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News Commentary from September 11 - October 4
A Trip, A Return
Welcome, everybody, to the return of Reporter's Notebook.
The last scheduled Notebook was to have been published on September 13. As I sat down on the twelfth, awash in the images from New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., nothing seemed more trivial at that point than commenting on the activities of an entertainment company. I tried to think of a way to comment on the events, but frankly, I am not the best person for expressing grief or anger. Also, nothing seemed more trivial than an expression of condolence from a person who is supposed to be commenting on the minutiae of an entertainment company.
Instead, I put Al on the spot and asked him to find something else for this spot; a request which he graciously accommodated. I then turned to my roles as a moderator for MousePad, MousePlanet's message board, and attempted to find any community members living in New York City and then tried to confirm their safety. Fortunately, as far as we know, no member of the MousePad community was hurt in the attacks; there were, however, a few close calls and one member had a frightening front seat to the tragedy.
The next two missed weeks were scheduled. My wife and I had a scheduled vacation, a two-week road trip to Marceline, Missouri, where we would watch that town celebrate the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney's birth. It never even occurred to us that we might want to cancel. Here is where I get into my commentary on the real news of the last week.
The attacks have many root causes, and the perpetrators were certainly hoping to achieve many goals. One goal, however, was certainly to change the way we live our lives. One of the things that makes this a good country (not necessarily a better one, but certainly a good one) in which to live is that we have a society that despite all the cynicism and irony we see around us is essentially trusting and well wishing. In the short term, these terrorists may have achieved their goal. People are behaving differently; we drove through an amazingly empty Las Vegas, and two weeks later when we drove through again it was only marginally improved. In Marceline, we heard repeated stories of people unwilling to make the flights necessary to attend the event.
There have been good changes, too. We hardly drove under a single overpass that didn't possess some expression of good will, hope, or unity. We didn't drive through a single town that wasn't doing something to raise money for the relief workers and loved ones of those lost. Most of these towns were smaller than the number lost in the attacks, but each one showed that their heart was big enough to accommodate the entire city of New York, with room for Washington, D.C., and a lonely crash site in Pennsylvania.
The behaviors have changed (though with time this will recede), but the essence has not. This has always been a country of individuals willing to drop everything to help those in need. In Marceline, they were celebrating the life of a man who celebrated people, and particularly the spirit of American people. The terrorists may have wounded us to our national soul, but that has only created a window for us to see just how strong that soul remains. For whatever small comfort it provides, I think I can honestly say that Walt would have been proud.
That is the important story of the last three weeks, next week we'll return to "normalcy" and return to commenting on the minutiae. I'll close out this Notebook with a few pieces of mail received in response to the last one.
Notebook Readers Respond
I must admit that when I first heard about this I was pretty upset / annoyed, whatever. But then I also read they had already done away with the gun shots at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. I had just returned from my first trip to Florida and had ridden the Jungle Cruise there. I did not notice it missing. It's such a small element if you aren't looking for it ....
But I will say that I do think that Pirates is such a strong show that it can take a little "punishment" and still come out a winner. But I do think that the changes were stupid ... I mean come on ... these are PIRATES!
All I can do after reading this report of yours is shake my head and be thankful that you are not part of the Disney management team. You'd fit right in, of course, what with their penchant for scrutinizing every aspect of an animated film or park attraction, excising anything that some idiotic lobby group might be offended by. Sorry Alex, but this kind of muddled, PC thinking is killing entertainment.
Furthermore, anybody who continues to hold up Song of the South as, in your words, "a movie considered too racist to feasibly distribute within the United States" is clearly missing the forest for the trees. Having been lucky enough myself to have grown up in the sixties and seventies, I was privileged to see this film many times in theatrical re-release, and have always loved it as a story of genuine warm friendship between a young white boy and an old, kindhearted black man. Not only is the film not guilty of racism but, in my opinion, it may be one of the most beautiful examples of how two people of different races can become true friends. Seeing that film as a young white boy myself, I remember just loving Uncle Remus. I wish kids today would have that same opportunity.
I just returned from a trip to WDW in August. I read your article about the guns missing from the Jungle Cruise and realized they have been deleted from WDW as well. But, I didn't even notice that missing piece. What I did notice though was, indeed, a change in the jokes. The boat driver we had was on a roll (OK, I egged him on some), but he didn't start with the usual, "slide down - we need to clean the seats", he started with " are you looking for excitement? How about 10 minutes to waste?"
Obviously, even the cast members are making fun of this attraction. Maybe more than the savages needs re- imagined here. For example, couldn't the elephants actually spray guests with water instead of being a joke that they don't? The water is there - how much Imagineering does it take to turn Jungle Cruise into a more exciting ride? I saw small children who didn't understand the jokes, but were waiting for "something to happen" (like the waterfall get you wet on a hot August day in Orlando?).
Thanks for your insights,
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