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You Kids Don’t Know How Good You’ve Got It!

17 Jun

This week in my Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1970s lately, as I’ve been working on a panel for the upcoming ConnectiCon convention, Middle-aged Geeks Tell All! In preparing for this panel, I’ve been running back through my childhood favorites, both on TV and in the movies. And thinking back, I’m surprised at how little Disney entertainment was available, especially compared to the media saturation of today.

I remember tuning into Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights, watching Tinkerbell fly over Sleeping Beauty Castle in the opening credits. I remember cartoons and branded Disney characters being on the show from time to time, but just as often it would be a live-action feature, which (in my eyes at least) usually seemed to have nothing to do with Disney. Maybe it would be a movie, split up across two weeks (The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit! Monkeys, Go Home!). Maybe it would be a nature program, in which case I’d probably go looking for Star Trek re-runs instead. The opening credits often felt like a bait-and-switch. But every now and then there was a special: Julie Andrews at Disneyland! Disney Parade! It felt like opening up the Cracker Jack box and finding a real toy, instead of those lousy tattoos.

Disney Channel? TiVo? Disney Afternoon? A 1970s youngster knew not of these things.



Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest. And tell me about walking up hill six miles to school, wouldya? Why, I remember tying an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time . . .

Lemonade Mouth: Bitter With the Sweet

25 Apr

Lemonade Mouth sounded right up my alley: Rebellious teenagers starting a garage band, finding their own voice. But given the track record of the Disney Channel Movie series, I had to keep my expectations low. My review of Lemonade Mouth is in my Jentasmic! column on Studios Central. A brief highlight:

Perhaps in part due to these moderate expectations, and my legendary avoidance of any spoilers, Lemonade Mouth did not disappoint. (So hey, if you’re going to watch the movie, go do so now before reading the rest of this article. I can wait here, no problem.) The story is engaging, the acting is above-par for Disney Channel standards, and the anthem of “Be heard, be strong, be proud” is a healthy message for the tweens who will find the movie most appealing. I can only hope that the Disney Channel Rocks show at the Studios will soon include a few numbers from Lemonade Mouth.

And in related news: Chris Colfer has sold a pilot screenplay to the Disney Channel. I love Colfer on glee, and hope that he can bring some of that same style and sensibility to his future projects as well.

Lemonade Mouth Premiere Moves to April 15

21 Mar

Clearly I have not been keeping up with my tween entertainment news, because it is only now that I discover Disney Channel has moved the premiere of Lemonade Mouth to Friday, April 15, according to Nick and More.

And why do I care about Lemonade Mouth, after having been disappointed by such films as Jump In! and Camp Rock? Well, here’s how Lemonade Mouth was described on BuzzNet:

Disney Channel has signed up a new movie musical based on the novel Lemonade Mouth, which tells the tale of five Rhode Island freshmen who meet in detention and form a garage band with a ukulele.

Plus, the Racialicious post on Lemonade Mouth some time back has intrigued me with the promise of a genuinely talented leading lady. And hey, one of my favorite musical duos is Petty Booka, a ukelele-playing duo on the Benten record label. So what the heck?

Since I’m notoriously spoiler-free, I’m avoiding the early releases of songs, plot details, etc. I’d rather be taken by surprise, as I was by High School Musical. But if you want the scoop, check out the Official Lemonade Mouth Headquarters, by the author of the book on which the movie is based.

Autocomplete: Hannah Montana is . . .

17 Feb

From AutoCompleteMe.

Now, what was that I was saying just the other day about parents banning Disney Channel from the home because they think Hannah Montana and her ilk are a bad influence? ‘Nuf said.

Gay Characters? Disney Channel Needs a Lesson from Buster Baxter

15 Feb

AfterElton has a fascinating interview with Disney Channel President Gary Marsh, on the topic of gay characters on Disney Channel shows. The topic is introduced by this quote from Marsh, from 2008:

“Well, just to speak sort of in the 30,000-foot level first, we don’t deal with sexuality on the Disney Channel in general. That’s just sort of not where our audience’s head’s at. They’re really a pre-sexual audience, for the most part, and so sexuality is not how we look to tell any kind of stories.”

I’ll echo AfterElton’s sentiment: It’s not meaningful to talk this way about same-sex couples. For example: How is it not sexual for a kid to know he has parents of opposite sexes, but somehow sexual for him to know that some other kid has parents of the same sex? And hey, why isn’t it sexual when Zack and Cody are ogling all those girls?

The article goes on to make it clear that Marsh is okay with characters on the Disney Channel being widely interpreted as gay, but that those characters won’t ever be coming out in any way.

We leave it up to our audience to interpret who these characters are and how they relate to them. It’s great that this child has interpreted [Shake It Up! character] Gunther [as gay] and that it speaks to him in a way that makes sense for his life. And that’s what we’re trying to do — create a diverse cross section of characters on television that kids can have different access points and entry points to connect with.

It’s like the Hays Production Code all over again: You can have gay characters, they just can’t be identified openly. (Of course, Disney’s moved quite a bit forward from Hays, in that gay characters don’t have to die horribly at the end of the story, or suffer in silence — they can go on to Julliard instead.)

I can’t imagine the Disney Channel budging on this issue anytime soon, due to what I’m sure they perceive as market pressure. So, is it better to have coded gay characters like Ryan Evans, who’s widely interpreted as gay but may convey the message that it’s not okay to be out? Or is it better to only have clearly heteronormative characters on kids shows? I’m not satisfied with either option.

When my home state began recognizing same-sex marriage, many people felt that the world would fall apart somehow. But as the years have rolled by, it seems like less and less of a big deal (except, of course, for those whose marriages are now recognized, for whom it is enormously important). If mainstream television networks like the Disney Channel had an openly gay character now and then, perhaps the social order wouldn’t really be rocked for all that long? After all, glee‘s been pretty darn successful (in some part because of a fabulous openly gay character), and many parents already shun Disney Channel for being a bad influence on their kids, and ban it from the living room (just look at these google search results).

Yeah, an openly gay character on the Disney Channel would probably make executives and stockholders a little nervous. But I can’t help but wonder if people were nervous when my grandfather was lobbying for Bill Cosby to be cast in a leading role in I Spy. Sometimes change makes you nervous. Too bad.

And hey, if you’re looking for an example of an excellent (and thoroughly non-sexual) portrayal of lesbians in a children’s television show, this clip from Postcards from Buster is for you:

“Boy, that’s a lot of Moms!”

Hey, Where’s Perry? Platypus Papercraft on Deviant Arts

14 Feb

Looking for a last-minute DIY Valentine’s Day gift for your favorite Phineas and Ferb fan? Limeth on Deviant Art has created a super-cool papercraft Perry the Platypus cubee toy for you to make:

Pair it up with Phineas and Ferb printable Valentines from the Disney Family web site, and you’re all set.

High School Musical 4?

9 Apr

If you’re worried that you’ll have nothing to look forward to after High School Musical 3, fear not: The Hollywood Reporter tells us that another movie’s in the works:

“We are writing ‘High School Musical 4,’ ” Disney Channel Worldwide president Rich Ross confirmed Tuesday after a presentation at a midtown Manhattan recording studio. It’s likely to be a TV movie unlike “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” though that could change.

The news comes as the stars of the two smash hit TV movies are preparing for production on the third installment of the series, which will begin filming in two weeks in Utah. There’s no word on whether the cast and behind-the-scenes talent will gather again for “HSM4,” though some characters introduced in the third go-round likely will star in the fourth.

There, now don’t you feel better already?

Hat tip: The Disney Blog.

Shaun the Sheep Fan Site

13 Jan

Shaun the Sheep If you’re a fan of Aardman Animations (those wacky folks behind Wallace and Gromit), or if you’re a regular Disney Channel viewer, you’re probably familiar with Shaun the Sheep. But if not, you might want to check out a few of the video clips on the Shaun the Sheep fan site, which was brought to my attention by a recent comment here on my blog.

For those who are already initiated into the ways of this cute little guy, there are desktop wallpapers, as well as fan badges for those who’d like to pledge their fandom while providing a link back to the site.

Shaun the Sheep Joins the Mickey Mouse Club

22 Jun

DIS News tells me that Disney Channel will be airing interstitial segments starring Shaun the Sheep, from Aardman Animations:

Shaun the Sheep “Shaun the Sheep” follows the comedic stories of a young sheep who leads his barnyard pals into all sorts of adventures. The character was first introduced in the Oscar-winning “Wallace & Gromit” short “A Close Shave,” from Aardman and Nick Park.

“Aardman Animations represents the platinum standard in stop-motion animation and ‘Shaun the Sheep’ brilliantly captures the unique brand of humor for which they have become world famous,” said Disney Channel Worldwide prexy Gary Marsh.

Cracking! Might this be just enough to get Mr Broke Hoedown to watch the Disney Channel with me?

Porn Accidentally Played on Disney Channel

4 May

DIS News has a story from Associated Press: Porn Played on Disney Channel.

Cable operator Comcast is investigating how hardcore pornography was broadcast during a popular cartoon program on the Disney Channel in New Jersey.

Customer Paul Dunleavy would also like to know. He was stunned Tuesday morning to find his 5-year-old son watching something other than “Handy Manny,” a cartoon about a bilingual Latino handyman and his talking tools.

Talking tools, indeed.

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