Disney is already home to Fox Studios, Marvel, Lucasfilms, The History Channel, Touchstone Pictures and ESPN. With Disney+ Walt Disney Studios just entered the streaming market too. But before any of this happened, it has already made a home in our dreams. And by that, I don’t just mean fairytales. Of course, the fairytales helped.
Just a week ago, Baby Yoda was unveiled to the internet. Disney+’s series The Mandalorian debuted a big-eyed, chibi creature that is either Yoda or belongs to his race. Within minutes, netizens were all over it. While he’s freaking adorable, my first reaction was “Disney’s at it again, selling us soft toys.” This unpopular opinion was immediately drowned in by “awwwws” and I had to eventually give up and admit that we absolutely need this. Because will you look at that? Awwwwwwie lil Yoda. Cute, he is!
Not much time was wasted before this happened:
Spend all our money, we will!
There is no Star Wars fan out there that won’t empty their wallets to go buy a Baby Yoda plushie. It’s just too irresistible a thought. But the beeline to the shopping cart isn’t as simple as liking something and buying it. Yoda’s hot demand in the market isn’t an isolated example of toy sales, it’s a rather sneaky marketing technique. Moreover, its a ploy spanning decades and it all started when Walt Disney pencilled mice from his garage. Let’s take a moment to talk about the Disneyfication of everything!
Disney has been selling dreams for a while now
Disney in 1940s Hollywood was thrilled about the American dream and the advent of consumerism. Society was still recovering from the great depression and there never was a better time to introduce the dream of a better life. Art was an escape from drab daily life, to put horrors of an economic shutdown in history where it belongs. The movies were a perfect escape and when that wasn’t enough of a getaway, the company constructed theme parks. Disneyland, everyone’s favourite vacation spot is modelled after Utopia. It’s a physical projection of the world Disney imagines. It has no problems, the mascots are always happy and there’s cute things all around, including the food. It’s the most enticing thing to a child. But in doing away with the problems of the day and time, Disney does away with reality itself. Racism, class divide and very obvious gender disparity isn’t a thing in Disney land and that’s how the brand wants you to see the world. The brand made the American so popular that it’s officially coded in the consciousness of the entire world. And that’s why you want to go there.
Disney has been in the business of monetizing on age-old fairytales
Before the theme parks were a thing, before Up, Frozen (or Frozen 2), Dumbo and Coco were a thing, Disney minted money selling fairytales that didn’t necessarily belong to America. Copyright wasn’t an issue with fairy stories originating from 1805 and turning them into animated visual delights almost always worked. Snow White, Disney’s first colour animated movie did wonders on the box office and was lapped up almost instantly. This success only led to more classic tales getting adaptation and the premise was always borrowed. Disney got woke much later and we recently saw princess fight, take a stand and even had a colour-blind casting for The Little Mermaid’s Ariel, but all of this comes from a whole history of stories that didn’t care much for political correctness. And all of this was done for one major purpose- Selling stuff to kids!
Disney has been wanting to sell you soft toys all along
The studio’s demographic is no longer limited to children any more. It’s audience now are children who grew up on Disney and are fans of other film franchises like Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars and even the Mutant Saga. The timing couldn’t have been better for Disney. After acquiring almost everything Disney-grown geeks are into, the opportunity to sell plushies is rife. It took years of conditioning, clever population survey and very questionable use of global issues for Disney to successfully sell a soft toy and they won’t be stopping any time soon. Don’t be surprised if Star Wars looks like Toy Story and everything is marketed into kid-sized packages because that’s all a part of Disneyfication. Wait till the design changes kick in. Sidenote: And never forget that Big Hero 6 was a badass American-Japanese manga before Disney turned Bay-max into a fluffy ball.
So there it is, adorable lil Yoda is a ruse to bait you into American consumerism, welcome to the nightmare. You didn’t question it then and you won’t question it now. Is there an escape to Disneyfication? With the studio owning everything you care about, probably not. As a geek, the best you can do is distinguish the intent to tell a compelling story from a ruse to sell plushies. Until then, try to stick to sharing our desi Star Wars fan rant: