"Disney is so good at being good that it manifests an evil; so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it's unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness. ... Disney isn't in the business of exploiting Nature so much as striving to improve upon it, constantly fine-tuning God's work."--from Team rodent.
Hiaasen blames Disney for the ugly sprawl that is Orlando while pointing out that Disney World itself is not subject to urban planning regulations. On this count he is accurate. When Disney moved in, all land they purchased seemed to be exempt from many regulations. But as much as he laments on the evils of the Mouse, the largest damage is done by all the smaller companies that build up around Disney to take advantage of the millions of tourist flocking to the Magic Kingdom.
But he fails to mentions all the jobs they provide. Though many employees say they do not like their rules and regulations. All successful companies must have them, especially when your business is the entertainment and safety of children. And lets be clear, all children love the Disney experience.
Hiaasen asserts that Disney building their store was the genesis that cleaned up Time Square in New York. While in truth, they only agreed to open their store if Giuliani promised and followed through to clean up that part of town. And the Mayor was able to accomplish the required goals, at least on the surface.
It is worth reading, but it is not up to his normal standards. It would have been better if the author used his investigative skills to gather some facts. This small book it is a very short and easy read. There is strong language.
Hiaasen accurately sets out the Disney mind-set and why it should disturb us. It comes from the same Victorian stable as Ripley with his Believe-It-Or-Not antics. The entire planet was just a toy store; all the better if you're the owner!
For me, the most telling passage in an essay full of telling passages was: "Control has been the signature ingredient of all the company's phenomenally successful theme parks; every thrill, every gasp, every delightful 'surprise' was the product of clockwork orchestration."
While short, this essay reveals Disney's hubris, smugness and - most worryingly, its lack of scruple with the democratic rights of individuals.
This will be a theme for the 21st Century: how will democracy face down the power of big corporations?
Hiaasen tends to contradict himself throughout the entire rant. He complains about the Disney plight but then defends the organization as one that “…wishes to bring happiness to kids of all ages.”
Overall this piece was an entertaining and insightful view within Disney’s historic past. Yes, Disney is big and yes Disney is powerful, but it also brings a lot of enjoyment to people the world over. Welcome to the world of capitalism, Mr. Hiaasen (I believe by his success as a novelist he knows a bit about our free enterprise system, and has profited well from it). After contemplating this work I have come up with only two reason why Carl Hiaasen dislikes Disney so much: 1) the Magic Kingdom moved into his backyard, and not someone else’s, and 2) because as a kid he watched a Disney film called Rascal which planted the idea in his head that owning a pet raccoon was a good idea; (which he only discovered to be a bad idea by owning one after college) hardly something he could blame on the Disney Corporation.
So it was with some trepidation that I picked up this thin volume. Hiaasen hates Disney with the passion that only a native Floridian can feel. He finds the dirt on Disney and Michael Eisner (the book was written in 1998), pulling no punches.
I love Carl Hiaasen; he's clever and raunchy and satiric, and a great storyteller. His adult novels skewer people who value money or power above everything else; his books for kids show the environmental impact of greed and mismanagement. I was hoping for a good look at how Disney's presence has changed Florida.
And in a limited way, that's what I got, but all the facts and figures are from the mid nineties, and so now nearly 20 years out of date! If you're looking for Hiaasen's wit, go read one of his novels. If you want information on corporate greed, look for a more up-to-date source.