Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dis-History: Uses of the Past at Walt Disney’s Worlds Paperback – August 31, 2017
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Disney’s version of history is given a full airing, tapping into many voices, including insiders, critics, and Walt himself. “What he [Walt Disney] believed was needed was a standardized, easy-to-digest narrative that gave Americans a common starting point. The result was Dis-History. ... Dis-History is an attempt to create a usable, coherent, broad, or middlebrow culture for all Americans.”
Lantzer makes clear that this culture rests on the ability of Disney’s imagineers to transport guests completely out of their daily world. “[T]he parks create a sort of hyperreality, where over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what is and what is not real, where the present and the past (purged of the bad things in life) merge into very real experiences for those who are there.” Those experiences have been carefully honed and manipulated, so that the visitors will share the same collective narrative whenever and wherever it is encountered.
Although he clearly has affection for the theme parks, Lantzer is assiduous in his commitment to lay all criticisms of Disney out for the reader. As he regularly points out, “Dis-History, according to its critics, is a place where there is no conflict or strife, a place where nostalgia is used to sell merchandise.” Lantzer’s insightful analysis of Main Street USA at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom confirms such a viewpoint by what is left out from this vision: namely, the saloon – that den of debauchery – and the police department, an institution necessitated by sin and crime.
Dis-History covers so much great territory that this brief review cannot do it justice. Suffice it to say, Lantzer’s provides fascinating explanations of how Disney’s versions of myths, fables, and children’s literature became the standards for how Americans understand and interpret these stories. Plus, his explorations of how Disney’s “useable, collective mythology” informs the designs and attractions of the themed lands reveal a sensibility that cherishes both equality and openness of narratives.
Dis-History follows the international forays of this most American of companies: the descriptions of the theme parks in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are entertaining in both the tales of their origins and Lantzer’s boots-on-the-ground evaluations of their distinctive qualities. Yet every triumph is marked by missteps along the way, accompanied by a cadre of thoughtful critics who call the company out on its conservative sensibilities. Accordingly, Lanzer presents quite a clear-eyed in recounting of Disney’s racially charged legacy in its depictions of African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians.
Throughout, Dis-History functions as both a history and a cultural commentary as it takes the reader through Walt’s years running the company to his brother Roy’s to Michael Eisner’s to current chief Bob Iger’s. Despite all the changes and expansions, Disney has generally embraced the paradoxical marriage of cagey conventionalism and bold imagination. Lantzer explains, “As dominant mainstream cultural institutions of the past lose their power or market share, what is amazing is the degree to which Disney has not. And much of that success can be attributed to Dis-Historic nostalgia.”
Simply put, Dis-History is a terrific book that examines the construction of the modern American psyche as much it reveals how Disney helped shape it.