A couple of quick observations about our trip to Disney, or WDW as my parents call it…
- While it’s obviously a shallow, capitalist, superficial look at a lot of elements of American pop culture, they do pick up on a lot of the key elements of that culture. For instance, Hollywood studios film tour included Bogart, Cagney, and Eastwood, and did not include Star Wars (Lucas) or any schlock. I guess I should be concerned about the emphasis on males, with only a small nod to musicals including any women at all (and those just for their gaze value), but the stars are not necessarily the iconic ones. Or, if they are, then they’re iconic in a violent sense.
- It’s also tempting to think of Disney’s pervasiveness as some key piece of messed-up identity, some weird form of nostalgia for childhood that persists into adulthood for a significant portion of the population. I found myself in that position a bit, remembering fondly our earlier visit, in what must have been an incredibly hot and fairly brutal for my parents bit of a family vacation that was probably barely on the edge of what we could afford. Still, I thought about the Pirates of the Caribbean and remembered It’s a Small World (although I used it this time to take a nap) and sort of idealized the Haunted Mansion. Obviously, this sort of nostalgia is easy to do, and I still view the Disney experience with far too jaundiced an eye (although Uncle Walt’s sins are particularly egregious). Nonetheless, the way Disney lingers in the American identity, creating a subculture all its own, troubles me for reasons I’m unclear about.