Friday, February 1, 2013
Walker, Fanon and Disney World
When I was a child, my family and I went to Disney World often. However, we never went on the “It’s a Small World” ride because my sister was so afraid of the dolls. A few years ago, I went on the ride again for the first time in a while and finally understood how she felt.
Basically, the boat ride involves a journey through a vision of dolls (that are meant to be children) of different ethnicities and cultures that sing about world peace and hold hands, since it is a small world, after all. The message is meant to be one of world peace and brotherhood, during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This reminds me of both Walker and Fanon. In her poem “For My People,” Walker calls for unification, through non-violence, as a means to overcome racial adversity, which is what this ride is supposed to be all about.
However, I am troubled by this ride. The purpose of it is to overcome stereotypes, but I feel like the ride actually reinforces them in a way. For example, there are the Hula dancers representing Hawaii, the Mexican dancers in their sombreros, etc. These are stereotypical images of these cultures, and even though they hold hands and sing about world peace, there is really nothing else that unites the different children in the ride. They are still portrayed as distinctly different.
What would Fanon think about the “It’s a Small World” ride? I had some difficulty understanding Fanon’s writing, so I’m still pondering this question. It is perplexing to analyze this ride within the scope of Fanon, since the ride involves children and therefore no violence. He would probably see it as far too pristine and innocent (although it is a children’s ride). He would also probably feel similarly to how I feel about the ride. In this scenario, at Disney World, would the tourists represent the colonizers (middle- to upper-class families) and the dolls symbolize the colonized (the “natives” of the different cultures)?