It was hard to find something to comment on, when this chapter is really just an overview of what is to come in the entire rest of the book. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that a book titled Rethinking Disney isn’t filled with praises and love for the company. The introduction begins by pointing out the numerous problems with Disney. There was one small aspect to this section that I kept coming back to as I read: the comparisons between the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tune characters, and the Disney characters. There were only a few mentions of them, but it got me thinking. Although the Warner Bros characters all have been marketed to various forms of media and merchandising, they still do not retain the level of sacred popularity as the Disney characters. Yet, as shown in the example about the US Postal service, and their battle to use Disney characters on stamps, Warner Bros seems like a far nicer company to work with—at least in terms of their more tolerant nature when it comes to things like copyright.
Why is this the case? Why are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck only second in the American public’s mind to Mickey and Donald? I don’t have an answer yet. But it’s an interesting question, and I’m going to keep thinking about it.
The second half of the introduction goes into detail about what the rest of the book contains. The editors outline the various chapters and types of criticism the following essays are about. Most notable in my mind as I read was the section on gender and sexuality, and the discussion of Disney’s relationship with the LGBT community. To me, the Gay Days held at the Disney parks seem like a very outdated tradition. Why have a specific day set aside for a minority group? Granted, it’s not like the Gay Days are the only days Disney allows gays and lesbians into their parks—that would be horrible. But I don’t know… 125,000 people attend the parks on Gay Days, so clearly it is a popular event. It almost feels like a publicity stunt—Disney openly proclaiming how accepting they are and advertising it to the world. And while this might make some people like Disney even more, the retaliation from extreme Christian organizations proves that no matter what Disney does, there will always be opposition and criticism.
The introduction does what it is supposed to do—prepares the reader for the rest of the book. It brought up some interesting criticisms and questions, and I’ll be reading the subsequent essays with those in mind.