But I would like to make a number of observations about the debate/discussion itself--
- When was Disney history rewritten to reflect that Mary Blair was the single creative force behind it's a small world? She has become the poster child for this anti-revisionist argument. While I have nothing but admiration and respect for Blair's artistic contributions to Disney entertainment, making her the centerpiece of this debate overstates her contributions to it's a small world and serves to diminish the efforts of the numerous other individuals also responsible for the creation and execution of the attraction. It is also important to note that Mary Blair did not conceive of the overall theme of the attraction--world unification via the spirit and voices of children--but simply the designs and visual dynamic. It can certainly be argued that character placement would run counter to the theme of the attraction, but that is an argument that doesn't really require the component of Mary Blair and her designs. Victimizing Blair and her artistry really only served to sensationalize the story.
- Creating a contemporary social and political relevance to the rain forest scene to support the anti-revisionist stance is baffling to me. There was no inherent message of conservation intended when the scene was introduced with the attraction in 1964. "Save the Rainforest" is really disingenuous. Saying it should be preserved because of its current political and social relevance, and then in the same breath saying an America scene should not be included because of its political and social dynamic, is a bit absurd.
- It's not about selling merchandise. That notion is becoming an overstated and worn out battle cry of the anti-revisionist soldiers. I'm not sure what kind of viable merchandise could be conceived from small world-themed renditions of Alice in Wonderland or Aladdin. Most children would probably reject that type of non-traditional representation of their favorite characters. As for the notion that seeing characters presented in the attraction will somehow then subliminally entice both parents and children into wanting more character-based souvenirs, well it's a pretty ludicrous supposition at best. I can't quite imagine a preschooler, after navigating through Disneyland all the way back to the small world location at the rear of the park, passing visual stimuli of characters at almost every turn, suddenly being compelled to desire plush by a blink-or-you'll-miss-it representation of Stitch or Cinderella. And let's face it, Disney doesn't discriminate when it comes to theme park merchandise. It exploits non-character based attractions every bit as much as those populated by the Disney canon. There has been small world merchandise since 1964. Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin and Cinderella are not exactly brands characteristic of high profile theme park souvenir revenue streams.
- I recently heard the argument made that characters of "fantasy" should not be included in it's a small world because it would present a thematic contradiction. Yet the attraction is located in Fantasyland in every Magic Kingdom in which it has been presented. it's a small world became a thematic contradiction the very moment it was relocated to Disneyland. But one that has been unanimously forgiven in the years since. At its heart, it is still true to its pedigree; it is a World's Fair attraction. Ironic to the argument at hand, inclusion of characters would create a link to the geography that surrounds it. Realize that that is not a personal endorsement on my part. I'm only pointing out that Disney parks have a history of thematic contradictions that date all the way back to 1955. It's a convenient card to play in this discussion but it comes with a bit of baggage.
- The proposed changes were conceived by professional artists and designers. Regardless of what your opinion is of their ideas and conceptions, they deserve, as does everyone, to be treated with courtesy and respect. Language such as idiotic, insane, crazy and even stronger euphemisms that I wish not to repeat here should not play a part in the discussion. Opinions are subjective. Provocation and name-calling only undermine the suppositions being presented and diminish the fan community as a whole.
- More than anything, I am simply dumbfounded at the treatment given to both Marty Sklar and Dave Smith, who have attempted to diplomatically address fan concerns via statements that discuss the philosophy and reasoning behind changes to Disney theme park entertainment. Again, people have allowed their passions to overcome the very simple tenants of courtesy and respect. I have seen comments directed at these two individuals that are nothing but shameful in both their tone and language.
All this being said, does it mean that the argument against changes to it's a small world is wrong and invalid? Of course not. In the end, it is a simple matter of taste and opinion. Very subjective views on a subject worthy of discussion and debate. No doubt many will perceive from these statements that I am pro-change and pro-character, a perception some will likely spin against me in comments both here and elsewhere. But please take note--I have not at any point discounted the very basic view of alterations to it's a small world being in fact problematic. At its core, it is a valid and worthy subject for debate. But I do object very strongly and passionately to the merit-less rhetoric and mean spirited and often malicious punditry that has emerged to support it.
When we as Disney fans express our dissatisfaction in such impolite and provocative ways, it only serves to diminish the very message we are attempting to communicate. When individuals such as Mary Sklar and Dave Smith unnecessarily become the objects of sarcasm and scorn, our voices of concern will be quickly dismissed despite whatever merits our views possess.