Feasting on fantasy: my month of extreme immersion in Disney+
The long read: Disneys new streaming service arrived in the UK just as the coronavirus lockdown kicked in. With so many hours to fill, it seemed like a sensible investment. Pretty soon, it was infiltrating my every waking hour.
A few weeks ago, on a day that was probably like today now that the days are all frighteningly different and yet strangely the same, Disney launched Disney+, its new streaming service, in the UK. The precise date, for those that are still tracking such things, was 24 March, which was also, by coincidence, the date the British lockdown officially started. I had been waiting, impatiently, for both. One felt frivolous, the other historic a new thing to watch to add to the endless other things to watch versus the sudden transformation of an entire populations way of life and yet here they were entwined, perfectly compatible bedfellows.
Disney couldnt have known that the launch of Disney+ would fall upon the same day that 66 million people would be instructed to stay at home for 23 hours a day. They must have set their launch date months ago, long before the first coronavirus case hit Britain, or travellers returned from their fateful half-term Italian skiing holidays, or the prime minister glad-handed his way around a hospital. But to the cynical, it felt like the workings of a darkly prescient marketing strategy. I mean, the timing was ideal. Someone, somewhere in the Disney multiverse must have celebrated shyly, inappropriately, a quiet elbow bump in a meeting room, perhaps.
For anyone with a thing for family-friendly entertainment, the prospect of Disney+ was inviting. But for those of us coming to terms with home schooling and Easter holidays, followed by yet more home schooling, days upon weeks upon days of time and not the kind of time you can revel in, but time that would be filled with fear for the wellbeing of people you love, and panic at the conundrum of trying to earn a living and look after your kids well for us, the launch of Disney+ was a goddamn digital miracle.
Maybe it didnt feel like that for everyone. Maybe the parents who secretly love the home schooling vibe, the timetables and worksheets, the children sitting happily at kitchen tables, tongues sticking out of the side of their mouths as they complete little astronomy quizzes while the parent stirs a healthy stew, maybe they didnt sign up for Disney+ a full week before it launched. For the rest of us, hurling fish fingers into the oven with one hand while trying to tap out a piece of work with the other and break up a fight with a toe, the relatively low cost of a Disney+ subscription (5.99 a month) when contemplating the long, long, just so very long, period of time ahead of us, felt like a sensible investment.
Sure, theres other TV. Theres the BBC. Theres Netflix. I dabble in it all, unfussy when it comes to shiny, child-absorbing entertainment. But Disney+ is a luxury bath of content, of Disney old and new. When you log on to its sleek black home page, it shows off its wares so easily: thumbnails of Toy Story 4 and the new Star Wars spin-off series, The Mandalorian, casually sitting next to each other like reunited friends from different planets. The animated classics are all there Cinderella, The Lion King, Aladdin accompanied by their reimagined live-action versions, updated and often unambiguously ruined. But there are also hidden treats, movies youd forgotten exist but sentimentally love more than members of your family (Cool Runnings). Theres an entire section devoted to nostalgia. Three Men and A Little Lady? Yes, please. Nestling among it all is almost the entire back catalogue of The Simpsons, more than 600 episodes, patiently waiting to swallow the rest of your life.
Some early adopters have quibbled that once you get past The Mandalorian and a few other new offerings (Meghan Markle narrating the nausea-inducing nature documentary Elephant, anyone?), theres not much to go on, but perhaps they dont have kids happy to watch the same movie until they can recite it by heart. At some point, my husband put on the 2008 movie Bolt, about a run-of-the-mill little white dog, voiced by John Travolta, who is under the false impression that he is a superhero. A bulletproof concept, and sure enough, the movie went down so well that my kids, aged six and three, requested to rewatch it the moment the credits rolled. Forget awards, forget reviews: there is no better compliment a movie can receive than the immediate need a child can feel to watch it again. I remember that feeling. We wallpaper our souls with this stuff.
Disney has been colonising the minds and hearts of children for decades. Wade through Disney+ as an adult and you find that, inevitably, some of the movies arent as flawless as you recall, but you also find yourself blinking rapidly, at the mercy of a cinematic formula that knows the synaptic shortcut to both your childhood memories and your tear ducts. The nostalgia section delivered at a time when reality can be hard to stomach and worries rise at unexpected times of the night has the calming effect of one of those weighted anxiety blankets. When the outside world has shut down, you can burrow inwards and time travel through whatever anachronistic creation Hannah Montana, Boy Meets World, DuckTales transports you to your younger self, when you watched TV on a sofa you didnt have to buy with your own money, and someone else was doing most of the worrying so you could eat toast and think only about what you might eat after the toast.
So yes, I admit it. I subscribed to Disney+ on the pretext of occupying my kids, but of course of course I actually bought it for myself.
We began our Disney+ immersion, out of respect, with the canon. It happened to be the week my husband had the virus mildly, days he spent mostly unconscious except when he rose from his sweat pool to recount the plotlines of his hallucinatory nightmares. With a cursory nod to the abandoned ideals of home schooling, I decided to embrace Disney+ with a certain academic rigour. We started at the beginning, and worked our way through Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Pinocchio (1940), before making a leap forward to Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953) and Sleeping Beauty (1959). Not all on the same day, I should add, but Im not going to lie: the viewing schedule was intense.
In many ways, this part felt like duty: ticking off the fundamentals before we could get on to the good stuff. In the early movies, the animators are so deferential to their source material that the action starts with an ancient book of the tale being opened, its pages of gothic script and hand-drawn pictures very slowly turned, as a sonorous male voice earnestly narrates the story. Come ON, my six-year-old yelled at the television, used to a more intense fix of cortisol to propel her through her entertainment.
Hi my name is Kareem Maize and welcome to my personal blog. I am 26 year old musician and information technology professional with a passion for learning new aspects of life everyday. On my journey to express myself I began blogging to share my ideas with others. Now I intend to write fun, interesting, and engaging content for my viewers to help them grow spiritually, physically, and mentally . The concept of belief systems and the law of attraction peak my interest!!! I believe blogging about my personal experiences, beliefs, and ideas is the best way to achieve these goals!!!