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Thu

23

Apr

2009

Leaving Disneyland (and Entering the Real World)
Thursday, 23 April 2009 19:23
by ddjango

There is probably no more influential icon/meme of how Americans - and millions of people around the world - viewed this country in the twentieth century than that created by Walt Disney.

Disneyland popped up near Anaheim in the 1950s. A stylized Main Street of shops and attractions vaguely resembling the early 1900s. The Magic Kingdom: Cinderella, Snow White and her cute dwarfs, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the rest. Frontierland, celebrating the growth of the country without mentioning the decimation of of those here before us, in the name of progress. Adventureland, featuring realistic jungle scenes with contrived wildlife, mechanical monkeys ignoring the disastrous conditions and anti-empire revolutions in black Africa. Tomorrowland, touting the bright future of space travel and wondrous transportation capabilities, without a peep about the damage we were already doing to our own planet.

And then there's Fantasyland, a realm currently occupied by the hundreds of thousands of Americans who believe that President Obama will eventually fix everything and bring us back to those golden days of Mom, apple pie, and a sexually-undisturbed Congress wanting more than anything to serve the public who elected them; a time when we were all in this together to make this the greatest nation on earth; where everyone had an opportunity to be anyone and anything they worked hard for. Remember?

Just for the record, Disneyland is also the place where employees must without so much as a flinch be totally in character and on stage every second of their shift - some sweltering in the 100+ degree heat of their costumes, no matter what. The original US sweatshop for the middle class. There have been times when management has been tyrannical and ruthless - exemplifying the real America. When it first opened, Disneyland decidedly did not cater to "minority" peoples and not-so-discreetly denied entrance to openly homosexual people.

Disney's Mickey Mouse Club crashed onto the new but burgeoning TV scene also in the 1950s. There was not a non-white Mouseketeer to be found. Darlene's and Annette's sizzling sexuality was carefully subdued by buttoned-to-the-chin restraint and those damned ears.

The Disney Empire virtually exploded onto the world. It's purpose? Not so much to celebrate America as to frame it and sell a version of it - to Americans and everyone else. And it's still going strong, around the world, a massive stage with earnest singing and dancing and smiling characters and quaint insidious sets masking who and what we really are.


It's time to leave, pull the false-front buildings and mechanical rides and costumes down and off, and show the real, raw machinery behind the fantastical delusion. Disneyland is not entertainment - it is fantasy; a lie; propaganda and indoctrination. The American Dream was always just that. As this thunderous dawn startles us from our sleep, it's time to take shelter in grim reality. We can't afford the entrance fee - either financially or psychologically - any longer.

Anyone who's been to Orlando knows that it is the land of "World" - Gun World, Fishing World, Auto World, Washer World, Pancake World . . . everything but Real World - if it weren't so outrageously pathetic, it'd be a real hoot. But the thing is, you see, is it's got nothing to do with the real world. Been to Epcot? You know what I mean. I had some couscous there that tasted like grainy wallpaper paste and a "German" sausage (tasted like chourizo) served by a nice young lady with bleached hair and a peasant outfit while a bad band played oompah music. Puh. Leeze!

Here's the Real World: Frontierland consists of thousands of gun-happy yahoos heading for the hills as I write, their SUVs packed with cases of spam, assault rifles, and SEAL combat knives, with a year's worth of Coors Light secured to the roof. Tomorrowland has turned into an orbiting swath of space junk that is now running into itself and falling into peoples' back yards. This future also features remote-controlled hunter-killer drones slaughtering Pakistani civilians and "crowd control" and surveillance technology that can pick the dust out of your pocket, then burn your skin to a crisp before you can say "Space Mountain". It's not a Magic Kingdom, dear readers, it's Friday the 13th and Jason lives next door, cutting his lawn with a chain saw.

The newest manifestation of Fantasyland is the Obama administration, and the President is the latest chief Mouseketeer cum snake-oil salesman. Here's Margaret Kimberley, with "No Better Off with the Democrats":
Democratic victories in 2006 were followed by two years of caving into an extremely unpopular president. Now a Democratic president still refuses to stand up for the interests of working people and for true change in America’s relationship with the rest of the world.

Barack Obama is clearly a very smart, charismatic man. He is smoother and smarter than Bush or McCain, but at the end of the day that matters little if the economy continues failing or if the United States increases its body count in Afghanistan and Pakistan. No one should apologize any longer for pointing out the lack of difference between Democrats and Republicans. This country and the world are in as much trouble in 2009 with Obama as in 2008 with Bush. Our only hope is for citizens to acknowledge these painful facts and seek ways to bring about change themselves. Change certainly won’t come from a president, even of the Democratic Party.
And Jim Kunstler writes:
It's a curious symptom of the consensus trance zombifying the American public and its auditors in the media that something like a "recovery" is now deemed to be underway. And, as events compel me to repeat in this space, it begs the question: recovery to what? To Wall Street booking stupendous profits by laundering "risk" out of bad loans with new issues of tranche-o-matic securitized paper? This I doubt, since there isn't a pension fund left from San Jose to Bratislava that would touch this stuff with a stick, even if it could be turned out in collector's editions of boxed sets. Does it mean that American "consumers" (so-called) are awaited momentarily in the flat-screen TV sales parlors with their credit cards fanned-out like poker hands, ready for "action?" Not too likely with massive non-performance out in cardholder-land, and half the nation's electronics inventory wending its way onto Craig's List. Are we expecting more asteroid belts of new suburbs carved in the loamy outlands of Dallas and Minneapolis, complete with new highway strips of Big Box shopping and Chuck E. Cheeses? Go to banking's intensive care unit and inquire (if you can) among the flat-lining production home-builders and the real estate investment trusts on life support when they expect to rev up the heavy equipment.

The idea that we're about to resume the insane behavior that induced the current epochal malaise of economy is so absurd it will only be heard in the faculty dining halls of the Ivy League. And if America is not picking up where it left off eighteen months ago -- the orgy of spending future claims on wealth unlikely to accrue -- then what is our destiny? Based on what's out there in the organs of public thinking, it seems that we don't want to think about it . . .
I'm as scared as the next guy, folks - will I find work? Will I be penniless and homeless again, in spite of all my gains over the past two years? Yes - I'm afraid. But I've also come to the conclusion that this black hole of melded crises of every sort - not just economical - is an opportunity for mankind, especially in the West, to make some fundamental changes in how we live as a society. An opportunity for community, for true democracy, for localist programs, for open money and community currency, for taking better care of the earth, for the end of capitalist wage-slavery in which the reality is that we own nothing - not even ourselves.

I admit that that kind of thinking may be no better or different than buying into a revival of the old American Dream Machine. So be it. Amen.

One thing I do know - we've got to stop wishing upon a star. Pinocchio just finished eight years in the Oval Office; Jiminy Cricket is off smuggling people and dope through Juarez and returning south with truckload of assault rifles and hollow-point ammunition.

This ain't the Super Bowl, gang. The winner ain't goin' to Disney World.
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