RogerBW's Blog

Team Rodent, Carl Hiaasen 07 February 2016

1998, short pieces on the effects of Disney on Florida and other places.

What you don't actually get here is much about, as the subtitle puts it, "how Disney devours the world". Most of the damage that Hiaasen talks about is not, he admits, done by Disney itself: it's done by the opportunists who see Disney money and want a piece of it for themselves. It's the parents who buy puppies for Christmas after their children have seen 101 Dalmatians.

The more interesting point is the ├Žsthetic one: the Disney experience is safe, which (especially if you've read other writing by Hiaasen about Florida) is not to be understimated:

Whether you're on a Disney ocean liner or a Disney log flume or the eighteenth fairway of a Disney golf course, you can be pretty sure nobody's going to sneak up and stick a real .45 in your back.

But it's always the same, always scripted: the lake will be blue, even if it wasn't before the construction crews moved in. The beach will be sandy. You won't get your pocket picked, but nor will you find anything that hasn't been carefully put there with an eye to the particular effect it'll have on you. Hiaasen finds himself revolting against that, and admits that he hopes for news that makes Disney look bad simply to crack the fa├žade of Nice.

This book is basically polemic rather than investigative journalism: Hiaasen effectively admits he can't find anything really evil to stick Disney with, so he falls back on, well, just not liking it. There's a bit about the Disney corporate government, and the bad behaviour of its not-really-police-honest, but I suspect in practice it's no worse than that of any other small American town with its own police force.

I'm sure there is a good book to be written on the evils of Disney, but it really needs more research and less "I don't like this guy because he's acting like a standard corporate sleaze". Also, before you buy, bear in mind that the book's only around 15,000 words.

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