Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cultural Criticism... through the eyes of a child

By Litchik

Big changes in the last six years. BIG. For all of us here at WB, but for now, I'll speak only for myself.

I've become a mom. Of twin boys, A and C.

Two moms + two boys = no princesses! This was seriously one of my first thoughts when I found out we were having boys. I was thrilled. But that was way back in 2011. Now they're 3.5 years old. And one of them loves pink and purple, Dora and Friends, Legos and... princesses.

Fucking. Disney. Princesses.

So what did we do? We went to Disney World.

And here are a few survival tips for older parents like me who find themselves at Disney with their very young, very excited children.

1. The princesses are...complicated. On the one hand, they bring great pleasure to many little girls and apparently only a very small handful of boys. A loved them and C tolerated them with good nature, but the princesses GUSHED over the boys for the most part. I couldn't tell if this was an acknowledgement that rigid, oppressive gender roles are finally starting to fade, or if all of the "Cast Members" (all Disney employees are called this) are brainwashed into being well-oiled cogs of the Disney money-making machine. Which brings us to the other hand....

2. Disney doesn't just benefit from free-market capitalism run amok, it has honed and perfected the business model. Be ready to drop a small fortune while you're at any of the parks. Or resorts. Or anything within a 50 miles radius of anything Disney related. What's the "magic" of Disney? Every ride and attraction ends at a gift shop! And these stores are more ubiquitous than Starbucks cafes. The trinkets and baubles aren't cheap, either. I thought a few Elsa and Anna pens would be an easy, affordable way to quench the “princess thirst” for at least a day. Nope. $23 for two fucking Bics encased in cheap, plastic Norwegian princess molds. I could feel my soul being sucked into a corporate void with each swipe of my MagicBand. Speaking of which…

3. Beware of MagicBands. This is a relatively new and evilly ingenious device that lets you access your Disney resort room, park entrances, FastPass rides, dinner reservations, and your credit card in one brightly colored wristband. Just wave it in front of a Mickey Mouse (because of course) scanner and you're good to go.

4. It really is a “small world” if you see it like Walt does, i.e. as white people, and everyone else. As we slowly drifted through all of the countries in the (in)famous ride, I silently repeated the sanity-saving mantra, This is not racist and reductive, it's global awareness for toddlers and Sarah Palin.

The Fantasmic show featured characters from Pocahontas in full American Indian costume. What did they do? Why, they paddled canoes and attacked white people, of course. No fears, though, because big, blond John Smith temporarily saved the day. Until the other villains appeared. And how do we identify villains at Disney? Basically, if you're not blonde or wearing a stunning ball gown, then chances are you're evil. Even Jasmine pointed out that she was the only princess wearing pants at Cinderella's princess breakfast. Guess what? She was also the only one who wasn't white, and had a bare midriff. Hmm.

But take these and the many other disturbing observations you'll undoubtedly make, and stuff them way, way down, because the other thing you’ll notice is your heart melting a hundred times when you see Disney through your child's eyes. The joy in their squeals of delight will make the rest worth every penny.

You can hook them on PBS shows when you get home.

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