I recently spent some time in Disney. While I’m not one to fall for the theme of the Magic Kingdom, which is dreams do come true, I did have a great time. The numerous amounts of things to do kept me busy pretty much all day. Rides, shopping, food, parades, and fireworks pretty much defined my days. However, the woman and I were not going to fall for the subliminal messages of it all.
Pink is oppressive became a battle cry of sorts that the woman made sure she said whenever there were too many images on what Disney thought little girls should aspire to be. I started to really think about all the images that have been fed to us. I always try to make a point of recognizing an absence.
Let’s not get into the fact that Walt Disney World is a business and the sole purpose of that business it get as much money as possible from its costumers. If you go to any of their theme parks understanding this, you should have a pretty good time. I need to preface all of this by saying (again) that we had a great time at Disney. We had a game plan and a budget that we followed (not to mention we walked the length of the park about three times which makes for a great workout).
With all that being said, I did have a problem with much of the imagery when it comes to women. Granted, we are not talking about Game of Thrones here but we are taking about a belief that dreams can come true but first don a princess dress and wait for your Prince (Joffery) to arrive. I thought about that when it came time for me to buy something for my god-daughter. Do I really want her to be a princess that wears pink? No, I would rather she be a warrior, a Wonder Woman. Actually, I would rather she be Michonne, but more importantly, I would want her to be able to make that choice without the subliminals.
It was my woman who really pointed out a set of dolls that were all Disney princess and the one that looked the saddest was Pocahontas. It was almost as I if she was saying to the world that she didn’t belong in such a place with her lack of crown and her brown skin. Which now brings me to my next point and biggest gripe.
Downtown Disney is an amazing area that has a plethora of places to eat and shop. Admission is free so if its a pretty nice place to get your Disney on without having to pay $100 a ticket. So within this sea of capitalism is a place that sort of put a light in my eyes, The Lego Store. Legos are one of those things that take me back to my youth. While I was not a talented builder, they were a staple of my childhood. So, as an adult, I’ve had to fight the urge to buy The Sith Interceptor or the Millennium Falcon because while it would look really cool, where the hell would I put it, much less have time to build it?
Anyway, so we go into this grand store and there are Legos everywhere. Box sets of just about everything from Avengers to Lord of the Rings on the shelves. There are massive Lego statues of Buzz Lightyear with Woody and The Hulk. Of course, the place is swarming with kids. Just when I was getting the point that I was thinking how much I would bring my non-existent children to this place, I see this kiosk where you can build your own little Lego person. The nerd in me is thinking this is greatest thing ever (next to building your own droid). There is only one problem, all the Lego people are white.
Each little cubby hole in this kiosk is filled with parts: heads (with different facial expressions), toros, legs or dresses, hats or helmets, weapons, etc. So if you want to build a firefighter, police officer, or a combination of the two you have the tools. There were gender specific parts so you can match them up and switch things around but yet I am pulling way because I know I cannot build my “replica”. In my mind, it wont be me. Of course the little kids around me don’t care. The black kid next to me is having fun and so are the Latino kids on the other side of the kiosk and I suppose in many ways people will say that it’s not big deal.
Well, that’s wrong. It is a HUGE deal. First, I don’t want to hear the argument that Lego “skins” are generic and represent everyone because they don’t. If they did then Nick Fury from the Avengers would not be brown. Is it that hard to add brown faces to the kiosk? Disney gets visitors from around the world, is it that difficult to be diverse? Of course not but there is a sense that I got much like the “pink is oppressive” feeling my girlfriend had. I really thought about buying a Star Wars box with Mace Windu so I can have the brown parts I want. The thing is, too many companies are trying to sell a homogenized product which is much more disturbing than just being color blind. You almost get this assimilation is futile feeling these days because despite everything that happens there is only one color that matters and that is green.
Money is the only thing that matters and it’s the only thing that separates us once you get past the oppression of racism because beyond that is an invisible wall of classism with a strong undercurrent of patriarchy…and THAT is what Disney maybe be truly about.