Sunday, November 30, 2008

British TV priest attacks Disneyland

A British priest says Disney is "exploiting spirituality" to sell its products and turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.

On the second point, we agree. As regular pilgrims to Disneyland, that is.

Christopher Jamison has launched the attack in a new book about finding happiness. He says that Disney is the "classic example" of consumerism being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality.

While the priest acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil, he argues it’s all a ploy to persuade people to buy Disney products.

"The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children's world needs Disney.

"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.

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

"This is basically the commercial exploitation of spirituality."

Jamison is no monastic. He became famous as star of a BBC series called The Monastery.

We'd have to argue that Disneyland, with its messages promoting world unity and the power of imagination, as well as its many rides and attractions that depict the journey through Hell in the journey toward redemption, does serve as an attractive and fulfilling pilgrimage site in a time when the traditional institutions such as the Catholic Church have betrayed the faithful so egregiously. Additionally, the heavy Disneyland security protects children against molesters.

In the book set for publication this week, Jamison also criticizes the obsession with celebrity, which he blames for creating jealousy and a society in which people are dissatisfied with their lives.

"Celebrity news magazines do no apparent external harm, but are a complete waste of interior time and space.

"Envy tells us to stop facing the challenges of the present life and to live in some future fantasy. Such envy drives a large part of our consumer culture."

He says that people need to learn to control their thoughts, and practice more self-discipline and self-control in their lives.

On that point, we must agree.

(Illustration: Wally Wood’s 1967 poster, "Disneyland Memorial Orgy." One of the original Mad Magazine illustrators, Wally Wood published this poster in The Realist. An inside source at Disney told Realist editor Paul Krassner that the company chose not to sue to avoid drawing attention to what could ultimately be a losing battle. However, when an entrepreneur pirated the drawing and sold it as a black light poster, Disney filed suit and ultimately settled out of court.)

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