The Politics of Disney (The Politics of Losing Control)
While at Disneyland's self-congratulatory party last week I got to see the ugliness that is politics up close. Perhaps "politics" is not a strong enough word, as in this country that is just a debate over ideology and freedom. No, I witnessed something filled with far more passion- the introduction of Michael Eisner to a Disney loving mob. It wasn't pretty. There were boos and screams and chants of "we want Roy" from teenagers and grandparents. One got the impression that security, the churro guy and Mickey Mouse all wanted to join in also, but were hesitant due to the ever watchful eye of Bob Iger standing in the shadows of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. The angry mob thing? It was classless.
I, like most who care about Disney, agree that Eisner has put too much money in places he shouldn't care about and let the things that matter, like movies (I'm talking the straight to videos- man those stink) and American Disney parks (the foreign parks have been receiving better versions of rides), deteriorate. I've seen it. Of course, he also "saved" the company by revitalizing the animation department and bringing the studio the biggest hits in a very long time.
Bob Iger (fairly warm reception for his speech) is poised to change this- hopefully for the better. There is even talk that he may be able to keep Pixar from leaving- something desired by the rest of the company, the fans and the accountants. A very good first step- akin to Armstrong's leap for mankind (at least in Disney circles).
But back to the reception of Eisner. I too would love to see Roy Disney take over. The idea of an actual Disney at the helm does seem like the right way to go, and Roy's vision seems much more in step with that of Walt's than that of Eisner or presumably Igers. We shall see. Regardless, the 50th celebration kick-off was to celebrate Disneyland, Walt, Mickey, memories. It was a chance to see Julie Andrews walk from the Castle. It was perhaps a once in a lifetime chance to see Christina Aigulara refreshingly clean and clothed. It was not a forum for voicing one's politics. There are 364 other days for that. Just shut up and be happy for what it has done. Tomorrow we'll see where it is going.