Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hipster Mickey is Swaggy

With something as big as Disney culture, those in charge of marketing merchandise must find a way to reach out to everyone.  There isn't just one level of audience Disney caters to.  There are the nostalgics, the vacationers, the movie lovers, the collectors, not to mention the differences in adults, teens, and kids.  When someone buys something from Disney it's not always for the same reason.  What's "cool" to one person may be really tacky for another.  I'd like to present to you a recent trend of apparel that has been circulating through the Disney stores.  They seem to be catering to teens, or those with adolescent tendencies, and are quick to use current popular vernacular or "hipster" style.

Exhibit A:
 Mickey is described on the site as "Geek-cool." Where I come from, that's an oxymoron but okay.
Exhibit B:

Because if you are a classic icon but wear glasses, you are a NERD.  

Exhibit C:

I have no words.

I would love to know the statistics on the ages of those purchasing this new line of clothing.  I have heard of others being sold in the parks, things along the lines of "Don't make me unfriend you," or "Relationship status: Single" (Gaston) which of course refers to social network popular vocabulary.  This is a great example of how this can be really appealing to someone who is a fan of this style, or in a certain age range,  or can be really kind of weird to someone who doesn't know what "swaggy" means.  But I'd venture to guess this audience also views the throwback Walt Disney World logos also resurfacing on apparel as old or stuffy in their eyes.  It's a great way of looking at the multi-faceted Disney fan culture and how Disney markets tries it's best to market to everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"I Am a Princess" Success

I saw this video as a commercial on the Disney channel the other night.  It made my night.  Thank you Disney for feeding girls words of optimistic reality instead of fluffy gendered BS for once.  Royalty, beauty, and demureness should not be what defines a Disney princess.

Please watch, and share with your girls if you have them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sgt. Calhoun Gets A Makeover

Here's a short little post to hold you over until a bigger Disney merchandise post I'm working on. 

Found this doll of Sgt. Calhoun, the badass "Hero's Duty" Hero from Wreck-It-Ralph, over at the Disney Store Website. Yay! An action figure doll both girls and boys can play with! Right? ... Oh... maybe not.

I'm not an expert on doll hair but I know Ken dolls who had hair more like Sgt. Calhoun than this chick. Let's just hyper-feminize the heck out of one of the least feminine characters in the Disney world. If she were in her wedding outfit I could understand, but this does not look like the lady who called her fellow fighters a bunch of "pussywillows"

Look at those come-hither eyes. Can you picture Jane Lynch voicing this doll? Not me. Come on Disney, not every female character needs to look like a princess, or at least the way you make princesses look.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Week on The Disney Magic: Part 2 - What Disney Gets Right

Now that I’ve got the nitpicking out of the way, I’d like to take the time to discuss some practices that really emit the Disney culture that captures us as an audience and earns our love.

Great Imagineering:
From Disney-famous forced perspective as soon as you enter the ship, to subtle but thought-out theming on each deck, you can tell a lot of research and hard work was put into each cruise ship.  Standing at the bottom floor of the foyer looking up, the ceiling seems to stretch up forever with a colorful (plastic) glass-blown sculpture at the top.  When you reach the 5th deck and look down on the foyer, however, you notice it was an illusion and if you happen to look above you the ceiling is actually quite low.  This is all part of the forced perspective effect, and it serves double to give a psychological illusion to the children as well.  The 5th deck is where all the youth activities take place, so placing the ceiling lower makes them feel larger, and therefore more “grown up” and important.  And we all know this is something kids love to feel, especially on a Disney cruise!

The view from Deck 5 of the foyer

Another fun fact we picked up from our wonderful Art of the Theme Show Ship Tour was the fact that each DCL ship is gendered.  The Magic is decidedly masculine, as it adapted an art deco design feel, which was carried throughout the entire ship.  The other ships are either likewise, or feminine with art nouveau style.  It’s incredible the attention to detail from signage and typography to the gender of character statue that stands in the foyer to greet guests.  And I’m a sucker for well-done extensive theming so I was in heaven!  However, I'm also a social-minded person, and thus wondered why such care was taken to give different ships different genders in the first place.  And why must the "male" and "female" ships be stereotypically themed to their binary?  Theming-wise it was intriguing and beautiful but otherwise the concept sparked many different questions and emotions.

Cultural Diversity: 
Over 60 countries were represented by the cast (or crew) members on our cruise.  And they weren’t just in passive roles, but front and center and extremely interactive with guests.  We made a few friends with CMs from Peru, Serbia, Indonesia, the UK, and India.  The great thing is Disney does a great job of active diversity, and you can’t help but want to get to know more about them and where they come from, how much alike you are, or how they got the job as a DCL CM.  Your nightly dinner servers rotate with you around to all the restaurants so by the end of the cruise you know lots about each other.  They are very engaging and have extremely interesting stories. I saw children hugging their servers goodbye after “It’s a Small World” was played along with a parade of country flags the last night, and it’s things like this that make me believe in Disney. 

It's important to note, however, that even with so many great people around it can be tempting to subconsciously place them in a different category than yourself.  Sociologists refer to this as "othering," and people are known for mistaking this separation for cultural appreciation or diversity.  It's especially tricky when the people from different countries are the ones serving your dinner or turning down your bed for the night.  It's possible to get the idea that they are still beneath you while you relish being around so many who come from a different place of origin.  It can easily become a tourist point rather than a learning opportunity to meet a fellow human being.  Many guests are very respectful and treat the CMs with kindness, but it is an important thing to mention and keep in mind.

There is much more I could cover in a DCL review but I tried to stick to the psychological and sociological aspects.  I was excited to view this experience in a cultural light so I could share it with the Disney community, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it!