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This Just In: Disney Is The Opiate Of The Masses. In Other News, Dumbo Is Gay

Mpdisney

Oh, hey, guess what? Organized religion has all of sudden realized that it's not the only opiate of the masses!

According to USA Today, a top Roman Catholic somebody or other is all up in arms about the fact that most kids would rather go to Disneyland than to church:

"Christopher Jamison, the abbot of Worth Abbey, in southern England, charges Disney with "exploiting spirituality" and helping to generate a culture of materialism while pretending to provide movie, book and theme park stories with a moral message."

Jamison is a potential successor to  Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor as leader of the Catholic population of England and Wales and, basically, just an all-around buzzkill.

According to Jamison, "the message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt, is that our children's world needs Disney." This "is basically the commercial exploitation of spirituality:"

"(The message is...) they will be happier if they live the full Disney experience, and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland."

"This is the new pilgrimage that children desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life according to Disney," the cleric said. "Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products."

To which I have two things to say: yes, absolutely, and what else is new?

Seriously. Is it news to anyone that people turn nearly as often to the reassurances of pop culture and consumerism as they do to the Church? Have we not been doing this since, I don't know, forever or so? (Okay, maybe just since a decade or so after 'the good ol' days', or the seventies, whichever came last, but still.)

Look, I get criticism of Disney. I've been critical of Disney since I took that grad seminar on Late Capitalism and the Condition of Post Modernity and learned to toss quotations from Marx (all that is solid melts into air!) at every artifact of contemporary popular culture. There's lots to be critical of, not least its relentless forcing of pink satin princess-wear upon the world. But guess what? There's a lot about the Catholic church to be critical of, too. For a critic of the Catholic church (and note, for the record, that I am writing this as a critical Catholic), it's possible to argue that the Church exploits spirituality for its own purposes (Machiavelli, anyone?), that it withholds the 'morality and meaning' that should be part of our 'free cultural inheritance' (we being the West, I assume) and insists that only those who come to the Church and obey its rules and pays its tithes and overlooks its failings might partake of that 'inheritance.'

(Who me? Issues about Catholicism? NAH.)

Anyhoo. Like I said, I get the impulse to be critical of Disney. There's a whole lot that I could say about that - beginning with my vows, pre-parenthood, to never take my own children to Disneyland, through the experience of watching my terminally-ill nephew find some solace in Disney when the faith of his (lapsed Catholic) mother wouldn't have him and on to my current relationship with Disney, which is about to get up close and personal (am going there! today! will be dying to tell you all about it!) - but I'll leave that until I've better sorted out my feelings about the Mouse.

In the meantime: chill out, Church. We're a consumptive culture. If we take some of that consumption with a grain of mouse-eared morality and 'wish upon a star' meaning, is that really the most terrible thing in the world?

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Comments

Dana

"Christopher Jamison, the abbot of Worth Abbey, in southern England, charges Disney with "exploiting spirituality" and helping to generate a culture of materialism while pretending to provide movie, book and theme park stories with a moral message."

OMG THE IRONY.

So deliciously rich.

Sils

I'm going to Disney World in January, just me and the boyfriend -- no kiddos -- and I'm so excited about it that I can barely shut up about it.

I know that they're profit driven consumer mongering whores, but who isn't?* And if I can ride a roller coaster and have turn down service for a week after this year or suck? I'm takin' it.

*I know, I know, plenty of people and we could just have staycation and take a walk in the park but we would still be within reach of my job and the rest of our real lives and... we need a break. We're going camping in the grand canyon in the spring, does that redeem us?

atheists eat fish

As a former Mormon, I am all for people looking critically at thier religion. I also hate (HATE!!) Disneyland. Too many shops and sucky rides and OMFG the repetitive songs from HELL! So yeah, I am with you. I would still rather go to Disneyland than church. At least we know Disneyland is just company trying to sell us fairytales.

margemayhem

"...most kids would rather go to Disneyland than to church..."

Well, CHAH!

JayMonster

You would think he would be well versed (no pun intended... ok maybe a little) with John 8:7 (Internation Bible Edition)

When they persisted in questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

Is he not aware of the goings on in the Catholic Church? Those envelopes? You pay every week to hear "the word of god." Want to be married "before god"? Better be ready to pony up some cash. Last Rites? Better save a few dollars for your dying day to be forgiven your sins, because a "donation" needs to be made for that to happen.

A couple of side notes (admitting I am far less critical of Disney). You nearly lost me on the whole hatred of pink thing, as it was almost as far out of left field as Jamison. Obviously enough people (kids) like the "pink princess" stuff to make it more popular now than ever. And I find it to be the least of anybodies "problems" Second... for Atheist Fish... OMG, who at Disneyland peed in your Cheerios. It is an amusement park for goodness sake, I can see not finding it the best experience, but double hatred?

Backpacking Dad

I'm going to Disneyland on Christmas Day.

Take that, bishop dude.

Tricina

"...most kids would rather go to Disneyland than to church."

Well, duh. Most kids would also rather hit random things with a bat than read an awesome book. Get over it, Bishop.

Kids like that crap. Girls get swept up in the princess thing too, but it doesn't mean they'll be helpless damsels in distress when they grow up.

Erin

I didn't get a chance to go to Disney World until I was in my early twenties. Loved. Every. Minute. That place is freaking awesome.
And yes, I still have delusions about being a princess, and I am totally okay with it. My life is good.
I lost faith in the Catholic church when I was kicked out of confirmation classes due to a single absence. An absence caused by my being AT THE VATICAN. Oh yeah, they've got the moral high ground.

FM

I think that the Church should learn a lesson from Disney and do something with it.

I mean they already show off the Vatican and it's gay opulence to the masses...

Why not throw some rides in there.

There could be a whole road to Golgotha ride.. and the Jacob's Ladder roller coaster..

Gee I bet if any of us sat down for a few minutes there would be like 80 rides and attractions we could come up with.

This income would help pay for all the lawsuits.. because that's where the money is going - it's not going to the Catholic Schools (can you tell I work at one?)

Then the church could take attendance at church - and good kids that show up every Sunday can get a free trip to Religion Land..

I'm riffing.. but I know you can dig it.

Her Bad Mother

Jaymonster - eh, I just hate all that pink satinny princessy foo-farra, and that my child has totally been sucked in.

Cynthia Samuels

Well. I had all those resolutions too. Fortunately my husband is a Disney junkie so I was over-ruled. Glad, too. Watching happy kids (mine and others) greeting Mickey, riding with rapture on Dumbo and, in later years, on Space Mountain and the Splash version - all great. Altho.
Right before #1 went to college we went to Disneyland. We were living in LA then; it was easy. He wore his new Grateful Dead tee shirt. When we went on Splash Mt he took it off so it wouldn't get wet. And guess what?
We tried to buy the photo - you know, the splashy one with hands in the air on the way down the last descent, and they wouldn't sell it to us. Last trip before college, and no sale. Because WE DON'T SELL PHOTOS WITH SHIRTS OFF. Honest. They do have their ways there.....

tracey

Again, DUH church dudes. Personally, who WOULDN'T want to go to Disney World over church? Anyone? Really?? Reeeeeallly?

I adore Disney. I love the suspension of reality. The imaginative stories that my kids have thought of based upon their characters and products. YES. They're about making money. Whoop dee doo. Who isn't? It's your choice to spend the money. Be responsible with your cash. Don't blame the company for having a great marketing team...

Donald Duck

Shouldn't you warn people that they are reading a paid advertisement?




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