CULTURE

Late Capitalism Diaries: Disney Owns Your Life

Among the Disney Corporations latest acquisitions are all your private hopes and dreams

From that moment, as an infant, you are laid upon a Minnie Mouse Buddy Blanket to absorb the sights and sounds of Bambi blasting at you from your family TV, your life belongs to Disney.

Swaddled in your Dumbo onesie, drinking from a Tigger bottle, and squeezing a Simba Cuddleez plush, you are innocent of the world's woes, and with the help of Walt Disney's Imagineers, you can remain that way until your dying breath.

Obviously the infinite expansion of Disney's media empire has stunned the whole world in recent years—with Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox all being subsumed by the undying hunger of Walt's frozen zombie head. But you don't just have to limit yourself to watching Disney movies and TV Shows in theaters, on dedicated Television networks, and on the Disney+ streaming service. Nor are you confined to the associated Disney merchandise or the expansive catalog of Disney music—available on radio Disney and in the form of live, orchestral performances. No, you can give over your every life experience to the Disney brand.

Disney World Disney

Want to travel the world? No need to take the risk that you might experience anything unexpected along the way; just leave your adventure in the familiar, competent hands of the Disney corporation and its travel subsidiaries. Orlando, Los Angeles, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai! Experience them all through Disney's theme parks, without having to engage with the local culture or learn the language—because all the signs and menus are in English! And if rides, parades, fireworks, and replica streets that could almost convince you that you're in a real place aren't your thing (there must be something wrong with you), then you can always go on a Disney cruise—travel the high seas with your favorite Disney characters! With itineraries that can take you around Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, the Bahamas, Europe, and more, you can genuinely devote every vacation you ever take to the monopoly of the Mouse. Huzzah!

No doubt, on your journey, you'll meet a lot of like-minded Disneyphiles, and you may even find one with whom you share enough other twisted perversions that you want to spend your life together. Well, good news! Disney just introduced a brand new line of Disney princess-inspired wedding dresses, so you or your heteronormative bride can walk down the aisle in a chaste white ensemble that might vaguely remind someone of Belle, Aurora, Tiana, Pocahontas, Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Rapunzel, or Snow White! Priced from only $1,200 up to $10,000—in case you don't want to look like knock-off trash—you might as well buy the whole set!

Ariel Dress Sketch Disney

Of course your ceremony will have to take place in a Disney park, but have you considered whether you want your special day to have a nighttime view of Cinderella's castle in Disney World—starting at $30,000 (though it's unclear how much extra it will cost to have Baby Yoda as your ring bearer)—or if you would rather link your life to another person in the Rose Court Garden in Disneyland—where they filmed Disney Fairytale Weddings? Maybe you could be featured in your own Disney+ special! After your honeymoon at a Disney Beach Resort, or on Disney Adventure on the continent of your choice (except Antarctica…for now), it will be time to settle down and start a family…in the exclusive neighborhood of Golden Oak—the only gated community that is actually inside Walt Disney World. For just $2-10 million, you too can own a little slice of The Happiest Place on Earth™®©, and go Disneybounding every day!

Once you and your racially appropriate Prince/Princess move into your new castle, you can strap on your mouse ears and get to work spawning the next generation of Disney-branded humans—just don't forget to make a Disney Baby registry for the baby shower. And while you will probably be required to homeschool—because the Walt Disney Magnet STEAM school in New York City is not nearly as magical as the name suggests—you can always supplement screenings of Donald in Mathemagic Land with plenty of Disney's educational workshops and classes.

Disney Alaskan Cruise Disney

And when you're bathed in the dim glow of a Frozen night light projector, watching your little one drift off to sleep—sweetly nestled in their Sleeping Beauty bedding and soothed by the sounds of a Tangled, Read-Along Storybook and CD—don't forget to whisper in their ear, "I want a Disney-themed funeral."

Larry Kramer, AIDS activist and artist, passed away today at 84.

Kramer was known for his books Faggots and The American People, as well as climate-changing plays like The Normal Heart. His close friend and literary executor, William Schwalbe, told CNN that Kramer died of pneumonia."Larry made a huge contribution to our world as an activist but also as a writer," said Schwalbe, who had known Kramer for 57 years. "I believe that his plays and novels, from 'The Normal Heart' to 'The American People' will more than stand the test of time."

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Peter Pan

Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, premiered on Tuesday to universal complaints.

The system is buggy, it crops out jokes on The Simpsons, and it essentially killed off the Netflix Marvel series. But considering the constant commentary on trigger warnings and the very predictable uproar from a segment of white men whenever a woman or a person of color is placed in a role that could have been given to someone less "political," it's a wonder that there hasn't been more of a backlash against Disney's new content warning.

Along with the usual warnings where sexual themes and violence are concerned, certain Disney movies have been officially labeled as even more racist than others. Pocahontas, for instance, has missed this distinction by tapping into relatively benign "noble savage" stereotypes, rather than playing into grotesque caricatures of inhuman otherness in its depiction of non-white characters. Peter Pan, on the other hand, was not so lucky. It joined the list of movies containing "cultural depictions" so "outdated" that they need a special warning so thoughtful parents can shield their kids from that particular brain-poison (while exposing them to a host of others).

Disney's "Peter Pan" - What Makes the Red Man Red? www.youtube.com

Other movies have earned this recognition include Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and Fantasia. Some have argued that referring to these wildly dehumanizing portrayals of non-white people (or, tellingly, animals standing in for non-white people) as simply "outdated" places the blame on the era in which they were produced, without taking any responsibility for the impact of producing and distributing such harmful iconography. After all, if Disney is willing to wage an endless fight to maintain their exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse—and for the subsequent deprivation of the public domain—shouldn't they likewise be held accountable for the indefensible content in much of their IP? If the blame doesn't belong solely to them, then why does the profit?

"Jim Crow"in DumboDumbo

It's a compelling argument, but it overlooks an important point. Namely, Disney is right about the eras that produced such offensive trash. Their movies have always tapped into the zeitgeist—the lowest common denominator of ideas. And for the entire history of "Western Civilization," those ideas have been horribly racist (as well as homophobic, misogynistic, and culturally chauvinistic). Colonialism is the foundation of "Western Civilization." The looting and subjugation of other peoples and their lands have made it possible for the Western world to flourish. The United States, for instance, was "settled" on top of an existing civilization that white men ravaged with the help of guns, biological warfare, and the forced labor of people who were stolen from their homes, then bred and sold and treated as livestock.

This brand of devouring colonialism has been made possible by concerted efforts to dehumanize anyone who doesn't conform to the mold of the dominant elite. And men like Walt Disney perpetuated that brand. Whatever Jordan Peterson might want you to believe, Disney movies have always been propaganda—part of a mythos that defined "the West" in contrast to the rest of the world, holding it up as something worth defending. "Western Civilization" is inextricably linked to these self-aggrandizing myths, and any attempt to undermine derogatory depictions of the Other is fundamentally an attack on "Western Civilization." Worse than the new content warning, Disney has completely omitted Song of the South, erasing the proud tradition of pretending that black people were happy as slaves. The Disney+ claim that "The Vault Is Wide Open" seems to be ignoring a few items in the lock box at the back.

In short, Disney's latest effort at woke-washing is an affront to the principles that our society was built on—namely, the principle that the world belongs to white men, and no one else is really a person—but it doesn't go nearly far enough. They are attacking our disgusting history in little ways, but they are still profiting from its relics and using Tom Hanks to put a nice face on the whole operation. Now that Disney owns literally all of culture, they owe it to us to own up to the dark past that defines our society and attack "Western Civilization" head on. Because until we fully dismantle the disgusting ideas at the core of "Western Civilizations" and begin to build an inclusive and global society, we will not have earned the right to call ourselves civilized.