At some point, it became cool to be anti-Disney – to sneer at the pixie dust and find fault with the company’s business practices. Michael Eisner didn’t make too many friends during his stint as Disney’s CEO and even old Walt himself was supposed to be a bit of a bastard. The iconic Princesses reinforce negative female stereotypes and give young girls unrealsitic expectations about romance and hairstyles. I’ve heard it all before, and while I recognize grains of truth in each and every complaint, I simply do not care. I love Disney because it believes in something that the real world doesn’t: Happily Ever After.
It’s a difficult concept for any grownup to really embrace because it’s virtually impossible. The world is hard place. It’s mean and it’s harsh and it will kick the living hell out of you if you give it half a chance, so only a fool places much stock in the idea that somehow it’ll all work out and nothing will go wrong ever again. Between the crappy economy, political unrest both domestic and abroad, and dealing with our own personal helping of misfortune, the best anyone really hopes for is Not Awful.
Things go wrong in Disney’s world, too. People die, families split up, ducks are kidnapped, and fortunes are stolen. The magic of Disney is that it asks you to believe that it all comes out okay – that wishes do come true and everyone winds up happy and loved. Except the jerks, of course – they end up alone and ignored, because in the world of Disney good guys win and bad guys lose.
Buying into Disney’s magic happens automatically when you’re a kid, but staying invested in it as an adult takes a bit of conscious effort. The moment you set foot in a Disney theme park, you know you’re being manipulated and hoodwinked, coerced into waiting too long and spending too much. But if you can momentarily silence your inner cynic, you find yourself transported to a place where normal rules don’t apply. Where the street rat’s heart of gold wins the love of the beautiful princess. Where animals not only talk, they sing. Where you’re invited to pal around with pantless ducks and perpetually cheerful mice – and maybe help them save the world.
So, yeah, I understand that Disney isn’t all rainbows and puppies. But for those few minutes that I’m belting out “Poor, Unfortunate Souls” on my way home from work, I forget about that stack of bills that refuses to go away, and it’s impossible for me to think about Castle of Illusion without smiling. Sometimes, a little dab of Disney is all it takes to help get through the day.
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