Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Status quo, if anything

A recent essay by Monbiot on the Comcast/Disney thing triggered some thoughts. While I liked what Monbiot said about the 'sinister grip of Disney', I share less of his optimism regarding the future of that grip. I'm not sure why he thinks the new owner will be any better. If anything, it looks like more empire building, another conglomerate getting bigger. Why would they want to stop a good money making thing?

But I do share his concerns about Disney. One of the things I object to is how easily one can replace imagination with corporate images, especially in the young, the vulnerable ones, something that I think Disney excels at. Case in point: Cinderella. I want my child to have the freedom to imagine Cinderalla as something other than the standard blonde haired blue-dressed Disney image. And the same goes for the other fairy tales.

But really, there's a larger picture to this. I don't agree with blaming Disney completely for this because we have a role in this. We are doing it to ourselves, to our kids. It's part of our culture. And we have a choice to expose our kids to mass market imagery at such a young age.

A couple of other points I don't agree with. He talks a lot about 'infantilizing'. I'm not sure I agree with it so much that I also think that part of what's going on is greed. Children are very vulnerable to brands. The younger they are, the fewer cognitive skills to discriminate, analyze, and think about their choices and their environment.

As for his objections about anthromorphizing animals, I disagree there as well. This has been going on for a long time. Joseph Campbell made a career out of looking at how humans used myth to help explain how the world works. A vital part of myth is about identifying with creatures with human aspects.

So I'm thinking regarding that merger, it'll be status quo, if anything regarding Disney, although I do hope that Monbiot's optimism is warranted and that what he hopes will happen will indeed come true.