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Lesson Plans


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Peggy Woolsey (woolspeg)
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 20:29:51 +0800

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>There is the other point too that the Disney style , like so many
>introduced species, (ecologically speaking) thrives at the expense of
>the native variety!
>Bob Greaves.

> I too
>find it troublesome that this "Disneyization" Bob speaks of is infiltrating
>other aspects of our culture...beyond children's literature. (Roland quote)

Bob Graves' quote brings to mind other ecological ramifications of
the Disney monopoly of culture, and that is the concept of (loss of)
biodiversity. A healthy system must have great miltiplicity to succeed
(survive). Disneyism reduces the variety of art style to a smooth, slick
commonly loved commerical denominator. OK, this is in the nature of folk
art to assume the story belongs to you when you tell it over again (Hans
Anderson, the Grimm Brothers etc. did not generate their stories. They
collected them, scouring their coutrysides for all the great stuff handed
down for generations, embelished, modified in many ways). But the Disney
empire is inescapable. We are surrounded by sweet, sexy, uni-dimensional
personnaes, our children dominated from infancy by every imaginable
must-have book, toy, toothbrush, pillow cover, bookbag, lunchpail.

What cultural riches do we lose by accepting the one-stop Disney version
of our cherished, varied and sometimes strange myths,tales and fables? What
do we gain by all the happy ever after with the Prince endings? (The little
mermaid turns into sea foam when she fails to win the Prince in most
versions of this fairy tale).

What about revisionist history? Many folks are still smoking and smarting
from the Disney version of Pocahauntus.(My sp). Not only did P. not marry
John Smith, but she died from tuberculosis in a dirty London tenement. When
I bring up these issues with my students they generally boo me down for my
negative attitude and ask me what I've got against such a successful and
rich company as Disney. I tell them about the "real" Beauty and the Beast
story which is a classic psychological thriller (Ever see Jean Cocteau's
version)? And I ask them to think about the reasons why Disney has to throw
in a jealous boyfriend and a physical fight when neither appear in the folk

How do the above concerns impact on us, the art educators? If you can't
beat em, join em? Should we fight it? Ignore it? Work with it? Are you
comfortable with Disney imagry? Uncomfortable? Concerned? Unconcerned? Is
it ART? Love, Peggy

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