Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Disney Town murder and Why It's Not so Newsworthy

It has recently come out that a Homeless man has been charged with Disney town murder, and my Google news alerts have been bustling all about it.

The quaint town of Celebration, FL
Maybe it's because I live in a microcosm where Disney news takes precedent over everything else (which is entirely possible). But big papers have been writing about it, so obviously, people are reading about it, and it's newsworthy.

Why is it newsworthy? Well,  it's because the image Disney has created for itself, and even more so, how the world interprets that image. Walt created Disneyland as a utopia, and then taking the idea further, wanted to create the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. Walt's EPCOT never happened because he died, and with him, the ideals of changing society for the greater good, instead of creating cash cows. Thus, present day EPCOT is a Tomorrowland-meets-world-showcase educational park, with a thrill here and there and a giant golfball in the middle, not a utopian community with design inspired by the spokes of a wheel.

Years later, Mike Eisner, whose delusions convinced him he was the next Walt, became heavily involved in building the community of Celebration, Florida. The town, created by Disney in the 90's, still has certain services provided to it by Walt Disney World, but it's not owned by Walt Disney World, because it's a town with private property owned by individuals. Disney was the mastermind behind the operation, which is why it's referred to as "Disneytown" by so many people, but really, it's just a small town at this point.

Celebration's movie Theater
Not that those facts are important to the media. Much more enticing is the fact that "murder" and "Disney" can be mentioned together in the same sentence, which is just too tantalizing a headline to pass up.

It's always been big news when something not so perfect happens in a place known for its near perfection. Last year, the Monorail crash at Disney World was the big headline, before that, the occurrence of a fatal incident involving Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland.

It's a kind of "gotcha!" moment for the Disney dissenters, proving to those who are excited about the company that it's not as perfect as it presents itself to be. Just like the urban legends about Walt's anti-semitism or his cryogenically frozen head (not that the deaths are myths), it's one of those things people love to talk about because they see it as fringy, enlightening and bubble bursting. It's just like people informing WWE fans that it's all an act, like they didn't already know and have looked past it.

This new murder case has its own special roots, having happened in a town that is often criticized as being to "Stepford Wive-ish" or "Truman Show-y." The reality is, as I'm sure every person in Celebration is aware of, and every Disney enthusiast as well, all things Disney exist in an imperfect world. Things happen. Walt was a human, and the parks are ran by humans. Accidents happens and nothing is perfect. This is not new information to us Disney devotees.

So thanks for the deft reporting, news media, but a murder in Celebration is just another murder. Murders occur fairly often, even in places with an attitude of perfection. There's undoubtedly other, more important homicides going on around the country, and while we feel for the victim of the Celebration incident, the truth is, he was probably just one of many people murdered that day in the U.S. But we get it, you have to sell those papers, or get those hits, and if it sells, it's published. Just don't think you're doing anything new.

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