Monday, October 11, 2010

I love the Disney Channel.

Believe it or not, there was once a time in American pop culture when Disney was the gold standard for a brand. They put out high quality programming, movies, products, and even had a theme park that didn't require you to sell your children to sweat shops to visit. But, as we all know, when you're at the top there's only one place to go, and it ain't a plateau.
In the Disney Channel's infancy it was actually a pay channel like HBO or Showtime. Unfortunately this required them to use effort or people would stop paying for them. It ran shows like "Under the Umbrella Tree" and "Dumbo's Circus" and Mickey Mouse even taught you how to do aerobics.
(Mousercise pics from

Yeah. You're seeing that correctly. That's someone dressed as Donald Duck standing in close proximity to a woman (who is not a young Rue McClanahan) who is wearing leg warmers. And I'm assuming he knows he's in front of a camera. Can you imagine the preparation he must have to put himself through every morning to go to work? Not stretching, but convincing himself that life is still worth living? Plus, I can't imagine Donald wouldn't have a visible erection wearing no pants and being around that many women in tights. Why is he dressed like a sailor even when he's doing warm-ups?

(Not the same person)

At any rate, at some point Disney decided that this was not a quick enough way to bring down western civilization and they became a basic cable channel, bringing you such quality programming as "Hannah Montana" "That's So Raven!" and "The Jonas Brothers Fellate the Neighbors."

This is the Disney Channel you are familiar with. The Disney Channel that has since poisoned every industry from music to TV to clothing to movies to cooking (probably). The Disney Channel that I love.

That's right. I fucking love it. Why, you might ask? Because of a simple theory I have that has thus far proven to be true. Disney gets genetically perfect kids, exploits them for all they're worth, and kicks them to the curb once puberty sets in. Sound about right? Well, let's explore why it's so fantastic together.

Step 1: You're hired!... As a bit player of a currently hot show.

Disney likes to test the waters. Sure, your fourteen-year-old genes might make people born with flippers for arms wish they had a third of your looks. Sure, you may have broken up a neighbor's marriage because the bored husband was taking pictures of you through the curtains, but are you talentless yet pretty enough to carry your own show? Disney will shoehorn you into the background of a currently running TV show to see how well you can follow directions and appeal to the market before the next Demi Lovato becomes the next Hilary Duff. If you're vaguely ethnic, even better. Vaguely ethnic pretty young people appeal to young ethnic kids who are looking for role models and young white kids who want to frustrate their parents.

(I can't believe you got your own franchise either.)

Step 2: Your very own show!

Congratulations! Disney was probably convinced you deserve your own show because you're thin and pretty and can kind of sing! Good for you! Are you ready to churn out CDs to children whose parents will soon lose their minds by listening to your interpretation of "Let's Get Together" over and over again? Hooray! Let's give you a name that sounds kind of like yours and put you in a familiar location and make it completely wacky. Like in middle school, but you're secretly an international rock star! Or in middle school, but you're a witch! Or in middle school, but you can see the future! That's so interesting! That's so awesome! That's so Raven! Now, we're only going to make three seasons of your show. During those three seasons there will be no character development at all. Everyone must stay the way there are and have one character trait. We don't know how to develop people with more traits than that. Characters who we write as your best friends may not have the appeal we need, so we might fire them in the middle of a season, so continuity is a big no-no. Finally, we're only going to give you three seasons because after that our studies show that you n longer have that innocent look and parents will be looking for the next thing to keep their kids sheltered. But don't worry, we'll have a huge theatrical movie that will cap off the series, although almost every secondary character will be missing and it'll be focused on you and a far-off location and a love interest. But you'll get to sing all the music for the soundtrack and this will launch your music career, which we'll manage.

Step 3: Life A.D. (After Disney)

Now that you're too old for TV appeal, we'll keep churning out your CDs until the next thing on the Disney Channel usurps you. That'll be good for about six months. Meanwhile we'll rerun your show for the next five years, gaining any cash from residual marketing and interest. You may feel that you're getting a bit too old for Disney now. Instead of letting you live in obscurity with the money you don't deserve, we're going to keep whoring you out like the cash cow you are. You'll be 26 and still playing a 15 year old, but we won't tell anyone.
You may also be noticing things about your persona now. You're barely 18 now and the media is starting to sexualize you. That tends to happen when genetically perfect children grow up and blossom. You're a hottie. But don't let anyone know. Your nightclub antics are starting to catch up with you. All that cocaine might be good for your figure, but parents tend to frown on that kind of thing. That's fine, but expect us to distance ourselves from you as soon as this happens. If you're still making money for us in "High School Musical 7: The Community College Years," we'll put out a statement of support and let you off with a warning. Next time you're on your own.

4. Ok, ok we get it.

You want to move on. You don't want to be perceived as another kiddie Disney princess, so you'll be looking for breakout roles outside the company. Your career with us has come to a halt. You're tried to explore other things, but they're just not successful. It's almost as if you never had the talent we told you you had. Like all you had going for you was marketability and good looks. Like the only reason you're still relevant is because men just wanted you to turn 18 so they could jerk off without the tinge of guilt. But fine, get out of here. Don't try to come back. But somehow, despite your lack of talent and range, you really want some work that will make people take you as a serious actress and not just someone who could do a double take in a school gym.

5. You're an adult.

So, doesn't it feel good to be away from Disney? What a bunch of assholes. But hey, you're pretty and talented. You're signed with us now. You have this drive to be considered a serious actress even though you don't have the chops for it. And you're desperate to stand apart from that cute role that got you famous. What would be the logical ting for a pretty young girl who wants to be seen as an adult and has been lusted after for years?