January 26, 2008

Poor Unfortunate Souls

In the last couple of days, I came across a site called Re-Imagineering. It is a blog with the intent to bring light to as they call it "past missteps". The purpose then is that others in the management portion of the Walt Disney Company can then read these and work to "restore magic missing from the parks".
Most of the pieces written here do a great job critiquing how the Eisner era focused on how the theme parks could be milked for maximum revenue, after years of really languishing and maintaining a status quo following Walt Disney's death. The theme parks have moved away from what Walt originally intended. Their view is that we should get back to the original ideal.
I put all of this out in front so that you can decide if you wish to read the middle section. I am about to go on a rant. I am not concerned if anyone truly does read it the middle. I just wanted to get this off my chest. But I would like you to read the ending part. It is something that should scare the $#!+ out of every person in Canada and America. And this is the absolute perfect forum for this.

So, those that know me, I love most things Disney. And when you get right down to it, I love most Disney things that Walt actually was involved with. Nobody, and nothing really, is perfect. There is always room for improvement. But with Walt, he was almost spooky perfect when it came to running his company. From having the vision for creating so many firsts in animation, to taking an idea and working it out until it was great. He wasn't so much perfect, but driven to perfection. He expected and accepted nothing less than the absolute best work from himself and those that surrounded him. He also had an uncanny knack for knowing what people wanted. And he grew an empire that no one will ever be able to duplicate or improve upon.
Those who have come after him do not have that balance of creativity and leadership that Walt mastered. Michael Eisner brought much needed leadership, but no creativity. He made the company a powerhouse again and financially solvent. But his way of doing so left many feeling like he did not care about carrying on Walt's vision. This is most apparent in the theme parks.
Eisner made sure the parks made money. The exits of many rides are now little shops housing merchandise relating to the characters you just saw. There are several kiosks throughout pushing their timeshares. They are even labelled on the maps along with the attractions! It is a different style of management. Not all together wrong; the parks are more popular than ever. And certainly more profitable. And with the extra cash has come new parks and new attractions in the older ones. But those who prefer Walt's vision get bent out of shape by it.

The latest post at Re-Imagineering points out one of those ideas that did not work out. At the entrance of Epcot there are several monuments that are part of the Leave a Legacy program. For a fee you can have your image(s) and small inscription placed on one of the blocks. Sort of a tribute to your visiting Walt Disney World. It looks like a futuristic cemetery. I cannot believe that someone didn't stop this early on.
Now the author of the post is uses the moniker of "Mr. Banks", a character from Mary Poppins. It seems that the authors tend to think they need anonymity from their employer. And perhaps with a grain of truth, in that they tend to write from a haughty-I'm-right-you're-wrong attitude. Or it may be that they are in impotent, low positions where their views are not taken seriously, and this is the only way they feel their voice can be heard.
The author, to make his case, just cannot write this in a factual, erudite fashion. He has to insert this:
"Leave a Legacy is an element of the Disney Parks that divides guests rather than unites them. Those with enough status, bearing and disposable income can proudly shout, ‘I’m part of the legacy!” while those strained by the already steep entrance fee and unwilling to participate can’t help but be reminded that they’re not. Isn’t Epcot, indeed every Disney theme park, supposed to celebrate our common humanity rather than underline our differences?"
(Rant. Building.)
I felt compelled to respond to this. I pointed out that not only is this inflammatory, but simply a non-issue with this. He replied that he knew this, was unapologetic ,and that it was gratuitous. He simply wanted the reader to become enraged, and cry out, "Those Poor Unfortunate Souls!" The entire purpose is so that his bosses, which I am sure do not read or give credence to their blog, will come back to the ideals of Walt.
(Can't Control It. Gonna BLOW!)
Where has personal responsibility gone? Instead of facts, you have to stoop so low as to sway support to your cause through conjecture and lies? You have to project what you think someone "feels" into your missive?

The absolute worst part is that it feeds a dangerous mentality. We feel that the needs of a few supersede those of the whole. It is this mentality that says all kids must participate in whatever team sport they choose. All must play each game. Problem: Not all kids are good enough. Solution: We just won't keep score. Because that is fair to all. At least to those few who really can't play. Never mind that the good players cannot hone their skills through competition. It won't matter later on in life. The "loser" kids will continue into adulthood and never face competition. No, because when it's hiring time or promotion time, EVERYONE WILL BE TREATED THE SAME!
Think that I am taking this too far or going off-topic? No. To purport that divisiveness shouldn't be acceptable at a theme park is spin. You and others like you would love to see a world where "we" - insert any majority - are careful not to offend "them" - insert small group. The trouble is it is a very slippery slope. And one that continues to drag us down. Don't believe me? Read this wonderful bit of news from Canada. They are thinking about SETTING LIMITS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION! And don't say that this is just a Canada thing. A step here. A step there. We walk closer to this daily with "political correctness" and frivolous lawsuits. Or when a radio personality is fired for saying something divisive? Who is to say what is divisive? And who gets the final say?

I take my freedoms very seriously. But with freedom comes a level of responsibility. To assert that the smaller group has rights above the whole is dangerous. And not without consequence.


Scott Johnson said...

Not even one comment?


Dubber said...

Welcome to my world. Then again, you did put effort into your post. But c'mon--a little squirrel with his paw on a tree saying "dis ma tree, dis where da magic happen" is pretty damn funny.

I agree with you. I read a few articles about the Muslim thing and how Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were hauled before the so-called Canadian "Human Rights Commission" and it's a crock. Welcome to 1984 (and it was such a good year).

Scott Johnson said...

And when McCain gets in and we have the big state of Canusaxico, this will be even more of a travesty.