In a bid to bring even more revenue to its American theme parks, the Disney corporation asked famed photographer Annie Leibovitz to recreate emblematic scenes from various animated films with a myriad of celebrities “playing” different characters.
Argh. This is where my cynicism comes into a mortal battle with my deep romanticism. This is worse than Valentine’s Day, a day that commodifies romantic love, but a day I nevertheless appreciate as a celebration of romantic love. No, this is my ideological principles on the commodification of fantasy, on the forced American nuclear family values Disney placed on otherwise colloquial and communal stories, and on the disdain of always making everything more “real” at the sacrifice of more abstract art (and animation definitely has that, with the way it constantly plays with impossible physics – which is why I’ll always prefer cel animation to computers, but that’s for a different rant); anyway, it’s all these academic principles on the way I want the world to be coming into clash with my ENTIRE CHILDHOOD. I love Disney. I grew up on this shit. Yes, of course I see the problems in many of the fairy tales (or rather, the adaptations of the fairy tales): girls shouldn’t wait for their prince charming, children shouldn’t loathe themselves, and friends shouldn’t be forgotten after the wedding ceremony. But when Dumbo learns to fly, when Prince Phillip fights Maleficent as a dragon, when Pinocchio turns into a real boy, there is a plethora of magic in those films. And I don’t want to say you should look past their ideological problems – quite the contrary – but I don’t think those problems preclude an enjoyment of the films, the stories, and the artistry as a whole.
So all this was going through my mind when I heard Leibovitz was hired to shoot real pictures of animated characters and settings. “It’s all for the commercialism,” I thought. “Disneyland tickets have jumped 50% higher than they were 15 years ago. Maybe they should cut ticket prices if they want more customers, instead of investing a huge amount of money in this star-studded advertising campaign. Hasn’t the Disney corporation worked hard enough as it is to associate childhood dreaming with Disney theme parks? Hasn’t the Disney empire spanned far enough?”
Then I saw the picture of Julianne Moore as Ariel:
I think that’s really pretty.
“The Little Mermaid” isn’t even one of my favorites – in fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s one of my least favorites (minus the music, that’s good). But this picture took my breath away. Yeah, it’s real people, but it’s so ethereal, so composited, that in no way could it ever exist in this world. And for that, I can’t say no to it.
I highly recommend checking the rest of the pictures out here. There are 10 in all, my favorites being “Alice in Wonderland”, “Snow White”, “Peter Pan” (Tina Fey is Tinkerbell!), and “The Little Mermaid”.
What can I say, the inner child beats the inner adult every time.