tell you that you don't need to understand the language to enjoy every twisted second of colorful batshit-crazy contained in this six minute piece. I'm pretty sure this is what the Alliance used to trigger River in Serenity; if she happens to be anywhere near you as you watch it, do yourself a favor and stand back.)