You would be hard-pressed to find a bigger Disney fan than me over the years. Growing up in a Los Angeles suburb, I was taken to Disneyland in 1956 as a four-year-old. And that began my love affair. My very secular family (read “Mom”) took me every year for my birthday. From the days of e-tickets to expansions into California Adventure Park and Disney World in Florida, I learned to memorize every square foot of those sacred grounds. I did enjoy the rides, but more than that, I enjoyed the atmosphere of “the happiest place on earth.”
And there were the movies. I wept at Old Yeller. I wept when Bambi’s mom died. I even wept at the conclusion of Swiss Family Robinson! Why? Because they had a happy and complete family, whereas I lost mine to divorce. Ouch! I just now am feeling that sadness again!
Emulating the happy experience at “Mouseland” were the messages of those movies. And they, like the parks, seemed to be a safe and pleasant place to escape from the gloomy world outside those fences. And who isn’t aware of the fact that Walt Disney was first and foremost a cartoon animator? His characters, like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, are known the world over. And they are still ever present in his parks.
He was one of the earliest animators to make full length movies. And he liked to push the boundaries of technology to improve the quality of those animations. He did work with mixed focusing techniques (an early attempt to get 3-D depth), with live action copying, with the experimentation of vocal singing and with the heavy use of vivid color. He would have been proud of the technical abilities of the Disney Animation Studios and the subsidiary Pixar Films in their amazing achievements in areas such as the difficulties of the moving and lighting of human hair in Tangled or the ability of recreating the unique look of water in Moana. These techniques cost many millions of dollars to perfect, but they add so much to the movie experience.
In case you haven’t noticed, I like the nuts and bolts of movie production. In fact, had the Lord not graciously lassoed me from the world’s herd, I would probably have become a movie producer, as I think I know how a good one is put together. There is the early character development, the introduction of the main concern of the plot, the direction the main character takes to tackle that plot, the apparent success only to be dashed in crushing failure ... until the gloomy darkness dissipates into that guaranteed happy conclusion. There you go: that’s about 70% of all modern movies!
And Disney’s movies are no exception to this general flow. But what has been added along the way is a new and disturbing trend of hidden messages. My more conservative friends have long worried about the uses of talking animals and magic and other story-necessary aspects of these animations. Pixar’s movies have tended to tackle more adult-themes, like death and the hereafter. In doing so they stray far from Biblical truths. But there has always been some kind of greater truth that has eclipsed worrisome errors, providing a justification in seeing them. That’s the thought, anyway.
However, recently there has been something that has caused this Disney fan to reevaluate his support. Whereas these movies have long been safe places to take kids (if you can handle the magic references), now Disney has decided to insert open references to same-sex relationships. Given the recent involvement in Florida politics on this issue, specifically by Disney World, it has become apparent that they believe the introduction of this subject to small children is necessary to gain its widespread acceptance as normative. They believe they know more about this subject than parents do.
Interestingly, the last Pixar movie along with the current Disney Animations movie have been tabbed as theatrical “bombs,” losing hundreds of millions of dollars. Apparently, America isn’t quite ready for this preaching from Disney. All of this has been financially alarming enough to cause Disney to fire their boss and bring back an older one. Perhaps he can right the ship and bring back the goal of producing family-friendly entertainment, full of positive and Biblically-supportable messages. As a bonus, perhaps he can leave Disney out of divisive politics. Or am I still living in Fantasyland?
For me, unless that happens, it’s “Goodbye, Mickey.” The happiest place on earth is wherever the Lord leads me to be.
Disclaimer: This article states the opinion of Stan Hudson and does not reflect the stance of NPUC. Any questions can be sent to Stan Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org.