With a spirit of levity and wit, the Society gathered for the Annual Dean Gordon Debate to consider Resolved: Disney is destroying America. Making her induction, Ms. Rosa Cuppari (SFS ’17) of New Jersey keynoted for the affirmation with Ms. Emily Coccia (COL ’15) of Pennsylvania. Also making her induction, Ms. Isobel Blakeway-Phillips (SFS ’16) of the United Kingdom stood on the negation with Ms. Laura Kurek (SFS ’16) of Illinois.
Ms. Cuppari was a vision of happiness as she took the dais, enthusiastically thanking her mentor and the whole Society. Getting down to business, she denounced the beast of social expectation at the heart of the nefarious Disney Empire. Not only do Disney films place unacceptable pressure on boys to have pointy chins; they also portray an unreachable standard of masculinity when “nice guys” like the Hunchback of Notre Dame get friend-zoned. For girls, Disney princesses create more unrealistic expectations than Barbie Dolls. Meanwhile the ruthless consumerism of Michael Eisner – the worst Disney villain – perpetuates everything that is wrong with America.
Ms. Kurek agreed that Disney permeates our culture, making the controversial suggestion that “it’s even worse than GUSA doorknockers”. But she said that was a good thing. As an ardent anticommunist, Walt worked tirelessly to fight the Soviet threat, ensuring that the Aristocats would never become the Bourgeoizebras. Far from shaping American culture, the works of Disney have just been reflections of their time. For example, women used to be treated like household objects in movies. Today, we’ve moved forward to a point where it is the men who are irrelevant! (Frozen)
Dazzlingly dressed like Ursula, Ms. Coccia brought knowledge to us poor unfortunate souls. As a child, she never saw a Disney movie, but she knew they were bad because a bunch of middle-aged white guys telling little girls what dreams to have is always bad. Ursula said it best: men want girls who are pretty and quiet. Disney instills the patriarchy.
The outstanding Ms. Blakeway-Phillips did not deny Disney’s patriarchal past, but reiterated Ms. Kurek’s point – Disney just reflects American culture without creating it. Like Andrew Carnegie, every Disney princess lives a rags-to-riches story. “Disney sells the pre-packaged American Dream,” she declared. Poking fun at our strange American customs, Ms. Blakeway-Phillips insisted that the American Dream is as fake as Santa Clause, to the consternation of those who still believed in either fantasy.
Offering an unconventional response, Mr. Michael Mouch accused Sgt. Warren Wilson of being a clone of Walt Disney while Mr. Evan Monod noted the positive message for the disabled in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, even if its Frenchness suggests that it must be destroying America. Proudly speaking as a product of the patriarchy, Mr. Ben Mazzara lambasted the real horror of Disney: its insufferable, Tumblr-addicted fan base that won’t shut up about Disney. The look on Mr. Perez-Reyes’s face was priceless!
Wisely broadening our scope, Ms. Natalie Caceres (MSB ’16) accused magazines, not Disney, of enforcing the patriarchy. Fishing for hisses, Mr. Patrick Hughes (COL ’16) called the Disney Channel “terrible”. How you can say that about a channel that produced Out of the Box is beyond me, and Mr. Chris Grocki (MSB ’17) agrees. He saw himself in High School Musical’s Zach Efron and so Disney Channel can’t be bad. Bringing a hint of the funniest Marx brother to the floor, Mr. Christopher Zawora (COL ’16) derided the Aristocats for romanticizing class division.
Singing a sad Song of the South, Vice President Anna Hernick stressed that sometimes children need to escape into a romanticized world. Ms. Julia Christiansen said that even if that is the case, the monopolistic stranglehold (or should I say Tangled-hold!) of Disney on dream-making threatens the economy.
As we’ve come to expect, Ms. Amanda Wynter rejected economic arguments in favor a meta-philosophical one. She said that the fact we’re having a debate on Disney shows how it forces Americans to think critically about entrenched cultural values. Sgt. Warren Wilson cheekily contended that Walt was really just a reincarnation of Nietzsche, who ended all philosophy, so Ms. Wynter’s point was moot.
Sporting his Canadian tuxedo for the last time, Mr. Patrick Spagnuolo made us laugh with tales of that cis-gendered, privileged mouse named Mickey. He astutely remarked that “It’s a world of laughter and a world of tears” and Disney is one thing we share. With humble certainty, he implored us to negate. Finally bringing music to the Disney debate, Ms. Emilie Siegler wonderfully sang “Colors of the Wind” and reminded the Society of how warm and fuzzy Disney makes it feel.
Like Ms. Coccia, Chancellor Peter Prinidville had shockingly never seen a Disney film. He contended that by monopolizing culture, Disney has harmed those children who do not watch movies. Ms. Anais Carmona pointed out that that doesn’t negate the benefit for children who dream of being like Jasmine. Ms. Colleen Wood strongly disagreed, since Disney crushes dreams far more often than fulfilling them. After all they (Gasp!) CANCELLED LIZZIE MAGUIRE!
Annoyed at the ridiculous magazines in grocery store check-out lines, Mr. Luke Young praised Disney for tyrannically controlling the personal lives of its stars. (Miley?) Taking that approach differently, Ms. Abigail Grace assailed the company for tyrannically controlling the South as a puppet of the liberal Californian media elite.
When the debate returned to the keynoters, Ms. Kurek “thanked” the Society for venting its childhood angst on the floor. She recalled the words inscribed on the gates of Disneyland: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” From Snow White to Frozen, America has determined the form of that fantasy, not the Walt Disney Company.
Empathizing with our dear Chancellor Prindiville, Ms. Coccia assailed Disney for entrenching class divisions with “fastpass aristocracy cards” and fanning the flames of the gender wars with lessons like “consent doesn’t matter” in Sleeping Beauty or “look pretty and shut up” in The Little Mermaid. At times her words were drowned out by laughter, but Ms. Coccia was clear: Disney destroys America.
Eloquently rejecting that cynicism, Ms. Blakeway-Phillips repeated the idea that fairy tales are meant to create happiness, not teach difficult and mundane real-world lessons. She claimed that by building the dreams of America’s young people, Disney only makes “your country” stronger.
In a sharply executed speech, Ms. Cuppari contended that Disney does in fact teach lessons. Whether its laziness in “Bear Necessities” or greed in “Part of Your World”, Disney perpetuates the worst escapism and consumerism of American culture.
Despite the distressing fact that no one had sung anything from The Lion King, the debate had to end before the clock struck midnight. With 10 affirming and 32 negating, the resolution was defeated more thoroughly than Mars Needs Moms was at the box office.
After deliberating, the keynoters decided to award the Dean Gordon Cup to a member of unmatched wit and rhetorical skill: Mr. Patrick Spagnuolo. I speak for the whole Society when I say that his brilliant style and controversial opinions shall be sorely missed. Whether he was skewering off-track arguments or attacking the entire discipline of philosophy, Mr. Spagnuolo was always a force to be reckoned with.
Finally, we welcomed Ms. Blakeway-Phillips and Ms. Cuppari into the Society. Huzzah!