I was at Walt Disney World a few weeks ago, enduring the intense July Orlando humidity and nimbly avoiding the storms that blew through just before and after my visit.
Since I was staying at one of the off-property hotels across the street from Downtown Disney, a huge shopping and eating area designed to part visitors from their cash even more effectively than the parks themselves, I naturally had plenty of time to browse their current merchandising strategies.
No surprise, there were lots of clothing and toys especially themed to the phenomenally popular Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest movie, though, quite surprisingly, the Lego store had completely missed the opportunity to promote pirate themed Lego sets, but the other trend that I have to say I didn’t like was the resurgence of interest in Tinker Bell.
Why? I really don’t like Tinker Bell.
Go back and watch the Disney version of Peter Pan and you’ll see what I mean: rather than being a nice little wood sprite — or whatever sort of fairy she’s supposed to be — she’s a whiny, tempermental, bratty teenage punk and really represents the worst of child behaviors, not the best.
Which is why I was a bit disappointed to see that she’s regaining popularity in the pre-teen marketplace, or, at least, Disney’s pushing her and hoping to bring her back as some sort of cultural icon.
Then again, I also find the Bratz series of dolls and the implied “cuteness” of their bratty behavior pretty apalling too. Is it any wonder that we have a hard time teaching our children to be pleasant, polite and self-confident when they’re being surrounded by toys and images that reinforce the worst in behavior, not the best? I’m also thinking about my visceral disgust towards modern situation comedies (aka “sitcoms”) that demonstrate the most un-supportive of family behavior.
The absolute nadir in this has got to be Married With Children which seems more like some sort of commie plot to undermine our families than any sort of comic entertainment. Heck, even All In The Family occasionally had them supporting each others dreams and opinions!
So back to Tinker Bell, however. Sorry, Tink, but I just don’t like you. Please fly back to Neverland.
But perhaps I’m too late after all: Disney Hopes Tinker Bell Goes Back to School, the product of yet another arm of their merchandising empire. Of course, they also explain why this is happening too:
“Disney is putting Tinker Bell, who just happens to be starring in her own feature film in 2007, front and center on fashion-forward denim jackets, backpacks, sweat shirts and nightgowns. She’s getting prime real estate in Disney stores, at the expense of some other Disney characters.”
I simultaneously am again impressed with their merchandising genius and disgusted by the ease at which children can be manipulated and influenced. Ugh.
Btw, pretty unrelated, but it’s not clear to me whether it’s officially “Tinkerbell” or “Tinker Bell”. The original text by J. M. Barrie — which you can read online for free here: Peter Pan, the original text — has it as “Tinker Bell”, though, so I’m guessing that all the Google hits for “Tinkerbell” are just lazy authors.