Friday, April 06, 2007
Cryogenically Frozen Out*
Apparently Disney is none too pleased with Keith Richard's recent confession, and has taken him off the upcoming Pirates promotional roster. Understandably, inhaling illicit drugs and the crumbling remains of one's ancestor is perhaps not the sort of behavior one wants to model for the wee ones, but I take exception on several counts -
1) He was Keith Richards before, and Keith Richards he will be. Were the decades of notorious rock and roll legend, unknown to Disney before he snorted the mortal? I think not.
2) Jack Sparrow is an outlandish rogue, and I've no doubt his father's character, played by Richards, will prove the adage, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." So on the one hand they are celebrating the antic disposition, on the other, they'd like to conceal it. How consistently inconsistently Disney of them.
3) Speaking of inhalations, a survey of big studio movies was done in 2002 to determine which put out the most films showing its actors smoking cigarettes. You know, because of the 'message' and modeling nicotine-delivers to the population, namely kids. "Two-third of Disney’s youth-rated movies show tobacco use," as well as 92% of R rated movies, in the period of 1999-2006. Oh, the overly chipper mouse (and I thought maybe he just had a problem with caffeine). Of course, Walt died of lung cancer.
4) Old Walt attended Nazi party meetings before WWII. The extent of his involvement is debated, the use of anti-semitic representation is really not, and neither controversy will you find on Wikipedia's squeaky clean account of his life and death. I have no doubt that legal over at the mouse empire has kept them in check, an assumption that anyone with one eye open in Hollywood could tell you is entirely likely. (Oh, is that my telephone ringing...) This point really does nothing to refute their position with Richards, but in the spirit of reductio ad Hitlerum, I thought I'd shout "Fascist." 'Cause it's fun to play association fallacy with the Hitler card.
5) Disney has a long history of myth making in the realms of the macabre, a fact for which the filmmakers have been repeatedly criticised. Poison apples, terrifyingly dark and vengeful female figures, Bambi's mother scorched in a forest fire (did he perform a similar ritual of homage after the embers cooled?), Snow White lying in state (not to metion whatever she was up to with all those dwarves, and if the stereotype about them is true... one foot on the floor lads, one foot on the floor.), attempted puppy massacre, the list goes on. Personally, though I did think those movies were a little overly frightening as a child, I don't think Walt took us anywhere the Grimm Brothers hadn't. Myths, especially European ones, are replete with violence and unsavory humanness. Not necessarily a justification, but inclusion of vice in the public dialogue might just be a necessary part of the 'sorting out' our individual and collective Psyche goes through.
So why not treat Richards as a cautionary tale? Tell your kids not to do drugs. Better yet, make sure you are behaving in kind. Better still, point out the wasting in his face and say, 'Children, is this how you want to look at sixty?" But let's not keep sweeping the ashes under the rug. Put them up yer schnozzles, where they belong!
(*Rumours of Walt's posthumous freezing are, apparently, just that, but whatever serves the blog, the blog serves to you. Never take my word for it, or at least assume that I might be kidding. I never intentionally put forth untruths, but my tongue could be stuck to the inside of my cheek.)