June 22nd, 2010

monkey pirate

Something something good

Yesterday we went to Disneyland. One of my goals while there (other than, of course, Pirates of the Caribbean) was to see the new big show "World of Color". Disney's marketing campaigns have been strangely anemic and generic, even for a company famous for making classic stories bland and white-washed. What on earth does "Nightastic!" mean? And "Celebrate Today!" is so vague as to be meaningless. Is that we should have a celebration on this day? Or is it that today, this day, is something worthy of celebration?

So "World of Color" seemed similarly dissipated and lacking any sort of bite - and the show didn't disappoint. It's actually so generic and flavorless that it seems like a very expensive parody of real entertainment. A couple of quasi-animatronic and well-scrubbed young people get up on platforms and lead the crowd in cheering for a particular color. Then they sing a song, the hooky catch for which is, and I am not kidding, "something something good!" I think, really, the exclamation mark is misplaced there, since it's hard to get up any sort of energy or enthusiasm for "something something good." Short of actually saying, "Yay, let's cheer for mediocrity!" I don't know how you can get less sincere and unenthusiastic. Which is weird for Disney, because they may be schmaltzy and cheesy, but usually they are very sincerely schmaltzy, and they do it so well it's actually fun. But they seem to have just run out of anything fresh or creative, and so they're left with "color" and "something good".

The show itself is good spectacle - a combination of lasers, fountains, projectors and flamethrowers that is quite impressive to watch. It does highlight how little creative work Disney has done for decades, though; all the current and interesting "Disney" characters are actually from Pixar. They haven't made a memorable movie since ...what, "Lion King"? But that doesn't take away what Disney still does well - which is deliver something that makes you go "whoa!" and "oooooh! at appropriate junctures. And that's from a viewing angle at which we were able to see an apparently much less vivid image than one would get from directly in front of the projectors, so I bet it's quite a bit more impressive in all its glory.

I wish they wouldn't play it so safe, though. They've gone so far over the edge of safe that they've fallen right into "lame". I can only hope this isn't a downward spiral, but rather a retrenchment and the first stage of a return to real, creative and fresh entertainment.
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