The last time I went to Disneyland, it was right about the time they acquired Lucasfilm. There was a lot of merchandise all over the park, and in Downtown Disney, and so forth. Oh, Star Tours was built when I was in elementary school, so there had long been a Lucas presence at Disneyland, but there it is. Disney was proud of their new property. Already, other people were not sure. I’d been fine with the acquisition of Pixar. I thought the acquisition of Marvel could be good. I didn’t have a problem with the acquisition of Lucasfilm. Fox? That’s a different discussion.
In the early days, Walt just needed the money to keep running. In fact, as we’ve discussed before, Disney had been burned on the whole Oswald thing. The idea that he would own someone else’s intellectual property would have been surprising, I think. Still, as we’ve also discussed, the first live action Disney feature was Treasure Island, so there’s that, I suppose. Still, when Walt was around, he seemed more interested in expanding his own studio than taking over anyone else’s.
I am, obviously, a Disney fan. I grew up going to the park at least once a year. We didn’t go to a lot of movies for a large chunk of my childhood, but I remember going to Disney movies when we could. Heck, I’ve seen Song of the South in the theatre. My daughter will be getting a stuffed animal actually bought from Disneyland and mailed to me by a friend for Christmas. (And I didn’t specify which character, either, because I trusted the friend and figured it was unlikely there’d be stuffed animals of the few Disney movies I actually dislike.) The last two real vacations I’ve taken have both been trips to Disneyland. I’m a Disney defender in a lot of ways; otherwise, would I write this column?
I’m not okay with the new merger. Oh, as a Marvel fan, there’s a certain amount of pleasure that the X-Men will theoretically be coming back into the fold and that the Avengers will be able to say the word “mutant” again. But in general, I think this is bad for the industry. I think this is even worse for art—and you understand, I believe both that all film is art and that there’s such thing as bad art. I think film works better with a wider array of options, and any loss of options—be it the decline of small theatres or the merger of large studios—is bad news for us.
I don’t pretend to be a financial expert. I won’t talk to jobs gained or lost, the effect on the economy, and so forth. Anything I say will be parroting what people with more education than I have said. (The story of why I don’t know much about economics is the story of one of the handful of failures in my public school education.) But I’m a film buff, as presumably are you, and I think that having fewer people with the ability to determine what goes on the big screen is a danger to expression and art. It’s more homogenization of culture. Now, I am a fan of a lot of popular culture, mind, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s the only culture we should have.