Can we stop pretending that there is any problem whatsoever with “Disney adults?”
If you are an adult and you love Disney — whether for its movies, its TV shows, its music, its merchandise or its theme parks — then good for you. I can’t imagine going through life without passion for something, such as sports, theater, video games or, yes, even Disney.
But that does not stop the haters from hating, especially online, where people can hate, troll and abuse others anonymously and without consequence. Witness a recent article from Rolling Stone, “How ‘Disney adults’ became the most hated group on the internet,” which detailed several viral incidents when the online hive mind went after grown-up fans of Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Turns out that we did not need a Big Brother government to create Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate. The modern media marketplace delivers that 24 hours a day, as countless publishers and broadcasters have discovered that promoting hate for “the other” — whomever that might be — drives traffic and ratings with minimal financial expense.
The hated “other” can be large group of people: Muslims, immigrants, gays and lesbians … or even Disney fans. The group does not matter. Only the hate, the views and the clicks.
Disney adults are a huge group these days because Disney creates an enormous amount of entertainment that appeals to people of all ages, including those 21 and older. So I would like to dispute another claim in the Rolling Stone article, a criticism of Disney fandom that I have seen made by many other sources on and offline, that “Disney sells a rather unsophisticated version of wish fulfillment to consumers.”
I can think of many words to describe the entertainment that Disney creates, especially in its theme parks, but “unsophisticated” would stand far down on that list. Walt Disney Imagineering has earned countless patents over the years for its inventions that help drive the company’s theme park attractions, with Imagineer Lanny Smoot alone earning more than 100.
Attractions such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Fantasmic! are ridiculously complex and sophisticated technical accomplishments, especially when you consider how often and how long they must run to please Disney’s millions of theme park visitors each year. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit the set of a Disney movie or television show can testify to the sophistication of those productions, each of which employs hundreds of technicians and creative professionals.
OK, maybe Disney’s productions are technically sophisticated, but are they creatively sophisticated? Ask Disney’s friends over at Warner Bros. how easy it is to craft a successful and sustainable cinematic universe around comic book characters. Disney movies such as “WALL-E,” “Black Panther” and “Up” did not just win at the box office, they won substantial and enduring critical acclaim.
Disney’s technical and creative sophistication are the reasons why it has built such a large and loyal following. That is something that should be celebrated, not denigrated.
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