Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yet Another Grand Reset

I'm back! Did you miss me?

Yeah? Well, same to you too.

For those of you who did notice, The Mouse Castle has been on hiatus the last month and a half. Mostly, I just felt like taking a break, but, at the same time, I felt it was time to reassess (once again) what kind of Disney blog I want The Mouse Castle to be.

The Avengers
I blame The Avengers.

No, really, I mean it.

Here was a terrifically entertaining movie, released by Marvel with the full ownership, backing and merchandising savvy of Disney. But, as much as I was prepared to cover it--I had all the film clips and PR materials at the ready--I just couldn't bring myself to write about it as a Disney film for a Disney blog (Avengers Monorail and Disney twenty-three cover notwithstanding). Something just didn't feel right.

Marvel is a corporate acquisition no different than ABC, the Muppets or Club Penguin. Its evolution brings to mind the iconic talents of Stan Lee and other great illustrators and writers who had nothing to do with Disney. Marvel's roots aren't in a Burbank movie studio or a Glendale Imagineering office. It puts out great products, to be sure, but it's still not Disney no matter what label you slap on it.

Roaming the red carpet
My thought process spiraled from there as I tried to reconcile the Disney of my youth with the Disney of today. I went back and took inventory of all the articles I'd written in the past. I've done a fair share of feeding the Disney PR machine over the last few years (not that there's anything wrong with that). I've shilled for products I probably wouldn't have spent my time on had Disney not sent me free copies (again, nothing wrong with that; I believe I've been objective). What really kept gnawing at me, though, was how much of this information could also be found on any number of the dozens upon dozens of Disney blog and news sites out there. I wasn't troubled by the promotional aspects of my writing so much as its startling lack of originality. When every news feed covers it, how many "exclusive" sneak preview pics of Johnny Depp as Tonto do we really need?.

That's when I took a closer look at the stories I considered to be the good stuff, the articles I put that little extra effort into. Out came tributes to Wally Boag, Betty Taylor and Robert Sherman (I seem to write well about dead people for some reason), historical pieces about the True-Life Adventures and Disneyland's Mine Train (a story I should've researched more thoroughly, but it was a good lesson learned), and personal experiences like Leap Day at Disneyland and my walk down the red carpet at the Oscars (which had very little to do with Disney, but what the hell, it was fun). The common thread in all of these is that they were very personal and mostly tied to a lifetime growing up with Disney.

I need to keep writing like that.

Never keep a lady waiting. Susan Egan.
I've made high-fallutin declarations like this before (finding my voice, artistic integrity, blah, blah, blah), but, like Mary Poppins' pie crust promise, they're easily made and easily broken. As long as Disney is a master at creating "oooh shiny" moments (Cars Land, Brave, Destination D), I'll always be tempted to jump at every cool new thing they offer--and some of them I most certainly will. The challenge will be to not lose focus on my passion projects of the moment. Right now, I working on an interview with Susan Egan (Broadway's original Belle in Beauty and the Beast and the voice of Meg in Hercules). It's only been three months since I spoke to her. I need to finish what I started.

Of course, this is always subject to change without n...SQUIRREL!!

Yeah, it's good to be back.

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