Monday, January 17, 2011

Childhood memories remind me that Disney is Evil

I am convinced that our brain, especially when it comes to memory, is like a giant pot of soup, boiling and bubbling. As it boils and bubbles, various vegetables and/or chunks of chicken or beef float to the surface, remain visible for a bit, then sink back down into the roiling depths of the pot, only to be replaced by a different vegetable or piece of meat. Perhaps even a noodle.

I do consider my memory to be such an ever-churning pot of soup, and often times I find really old spontaneously bobbing up to the surface, hanging around for a while, then eventually sinking back down into the broth. We're talking old memories here, as in decades old, floating back into my conscious without even an identifiable trigger.

Recently I had the pleasure of recalling two incidents from my childhood, completely out of the blue, that in fact reinforce the idea that Disney is Evil. Read on, MacDuff.

Anyone who knows me even just a little is aware that I love to read. I find that reading expands your mind, sharpens your wits, increases your vocabulary, fills in knowledge gaps, and much much more. It may further not come as much of a surprise to anyone that I loved to read from a very early age, like around 3. I so impressed my dad that he'd go out and get his hands on any second-hand book he could buy and give them to me.

One particular batch contained A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz, and Toby Tyler. What's Toby Tyler, you ask? Well you may ask! Toby Tyler is one of those cautionary "bad boy" stories. Boy is a problem at home, boy runs away convinced that his parents don't love him, boy gets into trouble, boy eventually has an epiphany and returns home, chastened and wiser, and is a good boy from now on.

The titular Toby ran away from his foster parents and ended up joining the circus. As an aside, don't you think Titular Toby would make a good name for a porn star? Anyways, Toby strikes up a friendship with Mr. Stubbs, a chimpanzee in the circus. In order to show that there are consequences to being a bad boy, there comes a point where said chimp has an unfortunate run-in with a hunter who has a rifle (Spoiler alert: chimp loses).

Now, this book really milked that damned chimp's death scene. Good Lord, did it tug at the heart strings. And I was just a kid, who still thought that chimps were cute and smart and wonderful, not the hateful, screaming, shit-flinging little douchebags that they really are. Which reminds me: I wonder how the New York Yankees fanbase is taking the fact that their team really hasn't made much progress to improve themselves over the off-season thus far?

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Ventilated chimp.

Anyways, Toby is devastated, I was beside myself with grief, and even though the story ends happily (Toby learns the error of his ways, goes back to loving family), I was still shaking my head and going "Sure,it's a happy ending for everyone except Mr.Stubbs, who is DEAD!"

Well, enter the Wonderful World of Disney.

Sunday nights, NBC, 730 EST...the Wonderful World of Disney...IN COLOR! OOooooooooo! That was one of the big selling points of WWD. The show was in glorious COLOR! Yeah what can I say? It didn't take much to impress us in the 60's. I mean, come on, three network channels and a few UHF stations? Oh yeah. We were living the high-life, let me tell you. Then just when you thought the bar couldn't possibly be set lower, the 70's came along.

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Disney and their Wonderful World of Technicolor Yawns. Anyways, WWD did a movie adaptation of Toby Tyler. And guess what? The damned chimp survives the hunter's gunshot! Yep, there's good old Mr. Stubbs with a big ol' gauze bandage wrapped around his mid-section.

Now, though a part of me was sort of happy at this "alteration", an even bigger part of me was all "Hey wait! That's wrong! The monkey died!" It really bugged me. These grown-ups...DISNEY of all people, got it wrong!

That's because the chimp is a cute (ostensibly) and cuddly (tchyeah right) creature, and thus cannot die. Had it been a parental figure, however, and ol' mom or dad would've ended up in a chipper/shredder for sure, with their disbelieving offspring witnessing the whole thing as the child was inundated with a crimson tidal wave of parental blood.

OK, that's not fair, I guess. Disney would never do that. No, Disney would just have already eliminated either and or both parents before the start of the story.

But yes, there you have it. Disney is evil; they modify classic stories so as to make them more palatable to young viewers, even though they won't hesitate to off a parent or two in the backstory.

The second instance of what I perceive today as Disney Evil, was the Coming Attractions for another episode of "Wonderful World of Disney". I never saw the episode in question, but after the eyeful I got, I didn't want to.

The episode was called something like "Minado the Wolverine". At least I think it was "Minado". Minado, Menudo, Mentos, Mindanao...something. So yeah, the episode was about a wolverine. OKay, fine. WWD would often do a program based on some animal's adventures. And these weren't cartoons; they were live-action.

So, in this episode preview, I'm seeing this animal that looks like an over-sized, de-striped skunk on steroids, and they show it relentlessly attacking this guy who's walking through the snow. The thing leaps at him, snarling, the man bats it away, it recovers, attacks again, the man bats it away, it climbs a goddam tree and jumps out of it and onto the guy's head and here's the poor sap trying to keep his footing in the deep snow, while battling a furry psychopath with a level of rage usually only achieved by being rogered by a cactus while being informed that your spouse has been unfaithful, and incidentally you're not getting a tax refund in fact you owe $20,000, and by the way your car spontaneously combusted and your auto insurance mysteriously terminated yesterday.

This wolverine didn't smoke cigars, address people as "bub", and have adamantium claws that went "snikt". No, this Lon Chaney Junior of the animal kingdom was a furry nightmare, attacking its foe with a crazed single-minded suicidal zeal that would make Osama Bin-Laden weep tears of envious joy.

As I watched this preview, as a child, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Something was off. It took a few years of growing up and learning how programs are made to realize that a tv show has cameramen, sound people, a director, etc., all of whom we can't see, off-screen, making the tv or movie magic.

That's when it came together for me. Bear in mind, I was still a kid here: this poor sap was getting attacked by a psychotic wolverine and a whole crew of people didn't do a thing to help him! No sir, they just kept filming their stupid program while the fate of this poor sucker remained a mystery.

It took a couple more years for me to realize that it was all a show, and whatever happened, no actual humans were harmed in the making of that stupid-ass Disney program.

So there you have it. Two concrete bits of evidence that reinforce the fact that Disney is evil.

In a future installment, we'll have another look at Disney evil, as well as the very first time I read a comic book in which the heroes died, and the ensuing trauma to my psyche.


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