Again, sorry for the lack of posting. The blog is going to shift a little. We're going to be covering current events still, but with more...philosophical posts. I hope what I have to offer still interests you all.
That being said, I've held my tongue long enough regarding the upcoming refurbishment of Pirates of the Caribbean, which intends to alter the auction scene, making it more "politically correct".
My grandfather loved a saying, "I'd rather be historically accurate than politically correct." He was a history teacher, and understood the value of seeing things as they were, not as we'd like them to be seen.
Here is the original article from last year, informing the public that all versions of Pirates (starting with Paris, then Walt Disney World, and soon Disneyland's original) will be getting this "updated" scene. And...an uproar ensued. Myself included.
Now, just in case you need a refresher, back in the 1997, Pirates experienced a similar refurbishment, intending to soften the Pirates'...antics. In the "chasing wenches" scene after the auction, the pirates and women were given food and goods, to imply these women were not being sexually threatened, but robbed.
And then, back in 2006, Jack Sparrow was added to the attraction, but no changes were made regarding the potentially problematic issues with the characters.......
So, now the auction scene is being changed, and the Red Head ("We wants the Red Head!") is no longer a piece of...goods, but will be a Pirate lass assisting her male counterparts in collecting from the townspeople to auction off their possessions.
Now, why, you ask, is the Bride Auction problematic?
The supposed complaint from guests (and seriously, I'd love to see the numbers on this) communicates a discomfort at the concept of sex slavery occurring in a Disney theme park.
Alright. Let's pull this apart. I'm just going to list numerically (though in no particular order) why this is just....ridiculous.
1. Mental Gymnastics
One of the main complaints is drawing a parallel to more contemporary instances of sex trafficking and slavery throughout the world.
And, hearing that complaint, I wonder (and this is more of a general question) whether people understand how old this attraction is. It's not recent. It's not intended to reflect NOW. I get the impression a LOT of the complaints about this scene (assuming the formal complaints exist) come from people with some kind of lack of understanding of the attraction and company's history as a whole.
Disney is not "for kids". It's for FAMILIES, which includes adults. It's not a babysitting enterprise, it's a STORYTELLING enterprise. THIS is a story being told. And you need certain elements for a story. The piece of the story the auction fills is that "Sodom and Gomorrah" phase of the Pirates story, if you will. We're seeing these characters at their highest indulgence, their arrogance. They need to rise to certain heights in order to fall into jails and drunken gun fights.
And are we forgetting the portrait of the redhead in the earlier scene with the drinking skelton pirates? That's supposed to be her, not lookin' particularly PC there either because the timeline of the story is technically backwards. So, was she always a slinky pirate? Or just a greedy pirate? That indicated she married a pirate and then, seemingly, became one herself. How is that an oppressed sex slave?
The changes being made do NOT add to the narrative. It only diminishes that storyline.
2. Let's Be Real...On the DIS Unplugged podcast, a host told a story from a Cast member friend at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. A guest asked after the attraction, "Why would Disney show something like this"?
Uh, because it HAPPENED?
You think these were self-aware Pirates? You think these were nice Pirates? I don't understand what people think pirates were like that this astonishes them. Yeah, Disney attractions aren't meant to be the whole song and story of a subject, but they are meant to at least excite your interest in study and research on a subject. How can you do that when you're not telling the truth on the subject?
Partially, this goes back to the complete lack of understanding of what Disney is supposed to be, a storytelling enterprise, not just a sweetness and light factory.
A deviation to show my point:
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling told a story about a woman who wrote to her after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, asking to make the next books "happier". And her response to the women on camera was "you might want to quit now, because it's only going to get worse."
What people don't seem to realize is the need for darkness in stories. Find me a story that doesn't have darkness in it, and I'll show you a story that has FAILED. Snow White made children in the theater wet their pants in its initial theatrical run. Did parents complain to this degree then? I doubt it.
So here's my minor point I'd like to ask Disney....WHY are you bowing to those who obviously have no comprehension of how storytelling works? Why? Are you all so spineless, that you couldn't give your Cast Members a nice little blurb explaining that? Stories have bad and good in them. You need to see the dark to appreciate the light.
Which kind of dovetails into yet another point in how people seem to be complaining about the scene. "You are glorifying this behavior".
Explain to me how portraying a situation is glorifying it? Please, I beg you. Does any horror movie glorify the killer/slasher/villain? How does that even make sense?
Which brings me to my next main point
3. Nothing bad ever happens in the movies....Yes, the sex trade and kidnappings in sex slavery happen in many places around the world. That's a horrible and hopefully temporary fact of the world we currently live. But, again, you're making a big leap from this little scene to the current issue we face in the world.
For example, In Back to the Future, let's face it, Biff attempts to rape Lorraine. Thank God George McFly intervenes. Point being, because a rape is attempted, and rape is still an issue in our society NOW, does that mean we should never watch that movie ever again?
Of course not, that's ridiculous.
And this goes back to the "glorifying" argument. Biff's attempt is not a glorification, it's a plot point. It has to happen in order for George McFly to come to her rescue and seem like a hero. It's necessary. It's STORYTELLING.
4. Enough is too much!As previously mentioned, the ride was refurbished in 1997 in order to make the pirates less...less...Pirate-y.
And there was an uproar then. And here we are again. How long are we going to do this until we are singing "It's a Small World" dressed as pirates? And even THEN people will complain about how the song is somehow racist. (I'm serious, I've heard Small World criticized for being racist. Why are people allowed to talk? Why?!)
Again, we're diminishing the story until there is none.
And I can already hear some of the other history people telling me, "Yes, but X. Atencio said himself there is no real story!" Yes, I know. It's more of a general portrayal than one singular linear story. This is how good Disney Imagineering was in the 1960s that they think there is no story here and there totally is. This IS a story of the consequences for these Pirates. Dead on a sandy beach, doomed forever to ride a ship as a skeleton, somehow buried amongst your riches. And to the survivors taking over the town, jailed and drunk, pathetic has beens for their crimes against women and property.
5. Fat-ism?Now, in the press releases and official statements from the company, we're worried about the poratrayal of women as objects.... but you weren't at all worried about the auctioneer pirate describing the little chubby bride for sale as a ship? Thanks a bunch, fellas!
And why is SHE so happy to be sold off anyway? Is there an implication that this is the only way she'd get a husband?
I'm just pointing it out, I wouldn't have any actual problem with it, but let's just put it all out there.
Adding to that, while the little ladies in the background seem scared, the Red Head and this little lady don't seem upset at all. There is something to discuss about that portrayal. What was the intention? Do they want to be Pirates? Part of the fun is the ability to figure out the deeper potential contexts.
6. Picking and choosing.
So, I'm going to have to pick at that old wound...Tower of Terror's transition to Guardians of the Galaxy....
The uproar was shockingly louder than the nonexistent complaints about the auction scene. And, like I said, they make no sense. So why are you listening to these people and not those with legitimate concerns about the overall theme of your parks?
Not to mention, in the last few years, there has been a "We wants the Redhead!" shirt for sale in the parks. So, you were happy to profit off the potentially problematic scene just recently, but NOW you're not? Make up your mind, Iger!
7. A Better Solution
OK...so let's say this is a genuine problem that needs to be....addressed. This was the stupidest way to address it.
"Oh, we have a piece of artwork from Marc Davis showing female pirates". (See below)
Yeah, I also found a piece IN the D23 Expo exhibit of the females sort of tempting and messing with the Pirates. You couldn't have used THAT?
Another good solution was to further alter the chase scene that occurs next. You already messed it up once. Turn the women around to CHASE the Pirates. Make them fight back! It's an interesting twist. All you need is Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" and you have a moment, there!
8. Rubbing More Salt in the Wound
So....there has been fan "feedback". And what is Disney's solution?
Introducing "Redd" as a character to meet in the parks.
Now, read this "interview" the Disney Park Blog did with Redd:
Now, Disney executives? Are you there? Are you listening? Come closer....
HOW STUPID DO YOU THINK WE ARE?!?!
I mean, who proofread this? And I don't blame the writer, this poor guy has a terrible job to do, trying to make this idea palatable. But really? This is straight from the interview.
Are you anyone’s bride?
M’ only love is profits, dear.
Thank you. Thank you for making it CLEAR she's NOT a bride. So you need to hit the nail on the head THAT hard? I'm sorry, but this could have been an opportunity to make her cheeky and interesting. No, instead we're doing EXACTLY what I feared, making her bland and boring but TELLING us she's brave and independent. Yeah, no. I'm not buying it, fellas...
That's all I can think of at the moment. You want to add to the argument? Want to complain? Make your voice heard and add to the comments below.
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