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Hogarth judge

November 2018



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Cigarettes. . . .

Why Disney squicks me, pt. II

Yesterday --- Christmas Day --- I ended up watching some kind of Disney Christmas parade on the idiot box. The only performer whose name I had ever heard of was Mariah Carey, who performed though great with child.

The rest were names I did not know. Some were performers from Disney Channel programs I did not know. Others were from shows I am vaguely aware of, such as Glee.

Whatever they were, they were all hip and smart. The Disney announcers were eager to reassure us that they were indeed hip and smart. They performed sanitized versions of dance-pop, rap or hip-hop, and once even reggae. Carefully censored versions of club music for tweens, in other words.

The other thing that impressed me most about Disney was also there in spades. Everything was about selling Disney, so much so that advertisements for something other than Disney came as a relief. They were of course selling the two big amusement parks. They were also selling Disney resorts, and even Disney cruise ships.

It dawned on me: this is Stryper. You may or may not remember Stryper. They were one of the earliest "Christian rock" bands from the early 1980s. They performed derivative hair metal music with lyrics about Jesus. The whole vibe was one of "Christians can have rock without the Devil". As if the Devil of proper hair metal was anything other than a cartoon character packing all the spiritual menace of a can of devilled ham.

It's about cocooning. Christians wanted to have music like the rest of us got without having to mix it up with a culture they perceived as problematic. Disney appeals to frightened parents, offering them sanitized synthetic pop music and entire vacation environments safeguarded by the Disney brand.

Of all the rights basic to a decent society, the right of children to keep secrets from their parents is one of the most fundamental and least defended. The hidden culture of children is one of the mainsprings of our folk life. The scary thing about Disney is: what if the cocooning works? What if children came out of that environment imagining that Disney pop was real music, and that all the menace and promise and scariness of real popular music was no greater than the saccharine stuff they got from Disney? This is why my unrepentant rockist heart finds everything about Disney uneasy and vaguely disturbing.



You might want to send this essay to Free Range Kids.