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26 Apr

I live and work in Boston. This time last week, I’d spent the day at home, complying with a “Shelter-in-Place” request from my city, as law enforcement was searching the suburb of Watertown for one of the men suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing. They eventually found him, a couple miles from my house.

Now, my Jentasmic! column for StudiosCentral usually comes out every other Friday, so usually I’d post a link to it here that same day, but somehow I just couldn’t think about Disney Parks in the midst of such turmoil. But now, two things come to me.

Since the Marathon bombings, discussions swirl around me about security and danger, and what price we do or should pay in privacy and/or convenience in order to protect our physical security. Somehow in light of these discussions, my StudiosCentral column last week analyzing Disney Parks’ OSHA accident investigation reports from 2002-2012 feels quite fitting. I want Disney Cast Members to have a safe workplace, and I’m willing to put up with an unattractive tarp now and then, or miss a chance to experience a favorite attraction, if it will keep Cast Members safer on the job. Life and health are precious, and often fragile. They’re well-worth protecting.

I’m also struck once again by how I long for the sort of simplicity and optimism expressed through Disney’s Parks and many of their films. I fell in love with Disney as a kid growing up in Northern California, in the midst of the 1970`s Marin County cultural revolution. Disneyland was a place where the rules were clear, magic was afoot, and the good guys always won. Unlike, well, real life.

Truth be told, I don’t want the world to be as simple and optimistic as Disneyland. and I’m not willing to contort my worldview to make myself believe it is. But at a time when much of my city is still emotionally reeling from the bombing and subsequent manhunt, when everywhere I turn it seems something or someone is reminding me to be “Boston Strong” (a phrase I loathe for reasons I cannot express), I’m glad that I’ve got a shelf full of gorgeous, entertaining Disney movies (and countless campy vintage footage) to amuse me tonight if I so choose, many happy memories of trips to Disney Parks in which to luxuriate, and another Disney trip on my calendar for later this year. Tink, take me away.

Unauthorized Movie Shot at Disney Parks; What Should Disney Do?

25 Jan

This week at StudiosCentral, my Jentasmic! column addresses a movie that’s getting a lot of internet buzz and prompting discussions of intellectual property rights:

There’s been a lot of buzz on the internet about Escape from Tomorrow, a film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week. The film was shot primarily at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, without permission from Disney; cast and crew filmed surreptitiously, mostly with handheld cameras. It tells the story of a man slowly losing his mind during the course of a day at Walt Disney World, after receiving bad news by phone in the early part of the day. It’s certainly not anything that a reasonable person would confuse for an actual Disney product. (Of course, like most people who aren’t at Sundance, I haven’t seen the film.)

Head over to StudiosCentral to read the rest. (tl;dr: I don’t think Disney should do a thing.

Disney x Barney’s: Minnie Dreams of Heroin Chic?

16 Nov

My friend @TheJoezer completely nailed it this morning: The Disney x Barneys video released this week is “Minnie dreams of heroin chic.”


Skinny Minnie creeps me out a bit, but I don’t think she’s the real issue. From this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral:

I’m not convinced that Minnie’s temporary transformation into an emaciated 5’11” dress size zero fashion model is in and of itself particularly threatening to the well-being of young girls. What troubles me more is a related point raised by the “Leave Minnie Alone” petition: The problem is “with a dress that only looks good on a woman who is 5’11 and a size zero.” And we’re really not talking about just one dress here, people; we’re talking about an industry.

Jentasmic! on Lucasfilm Acquisition: Do’s and Don’ts for Disney

2 Nov
Minnie Mouse as Princess Leia

At Star Wars Weekends 2008

When news broke earlier this week about Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, all my geeky internet feeds simultaneously exploded with joy and surprise. And I don’t just mean the Disney geeks. The anime geeks, the gaming geeks, the sci-fi geeks . . . everybody was freaking out. And almost everybody seemed overjoyed.

But I’m feeling a good bit more cautious about this acquisition. Sure, it could mean good things; I’ve enjoyed the results of Disney’s collaboration with Lucasfilm over the years. I’m a big fan of Star Tours 2.0, and had a great time at Star Wars Weekends. But I also fear there are many ways this could go wrong. From my Jentasmic! column today at StudiosCentral:

DO learn from your experience in the Pixar merger. The response to Brave from both critics and fans, plus the increasing reliance on sequels, has me a little worried that Pixar may be losing its identity as some of its key players have taken on significant roles in other areas of the Walt Disney Company. And I’m sure there’s plenty to be learned from the Marvel experience as well. Don’t be afraid to look squarely at your mistakes and learn from them. It’s equally important to look carefully at what you’ve done right, so you can do it again.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest. I promise you there’s a non-gratuitous mention of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which isn’t usually all that easy to pull off.

Jentasmic! on Limited Time Magic

19 Oct

Limited Time Magic! It sounds so, so . . . so much like legalese! So entirely unmagical, in fact, that I have a hard time believing it came out of Disney. But despite the lackluster name, I do like the concept. From this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral:

But now that I’ve got my bitterness out of the way. . . Oh man, I am loving the concept of this new promotion, which I’ll just refer to as LTM to contain my annoyance. As a regular Guest at Disney Parks, I like to plan my trips around special events, whether Disney-hosted (like Star Wars Weekends) or fan gatherings (like Reunion 2012 – be there or be square). I enjoy seeing special decorations, going to talks or shows that just aren’t offered every day, and yes even buying special merchandise that you can only get at a certain time. As much as I hate the phrase “limited time,” there is something special about things that are only available, well, for a very limited time.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest.

Disney Store Selling Bust Enhancement Cream

6 Sep

Bounce Back Bust Butter

Yeah, I know that title might land this straight in your spam filter. But it’s true! The new Disney Baby collection that many of us Disney fans got email about this morning includes skin care products for new moms, including Bounce Back Bust Butter. And I find this hilarious.

Disneyana at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum

6 Aug
Sleeping Beauty's Sewing Set

You have got to be kidding me. Does it include its own spindle?

Baltimore’s an odd little city in some ways. For one thing, who thought it was a good idea to put a large convention center across the street from the baseball stadium? Throughout Otakon, cosplaying anime fans and befuddled Orioles fans competed for space on the sidewalks.

My family flew into town the day before Otakon, knowing that we’d be able to pick up our pre-registered badges that evening. (We didn’t get into the crazy long line that snaked around the convention center all afternoon; we just waited until we saw someone tweet that there was only a 10-minute wait. Shazam, done.)

But maybe it’s not so bad that the stadium is so close to the convention center, because the Sports Legends museum shares a building with a great find for any fan of vintage Disney comics and merchandise: Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which a friend was kind enough to suggest we visit that afternoon.

The Geppi’s web site explains their mission:

Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is dedicated to presenting the story of popular culture since the nation’s earliest days in an entertaining and educational fashion so that our guests have the unique opportunity to walk through a timeline that parallels and is entwined with history as a whole.

I’m not sure how well they accomplish the entwinement of history; I didn’t notice any references to historical events other than those specifically referenced in the pop culture materials they’ve archived. But they’ve done a great job of collecting and displaying nostalgic ephemera, from comic books to underpants. We spent an hour or so working our way through the collections, constantly tugging at each others’ sleeves and exclaiming, “You’ve got to see this one!”

My only disappointment in the museum is that their Local Heroes collection only has a small John Waters section. Museum staff explained that this is because they’d like to keep the museum family-friendly, which means they really can’t reference most of his films (they did have a couple of pink flamingos, referencing his least family-friendly movie).

Below is a photo gallery of just a few of the Disney items I saw at the Geppi Museum on July 26, 2012. If you’re in Baltimore, with or without tens of thousands of anime fans, I’d encourage you to drop in and visit the collections.

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I’ve also got to include one non-Disney image, because it makes me giggle.

Foxy Grandpa Hat Party

If Foxy Grandpa Hat Party isn’t already a euphemism, it should be.

Jackson 5 Cover of Zip A Dee Doo Dah

27 Jun

I wasn’t sure I’d ever blog again. Hadn’t I said everything I had to say about Disney? In particular, hadn’t I already spoken my peace on the issues of gender, sexual orientation, race, and class which so often get under my skin when we’re talking about Disney?

But today, I’m innocently listening to the 2010 compilation album, J is for Jackson 5, and I swear to you my heart skipped a beat when I hear a little number from Song of the South, a movie about which I’ve already expressed an opinion a few times. And whaddya know, it turns out this track was on their debut album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5. You can see them performing another version of this song live on what appears to be American Bandstand or some such show.

The controversy over Song of the South is not new, and Snopes tells me that Disney “kept [the film] out of circulation all throughout the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s.” So I’m surprised that out of the enormous Disney catalog, they picked something from Song of the South to cover. Was there any cultural fallout? Google doesn’t seem to think so. And given that it was re-released as part of such a recent compilation, the Jacksons don’t seem to have a problem with it either. But, well, there’s plenty of commentary out there about Michael Jackson and his relationship with race, which I think it’s safe to say is a rather complex question.

But wow. Zip A Dee Doo Dah.

Marketing Fail: Princess Tiana for Watermelon Candy

7 Mar

From clutch:

This week’s failure at good common sense in product marketing comes courtesy of a batch of Disney princess-themed Valentine’s day candy that pairs Sleeping Beauty‘s Aurora with vanilla flavored sugary dipping dust and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog with the watermelon flavor.

Wondering why this is a problem? Colorlines and Sociological Images (warning: disturbingly racist imagery) have the scoop for you, far better than any explanation I could try to provide.

Disney and Porn: The Unfortunate Truth

17 Jan

Porn and Disney - The Unfortunate Truth

Found by my son on imgur, appearing to be from StuffNoOneToldMe. It speaks the truth.

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