It’s the holiday season, so my wife dragged me off to Disneyland with the children. It was a great experience but, halfway through, I saw this t-shirt:
Now it wasn’t. It was started by Walt and his brother who became a formidable team. Walt, the visionary, and his older brother Roy, who managed the finances and operations. A great combination, that has led to one of the most admired companies in the world, and one that now owns most franchises that affect our children’s way of thinking.
From the Marvel Universe to Star Wars to all the films we loved as kids to Toy Story, Disney is there. I also realised that I was brain-washing my own kids, as they lived the Disneyland experience. They haven’t even seen a Disney film yet, but are in love with Buzz Lightyear, Mickey Mouse and all the trappings of the Disney Empire. When my son kept asking Where’s my Woody, I realised there was some influencing going on here.
But then that influence shaped their parents’ generation and their grandparents’ generations. I grew up on The Jungle Book¸ Aristocats and Winnie-the-Pooh, and so are generations before and after. The thing is that now it is all around us. The Disney Channel, Disney Parks, Disney stores and Disney characters are everywhere, and their reach is to everyone on Earth.
The BBC ask if that’s a good thing?
At face value, these cartoons are harmless entertainment, but some researchers have raised concerns about the subliminal lessons Disney’s films contain. Perhaps the most common criticism is the way these have portrayed gender, racial and cultural stereotypes in the past.
I can see their point, but I also found it interesting as we toured the park. Some of the rides like Snow White and Pinocchio, which I thought would be child-friendly, were scary as hell. Others, like The Lion King Experience, were far more geared towards the adults than the children.
Either way, why blog about it on a FinTech and banking platform?
I guess it’s that first comment from Disney: it was all started by a mouse.
Mickey Mouse’s first appearance was back in 1928, ninety-one years ago. He’s a very old mouse. Most of you may know the Disney story and the gambles and risks Walt and Roy took. Snow White was expected to be a terrible failure but was a great success. Buying up land in the 1950s to launch a theme park seemed like a weird thing to do, but the parks now make up a significant portion of revenues.
EuroDisney, as it was before being renamed Disneyland Paris, was a terrible failure but eventually has come good. It just took three decades to turn a loss-making site into a buck or two.
As we lived in the park, which was massive, I realised that Disney is a fabric of our backbone of thinking. All of us. That’s where the BBC message seeped through. But it’s only ninety-one years old. It’s fifty years since we landed on the moon, that inspired half of that Star Wars and Marvel Universe stuff. It’s a decade since the iPhone came out and allowed us to be touched by these characters non-stop through a device.
Things that have become fabric of our beings were not here a century ago. A century ago, there were no airlines or air travel for the common person, automobiles were just appearing, and Mickey Mouse was yet to be conceived. And yet, today, we take these things as read as part of the backbone of being human in the 21st century.
I guess my message that came out of Disneyland is that it is great fun, it is good for kids generally, it is incredibly expensive, but it all started with a mouse less than a century ago, and so these things are not embedded in this world, just in our heads. If we change our heads, we can change anything. And when I think about that, I guess I could change a conservative bank that needs to change.
Just a thought.