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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Family boycotts all things Disney



mom_disneytoystory1.jpgLisa Ray and her family are conducting an experiment to boycott Disney for a year — and not just the theme parks and movies. On July 1 they gave up the whole corporate giant, from ABC, ESPN and Marvel Comics all the way down to the kids’ princess backpacks and old Winnie the Pooh books. She's chronicling this experiment on her blog, A Magical Year Without Disney.

The reason has less to do with Disney itself and more about showing that as media empires get larger and larger, consumers have fewer choices. She has her reasons for being mad at the company (the Disney Princess line with its emphasis on looks and landing a prince, the Baby Einstein flap, the product recalls). You can read more about their story here, in a story I did after I first heard about her.

When the small advocacy group that pushed for the Baby Einstein refunds got booted from its Harvard offices, she declared that the last straw. “I wish I could just boycott Disney,” she said one morning.  Her 12-year-old’s response: “Why don’t you?” And so their experiment was launched. But not without some very hostile reactions, even being called un-American.

"Disney is a corporation, and a successful one, and as such it’s part of what drives our capitalist economy. Unless you live off the grid, you need that economy," wrote Strollerderby blogger  KJ Dell’Antonia. Over at the Disney Dispatch, a site that rounds up Disney news for fans of the Mouse, the reaction was mixed. "Cheap publicity stunt? At first, I thought so. But then I went to the blog ... and realized that Lisa Ray had tapped into something rather important, something that seems to resonate with many other people: the anacondian grip and protean reach of corporations like Disney. Even Lisa, despite her vigilance, admits how difficult it is to boycott such corporations. Case in point: her husband's recent purchase of hot dog rolls with an ad for Camp Rock unnoticed on the back."

As the pop culture professor in my story notes, this is similar to the TV Turn Off Week (the next one is Sept. 19-25). When you go on a fast you suddenly realize how often you go on autopilot and blindly flip on the TV or buy a ticket to what's billed as the big movie of the week.  If you tried to boycott the six or eight biggest media companies, he notes, you'd have to live in a cave, because they control virtually everything you read and hear about.

For the Rays, it's meant a year they have discovered indie films and anime that features strong female characters that she much prefers for her daughters over princesses.

“The thing I’m learning is there is a lot of really good stuff out there we never hear about,” she said

~ Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Monday, August 30, 2010 7:14am]


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