Sunday, November 4, 2012

Disney, Star Wars, and the Election.

In a televised fundraising concert to benefit areas hard hit by hurricane Sandy this past Friday, Bruce Springsteen is reported to have ended the concert with the words, "God bless New York. God bless the Jersey shore". Amen to that, brother, amen to that.

On October 30th, as the hurricane hit areas in which I used to live - and still love - there was another story briefly in the news which affected other things I love. The Walt Disney Company, now a multinational corporation with investments in media and amusement parks, has acquired Lucasfilm, another Hollywood heavyweight. This gives Disney full control of the Star Wars franchise. They have already announced that Star Wars Episode VII is in the works with a release targeted to the year 2015.  (Lucas' deal with Fox gave him the Star Wars rights. His deals with with Paramount for the Indiana Jones series are much more complex and it may prove hard for Disney to meddle with that material.)

Now, I used to love the Disney organization and its work. Walt Disney created something wonderful. Not that all was a bed of roses - just about every animator out there wanted to work at Disney, but the exchange for giving one a certain degree of artistic accomplishment was long hours and low pay. Disney took a huge hit with the combination of the outbreak of World War Two and an animator's strike. (If you remember the movie Dumbo, there is a scene in which the silhouettes of circus clowns are seen on a canvas tent while the clowns complain and sing about hitting up the big boss for a raise - those were caricatures of some of the striking animators.) The studio recovered, and diversified into TV, Disneyland and Disney World  Over the years, the product became ever more homogenized so as to not offend, and to appeal to the largest number of potential ticket and product buyers. But it was still a largely good company with a high quality product. The Disney of today, however, is a different matter.

Beginning in the 1990's, the Disney organization under the leadership of Michael Eisner, and now Robert Iger, went on an investment buying spree. The Disney Company now owns a number of TV stations, ABC television and its myriad companies, ESPN, the Muppets, Pixar, Marvel comics, 27% of Hulu, 50% of A&E (A&E, History, Biography, Lifetime) - and etcetera. In terms of revenue, it is the largest media conglomerate in the world. The quality of the Disney product has suffered, and the company covered itself in ignominy for its part in the shoddy Marvel treatment of the late Jack Kirby (the family of the man who created or co-created many of the Marvel characters and visual style, and who revolutionized comic art, was denied any financial remuneration from the success of those products as Marvel considered his contribution to their incredible success "work for hire" with no creator's rights whatsoever).

It is just this kind of thing which gave corporations a bad and evil name. And such tactics make me think of the current crop of Republicans and their Tea Party amanuenses who have given the Republican party and its puppeteers an even more sinister reputation for evil. Any person who has followed the current US Presidential campaign has by now had the chance to see or read multiple reports which cover Republican attempts to squelch the vote by falsely removing voters from the rolls (usually black and Hispanic folk), require restrictive ID checks even though there is little evidence of voter fraud (thankfully found illegal so far), and possibly change the tabulations of electronic voting machines (most of the companies involved are right wing, and one voting machine company has a large ownership stake by the Romneys - and in Ohio yesterday a mysterious unvetted software "patch" was added to voting machines in make or break areas of Cleveland and Columbus). Their candidate has continuously changed positions in a move to get more votes - translation - he is lying about his and his party's intentions. Period. You don't have to dig to find evidence - it's all in the public record. These folks are out to destroy the concept that government exists to help the people who pay for it through taxes, and who give it power over their lives - although they do seem to want the power to force their religious morals on everyone else. Current media polling claims that this election is tied. I can not understand this, and I can not believe it. Before the first "debate" Obama had a sizable lead. In that debate, Obama seemed tired and disconnected, but Romney came off as a shrill, lying frat boy easily angered when he wasn't getting his way. But the media declared him the winner of the debate. Most media news ownership is in the hands of right wing aligned companies and owners. They have to be lying about the polls to make it less obvious that they are going to attempt to steal this election. These are the bully tactics of the Boardroom. The completion of the corporate takeover of the country may finally be at hand. Considering the storm that will hit us if this happens, God bless the United States. God bless its people.

To be continued....


Anonymous said...

What irritates me is the fact that.. where the States go there follows the rest of the civilized (ha!) world. Who voted that one in? I've been trying to keep up with your elections but eventually decided I would just take the garbage out instead. I have enough problems with our poor excuse for politicians.

Austan said...

This is a magnificent opus Stevil. I can hardly wait til you're retired and can put full-force brain behind your posts on a daily basis.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

mbj/Delores - taking out the garbage is an apt metaphor for this election. The US as a country used to have morals - it may not have lived up to them, but at least it had them and used to try. Its postwar economy, largely a creation of Democrat New Deal policies, was incredible. Of course it influenced most everyone else. How could it not? But that also meant that when the US went wrong, other countries who emulated US did too. Hopefully we will find out way again.

sdt (a.k.a. stevil) said...

Austan - Thank You. I do appreciate such kind comments. And you were very kind today.