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The Gift of Disney

I had the best cinema experience of my entire life this Christmas and I owe it to Disney. So, despite the fact that a multi-billion dollar corporation in no way needs me defending it, I’m going to share a few words of appreciation for The House of Mouse.

Even for Disney standards, 2019 was an off-the-charts successful year for the media company. They dominated the box office in a way that no other studio has even come close to.

There was Avengers: Endgame, of course; the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) capstone that became the biggest movie of all time. But followed by that was The Lion King, the live action adaption of a beloved Disney animated classic. Rounding out the top 3 was Frozen II, a sequel to a modern animated smash hit.

So, the top 3 was an MCU movie, a live action remake, and an animated sequel. And, as evidenced by their incredible box office success, audiences clearly lined up for them.

But that is precisely the problem for a minority of nerds, who insist that the success of Disney spells only abject horror for the movie industry and, nay, humanity as a whole. In fact, Twitter would lead one to believe that Disney is a one-way highway leading straight to DOOM. Which is kind of weird. You’d think there would be some kind of zoning laws against that but, nope, a big stretch of highway that leads right to DOOM.

So, as I again acknowledge the ridiculousness of a lowly nerd such as myself defending a behemoth like Disney, allow me to share my perspective on why I’m a fan of The Mouse.

Firstly, Disney caters to families. I mentioned that my absolute all-time best cinema experience was this past Christmas. On my 2nd viewing of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker I went with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, my three nephews (11, 10, 8) and my two daughters (11 and 9).

Here was I, a hard-core and life-long Star Wars fan, surrounded by kids and casual fans. Yet I spent at least half of the movie watching them watch the movie.

It was an absolute joy and delight.

My nephews whooped, my daughters shrieked, and everyone laughed and clapped. I cried.

Again, it was an absolute joy and delight. Disney caters to families and in doing so, crafts experiences where young and old can enjoy themselves equally. I fully realize this is a benefit that won’t be as appreciated by, say, a 34-year-old single male, but fathers like me are thankful that Disney caters to families.

Second, Disney entertains. They make movies that are action packed, full of laughs, and contain likable and heroic characters that, yes, also can be molded into best-selling action figures and licensed accessories.

Is there a shark in a Disney movie? Well, they are going to consider adding lasers to it! And maybe some rocket fins. Even a cup holder if test audiences give feedback that it might be one whoop more entertaining. While Disney movies certainly explore emotional themes, they don’t endeavor to deconstruct genres or look to say new things regarding “adult,” thinky themes. They are trying to show general audiences a good time.

Thirdly, Disney embraces its formula. A common complaint against Disney movies is that they follow a predictable formula, which is various expressions of the classic Hero’s Journey with music and plot beats to enhance that basic narrative.

And Disney fully embraces that formula, using it to crank out hit after hit that draws in audiences. Disney knows fully well that they aren’t in the business to create auteur art-house flicks, although you can see the critics on Twitter are aghast that Disney “doesn’t take more chances,” as if creative freedom is the sole measure of a movie’s value.

I get it, I really do. We don’t need the education. We don’t need the thought control, am I right?

But Disney makes entertaining movies that can be enjoyed by families who are on summer break or enjoying the Christmas holidays together (see two points above). That’s their formula.

Finally, Disney makes wholesome movies (and shows). I LOVE that my entire family can watch The Mandalorian together (outside of episode 6, which oddly was more violent than the other episodes).

I’m not polyanna about the language that my kids hear at school or the ills of the world that they’ll soon grow up to experience, but by John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt I am not in a hurry to subject them to it any sooner than necessary, so I’m thankful that the largest media company in the world maintains a wholesomeness to it, considering that other’s do not.

So let Cutting Words or Vicious Mockery issue from your sneering face until it goes blue. I deserve it. My Twitter handle is @earthnerdclave, so let loose! Tell me what an affront to art and dignity a defense of Disney is! (Just don’t examine carefully what you mean by “dignity,” because I have bad news for you on how you look heatedly discussing Disney on Twitter.)

As for me, I see Disney as a gift. I fully recognize that this is coming from my personal perspective and Twitter doesn’t agree with me, nor would others who don’t share my particular position. But many do. Just look at the box office numbers.

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