Is a Disney-brand Muslim headscarf on the way?

Disney-Princess-Jasmine3 Imane Boudlal has a problem: She is a member of two of the world’s largest religions — Islam and Disney. This became an issue in her life when, several months prior to Ramadan, the Disney World employee asked if she could wear a headscarf in observation of the month-long religious celebration. This was kicked up the chain of command and Disney corporate came back two months later and told her

told she could wear a head scarf, but it had to be designed by Disneyland’s costume department to comply with the Disney look, Qazi said. She was fitted for a Disney-supplied head scarf but was not given a date when the garment would be finished and was told she couldn’t wear her own hijab in the interim.

On Sunday – five days after Ramadan began, Ms. Boudlal showed up to work wearing her own hajib which was notably devoid of anything Mouse-ish. Ms. Boudlal’s job requires her to deal with the public and so her supervisors reportedly gave her the option of removing the hajib, going home or working in a behind the scenes position for the month.

As much as it pains me to do this, I have to side with Disney on this one. They are nothing if not consistent when it comes to employees wearing symbols of competing religions. My resident expert, Mrs. CollateralDamage, confirms that Mousers can’t wear crosses, yarmulkes, saffron robes, or pins saying “Scientology? YES!” on the job (or at least when their job involves working with the public). Above right: Disney’s standard way of depicting Arabic women.

Say it with me folks: “Thou shalt have no Mouse before me for I am a jealous Mouse.”

Still, I love the idea of Disney-designed religious clothing.

That said, allow me to make a few other points about Islamic issues in the news lately.

Wow. I defended Disney and slammed France in the same post. Clearly I am getting the flu that Mrs. CD & CDjr. already have.

Los Lobos Goes Disney

Los Lobos goes DisneyThat is not a slight on one of my all time favorite bands* but the title of their latest release. On it they cover Roger Miller’s masterful “Not In Nottingham” (from Robin Hood), Randy Newman’s “I Will Go Sailing No More” (from Toy Story) as well as other great music from The House of Mouse. (And to think I scooped Mrs. CollateralDamage – who writes the Disney focused blog Broke Hoedown – on this. WOOT!)

This is not the first time that “Just Another Band from East LA” has done the Mouse. On the great compilation Stay Awake they performed “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, which was recorded for the movie by the great Louis Prima (and is included on LLGD). I bought Stay Awake on vinyl back in the day (1988) and highly recommend getting the CD. It also has Sun Ra (!!!) doing “Pink Elephants On Parade” and Tom Waits’ version of “Heigh Ho (Dwarf’s Marching Song).”

Stay Awake was one of several odd and wonderful compilations that came out around then. The other one I have is “Lost In The Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill” (1985). While it does have Sting doing “Mack The Knife” this is more than balanced out by the other tracks including Lou Reed’s “September Song,” Stan Ridgeway (of Wall of Voodoo) does a sublime and terrifying version of “Canon Song,” Marianne Faithfull’s exquisitely ragged “Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife,” Todd Rundgren doing “Call From The Grave,” and many other great ones. It’s out of print, which is a shame, and used copies are selling for $23 and up. C’mon over to my house and I’ll play it for you for free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In the ‘80s when people would refer to U2 as The Greatest Band In The World all I could ever think (and sometimes said) was “Did Los Lobos breakup?”

Great look at what Disney should have done instead of buying Marvel

Geoff Carter is an excellent and smart writer who, among other things, produces the Disney-centered blog YourSouvenirGuide (but don’t hold that against him). In the post Ten things Disney could have done to geek up without buying Marvel he explains both why Disney buying Spidey was a bad idea and how they could have leveraged the properties they already own.

DisneyMarvelMashups0 To my mind, the purchase of Marvel is one of the few missteps the Mouse has made under Bob Iger’s reign. Disney isn’t getting a hell of a lot for its money. The theme park rights to the characters will continue to be held by Universal. And the movie properties .. will remain the properties of Sony, Fox and Paramount for the forseeable future. …. Four billion dollars spent to wait out contracts and to see if Avi Arad and Jerry Bruckeheimer will duke it out in Thunderdome.

My favorite suggestion:

9. The Disney Princesses: Teach them kung-fu and arm them with wrist-holstered blades and pistols.

Works for me.

Mouserine courtesy of KidKalig

Disney buys its way into the boy market

Pay attention True Believers – it’s clobberin’ time.

spideymouse For years the criticism, such as it was, of Disney’s marketing was that it missed boys. It is a fair criticism, though this doesn’t seem to have hurt the bottom line all that much. Disney knows how to connect with girls and women just fine. They are tuned into the tiaras, fairies and flowers like nobody knows. It explains why all their later (non-Pixar) animation was in fact formulaic: Bad boy, princess with true heart, add schmaltz and (after Aladdin) really schmaltzy uninteresting romantic soundtracks. Even Lion King – ostensibly a story about men and boys – was about the boy having an emotional experience that could only be of interest to girls.

This girls only approach was so entrenched that a few years ago the head of their consumer products division explained their all-girl approach told me in an interview that no one had success connecting with older boys.

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. Disney today said it is buying Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion. (And to think I remember when comics cost a quarter.) A note to The Mouse: more blood, less music. Also, no more Hulk movies. Hmmm, will this be enough to get me to go to another Disney park? Probably not.

I hope Stan Lee got a big cut of this.

Bang

Disney displays the lighter side of The Force

Heaven and Mrs. CollateralDamage know I do not like a lot of Disney stuff – early movies, Pixar and their overall marketing expertise are pretty much the entire list. This display of posters past and present for their "Star Wars Weekends” probably falls into the last category. Even I who avoid The Mouse like it was carrying Aporkalypse Fever was thoroughly bemused by these. (BTW, Mrs. CD and CD Jr. had a total blast at this last year.)

vader trooper 3_2006   1_20072_2007 vader2

Top 10 Marketing Blunders of 2008

Yeah, there’s a lot more than 10 here. What can I say? It was a very good year for very bad things.

(PS: If you liked this would you mind going here and voting for it on Digg?)

GRAND PRIZE FOR SUSTAINED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT

(tie)

The John McCain Presidential Campaign

  • “Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
  • Has no idea how many houses he (or his wife) owns.
  • Picks Sara Palin, the Broad to Nowhere who couldn’t find Russia or Africa on a map.
  • Campaign adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says Palin couldn’t run a major corporation.
  • Campaign adviser and former senator Phil Gramm says Americans are whiners about economic problems.
  • “Shutting down” his campaign to fix the bailout.
  • “Lipstick on a pig”
  • Egregious attack on Dungeons & Dragons that clearly cost him the election. (OK, maybe not so much the last one).

GM

Runners Up

  1. Ford features “Space Oddity” — a song about astronaut suicide — in new car campaign.
  2. Framingham State College  uses the word blah 137 times in a 312-word fundraising letter.
  3. Disney (multiple entries): Bans kids from DisneyWorld restaurant; Changes “It’s A Small World” to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America; and Sells “High School Musical” panties for tween girls with the phrase “Dive In” on them.
  4. Woolworths (UK) launches Lolita brand of beds for young girl
  5. JetBlue lives up to Southwest’s parody ad by charging for pillows.
  6. Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone
  7. Residents of Lesbos sue those other lesbians over brand name
  8. Motrin gets headache from viral moms video
  9. Butcher’s ads feature “Meat Products, Fresh Service” on naked woman
  10. Hershey asks if you’ve found Mr. Goodbar

Special Jury Awards

Co-Branding That Shouldn’t Have Been

The Alpha & Omega of Over-reaching

Product Failure

The Penguins Of Irony “Oh NO You Din’t” Awards

Previous years’ lists

Penguin seal

Hot flashes kill Jack Sparrow

It’s not easy being Capt. Jack, reports BrokeHoedown:

capt-jack-dadDisneyland management has fired the four actors who played pirate Jack Sparrow because officials were worried about young female park-goers flashing the swashbuckling actors late at night, according to one former cast member.

“They lost control when they saw Jack Sparrow,” said former pirate Brandon Pinto, who left the role after a dispute with management a year ago. “This is a sexy, rock-star pirate.”

Brandon Pinto???? And I thought my name sounded fake.

Guess Billy Joel was right:

Captain Jack will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push, and you’ll be smilin’

He sounds like THAT?

For all of you wondering what I actually sound like (admittedly a number that’s probably in the low single digits) check out this week’s episode of the podcast Those Darn Cats. I bloviate about the propaganda cartoons put out by Disney during World War II — a subject I actually know something about. TDC is co-produced by Mrs. CollateralDamage (aka BrokeHoedown) and her adorable BFF Lisa. Thanks to Mrs. CD for making me sound so smart! BTW, if you want a funny and hip take on all things Disney this is the podcast for you! Damn they’re so cheerful over there it’s contagious!

The issue is settled: Hallmark selling gay marriage cards

You can’t get more mainstream than this.

The nation’s largest greeting card company is rolling out same-sex wedding cards — featuring two tuxedos, overlapping hearts or intertwined flowers, with best wishes inside. “Two hearts. One promise,” one says. … The Greeting Card Association, a trade group, says it does not track how many companies provide same-sex cards but believes the number is expanding. “The fact that you have someone like Hallmark going into that niche shows it’s growing and signals a trend,” said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the association.

Have to say since gay marriage became legal here in the Bay State the biggest difference I’ve noticed is … um … yeah … let me see … nope. Can’t think of one. I look forward to the American Family Association boycott of Hallmark. (My bad — it’s Concerned Women for America calling for the boycott.)

BTW, over on her blog Mrs. CollateralDamage has a most excellent post on First Same-Sex Civil Marriage at Disneyland. The couple is lovely and the fact that they got married at Disneyland puts the lie to the fact that only heteros are tacky. (Truth is I had to put in a snarky (and false) comment so I wouldn’t mention the fact that I got all choked up looking at the wedding pictures. I gotta protect my image. Don’t tell anyone I told you, OK?)

Photo by Chenin Boutwell.

C’mon now what marketer can look at a couple that is so happy and not think, “Damn, there’s money to made here!”

(BTW, this is the headline of the day: Gay misery continues with baton drop. Is that really all it takes to make the LGBT community miserable?)

WALL*E is amazingly good

In no particular order the greatest animated movies I’ve ever seen are:

All of these are among the greatest movies ever made PERIOD.

Add to that list, WALL*E. Even by Pixar’s admittedly high standards, WALL*E is exceptional. If it doesn’t have the characters as complex as some other movies it is because it is a fable. In that respect it has a lot in common with Edward Scissorhands.

WALL*E is tells a fine, simple (not obvious) story superbly. (I’m going to stay away from plot synopsis. Go see it. We’ll talk.) It is essentially a silent movie, a great and bold decision (and something it shares with Triplets). In addition to being a fine filet of consumer culture, W also includes an extended comment on the sterility of life in a controlled environment designed for nothing but amusement. That would be the bread and butter of Pixar’s life-partner Disney. Is this:

  1. a cynical comment by a company that makes its money from these parks; or
  2. a truly subversive effort to sway the people who make The Land of Mouse so profitable?

Not sure. But I do know it’s great.

I could go on but I’m tired and heading off for vacation. See you all in a week.

Disney changing It’s A Small World to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”

There is probably no one Disney ride/attraction I loathe more than “It’s A Small World.”

It brings together all the worst of Disney & theme parks into one package.

In design terms it has a banality and mediocrity that makes it possible to forget these are the same people that brought us Oswald the Rabbit, Pinocchio, the early Mickey Mouse cartoons and a host of other wonderful works of real art.

It also has the problematic racial issues that litter the Mouse’s history: Song of The South, Epcot’s bizarre and historically inaccurate Eurocentric history lessons, an animatronic Native American village — (personally I was hoping Euro Disney would have an animatronic shtetl). In Small World the racial problem becomes that all the people of the earth who are not already Caucasian appear to have undergone a severe loss in melanin. Small World’s many deficiencies are wrapped in a song I can only compare to the aural equivalent of mixing Twinkies & Spam.

Given all this you would think it impossible to make the attraction* any worse. But NOOOOOOOO. In what seems to be a complete violation of Small World’s saccharine “we’re all alike” will now include a nice cuddly display of nationalism.

Mrs. Collateral Damage — aka The Queen of All Disney Media — quotes the following:

And in one of the most egregious and downright disgusting decisions in Disney theme park history, the gorgeous New Guinea rainforest scene, replete with some of Mary Blair’s most whimsical character creations (a crocodile with an umbrella, colorful birds hatching from eggs) and her drummer children with Tiki Masks on the opposite shore will be replaced with a Hooray for U.S.A sequence.

Now don’t get me started on the whole tiki masks thing and the gross condescension towards indigenous peoples — anyone surprised that we don’t get cute caricatures of any Christian religious images?

I really think Disney should go the whole way with this redo and insert a display of gross nationalism for every nation. Then they could have a follow-up ride called “It’s A Small World War.”

BTW, the headline is a quote from one of my favorite Disney attractions: Muppet*vision 3D.

Kermit the Frog: We will also see a rousing finale from Sam the Eagle. What’s it called, Sam?
Sam the Eagle: It’s called “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”.

*or is it a ride? that’s one of those distinctions that the Disney-centi are very particular about.

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J.K. Rowling sues festival for constructing physical version of an imaginary place

KOLKATA, India (AFP) – Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is suing organisers of a religious event for constructing a replica of her imaginary Hogwarts Castle in an eastern India city, officials said Thursday.

How do you make a replica of something that’s imaginary? If I build a recreation of Yossarian’s tent from Catch-22 can I be sued by Joseph Heller’s estate? Doesn’t the whole basis of this law suit put the entire Disney empire at risk? I’m suing over Cinderella’s castle. It infringes on my idea of what the thing should look like. No, wait, Mrs. CD won’t let me. Bad husband. No suing The Mouse. Baaad.

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Porn producer beats off Disney in copyright dispute

The beloved Broke Hoedown (aka Mrs. Collateral Damage) reports on a story about Disney losing the rights to the slogan “The Place Where Dreams Come True” on the flimsy technicality that someone else had already registered it. That someone was Michael Wightman from Newcastle, in the UK, registered it for his company which makes porn that can be viewed on mobile phones. Ahh, pornographic pictures on the phone — a blessing to optometrists everywhere.

My first spin-off

If you don’t count Collateral Damage Jr, that is. Mrs. CD grew tired of waiting for me to post her insights into The Mouse That Roars (Disney) and has started her own blog on just that topic called Kitty Chan’s Broke Hoedown. (To understand the title go here.) But before she went (without two weeks notice, I might add) she left a few more very funny observations:

Apropos of nothing, which is only fitting given your blog…

  • Building on the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, Disney theme parks are now featuring a Captain Jack Sparrow character wandering around for autographs, photo ops, etc. This is particularly amusing because as far as I’ve observed, children are not all that interested in meeting him. Instead, he is followed by a flock of besotted middle-age women, all anxious for a moment of his time, and perchance a photo with the man. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that when I got my chance for a picture, there was a slight problem with the camera. I will always remember that as the day that I almost caught a picture of myself with Captain. Jack. Sparrow!)
  • I would like a word or two with whomever’s responsible for coordinating the ticket pricing strategies for Disney parks worldwide. Us east-coast Disney fans have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy learning about the relatively-new Magic Your Way ticket pricing strategy, and watching the prices soar like Dumbo. Disneyland has a whole different ticket pricing strategy, which is somewhat more in synch with the pricing systems for the Tokyo and Paris Disneyland parks (though the latter has been tweaked to fit better with the all-inclusive style of European vacations). Could we have a little more consistency among the parks, please? Surely this sort of confusion wasn’t part of Walt’s dream.
  • And while I’m talking with the ticket pricing strategy guru, could we also talk a bit about the lack of any sort of coordinated effort for those of us who love all the Disney parks, worldwide? Last year, CD Jr and I visited both Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World, perhaps a tad unusual but certainly not unheard of. In many other years we’ve hit the Disney parks on both US east and west coasts, which is almost par for the course for some percentage of truly hardcore fans. Why not institute an International Annual Pass? Or at the very least, how bout a frequent visitor club, where some special trinket or benefit is awarded after having visited all the parks worldwide? Sure, it wouldn’t have direct impact on Disney’s bottom line; nobody’s going to visit five international parks just to get a pin. But it would be just the sort of special, guest-oriented, “magical” touch on which the Disney brand is built.

And it’s got a nice logo, too. She made it herself she did.

Five essential things to know for your trip to Disney (from an expert)

The first installment of a series from Mrs. Collateral Damage who knows more about The World of Mouse than you do (trust me, she’s been to all of them except Hong Kong).

  1. There is a proper way to eat a Mickey bar in 100 degree heat. Mickey bars are by nature rather top-heavy, and prone to splattering on the sidewalk if not consumed properly. To protect your Mickey bar from an untimely end, keep it in the bag, exposing approximately 1/2″ of bar at a time. If the bar does collapse, it should fall into the bag and remain retrievable.
  2. Light eaters can get by with the children’s meals at counter service restaurants. The chicken poppers at California Adventure’s (aka Lame-O-Land West) Taste Pilot’s Grill are a reasonably good sized serving, and come in a souvenier snack box that’s handy for storing craft supplies.
  3. In Disneyland’s New Orleans’ Square, you can buy “make your own pirate” headgear, based on either a Jack Sparrow wig or a bandana/do-rag. The wigs and do-rags are a little over-priced (welcome to capitalism, kids), but the add-ons are reasonably inexpensive for a little Do-It-Yourself Disney fashion. The snap-on patches come in designs both classic and trendy, and can be converted to sew-on patches with careful use of an exacto knife on the flip side. Examine the patches carefully; you’ll see which ones are actually embroidered, and which are painted on (the embroidered ones are likely to hold up better in the wash, over time).
  4. If you prefer the last car of the rollercoaster, or want to sit in the driver’s section of the monorail, don’t be afraid to ask a Disney Cast Member (nicely). Nobody’s told me no yet.
  5. If you go to see Muppets 3D, in Lame-O-Land West, try to time your arrival so you can see the entire pre-show. If you arrive at the end of the pre-show, consider sticking around to watch the whole thing before taking in the main attraction. Many fans think it’s better than the 3D movie itself, as do many of the Cast Members.
  • Also, I simply must sing the praises of the Disney lost-and-found system. One Friday night recently, I was in Lame-O-Land West, having had a lovely time celebrating my 40th birthday. I lost an important pouch, which held my (very expensive) seven-day Disneyland ticket, a gift card, and my hotel key. I talked to a series of Cast Members, all of whom were kind and helpful, and who re-united me with my lost things within 15 minutes. It could have been a nightmare, but it was hardly a blip in my evening. I love Disneyland for its dreams-come-true sentimentality and it’s nostalgic appeal, but in the long run that wouldn’t be enough on its own; ultimately it’s this kind of attention to detail and service that keeps me a loyal customer.