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Jentasmic!: Disney’s Influence on Florida 2012 Elections

5 Oct

In this week’s Jentasmic!, I muse about Disney’s involvement in Florida’s electoral politics. A snippet:

Based on recent political contributions by Walt Disney World, we should probably be singing “It’s a Republican world after all” as we glide along through a classic indoor boatride. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Walt Disney World has spent nearly $2.5 million on political candidates and causes in Florida so far this election cycle” (as of September 27, 2012), with approximately 90% of that money going to Republican candidates or Republican-leaning interest groups.

And I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface; Disney has a long and complex relationship with politics in Florida (and nationwide — let’s not forget Sonny Bono’s Mickey Mouse Protection Act). Vance at StudiosCentral points out that Disney’s also recently been involved with preventing a paid sick-leave question from appearing on the Florida ballot. From HuffPo:

Thanks largely to the pressure brought by the business lobby in Orange County, Fla., it appears the most magical place on earth won’t include mandated sick leave for workers anytime soon.

Last month, Orange’s Board of County Commissioners voted to put off a ballot vote on a hotly contested measure that would require employers to provide workers with one hour of sick leave for every 37 hours worked, capped at 56 per year. By delaying the vote until after the printing deadline for the Nov. 6 ballot, the board’s move at least temporarily scuttled an initiative that 50,000 voters had petitioned to put to a public vote.

I took a quick look at the current union contract for full-time WDW Cast Members, and full-time Cast Members can earn up to 48 hours of sick leave per year (assuming one works 8-hour days, that’s 6 days worth). That’s below the average for full-time workers in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And I’m well-aware that many Cast Members are neither full-time nor covered by the union. Any Cast Members have stories they’d like to tell? Plenty of room here in the comment section below.

Egypt Revolution, Explained as an Indiana Jones Film

3 Feb

Having trouble understanding current events in Egypt, even at a very high level? Furrygirl explains it all to you, as an Indiana Jones action flick.

Hat tip: BoingBoing.

Matt Damon Calls Palin Pick A “Bad Disney Movie”

10 Sep

A professional colleague tipped me off to a Matt Damon interview:

In an interview, he called her a purely “political” pick, said there was a 1 in 3 chance based on actuarial tables that McCain wouldn’t survive his first term in the White House and called her “I’m-just-a-hockey-mom from Alaska” routine something out of a bad Disney movie. (That has to be the ultimate slap from a Hollywood star.)

If you haven’t had enough yet, here’s the YouTube for your viewing pleasure:

Who Will Have First Same-Sex Civil Marriage at Disneyland?

16 May

I was sitting in an airport lounge yesterday afternoon when I saw the news that California’s Supreme Judicial Court had ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry, under the state’s Constitution. I know there are still some hurdles, I know that there are plenty of groups working to stop this and that the Pope disapproves . . . I am sometimes tired and bitter and worried that there will be backlash, but all the same I choked up with tears to see the couples rejoicing, to read about a woman calling her partner of 19 years to finally propose marriage, to see my friend and musical collaborator Allison on TV talking about the California ruling with her legally-wed, Massachusetts wife.

I was in the middle of the airport, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand the depths of my joy. It felt as if a national holiday had suddenly been declared, and nobody but me knew about it. Thank goodness for the twitterverse and my crackberry . . . I could text and twitter with likeminded friends. One of my buddies had a great question for me on twitter: Will Disney do something special for the first same-sex couple to wed there? And I have to say, while I doubt Disney would go out on the political limb to do anything officially special, I’ve just gotta believe that the first time a same-sex couple is legally wed on Disney property, there’s gonna be Cast Members there who really get that this is a historic moment, and I’m sure plenty of them will go out of their way to find just a little bit of extra pixie dust. After all, same-sex couples can use the wedding facilities at Disney World (and maybe the non-US parks too?) . . . but can’t be legally wed in that state.

Twenty nine days from now (assuming same-sex marriage foes don’t find a way to stop it), same-sex marriages will begin in California. And honey, we all know that this isn’t enough time to plan a wedding! But hey, if anybody out there hears when the first same-sex couple has arranged for a Disneyland wedding, please please please drop me a note. I wish I could be there to throw rice, but at the very least I can celebrate with them in my heart.

All In This Together: Goths, High School Musical 2, and Growing Up Gay

20 Aug

applescruff’s blog at Progressive U comments on being a Disneyland Cast Member during Bat’s Day at the Fun Park (aka Goth Day):

At first, I didn’t realize that some of my fellow cast members were frightened of these guests. Something about their black makeup and reputation made the Bats crowd intimidating, I suppose. I really didn’t notice. In high school, I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made friends with a few goths, to discover that, more often than not, they were far nicer than the “normal” people. It might have been because I was a misfit myself, but I believe they would have opened up the same way to anyone. As for the Disneyland guests, they came to have fun, same as anyone else. It was annoying to me that I had to initiate contact with “scary people” because…well, they were scary. Even after one of them managed to talk with one of the goths to discover that yes, I was right, they can be very nice, the cast members seemed very nervous about them.

Apparently, despite having it drilled into our heads from the time we are old enough to watch our first episode of Sesame Street, most people do not remember not to “judge a book by it’s cover.” It doesn’t matter that this particular event took place at Disneyland, because I see it all the time. I’ve been a victim of this kind of thing for as long as I can remember. I come from Long Beach, so I’m automatically into drugs, rap, and because of the high school I attended, I’m possibly mentally unstable, part of a gang, and prone to violence. It doesn’t matter that people get these ideas from poorly researched television programs and films, it must be true because that’s what they know. I’m also preppy because I’m intelligent, and therefore I must have good grades (niether of which is entirely true). I am supposedly a hippy, therefore (again) a druggie, because I like to listen to sixties and seventies music. The list goes on and on. Worse, because I have an uncommon and not-very-phoenetic name, people tend to think I’m weird anyway without even learning more than my name.

And while we’re being asked not to judge books by their covers . . . I’m reminded of a post I saw earlier today on the QueerSighted Gay Blog, discussing whether High School Musical 2 is “chock full of gay:”

Perhaps disturbed by the gay subtext [in High School Musical] that was pointed out to them by homosexuals with agendas, Disney attempts to butch up High School Musical 2, removing all traces of queer allegory and metaphor and amping up the heterosexual love triangle. Even so, this sequel (which exists in a parallel universe where the high school experience is so watered down that it might as well be clear) is perhaps even gayer than the first movie.

I must say, it did occur to me that the “I Don’t Dance” scene was as laden with coded references and knowing glances as any Hays Code-era Hollywood blockbuster. Ryan’s the pitcher, eh? Not surprising at all, to those of us who’ve spent a good bit of time wearing the pink hats ourselves. And did anyone else think it was odd that Troy could even pretend to be jealous when Ryan slung his arm, with platonic affection, around Gabriella’s shoulders?

It would seem we’re confronted with a post-modern dilemma: Do we choose to view Ryan’s fabulous, fey mannerisms as thinly-veiled references to his homosexuality, or do we embrace the notion that hetero men should also be free to love show tunes and camp it up? Either way, Ryan saves the day, so does it matter? Not to me. I’m a big fan of both gay rights and gender aberration, so either way I’m all for it.

But more to the point . . . maybe Ryan’s sexual orientation does matter if you’re a gay teen growing up today, watching High School Musical 2 and thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to be who you are. Could it be possible that we really are all in this together?

Tigger Socks Protected Under First Amendment

4 Jul

San Francisco Chronicle has the scoop (hat tip to Mousevine!):

As long as they’re not carrying messages about “bong hits 4 Jesus,” students have the right to express themselves in the clothing they wear to school, whether it includes a cancer awareness pin or embroidery of Tigger on their socks, a Napa County judge has ruled in halting enforcement of a school’s dress code.

For the past nine years, Redwood Middle School in Napa has required students’ clothing and backpacks to be entirely solid colors and has banned pictures, words, symbols or patterns — except the school logo — as well as jeans or “denim-looking” clothes.

So, um, I guess those “bong hits for Tigger” shirts are out, but now the socks are A-OK.

My favorite commentary during the battle for Tigger socks was posted recently (but before the ruling above) by Little Tigger, on Mr Broke Hoedown’s blog Collateral Damage:

I will always wear my Tigger overalls,
I refuse to wear stupid plain growedup
clothes, if it becomes law, it will
be the first law I will have broken
in my whole life.

Bittersweet US Naturalization Ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort

4 Jul

Once again, thank goodness for the interweb. Right now I’m watching the naturalization ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort, webcast live.

As I watch, it strikes me that there’s a certain irony to swearing in new citizens in front of Cinderella Castle, the architecture of which draws heavily on Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle. And what sort of beautiful post-modernism is at work if our newest citizens hop on the monorail for Epcot’s World Showcase, and visit the pavilion of their country of origin?

I’ll confess, I’ve never been a big fan of the Fourth of July. I’ve seen some terrible things done in the name of our country, and I am not proud of how our forefathers obtained the land we now live on. And was it perhaps not a coincidence that the skies let loose with a brief, torrential rain after a recorded greeting was played by our current President George Bush? (Maybe the weather gods are as cranky as I am about ScooterGate.)

I almost reached my limit with Lee Greenwood came out to sing “God Bless the USA,” in jeans an a polo shirt no less. (Good Lord man, you couldn’t have put on a suit for such a solemn occasion? Jimmy Rogers would have.) But I’m glad I kept watching, because moments later Meg Crofton announced that our new citizens would participate in a special parade down the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA, a beloved icon perhaps because of its celebration of a place that has never truly existed. And much to my surprise, that’s when I welled up with tears.

Because, despite my anger with my country and its leaders, I still feel lucky to be a US citizen, with my dissent and freedom of expression protected by our First Amendment. And I do know how hard our new citizens have worked to come to our country, and the tremendous obstacles some of them have overcome. I have sat with friends and loved ones when they were afraid they wouldn’t be able to stay in our country, in the homes they had built and loved. I know there are many, many more who’d make great sacrifices to sit with them this morning, becoming new United States citizens. I know there are many who long even for safe haven within our borders, for political asylum. Our country is not perfect, but it is ours, it is my well-loved home, and I welcome our new citizens with my best wishes for a happy Independence Day.

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