EXCESS HOLLYWOOD: I KILLED BAMBI

As if Disney didn’t have enough money, now its fans are insisting I see its movies so that I can “get them” and stop “wrecking their image.” As one fan told me, “You must have had a horrible childhood to make you hate Disney films.”

I had a great childhood. I honestly can’t complain much about it… and that’s even with the inclusion of the few Disney films my parents took me to see when I was just a sprout. I didn’t mind them at the time, but I grew up. Once I reached ten or so, Disney films really didn’t appeal to me anymore. I have friends in their twenties and thirties, however, who still get off on Disney animation and simplistic stories. To say they are disheartened by my swipes at Disney is a vast understatement. (They may not even know what “disheartened” means. I’ll just say they are “bummed.”)

Let’s pretend something for a minute. Let’s pretend that Disney isn’t a huge, artless corporation intent on taking as many dollars as possible from its fans in exchange for cheap goods and historically skewed “entertainment.” Let’s forget that Disney was involved in a sweatshop scandal where its target audience was making clothes for the company. Let’s forget that Disney went after comic book creators who dared to poke fun at its bread and butter. Let’s pretend we don’t know how expensive it is to get into any of Disney’s theme parks. Let’s forget about Euro Disney. Let’s forget about the crappy cable network. What’s left? The movies.

Disney’s films are essentially children’s flicks. They are

easy-to-understand stories with fairly basic animation. (Think the exact opposite of “Akira.”) And while the animation is in full color, the characters and morals are strictly black and white. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s what you expect from a Disney film, and it’s just as easy to see what Disney’s writers expect of children — not much. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this. If parents want to expose their children to Disney films knowing full well what they are, that’s their deal. What I don’t understand are the adults who like them.

Knowing that Disney films are meant to appeal to children, how can an adult pay good money and waste precious time watching them? My friends tell me they are “magical” stories that do throw in a few things to “appeal” to adults. I’ve watched “The Little Mermaid.” There was nothing in there that appealed to me, and I couldn’t see much that would appeal to any other thinking adult. There are films out there that do a much better job of appealing to adults, mainly because they are made for adults. So why the love of Disney? I think I have the answer.

The people who tell me they adore Disney films aren’t huge film fans, and the films they do happen to watch that aren’t Disney aren’t exactly the most intellectually challenging. They tend to be as cut and dry as “The Lion King,” only without the animation and crappy soundtrack. Anime films “don’t make a lot of sense,” and foreign films aren’t any good because they “hate” reading a movie. As for more serious dramas, those look “too depressing.” Art films? Forget about it. Art’s for fags. They want entertainment only, and they don’t want to think too much.

Conclusion: Adult Disney fans just aren’t very smart, so they gravitate to movies they can understand.

So who turns into these adults with ADD? Kids raised on Disney, that’s who. Cycles of abuse take many different faces. Feeding your kid Disney on a regular basis is just one of them. It’s child abuse, and we need to address that issue now.

I’m sure my daughter will see a Disney film or two in her time. Hell, we have some Winnie the Pooh movies in the house. Those won’t be the only films she sees, though. I won’t force any film on her, but I know she’ll be exposed to many different types of movies just because of what I do to see my name in print. I know she’ll be sitting down with my wife and I when we watch the films we rented five-for-five at the local video store. We don’t get Disney films those weeks. It’s comedies, dramas, foreign films and the horror movies I love so much. Being around me, she’s more likely to see “Demonia” than “Aladdin.” And I don’t really have a problem with that.

There’s nothing wrong with children watching Disney films in small doses. When adults make that their diet, however, there’s a problem. They may not like me criticizing the company and their taste in film, but I firmly believe that ignoring the problem will not make it go away. We have parents and would-be parents out there who were raised on Disney and have carried that habit into their adult lives. If they don’t already have children, they will, and then they will feed them the same damn thing. I want to break the cycle. I want to show parents that even though they might not be the brightest bulb in the building, their kids still have a chance … if they just take the right steps.

The Sex Pistols asked the question: Who killed Bambi? I did. And I’m very proud of it.

Discuss Doug Brunell’s “Excess Hollywood” column in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>




Posted on September 16, 2004 in Features by

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