Walt’s Watchmen

February 13, 2014
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“Who will watch the watchmen?” this question was written many years ago by the satirist Juvanal who criticized the government of Rome at the height of its power. A riddle can have so many answers and allegories depending upon whom you ask, and this question by Juvinal is one of those riddles. Some think that superheros are the watchmen of the world, but sometimes, normal people can be watchmen too and I am one of those watchmen. There are many watchmen who want to watch and protect the things they love most, for me one of them is protecting what Walt Disney really fought for, a child’s right to have an imagination and a sense of wonder about the world around them. However, the Disney Company today is a different story. Today, we are blinded by their corporate image of whom Walt is was and forget about what he fought for to protect children from having their imagination crushed by corporate play. Yet when I tell people, why I like some Disney movies better than other Disney films like Frozen, and Meet the Robinsons I am lashed out and called a snob. The daunting part of this issue is that every were I go I am fallowed constantly by merchandise for Frozen, epically the snowman Olaf whom I have a real distain for because he is voiced by the guy who played Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon which is a total loss for people who emulate for the foolish hero. In every Grims tale or any fairy tale for that matter, the foolish hero is a character that is coastally beaten and degraded by his peers until he rises up to any challenge imaginable and gets the girl while the people who belittled him are punished or feel guilty, and it resides in every culture’s myth’s and lore including ours.

However, this scenario happens in real-life too, when Walt wanted to turn Snow White into an animated film he was constantly told that it would not work. Until it was premiered with people calling it a huge triumph in American film, and honored Walt’s triumph with a specially made Oscar with one Oscar on top and seven little ones on the bottom. Walt had his up’s and down’s but yet he still kept innovating and creating, and meeting people he never met before such as Leopold Stokowski and P.L.Traverse who’s co-working with Marry Poppins is shown in the movie Saving Mr. Banks. This movie is a revelation into not just how Marry Poppins was made, but truly shows us that Walt himself had very human errors that all of us have and also very human problems. Yet despite this movie’s message that even people like Walt need to learn lessons too; the Disney Company often uses, and contently changes, Mickey Mouse to show off their legacy, and uses images of Walt to portray him as a semi-divine idol or even to the extreme, a god-like figure.

The first time I actually went to Disneyland, we had to go on a bus to get to our hotel and on the bus; we watched an introduction movie about the parks and their attractions. In the film, it talked about how Walt created Disneyland but never explained his motive; in the section about Epcot, it had a short clip from one of Walt’s television shows of him explaining what Epcot was but never told us that it was his last project. Instead, they show off a montage of the attractions for each park, and small snippets of Walt are used for the Disney Studio Park and the Animal Kingdom. No mention, of how Walt achieved his goals through struggle and perseverance over being in debt to a second world war and even an animator union strike. It is as if the film was written a young toddler who wrote report about all the cool things about Disneyland without doing research about the history of the park and, how Walt and his Imaginers built the place through the new technologies they developed, or even about Walt himself. Does the company think we are ignorant? After all Walt himself said that if you try to aim towards kids, you are dead, because according to Walt’s standards, adults are kids already. However, aiming towards kids with no consent of how other adults and even children might feel about its message is exactly what the Disney Company does constantly and very overwhelmingly to us. One example of this…the Disney Princess line and I mean the complete franchise.

When the idea of the Disney Princess franchise was conceived to Roy Disney Jr., he did not want to contribute to it because he, like Walt, believed that it would be a total waste of merchandise and that it would cause a clash of different cultures and identities with young girls. However, the corporate hand went away with it making every human female character including Mulan a princess without caring about whom the characters were and what they represented. Thus, they turned these characters witch girls connected with into products with one sole message to girls. That no matter whom you are if you pretty, clean, and comply, you can be successful at anything. Nevertheless, sadly, no matter how many times they try to up to eleven, try to be like DreamWorks, or even add an awkward character like Olaf, the products and the film become quite boring and tasteless. Like eating a pizza, that is the same brand but it has a stuffed crust filled with pesto and cheese and once you eat it two times you finally realize that the same disgusting pizza fooled you, by adding something new.

Nevertheless, the Pixar movie Brave challenged the Disney Princess stance as a part of the film’s conflict with Merida’s mother becoming the representation of the very uptight Princess norm, and Merida herself being the rebellious adolescent who has an entirely different opinion about womanhood that sounds very much like Wonder Woman’s message. That woman should discover their own sense of being and not be brought down by norms and ridiculous constraints that in the end do more damage to woman than good. This deviant message is what made Brave successful, and finally the Disney Princesses franchise got huge arrow in the arise for conforming young girls into Sleeping Beauty pageant-bots rather than strengthening their own charcter. When the princesses finally were caught trying to turn Merida into one of their own, the creator of Brave got very angry and tried to remove Merida from the franchise but then… Disney also broke one of their rules (that each princess is separate from one another and that they avoid eye contact to preserve their individuality and mythology) when they introduced Sophia the First.

When Sophia was introduced, she did not have a movie, but a TV special called Sophia: Once upon a Princess and even though she was marketed as a so-called Latino Princess, the Latino community was not pleased when they found out she was not a Latino, but. “A fairytale girl who lives in a fairytale world” and not a princess based on any fairytale or folklore. The part where Disney breaks their own rules lies in the amulet that Sophia wears that gives her powers like being able to talk to animals and even, encounter the Princesses in the Franchise to gain wisdom and help. Therefore, Disney broke its own rules to gain a product, profit, and a nag-factor for all the girls who like the princess gig. However, what if those same girls grew up and changed from Little Sophias to die-hard watchers of Disney Chanel?

Sadly, the Disney Chanel creates a divide in the culture of childhood that Walt wanted to protect, those who watch Disney Chanel and those who do not. This is very much like the battle between the local stores and Wal-Mart only this time it involves die-hard hazing and bulling of the non-Disney Chanel group of girls who prefer their own individual qualities to going to a Jonas Brothers concert. These girls are beaten if they do not have a Hanna Montana lunch-sack or a Jessie doll because now Disney Chanel has now created a culture of conformity and bulling that tries to lure girls to bully others who cannot agree that being mean, rich, and popular is a superior goal that needs to be achieved. From day one of Lizze McGuire I knew that the downfall of all that was good about shows for children, especially for girls, was about to be destroyed and imitated by other networks like Nickelodeon, which created iCarly because of this, and Cartoon Network, which failed tragically. Until it released Adventure Time and Dragons: Riders of Berk which is based on DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon and has really good writing and a good concept for a children’s show.

DreamWorks learned to do this from the disapproval of Megamind for Despicable Me, and the Box-office bomb Turbo that sometimes fallowing the leader has its downsides; therefore, it is better to do something original with something you have than just using another story and screwing around with it to make it look watchable and entertaining. I feel Walt should give a pat on the back to DreamWorks because they do create high-quality films and through those films, they learn from their mistakes and failures instead of procreating and dwelling on them. Even though Rise of the Guardians did not get enough money it was still a great movie that made you feel good and even cry at times like Kung-Fu Panda 2. To me watching a movie is like reading a book or going to an art exhibit, you go because you love the story and the art behind it. Today the Disney Company wants to turn their characters and the people who play them into products; people who work hard and create beautiful things are not objects or merchandise. They are people, just like Walt, and even though he is not here with us what he fought for is inside every creative artist that is here to fight for what is right.

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