Showing 1 - 10 of 10 posts found matching keyword: disney

The Hollywood Reporter reports the totally inevitable news that Disney is remaking Bambi as a "live-action feature" as a "companion piece to its remakes The Jungle Book and The Lion King." I can't tell you how much it bothers me that Disney insists on calling its computer-generated eye-candy "live-action." I also can't tell you exactly why.

A large part of it must be related to my distaste for Disney itself. I once had a great deal of respect for the company that Walt built on the back of an animated mouse. Mr. Disney was an imperfect man, but he really did believe in making disposable entertainment into art. His successors less so. These days, the powers-that-be at Disney are obsessed solely in their quest to be the only entertainment company on earth. They'll do anything that gets them an extra almighty dollar, mostly including exploiting pre-packaged nostalgia for Walt's corpse.

However, a bigger problem is the lie itself. Computers are powerful, but outside of Weird Science, they remain incapable of breathing life into binary code. Nothing about The Lion King was live action, but Disney has been very careful to avoid saying so. (For example, they refused to submit the movie for consideration for Best Animated Feature Film Oscar.) I don't know why. Movies aren't real to begin with, so why mislead people about how they are made?

It increasingly looks like we're living in a post-truth society. The man in the White House can't say two sentences without a lie. Facebook will not restrict political campaigns from spreading intentional, demonstrable mistruths in paid advertising. Enemy states are using face-switching technology to promote propaganda on social media. With politicians already doing such a great job at it, why should we let corporations continue to degrade America's tenuous grasp on "reality" any further?

Sigh. I know I'm over-reacting. It's just promotional press for a movie that I won't watch. (Unless they shoot Bambi this time.) I know I'm just getting old and weary. But these uncontested, re-reported lies are really starting to get to me. It feels like 1984 is getting closer ever day, and now it's coming soon to a theater near you.

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The streaming entertainment service from the Conglomerate That Walt Built is now publicly available. I will definitely not be subscribing, as I have confirmed that the service will not include two of my favorite men, Condorman and I-Man.

As a public service announcement to all the young viewers out there who will be watching, let me say:

Han shot first.

Enjoy your revisionist history, kids.

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Let's just go ahead and get this out of the way.

167. (1226.) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

I asked Dad what he wanted to do for his birthday yesterday, and to my horror he said "I want to see Star Wars." So I took him to see it. (A child's job is never done.) Dad may not be, but I'm getting too old for this shit.

The original Star Wars wasn't exactly Shakespeare, but neither was it insulting. By comparison, The Last Jedi begs its audience to forget everything it knows about science and society, physics and psychology. I guess that's why it's marketed as a kid's movie — a kid's movie supersaturated with graphic violence, copious death, and a PG-13 rating. Say, if you're going to remake Empire Strikes Back, can you at least keep it under 2.5 hours, please? Sorry, but I can't suspend my disbelief long enough for this level of stupidity anymore.

Ugh. Every time I think about it, I find something new to irritate me. Unjustifiably incompetent Hux. Edsel bumper Phasma. Smug cartoon Snoke. Topless emo Kylo Ren. Horny Rey. Pointless Finn. Stalker Rose. Traitorous mass murderer Po. Atmosphere in space. Gravity-assisted bombers. Belated use of indefensible hyperspace missiles. Not enough Threepio! Aargh!

Was it all bad? No. Mark Hamill steals every scene he's in as Mirror Universe Luke Skywalker. Dead Yoda is the best Yoda. And I particularly enjoyed Benicio Del Toro's parting "maybe." But then how did Del Toro's DJ know the crucial piece of information that led there? Damn it! It's impossible to even praise this movie without tripping into another of its innumerable flaws.

There were parts where I think I could see where director Rian Johnson wanted to take the movie's theme of loss and transcendence. These themes would sit much better in the third act of a trilogy than the second, so why here and now? How much of a role did Disney's executives play in distorting that vision to keep its golden goose laying? I don't know. At this point, I don't care.

The worst of it is that I'm afraid this isn't the last Star Wars film I'll have to see. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. And hate leads to me being in the theater for whatever dreck Disney cranks out next Christmas. Let the past die, Dad!

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I tried to warn you. I urged you to pick up your pitchforks and light your torches. But I was too late. The Uprising had already begun.

When researchers in North Dakota set up "nest cams" over the nests of song birds, they expected to see a lot of nestlings and eggs get taken by ground squirrels, foxes, and badgers. Squirrels hit thirteen nests, but other meat-eaters made a poor showing. Foxes and weasels only took one nest each. Know what fearsome animal out-did either of those two sleek, resourceful predators?

White-tailed deer.

That's a quote from a recent article at i09.com, but the article's sources are over a decade old! Apparently, the signs have been there the whole time, we've just been turning a blind eye. Remember Bambi? Walt Disney was trying to warn us in 1942, but we were too worried about Japs and Nazis to recognize the real danger.

Say 'Monster'

When we were in high school, a wise man once told me that "there ain't nothing a deer won't eat except turnip greens and collards." I thought he was talking about things that grew in the garden. I didn't realize he meant me!

Don't ignore the warning signs. Eat more deer before the deer eat you!

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The 28th annual U.S. Public Interest Research Group Trouble in Toyland toy safety survey was released yesterday, and one of the offenders this year was the Captain America Soft Shield. The USPIRG is bent out of shape that it contains too much metal. What's it supposed to be made out of? Shields made of wool don't stop nearly as many bullets.

This shield is a small, soft version of Captain America's famous flying shield designed, you know, for kids. Apparently the manufacturer's idea of "softening" the shield is to make it with a soft metal, namely lead. USIPRG reports that its tests indicate the shield has 2,900 parts per million. Who cares if the federal limit is 100 ppm? Political Correctness really has gotten out of hand if we're now protecting Nazis from lead poisoning!

Is this really something we need the government to get involved in, anyway? One of the well-reported side-effects of lead poisoning is that children who have been poisoned become listless and stop playing with their toys. See? A self-correcting situation!

Another side effect of lead poisoning on the young is the common development of behavior disorders, including mental retardation. Only the mentally feeble would read Marvel Comic books, so this sounds like a comprehensive market strategy to me. Remember, The Walt Disney Company wouldn't do anything to hurt you or your children. They need consumers like you just as much as you need them.

The Free Market works, people. Leave it alone.

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An article in the paper this week commented that Walt Disney World was re-tooling their exhibit on "childhood obesity" to be more sympathetic to fat people. They were pressured into this, it is implied, by the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance. I find this astonishing. Not that Disney can bend to political pressure, but that fat people have a lobby.

Just what is this NAAFA? The acronym itself sounds like something you could expect a fat person to pant heavily between bites. The website of the NAAFA looks like the kind of site you'd expect to see from a canned link farm. Maybe NAAFA doesn't have a whole lot of people on staff who can hit just one key on a keyboard to program a better site. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that their site is bare bones because someone ate the rest of it.

It turns out that NAAFA was created in 1969 in order to organize letter writing campaigns. It's hard to motivate others to accept your cause when you won't get off your ass for it yourself. In the years since, NAAFA has overhauled itself to become more pro-active. There are over 11,000 members in the group: if each pulled his own weight, they'd be able to get remarkable things done. Like make Disney change their policies. For all their trying, the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention has never managed to do that. Maybe the Southern Baptists need to put on a little weight.

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In Comics Buyers Guide #1347, published September 10, 1999, many of the industry's top names pushed for the abolition of the Comics Code Authority. They argued that the Code was outdated and needlessly restricted the artistic growth of comic book storytelling.

The Comics Code Authority was formed in 1954 to self-censor comic books in order to save the medium from interference by public/political intervention. The Code included General Standards that were to be applied to all comic books of the time in order to assure the public that comics were safe for children. Samples from the original code's General Standards include

A.5: Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates a desire for emulation.

B.5: Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires, and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism and werewolfism are prohibited.

Now, 10 years later, the publishers that submit comics for Code approval have been so dramatically reduced as to make the Code Authority functionally irrelevant. Theoretically, comic books should be at an all-time artistic high. However, for months the entire Marvel Comics universe has been controlled by villains who have blackmailed and murdered their way into power. (Note that the company was just bought by Disney for $4 billion. Crime does pay!) Even DC Comics, one of the only 2 remaining comic publishers who still submits (some) material for Code approval, is now publishing stories in which former heroes rise from the grave and kill their fellow heroes. Batman is dead and his disembodied skull is now being sexually fondled by an undead foe. Ugh.

It appears that rather than opening new artistic horizons for the comic industry, removing the code has simply been a license to publish depravity. Death, gore, and evil abound (and in some cases, such as Marvel Zombies, are sadistically glorified). That's not art, that's pornography. It's exactly the situation that the Code was created to prevent.

Though lacking any teeth for enforcement, the modern Code still dictates, "heroes should be role models and should reflect the prevailing social attitudes." Sadly, I'm not sure anyone is listening anymore.

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The same day I discovered how much spam I was receiving (see previous post for details), I watched the 1973 Michael Crichton-written film Westworld in which the attractions in a lavish theme park inexplicably become murderous. (Really, it's exactly the same movie as the 1993 Michael Crichton-written film Jurassic Park but with less explanation for why the attractions are killing people.) Perhaps it's because I had already been looking at numbers that afternoon, but I became captivated by the economics of Westworld.

The park guests attending the theme park Delos (of which Westworld is just one part, like Frontierland or Adventureland at Walt Disney World Resort) each pay $1,000 per day for a week-long visit to the theme park of their imagination. So for a mere $7,000, these guests spend a week surrounded mostly by robots who simulate the lifestyles, behaviors, and mores of inhabitants of the mythical American West. While that may seem expensive for simple park admission, think about it this way: for $7,000 they get to abuse, kill, or sexually molest machines, who for all practical purposes, are human beings. Says one fellow in a promotional video at the beginning of the movie, "I shot six people!" When you look at it that way, the price of admission becomes a bargain when you consider that the costs of the same actions outside of theme parks is likely life in prison or worse.

It's worth noting here that the Grecian island of Delos was once sacred to the ancient Athenian civilization. Besides being the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis -- god and goddess of arts and the hunt, respectively -- Delos was also famed as a location upon which people were forbidden to be born or die. Quite fitting for a theme park populated by robots. And a way better name than Six Flags.

But more to the point, there are approximately 20 guests seen delivered to Delos by hovercraft for their weekly stay. (Apparently, even in 1973, monorails were artifacts. And to be fair, an actual count appears to be 18 people, but I'm rounding up, figuring in Delos' favor that this was an off-week as they appear to have a slightly greater capacity than they are using.) That means that the gross weekly income at Delos was $140,000, or over $7 million per year generated by 1040 guests, assuming there is no "off" season.

Delos is a very large enterprise, consisting of three "worlds," each populated by dozens of unique and technologically-advanced robots, period-accurate buildings and an underground central command and control complex coordinating the entire site's operations. Weekly expenditures for power and maintenance of such amazing facilities and mechanical marvels would have to be staggering, well exceeding $140,000! (Walt Disney World doesn't release operating costs, but they recently bragged that an energy overhaul saved them 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. At the average Florida commercial price of 10 cents per kwh, that's a monthly savings of well over $800,000!)

To compare, Walt Disney World, opened in 1971, is a huge operation maintained not by expensive robots but by teenagers dressed as "cast members." Well more than 10 millions visitors pass through the Walt Disney World gates every year, 10,000 times greater attendance than Delos achieves! A well-to-do modern day visitor to Walt Disney World could pay well over $5,000 for park admission, room, and food for a week, all of which are included in the admission price to Delos. Transform that $5,000 in modern cash to 1973 dollars, and you find that it's roughly equivalent to... $1,000. Just think about how much red ink there must be on Delos' books!

While having your rides assassinate all of your guests and staff is certainly bad for business, it's probably a better option than actually letting your guests shoot holes in your rides. I'm certainly no business major, but I'm pretty sure that Business 101 includes the maxim that if you construct one-of-a-kind replicas of famed Western actor Yul Brenner, don't let your customers destroy them for a mere $1,000 a day. After all, also in 1973, the United States Government spent six million dollars upgrading just one man! And that was only 2 legs and an arm!

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Some days, you know that the world is passing you by. Take Monday Night Football, for example. I used to really enjoy watching football on Monday night. I used to sit in a bar with a bunch of friends, each of us sacrificing our voices in order to talk over the excessive decibel levels of 30 television sets with their volume turned to "Deafen." And we enjoyed the hell out of watching a football game. But lately, football on Monday has turned into a chore.

Ever since ESPN, "the Worldwide Leader in Suck," has taken over Monday Night Football from ABC (both stations are owned by the Evil Empire: Walt Disney Co.), they've stocked the press booth with in-house announcers from other shows in their line-up, making watching Monday Night Football more like watching a spin-off of Sportscenter than a live football game. It has become the sports-world equivalent of Baywatch Nights, an unsuccessful attempt to cash in on the name recognition of characters from other popular shows who aren't quite suited for their new roles.

Worse still, desperate to reach the lowest common denominator of sports fans, MNF encourages Tony Kornheiser, once a respected sportswriter for the Washington Post, to act the part of beer-swilling, amateur buffoon and armchair quarterback for three hours every week. While Kornheiser's role as devil's advocate is perfectly suited to his op-ed show Pardon the Interruption, it is a grating distraction from the action during a football game. Like all other original programming on ESPN, MNF's producers hope that by creating stories and generating ungrounded controversy, the legion of bottom-feeding members of society incapable of forming opinions by way of anything other than emotion will be drawn to their programming. Unfortunately, their strategy has proven highly successful.

Sure, MNF has always been a program obsessed with the celebrity and popular culture that surrounds an NFL game, but they used to be focused on celebrating the game, not disparaging it. The best example of the change in the show's culture is Dennis Miller. After years of populating the press booth with former players (with such notables as Don Meredith, Frank Gifford, and Dan Dierdorf among others), Miller was brought in to give the "average" fan a voice on the show. Miller was rehearsed and focused on the game, but his obscure researched and rehearsed cultural references proved unpopular in the role of MNF color-commentator. Just a few short years later, Kornheiser's selfishly crass and unprofessional on-air cheers for players on his fantasy football roster and complaints about blowouts -- even going so far as to encourage the television audience to turn off their sets, no doubt to the anguish of his advertisers -- has changed the perception of what exactly the "average" fan is as it has steered intellectual discourse of the game to a new low.

I can't help but recall that once, now seeming so long ago, the broadcasts were not about grabbing a market of people interested in the personalities in the booth or how they felt about football, but what was happening on the field. I suppose that the real shame is that all those years of bar room televisions didn't completely destroy my hearing, sparing me from Kornheiser's irreverent and irrelevant blather.

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Twenty-years ago in 1986, the Post-Walt Disney Co. used its regular Sunday night "The Wonderful World of Disney" on ABC to showcase a number of failed pilots of dubious creative distinction. Several of them stand out in my memory, including "Mr. Boogedy" and one called "Northstar" about an astronaut (played by Greg Evigan of "B.J. and The Bear" and "My Two Dads" fame) who gained super powers from sunlight through a freak cosmic accident. Of most importance to me, however, is the move called "I-Man," starring Scott Bakula in the title role. To the best of my knowledge, "I-Man" aired only once before disappearing into the black-hole of un-produced pilots.

"I-Man" was about a regular guy who was granted super-human powers of self-healing through a freak accident not-too far removed from the origin story of Daredevil or those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The only hitch in his alien-induced Wolverine healing trick is that perfect darkness is now fatal for him. Figuring that complete darkness is so rare that he has little to worry about for the rest of his unnatural life span, I-Man, short for Indestructible Man, naturally, decides to turn his powers to the unselfish causes of truth, justice, and American television.

Soon, I-Man has been discovered spying for the U.S. government, as was his wont to do, and is captured by the stereotypical dastardly rich villain. He finds himself (in true super-spy tradition) invited to breakfast with the villain and his co-conspirator, the treacherous she-spy turned traitor who was responsible for the revelation to the enemy of I-Man's amazing powers (by stabbing him in the arm with a knife!). When asked how he likes his eggs prepared, I-Man responds with a snarl towards his former comrade, "Benedict, as in Benedict Arnold!"

At this point in the dialogue, I, a 10 year-old boy, laughed and said something to the effect of, "he's angry that she stabbed him in the arm." My father wasted little time in correcting me with the observation that I-Man was not disappointed in being stabbed but rather upset that the enemy was now aware of his super-secret healing factor. Of course, my father was right, which I realized as the words were leaving his mouth.

Eventually, I-Man escapes the enemy's pitch-black death-trap, discovers that the she-spy turned traitor is only pretending to be a traitor and has been revealing information to the enemy so that she can pretend to be a double agent and learn the enemy's secrets (I'm sure that this tactic makes a lot of sense to women), and discovers that his son has the same healing powers that he does just in time for a happy ending.

But none of that last bit is really important, and I couldn't tell you what happened during the final portion of that film if my life depended on it.

Man, do I HATE to be wrong.

(On a related side-note, eggs Benedict were not named for Benedict Arnold, as this show would have impressionable young viewers believe. Instead, they appear to be named for nineteenth-century New York City native Lemuel C. Benedict.)

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To be continued...

 

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