Friday, January 25, 2013

Ain't casting stones, but how 'bout casting a little grattitude!

Author’s Note:  Hello friends . . . while I know I don’t need to do this, and some would say I shouldn’t, I feel the need to give a quick disclaimer.  This post has nothing to do with religion nor is it a criticism or indictment of any one group or organizations religious beliefs.  Here at NADFB we adhere to a strict “no politics / no religion” policy.  It is simply a criticism of another media/themed entertainment company’s perceived lack of professional etiquette.  Now, if you’ll please bow your heads with me . . .”
          There seems to be a lot of debate among Disney-themed podcasters and bloggers (and authors & publishers it turns out . . . ahem) about how much one should criticize the Disney Company.  Some of them will come out all guns a blazin’ blowing holes in anything Disney does that clashes with their own personal preferences.  Others dare not ever speak a critical word toward the mouse or the actions of thereof.
Personally, I tend to take the middle road, although I like to belief I’m much closer to the prudent than the loudmouthed fanboys who decry everything (my favorites being the ones who claim NOT to be fanboys as they clearly don’t understand the definition.)  However from time to time, I will give an honest, although respectful opinion even if it’s not in favor of the current directions.  More often than not, my philosophy is “trust Imagineering.”  And to that end, trust Disney management.  Are they perfect?  No, but they’ve certainly been right far more than they’ve been wrong.
When I am critical at all, it’s usually in the company of like-minded Disney lovers.  I will rarely speak any “ill” in the company of non-believers.  Nor will I accept any anti-mouse chatter from them.  It’s like the old saying “I can say whatever I want about my family, but you better not dare.” 
I am very protective of my beloved Disney.  I know, that’s cute.  They don’t know I exist.  They’re a bazillion dollar corporation (yeah, that’s right... bazillion) and I’m protective of them.  But it’s true, none-the-less.  I won’t suffer any smack talk, especially from someone clearly ignorant about that which they speak.  That’s also why I tend to get riled up when I see what I interpret as disrespect of “my” company. 
This is why I found myself getting really irritated by something seemingly small late last night.  I was flipping channels and I saw on the guide something called “Night of Joy 2012” on TBN.  TBN is The Trinity Broadcasting Network, an evangelical basic cable channel.  Night of Joy, as most Walt Disney World fans know is a huge contemporary Christian music festival held in the Magic Kingdom each year.  It’s hard for some to imagine what with all the potty words I use, but there was time I was deeply ensconced (note to self: look up the word “ensconced” before posting) in the world of Christian music.  I must confess I didn’t know a single name in the line-up listed on the cable guide but I made a stop on the channel anyway.  After all, anything featuring the Magic Kingdom or Walt Disney World automatically gains my attention.  

But there’s the rub!  I said “featuring” Magic Kingdom.  Boy oh boy, was I wrong.  While the bands were performing on the castle stage right in front of the unmistakable, universally recognizable Cinderella Castle of the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, if you closed your eyes (or I suppose are blind) you’d never know that’s where it was taking place.  See between performances they had two “personalities” discussing the acts with far more enthusiasm than necessary, one of who seemed like he was doing an impression of Cam from Modern Family.  In fact, I thought he actually was Eric Stonestreet in character, right down to his flamboyant shirt (what I’m saying his shirt wasn’t the only thing that was flamboyant!)  

Eric "Cam" Stonestreet
TBN's Nick Kroger         
           The more I watched and listened to these two excitedly regurgitate what was on the prompters in front of them, the more something became glaringly clear.  They never once said where they were.  Now the experienced eye would see right away they were on the Tomorrowland Terrace, the same patio area one can rent out for a Wishes fireworks dessert party.
They kept repeating “you have to come down here next year to see this show!”  “Talk to your family, talk to your church, bring your youth group here next year.” 
I know this may sound like the ranting of a Disney-obsessed lunatic.  Well . . . guilty as charged, but I’m telling you now it seemed so apparent that they were going out of their way NOT to say they were in Walt Disney World that it actually started to make me angry.  Perhaps I am a little oversensitive.  After all, I was raised in an Evangelical environment at a time when many prominent church leaders were commanding their flocks to “boycott Disney for their glorification of dragons, witches, black magic, and demons.”  And now they’re hosting a nationally recognized Christian music festival, allowing some miniscule satellite network with a clear agenda to come into the parks and broadcast, and these ingrates can’t even utter the name of the park?!? 
Then it dawned on me.  TBN, the same organization that gave the world Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker, is not just a global media outreach, it is also the newest owner of rival theme park (I use the term loosely) in Orlando, The Holy Land Experience.  I’m not ripping the Holy Land, in fact I think in theory it’s a great idea and done right could have been a huge success.  But calling it a rival to Disney is like calling a chipmunk the rival of the mastodon.  So when that mastodon raises its tusks and lets you in to grab a few acorns, be appreciative.  

"Where do we get Fast Passes for The Garden of Gethsemane?"
Do I still sound crazy, and a bit Disney-paranoid?  Well explain why the only time the words “Walt Disney World” came into play in any moment of the program that I saw, the tape literally sped up as the end titles said “from Walt Disney World” so that it only hovered on screen for a split-second before vanishing once again.  Even the logo for the concert, which was the neck of guitar, the top of which was shaped to resemble the castle came across the screen in the blink of an eye.  As soon as it was gone, the TBN logo appeared where it stayed, stagnant on screen for what seemed an eternity.  One could not only read it, you could crawl out of bed, grab paper and crayons, and trace it for yourself! 
As the show ended, the two hosts repeatedly thanked TBN for broadcasting the concert, and for reaching out to the world.  They must have said “special thanks to TBN” at least a half-dozen time in the span of 2 – 3 minutes.  The “thanks to Walt Disney World for hosting this concert” count?  Zero-point-zero! 

Here's the full logo, with the castle guitar . . . the one only Hummingbirds could see!  
What does it matter to me?  I guess it shouldn’t.  In the interest of full-disclosure, I only watched the last 20 minutes or so.  Perhaps in the opening they lathered Walt Disney World with praise and adulations, flashing the words “Come to the Magic Kingdom” across the screen over and over.  I doubt it, but maybe.  I just found it irritating and distasteful.  I’ve never been to their park, but I have a dozen ideas that could increase attendance and revenues – you know, the two factors that keep a theme park in business.  This broadcast was simply one more reason I’ll likely never bother checking it out.  That and the fact there’s nothing to do there aside from walk through some show sets, see replicas of ancient artifacts, and watch live TBN broadcast tapings.  Oh, and stop by the food court!  Heck even that museum in Kentucky has animatronic raptors in the Garden of Eden!  Whether it’s scientifically accurate or not is not for me to judge – but it sure sounds rad!!!     

If I were Bob Iger the first thing I’d do is give TBN a lifetime ban from ever broadcasting on Disney property again.  Well, that’s not true.  If I were Iger, the first thing I’d do is build a Lady & the Tramp dark ride in Fantasyland, a Jungle Book themed flume at the Animal Kingdom, restore Imagination to it’s original glory, and rebuild Horizons brick by brick!  But then . . . watch out TBN! 
Should I get my knickers in a twist over it?  No.  But it’s a slow news day and this has been gnawing at my brain for two days.  All I’m saying, if you hope to be David among Goliaths, give credit where it’s due!  Especially when there are probably thousands of people who are only watching your network at that moment because of where you are. 

This is a picture of actress Jennifer Lawrence.  She has nothing to do with any of this.  But when you search "night of joy hosts" in Google Images, this is a choice.  And I love her.

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