To celebrate Pride, Disney+ presented a half-hour kids’ show on Sunday featuring famous tunes re-imagined through a rainbow lens. But was it any good? RT enlisted two members of its target audience to find out.
OK, I admit it. My kids didn’t really want to sit and watch a dude dressed up as a woman presenting ‘re-imagined’ Disney songs from a LGBTQ+ perspective. It was sunny outside, and we live beside a beach.
It took a little persuasion, vague promises of future toyshop visits and hefty dollops of ice cream before they agreed to sit down and watch Disney’s ‘This Is Me: Pride Celebration Spectacular’ concert.
And, hang on… let’s stop for a second. Because there, straightaway – to my mind – is the rub with these things: they’re nothing to do with kids, they’re actually ALL about their parents. They’re designed to make moms and dads like me feel good about ourselves, to feel we are encouraging our offspring to see the world in the ‘right’ way.
So we can then tell our friends and other parents how we sat with tears in our eyes and watched it together, how we felt all warm and cuddly on the sofa, how we radiated all the colours of the rainbow – and you could see it beaming out of our windows.
Anyway, my two kids and I tuned in via YouTube to the concert, presented by drag queen Nina West. Take it away, Nina: “I’m here to guide you through a magical, musical and… meaningful celebration of the LGBTQ+ community…”
– “Yes, my girl?”
– “What’s LGBTQ+?”
– “Gays and lesians, bisexuals and all that. That’s what he means.”
– “It’s a he?” asked my son. “It’s not a chubby old woman?”
– “It’s a dude in drag. A bloke, a fella, a chap.”
– “Why didn’t he/she just say gays and stuff, then, instead of that LGBBCTPCD thingy?”
– “Because, angel, errr… it’s an alphabet soup shorthand for people who aren’t straight.”
– “Then what’s the ‘+’ bit for then?”
– “I think that’s because they keep adding a new letter pretty much every week.”
– “So, it means everybody?”
– “Oh, err, pretty much, or sooner or later it will. Hang on, though, they should maybe omit the L – or make it (L)GBTQ+ because lots of lesbians and feminists have had enough of being drowned out in this mix and they want a divorce. Anyway, button it. We gonna watch this thing or what? Eat your ice cream.”
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Sorry Nina, carry on…
“If you’re anything like me, you’ve always been a fan of the Disney classics,” Nina continues in her opening monologue. “From Belle trying to find her place in a provincial town where she didn’t fit in, to Ariel dreaming of a world where she could be human. Stories about outsiders wanting to express themselves and feel seen resonate so deeply with so many of us in this community… Today, I want Disney fans of all identities to know that you’re welcome in this family and our celebration of Pride. We see you. You are worthy.”
Cue the first tune, ‘Be Our Guest’ from Beauty and the Beast.
Right then, I have a confession to make. I have never – not once in my life – willingly sat through an episode of the X Factor, nor America’s Got Talent or Britain’s Got Talent. None of them. I can’t stand them.
It has nothing to do with any kind of bias, it’s more a fundamental desire not to be irritated by desperately needy and irritating people. I don’t want to watch throbbing egos pulsating on a screen in the corner of my living room. And then have to watch these sensitive, weepy boys and girls go through the ritual humiliation of rejection by plastic pop-manufacturing mutants such as Simon Cowell.
Nope. I’d prefer a trip to the proctologist.
I have never been into cabaret or the like, either. I am the bloke at the bar over in the far corner of the theatre or club dodging the show and trying (and failing, mostly) to pull the barmaid or usherette. Sorry. But hey, I never claimed to be anything other than a neanderthal. I’m comfortable within my caveman frame, and I am absolutely comfortable allowing anyone else to be exactly who they happen to be, too. As, my guess is, were most cavemen (before the priests came along). What’s the problem?
Anyway… Kermit the Frog appears, going on about what outfit he’s supposed to wear. And then there’s another Disney tune as DCappella sing ‘This Is Me’. Seven ethnically diverse youngsters start singing in bits filmed separately and then edited together over the track. I have to admit, I have never heard of these lovely people. But, then again, I wouldn’t have, as they’re not designed for old farts like me. Weirdly, though, neither have my kids.
– “Why do two of those girls look like they’ve been crying?”
– “Dunno, son. Moved by the moment maybe.”
Here’s Nina again: “Now, ‘A Whole New World’ is one of the greatest love songs of all time. But if you were like me as a kid, maybe you imagined two princes or princesses singing to one another. So, to give this classic a new perspective, please welcome Frankie Rodriguez and Joe Serafini from ‘High School Musical’… singing this Oscar-winning classic.”
Cue two awkward-looking lads in matching white pants singing a drippy tune. And so on, and so forth.
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This brings me back to my own childhood: it just reminds me of pantomime. I used to quite enjoy the Christmas season trip to the theatre to see Beauty and the Beast or Jack And The Beanstalk or whatever. The pantomime dames were part of the tradition, men dressed as women. I don’t remember it being a problem, I don’t remember it being mentioned in any negative context at all in fact. And that was in northern England. In the retarded late-1970s.
None of this is new – pantomime and men dressed as women and vice versa have existed since theatre existed. So what?
– “So, Papa, this show is to make sure everyone knows that there are gay people and different types of people and we should just let them be themselves?” said my girl.
– “Pretty much, yeah.”
– “But everyone knows that anyway.”
My daughter has seen every episode of Modern Family, a mockumentary-style show that features diverse family make-ups. Because, well, it’s funny and contains entertaining characters. A couple of girls in her year watch it too and reckon they’re lesbians. My guess is that they won’t be, not really. They’re only 11. And they don’t actually even know what the word really means in detail; what they’re actually saying is that all the boys in their school are, well, stupid and smelly. And they are, quite frankly. I have never quite understood why all females don’t throw stones at all us boys. Maybe because if they did, the human race would be over. Done.
Anyway, the show ends with Nina and Kermit the Frog on stage. Kermit has decided what outfit he wants to wear. “After seeing all those performers being so proud of being themselves, I decided being myself – being green – is what I wanna be,” he says.
Awesome Kermy. Me too. See you at the beach bar in a bit.
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