Let’s regurgitate a vitriolic black mass.
Disney+ came out yesterday and we now know the official date of the death of art in cinema. You might think I am being hyperbolic here, but let’s go ahead and examine what this new festering feeding ground is actually going to do.
The plethora of streaming services already presents a massive problem for consumers (I complained about this a while ago) and here comes Disney to slit the throats of the competition.
It is odd to me that we tend to give Disney a pass on truly horrific corporate behaviors (slave wages, ageism and sexism in the parks, bowing to a despotic foreign government, and forcing employees to train their replacements are only a few). I suppose having a cute mascot really does mask it all.
The new streaming service boasts an impressive watch list, sure. Fans of watching the same movie over and over (and then the obligatory “live action” remakes) will find plenty to watch. Know what is missing? Any sort of cinematic art.
As independent studios and thoughtful directors are increasingly pushed to make shit that sells instead of films that think we will continue to see a degradation of film quality. Hell, the Marvel films are little more than carbon copies of one another.
Disney holds around 60% control of all media. I wouldn’t be surprised if this number is actually higher, and this should terrify everyone.
Recent controversies in Hong Kong are going to highlight how far production companies are willing to get into bed with governments committing human right’s violations for a cheap buck. I know your reaction is going to be that a lot of companies do this, and this is true, but we should be pissed at every single instance. Instead of doing anything about it, Disney knows that it has an army of unpaid PR agents who will attack and decry any criticisms against it.
Once Disney+ kills Netflix (granted, Netflix has done half the work for them) and every other competitor, they won’t only control most entertainment, but most of our cultural narrative. Anyone who thinks that this corporate conglomerate won’t censor or completely remove certain films to appease the market is fooling themselves. With Saving Mr. Banks, they already rewrote history. Seriously, that film has now rewritten the life of the author and I can almost guarantee outside of some English departments a lot of folks don’t know the true story. There was no reason to bowdlerize this tale, they did it to shit out a feel-good movie in time for the holidays. Imagine what they will do when billions are potentially at stake?
I know a lot of people enjoy the Marvel films or Disney films in general. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with fast-food level entertainment, but this is all it is becoming. Every company that Disney absorbs will ultimately release the same visual service that makes you feel good without having to do any sort of thinking. It isn’t enough for them to have box office dominance; they will ultimately remove any other voice.
I’m sure I sound alarmist, but Disney hasn’t ever made films for the betterment of culture. I know folks will point to Pixar films as examples of them pushing the boat out, and while those films can hit on good points, they certainly aren’t leading the charge. It is a big deal that there will be (or is) an openly gay character on one of the Disney Teen shows. It is 20-fucking-19. Having a gay character is no longer brave, it wasn’t even brave ten years ago. Early shows and writers who fought damn hard to give gay people representation are the ones we should praise, and not a corporation who is piggy-backing the good will. Disney will only be progressive when it is completely safe for them to do so.
Imagine if Disney lead the charge on social change? The completely sexless Cam and Mitchell would be our first openly gay couple. Hardly a strong representation. Shit, with how long it took them to have an African American princess should have everyone wince. (Let’s not even get into the horrific revisions needed to make Pocahontas possible).
The launch of this new service is going to a smashing success (despite some apparent connection issues) and they simply dumped everything they could onto it to get the headlines. A massive 600+ choice is enough to get a positive headline, and that is all a lot of people are going to look at. The cutthroat price point is designed to cripple competition, and anyone who thinks the price is going to stay this low should stay away from salespeople.
Ultimately, I think Disney is going to win. They’ll probably eventually get their hands on DC (although I can barely tell the films apart anyway) and every other franchise. Then what? They’ll suck them dry as much as they can before disposing them and moving on. If you listen closely during the live action remakes you can almost hear the animated versions gasping for air as Robert Iger strangles them to death.
The dearth of original and quality films this year has bothered me since January 1, and the idea of Disney getting even more control doesn’t bode well for this issue. I guess we can all look forward to the same focus-tested and safe slop they’ve been shoveling into our culture for years as we clap them on like seals.
For fans of Disney, try to imagine it is a different corporation that had this much control. Hell, imagine if I was in charge of 60% of the media (I can only assume folks who like Disney don’t like the films I do). Would you see this as a problem? Where my political and economic whims can control so much content? That is what is happening. No matter who or what is in charge we should all remember that fewer voices is never a good thing. If you don’t think Disney would do this: they already are as several films on Disney+ will be censored.
The idea of censorship should bother us all in any instance, but I think streaming censorship is perhaps worse. As many of us now only have digital collections, we won’t have the historical record of the change. Disney’s terrible and racist Song of the South shouldn’t be censored, though they are to make it fresh for new audiences (read: covering it up). The problems of that movie don’t deserve to be hidden away. By hiding it now, in time the original controversies will be forgotten. As well as the complaints of Pamela Lyndon Travers. As well as the numerous folks who have accused the corporation of plagiarism.
The only way to stop this is to start being vocal about the issues present. I assume most folks won’t, and anyone with kids is going to be harassed into getting the service anyway. The eventual absolute Disney monopoly probably can’t be stopped, but we can at least be pissed off about it. Fuck Disney and fuck their destructive corporate attitudes.