Home > Movies > The House of Mouse claims another victim

The House of Mouse claims another victim

My son turns 5 on Tuesday. As bizarre as that seems (has it really been a half-decade since he showed up kicking and screaming and covered in goo?) the biggest change I’ve noticed lately is his TV viewing habits. Although he’s growing incrementally, my little boy’s taste in TV has grown up in a matter of weeks.

I can trace it back to our recent trip (last October) to Disneyworld. The bastards got ‘im while we were there. He’s lost to the magical world of Disney.

Now, as a marketing guy, I can appreciate the importance of branding. And nobody does it better than Uncle Walt’s group. But, this is so effective, I’m guessing that in between standing in line at “It’s a Small World” and standing in line at “Spaceship Earth,” they implanted a chip or something. Some behavioral modification technique went down. Because since we got back, my little guy has turned into a Disney FREAK!

Anything with a Disney emblem, he can point to it and acknowledge that Mickey’s prints are on it. The little tyke can’t read, but he can spell M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E. Now, this brainwashing is perfectly fine for stuff like the Little Mermaid or Finding Nemo. That’s what a normal five-year-old watches. I got no problem with that.

Where I’m getting confused is that the kid has now started to devour the full menu of Disney delights. Within the past few weeks, he started watching any and all programs available on Disney Channel, including all of the stuff meant for pre-teen kids like the Suite Life of Zack and Cody and That’s So Raven. Crazy mad-cap adventures of tweeners in the grand tradition of Saved by the Bell (not that there’s any thing wrong with Saved by the Bell – that’s another blog entry for another day).

What I didn’t know (since we never watched Disney Channel too much before, say, December) is that they Disney pre-teen franchise is a raging industry. In fact, last year they cherry-picked some of their top talent from the sitcom world and produced High School Musical, a (you guessed it) musical about high school. It’s full of stereotypical characters (the knuckle-dragging jock set, the artsy crowd, the nerd patrol, etc.) singing formulaic songs within a formulaic plot.

Here’s the thing, tho’. It’s not that bad. God help me, it’s not that bad. The songs, while a bit by-the-book, aren’t too obnoxious, and they generally have a “After-school Special” type of message. One song deals with bucking the status quo (always fun to rhyme to a Latin term). There’s a tune about working together and achieving a goal. Another deals with one teen’s crippling meth addiction (just kidding). But, it’s not an entirely horrific 90 minutes in front of the TV.

When I was watching HSM (as the kids call it), I was reminded of another TV movie from 20+ years ago. In fact, the titles are startlingly similar – I’m thinking of High School USA, starring Michael J. Fox and Nancy McKeon, at the height of their fame from Family Ties and Facts of Life, respectively.

Now, this wasn’t a musical (I guess) — but it did involve future felons-to-be Todd Bridges and Dana Plato, as well as future Goose-to-be, Anthony Edwards. I don’t remember much about the plot, until I checked the imdb page. Peep this:

Set in a senior high school class, J.J. (Michael J. Fox) pursues the girlfriend of a rival from a higher clique which culminates in a race at the end of the movie between the two rivals in this light comedy.

Another movie, another fantastic race at the end. It’s the circle of life (which is probably a registered trademark of Disney – and a lawyer is probably on their way to get me…).

Categories: Movies
  1. January 31, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    My 5 year old daughter is likewise infected. My cousin, who works for a big consumer products company, said that HSM is HUGE.

  2. Kevin
    February 5, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Dude, welcome to my world. My daughter is 4 1/2 and has been into the Disney scene since she was 21/2, thanks to a neighbor’s older sister. Way back then, it started with Lizzy McGuire. Wait until you have to ride around all day in the car switching between the HSM soundtrack, Hannah Montana’s CD, and the Cheetah Girls CD. I know I am slipping, because after a while the songs start to sound catchy and I catch myself singing them at work. Dana even took our daughter to the Cheetah Girls / Hannah Montana concert in Charlotte. The coolest thing about Hannah Montana is that it has resurrected Billy Ray Cyrus, sans mullet. You really should check out the newest Disney Channel movie, Jump In. It’s about a boxer who moonlights as a double dutcher. No seriously, I couldn’t make that up. What frightens me is that, like HSM, I didn’t think it was half bad. Looking back over this comment, I think that I have just lost all street cred that I ever had in my entire life. Thanks.

  3. February 5, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    I should really catch Jump In? Dude, we’ve watched it like six times already. My boy loves Corbin Blue, although I still maintain that his names sounds more like a chicken dish.

  4. Kevin
    February 6, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Yeah, Corbin is big at our house too, although he is hard to take seriously as a boxer ’cause he looks so much like a girl with his hair pulled back.

  1. February 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm

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