4 votes

Political Disney World

Tags: politics, usa

1 comment

  1. skybrian
    From the article: [...] [...] [...] [...]

    From the article:

    I knew exactly where I stood, of course, and made my opinion clear. When I explained that I was unquestionably voting for Gore, instead of giving me a high five, my friends asked me why. I had all kinds of explanations, but when they’d push me to talk in specifics, I’d run into a problem.

    I didn’t really know the specifics.


    It’s not that today’s politics no longer deals with critical life factors like freedom, safety, fairness, and resources—it’s that today, in a country like the U.S., the stakes in each of those games are far lower than they were in ancient times. Modern politics is about whether taxes should be higher or lower—not about which people should have food during a period of low resources and which should starve to death. It’s about where the line should be drawn when certain rights butt up against other rights—not about which people will be slaves and which will be masters. Politics today is an argument about whether the criminal justice system is applied consistently—not about which citizens the written law itself will and won’t apply to. It’s about the way police do their job and police accountability—not about which citizens should be protected by the government during a genocide and which should be the subject of government genocide. It’s not that modern liberal politics doesn’t have life-or-death consequences for some people—it’s that today, those cases are the exception, not the rule.

    But our Primitive Minds are hardwired to see politics the old-fashioned way, regardless of how the world has changed. That many people will read the above paragraph and think, “politics is still all of those things, just in better disguise,” is reflective of how bad we are at thinking reasonably about politics.


    After spending most of the last three years thinking about hardcore political partisans and their hardcore political Echo Chambers, it hit me: like 80% of the U.S. thinks they live inside a Disney movie.


    The real world is analog—gray, amorphous, and endlessly nuanced. What Disney movies do is they digitize the shit out of the real world. They go the full distance, converting all that gray into clean black-and-white 1s and 0s.

    Real people are complex and flawed, full of faults but almost always worthy of compassion. Disney characters, on the other hand, are either entirely good or entirely bad.

    It goes beyond characters. In the real world, each turn of events is mired in potential positives and potential negatives, which is a mess to sort out. Disney movies get rid of that messiness. Something that happens is either clearly good, or it’s clearly bad. Disney even digitizes the weather.


    The bad-guys-are-bad part of the narrative is especially important because on top of its common-enemy glue benefits, it is the critical foil the story’s protagonists need in order to feel like protagonists. Without Jafar, Aladdin is no longer a hero—he’s just some guy.

    2 votes