In Disney World, but not of Disney World: “I just flew back from Walt Disney World – and boy, are my ethics tired.”
I’m a person who usually analyzes things to death, but I think he oversold this one. Critiques of cultural icons are needed, but this was a bit much.
He says some true things about Disney’s “golden age” v. the newer shows, and about the “airbrushed live-action mannequins” of shows like Hannah Montana. But his commentary on and for parents was not great.
“But I am also keen for my children to grow up comfortable in their culture, aware of its joys and tragedies, fluent in its faults and in its fantasies.” While also a pretty weak support of sending kids to public school, this comes off as a sad justification for splurging. You can certainly grow up “comfortable in the culture” without a trip to Disney World.
For example, I think the reason most adults choose to “be impressed” rather than “engage the content” is because they’ve seen the movies and been on the rides, and there’s nothing about the content they disagree with. They believe all the things that Disney teaches. That, or they’re comfortable lying to their kids for a few years to get them to believe in magic. Either way, they aren’t ignoring some pressing ethical issue. And the whole “lagging indicator” of divine approval statement was out of place.
And I’m part of one of those families that makes numerous trips and don’t care who knows. He writes as if an adult should be ashamed of enjoying Disney World; as if it’s bad to have a place you go to reclaim a little piece of your childhood.
He was also unclear on what it meant to be “in but not of” in this context. Does that mean not buying souvenirs? not doing tourist stuff? not taking pictures? That would have been a lot more helpful.
Of course, all that, and the most annoying thing about this article is the line about why he sends his kids to public schools. As though kids in private and homeschools are foreigners to American culture.