Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mickey Mouse Is The Spawn Of Satan

Influential British Abbot Christopher Jamison has accused the Disney corporation of promoting consumerism as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality. (Ya think?)

Abbot Jamison of Worth Abbey in West Sussex, launched the attack, claiming that Disney pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture, Newspostonline reports. (Actually, they do provide stories with moral messages. They don't pretend. They also know there's big money to be made in promoting traditional family values.)

Jamison, who starred in the hit BBC series The Monastery, has warned that in a guide to helping people find happiness, society is in danger of losing its soul because of growing consumerism and the decline of religion. (Religion is in decline, spirituality is not, and consumerism is about to take a huge nose dive.)

He suggests that many people have become obsessed with work, sex and eating in a bid to ignore their underlying unhappiness, and criticises corporations and industries that have benefited from promoting false notions of fulfilment. (Religions are in the same business, that's why there are so many of them.)

Abbot Jamison targeted the behaviour of Disney in particular, which he says is "a classic example" of how consumerism is being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality.

He cites films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians that feature moral battles, but get into children''s imaginations and make them greedy for the merchandise that goes with them. "The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children''s world needs Disney," the Telegraph quoted him, as saying. (Vengeful notions of God and hell and punishment can also 'get into children's imaginations' and make them guilty and neurotic as adults, propelling them to look for happiness in all the wrong places.)

"So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney movie, which we'll also want to give them on DVD as a birthday present.

"They will be happier if they live the full Disney experience; and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland."

"This is the new pilgrimage that children desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life according to Disney. (Somebody sounds jealous.)

"Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products," he added.

He said that "this is basically the commercial exploitation of spirituality," adding that as a result Disney and other corporations "inhabit our imagination". (This is kind of the pot calling the kettle black. Seems he's standing in front of his own magical castle.)

"Once planted there they can make us endlessly greedy. And that is exactly what they are doing," he concluded.


Abbott Jamison maybe just a little unfair in singling out the Disney corporation. He also doesn't seem to think parental units have any influence over their child units relative to Disney Inc's production units. Actually it seems like he thinks Disney Inc. controls parental units.

Personally, I spent far more money on Care Bears, My Little Ponies, and Smurfs than I did on Mickey Mouse and Company. It was daddy that spent all the money on Disney products. It was his obsession that our daughter have a copy of every Disney cartoon in every available format, so she does, but the entire collection resides at his house.

Disney Inc. was never big at my parents house. Reading was big at my parents house, and so I had virtually every single Nancy Drew book on the market by the time I was 8. After that, I was introduced to Reader's Digest condensed books and read everyone I could get my hands on. In this way, I was introduced to morality as envisioned by Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Truman Capote, and other contemporary writers. To me Mickey Mouse seemed, well, Mickey Mouse.

I have never been to Disneyland, Disney World or Disney anything. Neither has my daughter, and she's had her opportunities. Compared to Yellowstone National Park, Disneyland is well, Mickey Mouse. She's been to Yellowstone 10 times and counting.

We agree on two Disney things, Fantasia was the greatest animated film Disney ever did, and Britney Spears is not Annette Funicello.

If Abbot Jamison has any point at all, it's that Britney is the poster child for what's wrong with the current Disney product line. Walt Disney seemed to instinctively understand that his company was much better off with a Cartoon character for it's corporate image. One can control a cartoon character. One can't control a self destructive teenager with an ambitious mother.

Corporations, as we are currently learning in spades, are not in the business of handing down traditional moral values. This is the job of parents. Parents tend to pass on those things which become important to them. Reading was important to me, I passed it on. Her dad and I both passed on the notion that Mother Nature's fantasy lands were far more impressive than Disney's version. I passed on the notion that college was good, teen age boys were questionable.

Now with degree in hand, and book shelves bursting, and apartment covered in wall to wall photos of Yellowstone, there is finally a boyfriend.

Personally I think it's pretty Mickey Mouse to blame Disney for lack of parental will, but the notion goes hand in hand with an institutional religious view of laity as will full dependent children. It seems to me this whole diatribe is a classic case of projection, and not the cinematic kind.


  1. I got a great laugh reading your comments in parenthesis next to the mickey mouse diatribe.

    The one thing that stands out in my mind about Walt Disney himself is that he had a dream and it was fulfilled. His most famous line was "may all your dreams come true." For a child, this is not negative stuff. For adults, dreams need not die and go with us to our grave, but we have the real chance to change and enlighten ourselves and the world in positive ways no matter our age.

    A pity some squander their time, gifts, and talents trying to project their own inability and loss to dream anymore.

  2. I think you are right on Butterfly. When adults lose their ability to dream, they lose a lot.

    I think it's one of the reasons Jesus insisted we become as little children. I was about a child's ability to live in the present and imagine infinite possibilities.

    This is one of the reasons I stressed reading stories over viewing stories. Reading allows the imagination to invent what the brain views. It's a much more interactive thing, even if it is done alone.

    It's the same with listening to music.

  3. He suggests that many people have become obsessed with work, sex and eating in a bid to ignore their underlying unhappiness.

    Although this strikes me as requiring a deeper response than what I've written here, I believe much of this underlying unhappiness (to the extent that it's real) springs from the failures of orthodox religion to come to grips with the world we live in.

    When that happens, people look elsewhere for solace.

  4. Well said, Antonio. One of the things I learned working in RCIA is that you must speak to a person's experience. Too often people think the only way God can be in their lives is to 'join' a church. Imagine how happy they are to realize that God has always been a part of their lives and that God rejoices with them as they discover that and find that God will meet them where they are, right now. The institution has forgotten that Jesus went OUT TO THE PEOPLE and met them in the places where their need was the greatest.

  5. Mlou, there's no question that Disney Inc is better at meeting people where they are at than most churches seem to be.

    The trouble with Disney, though, is they set the bar too low. So do most churches. Jesus certainly didn't set a low bar.