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Disney vs. Debord

Tonight a friend reminded me of an essay I haven’t read in some time, but that once had some impact on my thinking: “Disney vs Debord: Methods and Ideologies for Manipulating the Viewer through Space,” a term paper written by another friend of mine, Josh Weihnacht. I link to it now because I want to reread it, as well as in the hope of spreading Josh’s insights (of which there are several) further:

The most obvious form of control offered to the guests at Walt Disney World is the ability to choose from numerous rides and attractions. Essentially, this is the control provided by the TV remote. However, once one has selected an attraction, control over the environment is abdicated to Disney, first by accepting to wait in the infamous Disney line, and then again once one actually gets on the ride. […] But it goes even further than this. Not only are we convinced to give up control of our environment and how we perceive it, we are convinced that we don’t want control, “that we don’t want to know what goes on behind the scenes. That would spoil the magic.”39 […] Disney does offer another form of control, however, one that promises the fulfillment and autonomy denied by the rides. Once one steps out of an attraction, one is surrounded by restaurants and gift shops. “Our need for autonomy is directed toward impulse buying.”40 […]

In contrast, the Situationists advocated “a freedom which for us is not the choice between many alternatives but the optimum development of the creative faculties of every human being; because there cannot be true freedom without creativity.”41

And because Mickey Mouse has been on my mind.

  • A. D. Jameson is the author of five books, most recently I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING: STAR WARS AND THE TRIUMPH OF GEEK CULTURE and CINEMAPS: AN ATLAS OF 35 GREAT MOVIES (with artist Andrew DeGraff). Last May, he received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the Program for Writers at UIC.

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