Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Montana Über Alles

Let me make something clear right off the bat: I don't normally go around taunting small children.

About a month or so ago, a friend of mine was in town -- a guy I hadn't seen since the two of us were a couple of kids watching The Wrath of Khan for the 130th time and trying to concoct viciously creative ways to destroy our neighborhood via a seemingly bottomless arsenal of fireworks. Eager to catch up after all these years, we made the decision to hook up for dinner on a Saturday night at one of my favorite local restaurants, Balthazar; having traveled to New York City quite a few times in the past, he'd made a slew of new friends up here and asked if one of them could join us. I of course had no problem with it and when I arrived at the crowded upscale bistro -- after a hearty hug from my old partner in crime -- I was promptly introduced to a guy named Jeff who bore a somewhat frightening, doppelgangerish resemblance to Scrubs star and wuss-music connoisseur, Zach Braff.

The similarities were so striking in fact that after successfully emptying several glasses of fantastic red wine, I decided to have a little fun at the expense of the table behind ours. I had noticed the three slightly mousy middle-aged women decked out in full Dress Barn gear discreetly craning their necks in our direction since we first sat down. Every so often, they and the little girl at their table would steal a quick glance over their shoulders -- their faces registering slightly quizzical excitement -- then titter away to each other in hushed sybilance. Finally, I flashed a warm smile at them -- one that I hoped said "Why hello sisters from Michigan making your first trip to the big city! Welcome! Have no fear -- I have no intention of robbing or violently raping you or your child!" -- and blurted out what they no doubt wanted to hear.

"Hi ladies, do you know who this is?" I said, gesturing toward Jeff/Zach with my wine glass.

"We were wondering --" one of them came back sheepishly.

"Yes," I said, cutting her off. "It's Zach Braff -- you know, from the hit NBC television series, Scrubs?"

The second woman spoke up, stifling a giggle. "We're from Wisconsin." Close enough. "We weren't really sure if it was him."

This immediately made me wonder if the television reception was somehow inferior in Wisconsin, and if so, why the FCC hadn't seen to the problem.

A moment later, having wrapped up dinner, our new friends were up from their table and headed for the door, but not before stopping to get one last look at the famous face of my dining companion -- the focal point of a brush with greatness that would no doubt provide endless excitement at the next Junior League meeting or church pot luck dinner.

Jeff smiled demurely, giving off an almost supernatural level of Braffitude.

"Are you on TV too?" the little girl practically shouted into my ear, her braces gleaming in the candlelight; she was smiling so wide that I was concerned her rubber bands were going to snap.

"Me?" I said. "Nope, sorry. I work in television but I'm not actually on TV."

And that's when it happened -- the moment that, if you know anything at all about the pre-teen set these days, you could've seen coming light years away.

"Have you ever seen Zac Efron?"

Ah Jesus, that kid from the fucking Disney High School Musical thing.

The look in her wide eyes was positively feral. She looked like she'd just mainlined an entire bag of sugar.

After a brief pause -- "Actually, yeah."

"YOU HAVE?!?" She literally jumped. I was concerned she'd slip on the puddle forming directly beneath her.

"Yeah sure," I deadpanned. "I just saw him a couple of days ago on the cover of Rolling Stone. Something about him being the 'next teen hearthrob' I think."

Everything about her seemed to spontaneously slide downward five inches or so. Her face deflated. Her smile drooped into a desolate frown. Her shoulders collapsed. You'd have thought I'd just told her that her entire family had been killed when their plane collided with Santa's sleigh.

"Congratulations, kid. You're officially the youngest girl whose heart I ever broke," I muttered, downing a giant gulp of wine.

"Good meeting you -- sorry about Garden State," Jeff said with a wave to the backs of the dejected little rugrat and her family, who were now making as quick an exit as possible.

If Zach Braff has received any confusing hate mail recently with a Wisconsin postmark, I apologize.

It's probably right about now that I should mention how much I hate Disney.

I hate the Walt Disney Company for roughly the same reason that a seemingly normal Midwestern pre-teen came very close to experiencing her first orgasm in the middle of a pricey French restaurant in SoHo: because the cult of Disney has exerted and continues to exert an almost undefinable form of mind control over America's kids, hypnotizing them into swallowing wholesale an inexhaustible supply of cleverly marketed but wholly mediocre crap.

I hate the Walt Disney Company because it's somehow also able to cast the same strangely anodyne spell over America's adults, cynically brainwashing a group of people who should know better into ignoring the decades of misdeeds the company has been guilty of in favor of buying into the eerily Stepfordesque image it expertly perpetuates.

I hate the Walt Disney Company because the heartless barons behind it expect you to believe that it isn't a company at all -- that it's still just Mickey Mouse and not guys like Mickey Eisner and Mickey Ovitz.

I hate the Walt Disney Company because everything about it is a lie. It sells phony perfection -- and we happily buy it.

Disney is the definition of bullshit.

About ten years ago, troublemaking Miami Herald columnist and best-selling author Carl Hiaasen wrote a brilliant, hilarious and entirely terrifying little book called Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World. Having grown up on Hiaasen -- his muckraking spirit was part of what inspired me to become a journalist -- and being lucky enough to have met him several times while in Miami, I looked forward to every new book of his; this particular one though was like a revelation. Hiaasen managed to sum up the palpable unease I felt when it came to Disney, and he offered more than a few examples of the malignance lurking just behind the carefully constructed facade that the company showed to the world.

Just from a mischievously miscreant point of view, Hiaasen's assertion is that Disney's prime evil lies in its constant quest to improve upon reality.

He writes:

"Disney is so good at being good that it manifests an evil; so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it's unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness. Imagine promoting a universe in which raw Nature doesn't fit because it doesn't measure up... Team Rodent doesn't believe in (things like) sleaze, nor in old-fashioned revulsion. Square in the middle is where it wants us all to be, dependable consumers with predictable attitudes. The message, never stated but avuncularly implied, is that America's values ought to reflect those of the Walt Disney Company, and not the other way around."

Now before you begin chalking such indignation up to nothing more than sour grapes, general misanthropy or a lack of fairy dust sprinkled in one's hair, best to keep in mind that Disney has, throughout the breadth of its hegemony, engaged in corporate malfeasance so goddamned abominable that all the wishing upon a star in the universe couldn't put it right. Again, the goal of much of it has been nothing less than the creation and perpetuation of a strange utopia which doesn't exist in nature but which Disney believes should.

Disney has a script, and it will force any and all under its governance to adhere to that script word for word. There ain't no room for ad libbing when Chairman Mouse is in charge.

This is the company that drilled and dug into the fragile wetlands of Central Florida and deforested a massive area of land surrounding Walt Disney World, all to ensure that the water in the park's Bay Lake was the correct shade of deep blue.

This is the company that found itself accused of quietly poisoning and beating to death a group of federally protected large black buzzards that had the bad form to make a home atop one of the hotels on its Orlando property, potentially endangering Disney World's most salient ingredient -- the one tourists from around the world have come to expect with the certainty of a morning sunrise: absolute, inoffensive predictability.

Likewise, this is the company that needlessly killed hundreds of lemmings during the filming of its Academy-Award winning 1958 nature "documentary," White Wilderness.

Oh yeah, you didn't hear about that?

The story of White Wilderness is by now as legendary as the mass lemming death march that the film purports to show. Unfortunately, only one of the two tales -- that would be the former -- is true. Put another way, lemmings don't in fact throw themselves off cliffs; it's a myth that persists to this day thanks mostly to the good folks at Disney, who, during the making of White Wilderness, managed to capture this incredible, impossible migration on film. The movie's crew had heard the rumor about the sad fate of those suicidal lemmings and decided to travel to Alberta, Canada to see it for themselves. When they arrived, they found that not only was the story a bunch of nonsense, but that there weren't even any lemmings in Alberta, Canada -- they live almost exclusively above the Arctic Circle -- nor was there even a nearby ocean. Undaunted by such minor factual hurdles, the crew bought hundreds of lemmings from a group of Innuit schoolchildren in Manitoba (no doubt mesmerizing them with images of Mickey Mouse, the way a child molester might) and hastily constructed a snow-covered turntable which they then put the lemmings on top of and rolled cameras. The lemmings essentially ran in place, with only the background moving.

Once that was done, it was time for the money shot.

The film crew went to a nearby river, once again made sure the cameras were rolling, and then threw lemmings into the icy water by the handful. The poor lemmings of course drowned, but hey, Disney got its movie -- and an Oscar for that matter.

Knowing this story, it should surprise no one that Disney was responsible for creating a series of pro-American propaganda films that were aired all over Iraqi television -- it obviously has no issue with the innocent dying for a lie.

There are so many more examples of questionable corporate behavior: from strong-arming local governments that stood in the way of Disney World and Disneyland's "progress," to eventually creating its own puppet government -- the Reedy Creek Improvement District -- in Orlando, in charge of its own police force which answers strictly to the whims of the Mouse, to the purchase of a Caribbean island notoriously popular with drug-smugglers which the company benignly rechristened as a family friendly stop for its Disney Cruiseline, to the suing of a daycare center in Hallandale, Florida which dared to paint images of Disney characters on its walls. (The company claimed the daycare was violating its intellectual property rights.)

But Disney's true villainy lies once again not in what it's doing behind the scenes, but in the innocence of the scenes it's created to hide behind. Disney has what could be the largest and most offensive gap in the corporate universe between its image and its reality.

And most of that image is aimed at snaring your kids.

It's the perfect, self-perpetuating marketing technique -- literally raising the company's own consumers from birth.

Disney grabs your children right out of the womb, enticing them with colorful banalities and nurturing them through product placement and its own televised propaganda wing -- Cap Cities/ABC TV -- until brand name recognition is practically Pavlovian. As they grow, Disney plays the role of their BFF -- growing alongside them and responding to the very wants and needs that it's surreptitiously insinuating into their consciousness.

In effect, creating its own demand for dreck like High School Musical.

Or -- God save us all -- Hannah Montana.

I don't envy parents of young girls right now. I would probably consider going the Disney-approved-lemming route if it meant that I could avoid having to indulge a screaming 'tween desperate to lick the sweat from Miley Cyrus's ass crack. The High School Musical craze was utterly surreal to me; this Hannah Montana shit is just flat-out baffling. I'd like to think that the pre-teen worship of the young Miss Cyrus is at least amusing to most parents, who unlike their kids remember a time when her father Billy Ray was the most ridiculous man in America. Of course that's assuming that most middle-American moms these days would be unwilling to admit to their complicity in the God-awful "Achy Breaky" craze -- the one which held this country hostage for what seemed like an eternity during the early 90s.

Now, proving that Billy Ray Cyrus's sperm would indeed mutate exactly as many had feared, his daughter has taken her rightful place as the new Gozer the Gozerian of popular culture.

She's Blossom without the nose. She's Hillary Duff without the idiot from Good Charlotte. She's Hannah Montana!

And she's turning millions of girls below the age of 14 into little Veruca Salts, angrily demanding that their parents drop everything to buy them CDs, DVDs, concert tickets, lunchboxes and anything else adorned with the image and featuring the painfully average vocal ability of Miley Fuckin' Cyrus.

It's gotten so bad, what with Christmas (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company) approaching and all, that people are now joining in a class-action lawsuit against Miley Cyrus's online fanclub because they feel that they were lured into buying up memberships with seductive promises of a first crack at tickets to the sold-out Hannah Montana tour.

Let me say that again: People are suing because they couldn't get tickets to see Billy Ray Cyrus's daughter. Who needs the striking late night writers? That kind of comedy gold writes itself.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, a 35-year-old man hung on to a nine-foot-tall statue of Hannah Montana's golden calf-esque likeness for six days to win tickets to a sold out HM show. "I'm ecstatic. It's like a dream come true," he said just moments after the final challenger died of shame, releasing her grip and ensuring his victory.

Look, I'm the first one to agree that the mitigating factor of a phenomenon like Hannah Montana is that, for most young girls, it likely represents the final relatively harmless stop on the pop culture line before MTV gets its hooks into them and graduates them to full-blown sluthood with noxious crap like The Hills. But even MTV -- which is owned by Viacom -- is either unable or unwilling to make use of the kind of full-spectrum corporate synergy that Disney brings to bear when it comes to marketing pabulum like Hannah Montana and High School Musical to America's kids. The onslaught from film, broadcast television, cable TV, DVD, publishing and music outlets is simply unavoidable. A child has almost no choice but to hop on the bandwagon.

Which of course is exactly the way Disney wants it, because for those engineering another generation of consumers -- Imagineering, if you'd like -- Hannah Montana is just the next phase in a lifelong strategy.

I have no doubt as to what that little girl from Wisconsin is already bugging her mom for this Christmas.

Sure, it's a small world after all -- but it's all Disney's.


Laser Rocket Arm said...

My brother paid $700 APIECE for Hannah Montana tickets for his seven-year-old. Fortunately, karma and my niece insisted that he go too. An hour and a half of being trapped among 15,000 shrieking prepubescent girls? Oh, dear brother of mine, payback for indulging your daughter's Disney-fueled whim is indeed a bitch.

Blade said...

Wow, I certainly enjoy the fact that you did not place any blame squarely on the Cyruses. People I know bitch and bitch and bitch about them, but they don't stop to realise that they are primarily participants, and not the actual people responsible for creating this nightmare.

Schwa said...

Disney can eat it. They build their empire on creating new visions of public domain works, and then do their best to ensure that the public domain does not apply to anything since roughly around the time of the founding of their company, give or take a few years.


"Good meeting you -- sorry about Garden State"

...funniest thing I've read all week.

QueBarbara said...

Your post seems to suggest that no one outside of the midwest worships at the altar of Hannah Montana or Disney. I have no problem with you dogging her and Disney; just your stereotyping of their fan base.

Mark said...

I thought I'd mention that while the ‘tweens worship the altar of Hannah Montana, old Billy Ray is riding his daughter’s curtails and bringing back "Achey Breaky”. I had the privilege of seeing his first concert on his new tour around the country. It was probably the funniest thing I've ever seen. The man was just so damn ecstatic to be playing again. Mind you, it was a free concert 10 miles from Mexico, full of people gathered for a science bonanza and a few minutes with the Mythbusters. He got so into it that he threw his sweat rag into the crowd. Oh well… at least I can say I heard “I Want my Mullet Back” live…

Al said...

I actually ran across the TV show last night and tuned in for a couple of minutes to try to grasp why the hell she's so popular.

Have you SEEN the show? It's awful. Not "oh boy, another cheesy POS sitcom" awful, I mean it's fucking unwatchably BAD. The gags in the minutes I could stand? A kid on a pogo stick (!) going to the bathroom and two girls (I presume Hanna herself and her BFF or lesbian lover, who knows) cross-dressing to meet a boy band they liked.

It was even worse than it sounds. Just utter crap. I have no IDEA how even a 12-year old girl could like that garbage. Lousy production quality, terrible acting and amateurish writing. Boggles the mind.

VOTAR said...

15,000 shrieking prepubescent girls?

giggity giggity giggity gooooo!

Leigh said...

i'm so glad you're back.

Chez said...

Aw shucks, you're making me blush - and not just because of your profile picture.

Thomas said...

Damn, Leigh beat me to it. This undoubtedly signifies you're back. What's even more kickass was that it was set to some kickass "Hey Man Nice Shot" remixes as I was reading.

The new Gozer the Gozerian of popular culture. Fucking-A.

Doesn't play well with others said...

Nice job on the tourist taunting. Since I'm no longer forced to make overpriced margaritas for them at a craptastic, theatre district, mexican joint I haven't had the pleasure of bursting the bubble of some mid-west tourist tastelessly decked out in a "9/11" hat and Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular sweatshirt. You've made my day...

...as for Disney, the day I heard about their lemming toss in the name of documentary filmmaking I vowed to never again set foot in the "Magic Kingdom". When I have kids, they're going to Hersheypark.

largo said...

Poor lemmings. :(

Anonymous said...

I have had an inflated distaste for everything Disney since being raped at their Downtown Disney-adult-theme park in 2000. As it was 'on-park' they wouldn't involve the local Orange County Sheriff's office so there was never an official record of the act. They simply called my friends and told them I had too much to drink and they should take me home. In reality I had been given rohypnol and raped in a bathroom.

Not quite the happiest place on earth.

Chez said...

Uh, nope -- I guess not.

That could actually be worse than being thrown off a cliff into a river.

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

Anonymous--That has got to be the worst act of covering your own ass at the expense of others I have EVER heard. At any place that is predominantly geared towards kids, they should definitely have those sorts of issues figured out.

Chez--Never knew the story about the lemmings. Those poor innocent animals. As for Miley Cyrus--her singing voice ain't bad but ain't great, her speaking voice is the annoying as all hell, and her acting is even worse than that. The show--like any Disney show geared towards pre-teens--sucks. Be very glad you don't have a twelve-year-old sister.

Calitri said...

Ah, Disney. The quintessential American big business model. If you don't have an audience, create one. Lie, cheat, steal, misdirect, pervert, justify and proselytize all to further the cause and achieve the almighty dollar. You gotta love them for going after our youth - shear genius. True masters.

As someone who's bible thumping parents thought everything main stream was the devil, I can sympathize with the kids who want things like Hannah Montana tickets in order to be part of the group. At Christmas when I was six, my parents didn't get me the RC car I asked for and both my friends got one. It absolutely crushed my impressionable little spirit, possibly turning me into the cynic I am today. But all things told it wasn't the end of the world and it taught me two important lessons: 1) life isn't fair and 2)you don't always get what you want.

From the looks of today's youth and many adults for that matter, it seems they have yet to get the memo. Does it suck to be on the outside? Sure. But maybe it's better not to be lumped in with brainless, swill-swallowing masses controlled by soulless, self-obsessed corporations. It's a tough but essential lesson for a kid to learn.

I feel sorry for the next generation because with douchebag adults/parents willing to pay 7k or hang onto a statue for 6 six day for HM tickets, they're pretty much fucked.

To anonymous, I'm sincerely sorry. That really, for lack of better word, sucks. I think there's a metaphor there, but unlike Nick Saban, I'm not going to be the asshat that makes it.

Nice Wonka reference, Chez. What's a lemming?

Monique said...

I was forced to go to Disney World for a close friends wedding. While there, I got a brief, yet terrifying, glimpse into what a Disney slaves' life is like. My boyfriend was wearing a tank top and sporting his Johnny The Homical Maniac tatoos and one of the workers commented how he loves JTHM. The guy was really freakin cool and we ended up shooting the shit with him for a good 20 minutes. One of the workers must have seen him conversing and saunters over and pulls him aside. When he came back he was a completely different person. Robotic almost..... scary..

Lily's Mommy said...

I am so very glad that I only let my 13 month old watch PBS. I avoid all Disney paraphernalia when out shopping so she doesn't grow up screaming "I want Dora!!". Because then she might get a very unwanted backhand.

I hadn't heard about the lemming story. I'm disgusted but not all that surprised. I feel horrible for anonymous above. I can see how a sexual assault might prove too much of a taint for the Disney image.

Caren Appel said...

I hate to break it to ya, but your Disney example - while well-written and factual - only touches the tip of the cliff (pardon the pun)...you have perfectly described AMERICAN CORPORATE CULTURE. Do you think Disney are the only rat bastards out there reorganizing the molecules for their own image, benefit,and profits?

Disney is a virus - part of an ongoing epidemic - a crisis of culture and - honestly - true American values. Which has nothing to do with anything being proselytized as "American" these days...

The founding fathers preached frugality, simplicity, and action over words...

Of course, they also did annihilate the Native Americans, built a nation on the backs of African slaves, and disenfranchised women until the 20th century.

Oh wait....I get it...Disney IS America....

sparksinner said...

Fantastic. I'll spend the rest of today, maybe the rest of the week, seething with rage. I really hope the bile in my gut stops boiling before lunch.

I hate Hannah Montana with a passion. My 5-year old niece watches this shit. Normally I'd say fuck it, but sometimes my 3-year old son is in the same room, and that's not cool.

Have you seen "The Suite Life of..." (can't remember, but I think it's Zach and Bryan). It's just as awful as Hannah, but with 2 boys. And totally inappropriate. They have a 10-year old lusting after an 18-year old chick. Nothing subtle about it either. Dan Savage had a good bit on This American Life a while back on this show and how bad it is.

I suspect both of these shows are written by the crew from Will & Grace. Too many cheap gags and really obvious lines.

Excuse me, I'm gonna stick a finger down my throat.

Monique said...

PS- Is the title a Dead Kennedy's reference?!?!?!

Chez said...

DK's indeed. Still love that band, despite the fact that I once did an interview with Jello Biafra and found him to be the world's biggest asshole.

Then again, what should I have expected really?

Mika aka Xeyli said...

This is the first I've heard of the lemmings... but see, they can live with a clear conscience because animals didn't have rights back then.

This just adds to the growing list of why I don't like Disney and the consumernation they, and others like them, have created.

I remember a time when I was forced on the bandwagon (I didn't jump on it) during the New Kids on the Block craze. My friends told me I had to choose my favorite NKOTB member. I picked a random name from the names I could remember and said "that one." I guess I'm one of few who has almost always stayed away from mass marketed bullshit. I hope I can keep whatever future child(ren) I have.

mark said...

Just explain to your daughters that they can go to these god-awful concerts, but they are just forfeiting their Xmas and birthday presents for the next ten years. That's economics that they can understand. Mine certainly get it.

Also, lemmings can swim.

Monique said...

Oh I am SO JEALOUS!!! You interviewed my husband and got molested by my wife! (Jello and Siouxsie)

britta is an asshole said...

i knew i wasn't the only one to feel this way about mouseschwitz.

i'm eternally grateful for the faustian deal you must have made to be able to write like you do. you so eloquently capture my rage and disappointment with the world. amazing.

do you feel like we're actually living in the movie "idiocracy" right now too?

by the way, i worked on the restoration of that lemming movie a few years back. i believe i've secured my seat on the bus to hell!
we'll have to meet up for drinks when you get there.

Max said...

Damn! I was so hoping they weren't from Wisconsin. How embarassing. Granted, I'm an import to this state (prisoner since 1999), it still stings to hear of such episodes. They aren't all ass-backwards here, just a bit "traditional". Thankfully that goes for their alcohol prices. It helps for dealing. Granted, I get out for a dose of the real world any time I can.

As a matter of fact I'll be visiting my brother in New York this Christmas. I'll try not to fall for celibrity dopplegangers...and promise not to be a "tourist".

Last year they tried to take me to "The Tree". I said we have enough of them in Wisconsin.

Seriously, the TV reception is fine here. We get Scrubs every weekday at 11pm and 11:30pm in crystal clear HD. Which, as you might have guessed, makes Braff even more annoying.

"HD High-five"

slouchmonkey said...

How dare you spout all of your intellectual elitist drivel toward a Company that supplies people across the world with wholesome family values driven entertainment. I don't know how to respond to your hatred other than to say that everyone is entitled to their opinions. I work for this blessed Company and am happy to be a Cast Member. You should only hope to count yourself to be as lucky.

...you'll work hard with a gun in your back for a bowl of rice a day

Anonymous said...

Have you paused to consider the possibility that the ONLY reason she mentioned Zac Efron is that you very dickedly said your friend was Zach Braff? She'd "met" one Zach she liked, heard you were in TV, and, like a little girl might, thought of another cute variation of the name Zac? And then was crushed by your sarcastic put-down? You eviscerated a little girl, and Disney's the dick. No, asshole, you're the dick.

You saw her eyes light up. Why not lie and say, "Yeah, he's a nice guy," and let her have her fantasy? Did YOU have any misplaced fantasies at that age? I'm guessing they survived until you were old enough to realize that they were just fantasies, a natural part of growing up. Did you like any hot TV actress only because TV threw her at you? God Damn you're a dick.

Now, I feel bad about letting my son believe there's a Santa Claus, etc. Would you like to fuck up his day too? In the name of being righteous? Dickhead.

I'm Brian from Austin.

You're a dick.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Having grown up on Hiaasen -- his muckraking spirit was part of what inspired me to become a journalist.

Uhh ... you're a journalist? Yeah, you're a journalist like M.C. Hammer is a financial analyst.

But good points about Disney, tho.

Chez said...

You're Brian Austin Green?

And you're calling ME a dick?

(Of course I'm just mocking you -- but really, you don't deserve much more. Now have a nice day.)

amea_gari said...

You, you are a dick, Chez. Of course I haven't met a New Yorker who wasn't.
There, now we've both made broad sweeping generalizations about a region's people.

rlr260 said...

I don't have children, so I was not aware of the pervasive reach Disney has on our society until I was exposed to the concept of "if Disney ran your hospital." To explain: I am a registered nurse at a major teaching hospital. Recently, our division decided to re-tool our work culture using the book "If Disney Ran Your Hospital." It was written by some hack who had worked for Disney, then tried to transfer his ideas into healthcare management. Of course, all my bosses ate this drivel up with a spoon. The program discussed such novel concepts as effiency, courtesy, co-operation, compassion, etc. as filtered through the Disney ethos. Apparently, we are unable to put these ideas into practice without the guidance of the Disney model. Now, over a year later, the "workplace culture" (whatever that is) hasn't changed one iota, we've wasted a huge amount of time attending these classes, and no one can really say what it is we were supposed to have learned. Of course, this is not all Disney's fault. My institution had to buy into all this crap that a well-rounded adult should have learned in childhood.

Sorry for the rant. I'm just really pissed off at my employer these days.

Swami Dearest said...

There's this great little word I've discovered that covers the whole issue of $700 tickets, or belly-baring clothing, or the latest Calloway golf clubs, or whatever else my family is readying to barrage me with:


It works. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Hate to break it to the poster above, but Dora is not a disney character, she's a Nick Jr. character. I'm not aware of the two companies being affiliated, especially since the cable company that serviced our condo during our recent trip to Daytona Beach didn't offer Nick Jr...just Disney. So there was no Dora and lots of Wiggles for us...talk about hell!

Chez, hysterical post. As a mom of two, I understand most of it more than I'd like!

Chez said...

amea_gari --

Shouldn't you be, like, eating cheese or building a shrine to Brett Favre or something?

namron said...

Chez, you might be working for ABC without knowing it! I enjoy each of your posts, and I appreciate the muscularity you employ to criticize the media. At some point, your popularity will not go without notice by the corpoartion supplying your paycheck. I hope that book deal works out. I also hope you stay in the media for awhile. To me, your writings are better from the vantage of the inside of the tent pissing out.

Davy said...

My eyes dropped wide open at the lemmings story. Basturds!

It would be funnier if they used giraffes. And they would've got away with it as well.

darkuncle said...

I was more than a little surprised to see nobody had mentioned Cory Doctorow's excellent "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" ... freely available in a number of formats. Apropos to the discussion (albeit on a kind of strange cyberpunk tangent).

Anonymous said...

I actually got this link from a sports blog I read, and I was appreciative. It had been quite some time since I had read a collection of bile quite this hateful, arrogant and elitist.

Want to hate on Disney? Hey, feel free, but don't think for a second that this makes you a paragon of virtue and hipness, because it doesn't. Disney is full of smart, successful people who consistently produce quality programming, and always manage to find themselves a goldmine like Hannah Montana just when its critics are start talking about them losing their edge.

I have two tween kids, and I can tell you exactly why Hannah is successful. First off, parents can let the kids watch it without being concerned about a cascade of inappropriate subject matter. (Yeah, yeah, I know - we parents are just SO over-protective. We would be so much better off if Hannah was a goth, budding heroin addict with anger management issues who had just been knocked up by her 21 year old boyfriend, because that would be so much grittier and realistic. Whatever.) Secondly, the kids like it because they can identify with Miley, the slightly gawky, out of the cool crowd teen. It's actually a brilliant concept for a tween show, just the right mix of fantasy and a scrubbed version of reality. Of course the show is hokey and poorly acted when watched by adults - we aren't their main audience. Tweens and teens have very different standards - just think back to the garbage movies that you faithfully paid to see back in the day.

I know you look down your nose at the poor, backwards suburban folks in flyover country. After all, they can't possibly hope to be as urbane as you. Trust me, though, when I say that your withering contempt for them is quite mutual.

Chez said...

It's Sunday morning -- shouldn't you be reading The Family Circus or something?

: )