I’ve found myself on Disney duty lately here at Plugged In. I’ve been buried underneath what seems like a mountain of inoffensive pop tunes, happy endings and Jonas Brothers. My work computer has played so much Disney lately that it now assumes I’m a 12-year-old girl.
In reality, I’m a 41-year-old man who likes films with depth and complexity and, if possible, explosions. I’m the cinema snob who looks for Homeric allusions in romcoms, biblical themes in Will Ferrell flicks and ambiguous, slightly tragic endings. And whenever I’m assigned a project from the Mouse House, I must stifle an audible sob of despair.
So why, then, when I finish watching one of Disney’s saccharine tween-centric shows, do I find myself smiling?
Case in point: Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. It stars Demi Lovato and the omnipresent Jonas Brothers (I’m expecting to find animatronic figurines of them the next time I sail through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland). I rolled my eyes when given the assignment, put it off as long as I could and, when the deadline crawled too close to ignore, I popped the video in and watched the thing.
And, just like the kid in the old Life cereal commercials, I liked it. I really liked it.
This is the way it is with me with many Disney projects. I grumble over High School Musical or Jonas L.A. I watch the thing, and find it’s just as nice and innocent and sickeningly sweet as I thought it’d be. And somehow, it wins me over. Which makes me feel a little guilty.
I mean, what is it about me that makes me initially recoil in the face of Disney sweetness? What makes me suspicious of folks who seem just a little too chipper in the early hours of the morning, or makes me grimace at the sight of a Smurf? Why, when life tosses something altogether nice in my lap, must I treat it as if it was a smelly sock? Am I too cynical for my own good? I know I’m not alone in this. And another thing: What is it about these Disney concoctions that somehow hack through my hard-earned curmudgeon-ness?