Mickey in Johor: The Disney-isation of Hang Tuah
Disneyland is rumoured to be built in Johor in the very near future. According to The Star, Tuesday 30th May 2006, “preliminary meetings have been held to get Disneyland to Johor.” Apparently the Prime Minister has met the Japanese holder of the franchise and plan is afoot to built “the fantasyland at the proposed 9,645ha Nusajaya, a massive new township in the southern Johor corridor.”
It went to say that it will create 20,000 jobs. A letter by one called PT Tan in Malaysiakini.com supports the plan saying that it will be good for the economy. Malaysiakini’s columnist Dr Azly Rahman replied with a call to sanity.
Why Mickey Mouse must stay home
Dr Azly Rahman – Jun 8, 06 5:41pm
taken from: malaysiakini.com
I refer to arguments such as PT Tan’s which support the setting up of Disneyland in Johor. I think they reflect a love for profits rather than concern for mediated imperialism.
Those who are apologists of Mickey, Porky, Goofy, Mulan, Bambi, Simba, and Tarzan may benefit from a close study of the newer forms of hegemony and totalitarianism that is embalmed in the global operations of Disney. Disneyworld in Johor will be a ‚Äòcultural-ideological‚Äô complex installed so that the ideology of American dreamwork will be inscribed onto the mental landscape of the children.
Those who think that Disney culture is harmless have not understood well the notion of ‘bio-power‚Äô that has become the base and superstructure of the global media oligopoly such as AOL-Time Warner, Vivendi, Rupert Murdoch, BMG, Sony, and of course, Disney.
These companies sell dreams and create global dreamtimes by installing their operations in host nations, capitalise upon the myths, legends, and folklore of these nations, transform these cultural elements into nicely-packaged and high-definition quality dreamscapes and sell them back to the natives. The products of these global media corporate crony capitalists then help shape our children into good consumer of dreams and distort meaningfulness of the primary sources of culture.
Disney is not just clean fun. It is a grand ideology of the American-based culture industry project that creates heroes and heroines out of the native cultures it colonises. Hence we see a white Tarzan sold as “king of the jungle” as if the Africans need a scantily-clad colonialist to tell them how to navigate through the jungles of Zimbabwe. That Tarzan character is an insult to the intelligence of Africans, for generations making them inferior to their own abilities.
In the final analysis, it is always the “white rajah or ‚Äúwhite king of the jungle” that is the best man of the jungle. In modern times, this form of thinking paves the way for modern African dictatorship; a feature familiar to Asian despotic leaderships that survive to this day.
Disney created Aladin for the Arabs, with Aladdin and Jasmine (both unmarried and Jasmine without her hijab/purdah) flying around in their magic carpet teaching Arab children that the Arab tradition that has kept the society stable and uncomplicated, need to be de-constructed in order for market forces to take over. It tells the Arabs that their princesses (a symbol of the Arab sultanate) will be easily stolen by this Americanised Arab kid named Aladdin. Disney colonised the Arab folklore by taking the “magical and mystical” part of it and transformed it into a Disney-magic version to easily and happily colonise the minds of the Arabs.
Disney created Mulan to tell the Chinese people that a little girl can be given the persistence, motivation, and intelligence to “fight for human rights” in the face of a huge machine of social- justice and equality such as the post-Mao Chinese empire. A truncated understanding of human rights vis-?†-vis the rights for governments to meet basic needs is in subtle operation behind the Disney-isation of the Chinese folklore. Mulam merchandise is then sold to the Chinese
people. China becomes “Mulan-ised”.
Disney has created a variety of dreams that make children “happy” and “happily colonised”. From Disney movies comes Disney channel. Next comes Disney merchandise in Malaysian malls. Next comes specialised Disney stores to sell more specialised merchandise to die-hard Malaysian Mickey Mouse fans. Mickey and Minnie become gods and goddesses in the mind of the children.
The Disney-isation of Malaysian is akin to the process of McDonaldisation of the world and the Nike-sation of America and the globe. The faster Malaysia gets Disney-ised, the bigger the gates of cultural preservation will be opened and the landscape germinated with the seeds of cultural destruction. If Baghdad was destroyed by brute force, Bandar Nusajaya may be bought over by gentle persuasion.
The idea that Malaysia will benefit from the Disney-isation of Johor comes from those who, in their growing up years, have been fed with much Western media products. It has become frustrating not to have Disney colonise Johoreans through the process of appropriating and Disney-ising our legends and folklore such as Hang Tuah, Si Tenggang, Putri Buluh Betong, Badang, Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup, Pak Pandir, Pak Kadok, Si Luncai, and Pak Belalang.
In the end, we will have Sophia Loren or Whoppie Goldberg voicing over for ‚ÄòPontianak Gua Musang‚Äô or ‚ÄòNenek Kebayan‚Äô.
Let Mickey and Minnie Mouse stay home. They are appropriate heroes and heroines for the children of consumerist America.