Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fighting the Disney-fication of our family

We’re not really a “Disney family.”

There are two main reactions people have when discovering this little tidbit about us. The first, and by far the most common reaction is, “WHAT? YOU DON’T LIKE DISNEY? HAVE YOU NO SOUL?” Even when repeatedly prompted for an explanation, there’s really nothing we can say to this group that will provide them solace, and the remainder of the conversation involves them trying to convince us we are wrong or assumes we have experienced some sort of childhood trauma. But you like Mickey Mouse, right? How could you not like Ariel? Have you HEARD her voice? Did you have parents growing up? The second reaction is a silent nod of approval, followed by a nervous surveillance of the area to make sure no one bore witness to the blasphemy.

It’s not that we’re categorically opposed to Disney—we’ve partaken in Disney-produced things before, mainly because it’s impossible not to since they run the world. I was just never really into it that much as a kid. I liked He-Man and Thundercats. And Woody Woodpecker. And sports (which are now owned by Disney). My parents took us to Disney World when I was in first grade—a major part of my Disney-based heresy is that I always confuse Disney Land with Disney World, which is apparently the worst thing a person can do—and all I can remember from that trip was that Epcot Center looked like a giant golf ball and that Florida is the worst.

My wife is a bit less indifferent. She steadfastly rejects the notion of a princess being vindicated through the love of a man, which is pretty much the basis for every Disney thing ever, no matter the modern twist. (And yes, she gets the extreme irony of me being her prince, valiantly saving her from a life of loneliness. She is going to kill me for writing that.)

Not being Disney-obsessed was mildly acceptable when it was just the two of us. But since we became parents of a girl, my wife has been fighting off “the two p’s” with a stick—pink and princess. Luckily for us, it seems our daughter shares our ideals. When asked last year what she wants to be when she grows up, she responded, “Fix cars and trucks … a pa-chanic.” And she’s stuck with that to this day. She also proudly wears Wonder Woman pull-ups to bed, and often wakes up in the morning to reveal, “Mommy, Daddy—I peed on Wonder Woman.” She’s the best.

(In all honesty though, who encourages their daughter to aspire to be a princess? Princesses don’t even do anything and we don’t even live under a monarchial form of government. It’s an outdated notion. Like a sheriff running an entire state. Yeah, I went there.)

Now, however, she is old enough to, sort of, sit through a movie. We began with "Ice Age III" -- IN the theaters, no less; big risk, but we survived -- which she liked. Then "Madagascar," which she liked even more. Last week my wife, since there were no more non-Disney movies left to choose from, reluctantly brought home "Tangled" from the library, which is an updated version of "Rapunsel." Sure enough our daughter was entranced. She had to go to the potty midway through the movie and while she was sitting there she started singing songs from the movie. Uh oh.

By sheer coincidence, or possibly not, a few days later our daughter received a late birthday present from my aunt and uncle. When I arrived home from work she was wearing a princess dress, carrying a purse, and walking around in plastic high heels. My wife wore a glazed, dumbfounded look on her face, as if everything she had ever worked for had been lost, each click-clack of the heels on the tile signifying a move farther away from the glamorous life of a female mechanic.

I’m not sure where this is going to lead, although I have already recommended the next family movie night involve "Die Hard." I think we’ll be okay as long as she doesn’t ever actually want to go to Disney Land, wherever that is.


Note: This column appears in the 9/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/21 issue of the Peoria Times.

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