Thursday, November 11, 2004

Think Tink

I was in on the Disney boycott long before the Evangelicals took it over. Disney's overly cute, bowdlerizing and dumbing-down of children's literature has had a disastrous effect on such classics as Winnie the Pooh, Bambi and Peter Pan. I stand with C.S. Lewis and Tolkein in deploring this insult to a perfectly valid literary genre.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney is now looking to expand its franchise on Tinkerbell and fairies in general:

She's spunky, sassy and dishes out attitude. But can Tinker Bell and her fairy dust captivate girls the same way Walt Disney Co.'s princesses do?

Disney repackaged Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and the Little Mermaid into a multibillion-dollar brand called "Disney Princess" in just three years. Now it's trying to repeat that success with a new franchise starring Peter Pan's mischievous sidekick and a new gang of fairy pals.

Disney says its research shows that Tinker Bell has remained a popular character, despite little exposure in recent years. Last year's live-action movie version of "Peter Pan," which wasn't produced by Disney, did little to promote the waif. But Disney says girls and young women still warm to her "sassy" attitude, style and looks.
Look, I don't want to be guilty of snobbery here. I recognize that many people look at Disney as a truly American success story and at least part of that success is due to its unpretentious appeal to middle class tastes. I am not necessarily saying that those tastes are inherently vulgar -- often a good comic book is far more satisfying than an overly sophisticated novel. But I do believe there is the possibility in literature (or the other arts, of course) to go beyond merely satisfying an apetite to actually elevating the soul. We are simultaneously a nation of kings and a nation of grocers. My only concern is that, in promoting the latter truth, we do not completely forget the former.

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