Monday, August 31, 2009
The Marvelous World of Disney?
Nearly fifty years ago, Stan Lee was running a marginal comic book company on the brink of extinction, with one major asset: the rampant creativity of artist Jack Kirby. In the ultimate confirmation, by some standards, of Marvel Comics's elevation into the pop-culture canon, the company is going to be sold to Disney for four billion dollars. So the rich get richer and pop culture grows more homogenized. On the creative end, I suppose some Kingdom Hearts-style crossovers between the "universes" are inevitable if not compulsory. I doubt whether you'll see much difference in Marvel content, either in comics or movies, though you may end up seeing superheroes on ABC more often. Still, something distresses me about Disney's ongoing colonization of our shared culture. In my more dystopian (or maybe just dyspeptic) moods I can see a day coming when the Disney stamp will be a seal of cultural legitimacy and nothing will matter to most pop consumers unless it bears the mark of the Mouse. As long as Time Warner exists (and owns DC Comics) that day won't arrive, but between them the two rival colossi could form a kind of cultural "bipolarchy" of the sort I see functioning in American politics, in which the war of the gargantuas leaves nothing else standing, or drives the rest underground. Not everyone will be as pessimistic as I am sometimes, but I doubt whether anyone but a stockholder can say that this is a good thing.