Monday, March 29, 2004

Why I hate Disney

(Except for The Aristocats. A cat's the coolest cat, who knows where it's at.)

But seriously. I hate Disney. Not Walt per se — Disney Corporation.

I've always had trouble articulating why, but it goes something like this: Disney is the ultimate symbol of corporate America, of commercialism, and commercialization of all that is good and true, a perversion of childhood innocence, and then it feeds off our children for chrissakes.

Hilary Flower bemoans the trend to abridge, to simplify, to Disney-fy children's lit — to strip the classics of all that is classic:

I went to the library to get my daughter "The Wind in the Willows." What I found was a happy-face, Disney-esque conspiracy to rob the classics of children's lit of their drama, their passion and their soul.

Some of these omissions can be forgiven if brevity is a priority, but how can you launch "The Wind in the Willows" without spring "moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing"? Divine discontent and longing are at the heart of this book; they propel the action and motivate the characters. I have always loved how this magical sentence opens the book. Take it out and Mole is just sick of cleaning.

When it's real literature, we show up and celebrate it with her. If it's going to be dumbed down, we might as well pop in the DVD.

But if my child is going to dive into a world of someone's creation, let it be an artist's, not a corporation's. Great children's literature is written by an artist answering an urgent personal call, and the artist's magic can touch the reader in places that a cheap imitation can never reach with its sugar-sticky fingers.

My daughter deserves nothing less than the gifts of artists. What I want for her is precisely what the Great Illustrated Classics wants to leave out. The unfathomable mystery of intimacy and glimpses of its inner workings. A taste of the dangers of the world. The jaw-dropping beauty of language. The heartbeat of the artist.

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