Why we criticize

Anytime you
criticize a company (like Disney) with such a strong fan-base, you run the risk
of infuriating a large portion of the fans. No one will share your exact same
opinions and some might even label you a “Disney-hater” if your criticism is
misplaced. Which is why when I hear someone suggest that a writer is a “Disney-hater” because they seem to only criticize the company and never credit
them with their successes, I simply shake my head. Critics have long been
considered blameful, spiteful creatures that will look only at the negative and
in most cases, this is not true.

As a critic
myself, I admit that I occasionally have been guilty of concentrating too much
on the negative aspects of the Disney company. However, despite my criticism
and sometimes cynicism, I remain a very loyal fan to the Disney Company. It is
because I am a fan that I criticize. Critics, like me, do not criticize out of
spite or hate; we do it out of love.

Sometimes
we judge too harshly. I cautioned against this in my previous blog, but I don’t
think I really managed to convey the true reason for the censure of new
attractions. I pointed out that many attractions come under criticism for not
being a technological marvel that fans seem to crave. Rob Jones responded to
this saying, “If someone complains about the tech of a ride after riding it,
the real complaint may be that they simply didn’t enjoy the ride as much as
they wanted too – perhaps because the story wasn’t as engaging as it should
have been or the theming wasn’t as immersive as it could have been.”

This is an
excellent point. Any time there are complaints about an attraction, the root of
the complaints has to be considered. People will often pick a scapegoat as the
reason they didn’t like the attraction when the real reason is often much
different.

I was once
told a story of a company that was considering selling stereos colored yellow
instead of black. To investigate the sales potential of these new stereos, they
formed a focus group of stereo-owners. They asked this group if they would buy
a yellow stereo. The answer was a resounding yes. Most of them were
enthusiastic for it and heavily suggested that the company put a yellow stereo
on the market. As they left the focus group they were told to take a stereo as
a gift for attending the focus group. They were given two choices: a black
stereo and a yellow stereo. Every single attendee took a black stereo.

The point
of this story is that many people have a hard time understanding what they like
and dislike. They think they understand what they don’t like, but the true
cause could lie elsewhere. Critics will often make the same mistake. We will
often point out what we consider to be the main problem and evade the real
issue.

However,
the mere existence of this critique points to the true problem. The best
attractions leave no room for critique. If a fan or a writer condemns an
attraction, a movie, or an experience, this means that it has room for
improvement.

It is for
that reason that we criticize. We constantly want to see Disney improve. If we
ever stopped complaining, I would be very worried. This would mean that we
stopped caring. And if we stopped caring, then all hope is truly lost.

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One Response to Why we criticize

  1. Dude says:

    Cody,

    I would argue that the reason that many new attractions fall to such strong criticism is for a variety of reasons, but I’ll try and break them all down:

    1. Something should always be better than what it’s replacing or be a better use of the tech (aka ride system) that was used previously. Until the mid-80′s, this seemed to be the case. For example, the original Journey into Imagination is heads and tails above the replacements. Same could (possibly) be argued for Mission:Space and Test Track. Had they not fully replaced attractions that were classic AA/Omnimover attractions with immersive scenery and great music, there wouldn’t be nearly the belly-aching.

    2. Tangentially — I went to see Cinderella at the El Capitan in late 2005 and Ollie Johnston was there. When Andreas Deja asked him what the difference between today’s animators and the old school ones were, Ollie responded, “We did it with our hearts.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a modern attraction and asked where the heart is. Where is the artistry, the celebration of the theme of the attraction, the wonderful music, the immersion, the WOW? Where? It’s missing (IMHO) because there’s not the heart that there used to be. Again, attractions like Test Track, Mission:Space, and even Expedition Everest and Tower of Terror (although they do have fairly impressive theming) just seem to be lacking the overall majesty of attractions like Pirates because there is no real “heart” to them the way that it seems it used to be.

    3. Story. Look at old attractions. There is NO STORY. Trying to wedge it in makes for a lack of the ability to view/ride repeatedly. I certainly wish that wasn’t so, but it appears to be that way. This might just be interjection on my part, but I’d really like to know what the plot (aka story), not theme of Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, or the Matterhorn is.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish more people would start to understand things like this. Imagineer Rebirth seems to be the place and from time to time, I get glimpses that you do, as well.

    I’m not trying to say that all old attractions are better than new ones or that they were/are all great, but that when there was that magical combination of all the right factors, they stand far above current standards.

    I only wish I could better articulate what it is I’m trying to say.

Comments are closed.