Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Disney Villains, Re-Imaged

If you’ve ever seen a Disney movie you know that Disney villains are some of the best.  We love to hate them, and they make somewhat of an icon out of themselves.  They are easily recognizable and are associated with evil, terror, and their own brand of nastiness.  In fact, for a while the public has had a love-hate relationship with them, buying merchandise that sports their favorite bad-guy/girl.  For me, Scar was always the perfect villain, with his low-key snarky comments and sarcasm… his plan always worked better in his narcissistic head than in reality.  And that was the thing with Disney villains, their uniqueness set them apart from not only their fellow characters but other baddies as well.

Well it seems the Disney store doesn’t really get that.  Featured on their website is a whole section dedicated to the villains, and included in that section is a “designer” line that’s main purpose seems to be cookie-cutting our beloved characters into emotionless skinny divas.  The Evil Queen, Maleficent, Mother Gothel, and Cruella De Vil feature prominently on this page squeezed into high-fashion mermaid gowns, as well as Ursula and the Queen of Hearts sporting A-line flouncy gowns with teeny waists (which they do not have in the films).

So here we are… With villains of all shapes and sizes suddenly very similar.  No personality traits to be found, just nose-in-the-air poses and avoidance of eye-contact.  And the badass bigger chicks are no more so.  Because this is stylish and apparently what consumers want.

Also these makeovers only go to the female villains.  What, we don’t dare put Gaston in an Armani suit? Or slap some muscles on Jafar? Because that’s what’s stylish, you know!

Now that's more like it.  Look at all that personality! *sigh*

Friday, September 21, 2012

More "Sexy" in the Disney Parks

Found last week by my helpful friend @AtDisneyAgain at the Epcot Art of Disney… these things.

Can we just take a minute and look at what is actually going on here?  These Princesses are sickly, pasty white, unhealthily skinny, and look positively drugged out of their minds.  They look terrible.  Ariel is even posing in a “sexy” position that no one would position themselves in otherwise, thrusting her chest out while her hip and rib bones jut out.  Not a hint of a smile is on any of them, and their cheeks are highlighted with what could either be abstract blush or more visible cheekbones from not eating.  Toothpick arms, heavily caked on makeup, I could go on.

Does this disturb anyone else? The fact that any woman is ever posed or portrayed like this is unnerving, let alone in a Disney park where young guests are susceptible to this kind of imagery.  It reminds me of the kind of thing you would see in models for adult clothing brands to shock you into noticing their clothes. 

Not completely coherent, expressionless, pale.   (See Link A)

Not even remotely coherent, awkward positioning, bony (See Link B)

You can make the argument that this is an art store, and artists often take liberty with their subjects.  But it’s the fact that it is in a Disney park, as if Disney is endorsing such images, that makes this damaging.  This is that line that I discussed in the Sexy Minnie post, and it has once again been crossed.  With the media already doing its part to shake girls’ self-esteem and ideas of acceptable body images, would you want your daughter looking up to Princesses that look like this?

Link A
Link B
Both links today taken from Sociological Images, another site I recommend if you'd like to explore sociology a little deeper.  They have a few Disney related posts that I don't completely agree with but are interesting to examine nonetheless. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If I Ran Disneyland...

This is an unedited opinionated post, with some society observation sprinkled in, so you have been warned!

If I ran Disneyland, it would still be a place of entertainment AND education.  When I first became enamored with Disneyland history, one of the hugest shocks to me was the existence of many attractions that made learning fun and information come alive.  The attraction I instantly fell in love with and still have an avid obsession for is 1967 Tomorrowland’s Adventure Thru Inner Space.  I also know now that many others in the Disney community have a similar affection for this ride that took you on a visually stimulating trip into molecules and atoms.  It just stuck with people somehow, and for some reason with me even though I’d never actually experienced it before its transfer into Star Tours in 1986.

Groovy science         (See Link A)

But this is just one of the many “edu-cational” experiences that Disneyland has since lost.  Kids can no longer imagine what their future home may look like with tomorrow’s technology as the children in the past could with Monsanto’s House of the Future.  They don’t feel the magic of progress and learn how far technology has come like they did in the Carousel of Progress.  They can’t immerse themselves in Native American culture like they could in Frontierland’s Indian Village.   They can’t even see first-hand what kind of whimsical stores a turn-of-the-century Main Street would house because there is no themed Flower Mart, Candle Shop, or Pharmacy anymore. 

Look how intrigued that guest is! Learning!   (See Link B)

Walt Disney’s opening day speech mentions that one of the things Disneyland is dedicated to is “the hard facts that shaped America.”  Does the Disneyland of today reflect that? Not to me.  History and science can be fun if presented in the right way, and right now it’s not being presented in much of a way at all.

If I ran Disneyland, my first project would be a total overhaul on Innoventions.  The concept is great, the execution not so much.  Lets rip out all the outdated and boring crap and stuff that awesome rotating building with cutting edge technology presentations, a new tricked out House of the Future, and lots of hands-on, sneak peak, awe-inspiring gadgets that help kids (or adults) learn without knowing they’re learning.  Also, it’s imperative that it be updated as new technology is released.  Partner up with some companies to help hype their products and everyone wins.  From there, restore some historic storytelling to Frontierland and Adventureland.  Disney can even introduce a re-vamped Davy Crockett or a new iconic figure to have their own historical fiction show, to have something to promote. 

I sure don’t claim to know “what Walt would do,” with the Park today, and I know these are my own meager opinions.  Society is so used to what Disneyland is now, that to reintroduce such things may seem bland to today’s young audience.   But from what I’ve seen of such recent glowing projects as Buena Vista Street in Disney’s California Adventure, I believe WDI currently has the power to make learning fun once more. 

Both link to, a fabulous site dedicated to extinct attractions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Character Crossovers

A huge trend in Disney merchandise over the past few years has been evident in what I call Character Crossovers.  I'm going to present several different examples of CC’s that you can currently buy or see in stores.  

The first one, Vinylmation, is fairly popular and consists of figurines in the shape of Mickey Mouse, but with features of a plethora of different characters.  For example, Donald Duck in the shape of Mickey, Snow White in the shape of Mickey, Bambi in the shape of Mickey, Miss Piggy in the shape of… Well, you get the idea.  

Vinylmation      See Link A

You can purchase Vinylmation in sets, in key chains, or even representing Major League football and baseball teams and you can form a collection as large as you like.  This gives an outlet for artistic creativity as the characters have Mouse ears that can be made into whatever, but to my personal taste is distracting.  I’m lost on the reasoning behind Vinylmation popularity, but Disney culture has taken it and run with it with no end in sight.

My second example of CC’s is associated with Star Wars Weekends, which are select weekends where Star Wars theming is central at Walt Disney World through characters, panels, and yes, merchandise.  Here Star Wars characters appear mostly as classic Disney characters IN the clothing and features of Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, etc.  Pins, bags, shirts, and even Vinylmation depict these CC’s and are extremely popular among fans of both Disney and Star Wars.  

SWW Merch       See Link B

Again, my personal feedback on this is confusion.  Unless you want to stretch it, classic Disney characters are not equal to Star Wars characters, and are not even strikingly similar.  Sure, some share the same traits or gender, but Donald Duck is not an evil character, so why is he depicted as Darth Maul?  Even more baffling is the Darth Vader/Mater mash-up that has recently surfaced.  Just because the names sound the same make it an instant candidate for a CC I guess.  

Darth Mater   See Link C for the other Cars CC's.

But while these examples merely make me wonder, here’s the kicker that really eats at me and makes me upset: Minnie Mouse in Princess Leia’s slave getup and looking a little too comfortable in it.  

Sexy Minnie-Leia.  Weird and wrong.  Pic courtesy of @AtDisneyAgain

If we’re sticking with consistency (and why would we?) Leia was forced to wear that oufit and it was merely a tool to sexualize and objectify her for the sick bad guy Jabba the Hut.  Minnie is a favorite character of many a young girl, so why are we putting her in the same sexualized position while also adding a seductive stare?  So many things wrong with this picture.

While most CC's really are harmless and open to each person's opinion, I feel there's a line that can be crossed when a movie with certain adult themes gets mixed into family-friendly Disney ones.  This is what happened with Minnie and I can't give it a "to each his own" approval.    

Here’s my question: Disney is known for it’s classic and relatable storytelling and its stories are beloved through the decades and generations because it’s that good... so why is there the need to combine irrelevant worlds and themes that so much effort has been put into perfecting on their own?  Disney canon characters are excellent on their own, as are, say, the Muppets.  But muddling them together seems to push all that aside and accentuate the dollar signs that drives Disney business.  Disney culture does seem to love it though, my confusion aside, and I’d love to delve deeper into the reasoning behind it. 

Tell me lovely readers, if you are a fan, what makes Character Crossovers appealing to you?  No judgement here, just discussion.