Kermit in danger of death by saccharin

YOU'LL have heard the one about the crooner and the animator – you know, Bing sings and Walt disn'ae.Along with McDonald's, Disney has done more to bring world culture down to America's lowest level than the CIA, the Pentagon and the Bush and Kennedy families all put together.

YOU'LL have heard the one about the crooner and the animator – you know, Bing sings and Walt disn'ae.

Along with McDonald's, Disney has done more to bring world culture down to America's lowest level than the CIA, the Pentagon and the Bush and Kennedy families all put together.

Still, it's been an interesting week for the Disney Corp.

On the one hand, there was an aggressive takeover bid by the Comcast Corporation, America's cable network and internet provider – their equivalent of ntl.


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On the other, Disney was in acquisitive mood itself, snapping up the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House from Jim Henson Co.

The Muppets were a work of genius by Henson, and the gangling Bear deserves his popularity with a huge pre-school audience. Like Henson's other major creation, Sesame Street – which, happily, Disney has not scooped up – it largely avoids both the gloopy sentimentality and the random violence which between them scar most American kids' TV.

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Disney, of course, is not much known for random violence. (Not on screen, anyway – heaven knows what it's been like in the boardroom lately.)

But when it comes to sentimental slop, Disney pretty much wrote the book. And, let's face it, rewriting perfectly decent books is the company speciality.

According to Brian and Lisa Henson, the takeover by Disney would have been a dream come true for their late father. Quite why that would be is anyone's guess, since his work had just the imagination and integrity Disney's own output lacks.

It's not so hard to see why it might be a dream come true for Brian and Lisa. They may not have dad's creative brilliance, but they certainly have a knack for exploiting his works.

In 2000, they sold the Henson company to German media group EM-TV for $680million; last year they bought it back for $89m. Not a bad bit of business, really.

The price paid by Disney for Kermit, Miss Piggy et al has not been revealed, but you can bet a million toy frogs it won't have been peanuts.

For Disney, of course, toy frogs is largely what it's about. Whether or not the Muppets suffer the indignity of Disneyfication, the characters are sure to be exploited through countless forms of merchandising.

Look out for Kermit joining Mickey at the doors of Disneyland, where no doubt a big blue house will soon be built.

It will go some way towards compensating Disney for the loss of their distribution deal with Pixar Studios. Pixar's output – the Toy Story movies, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo – has been the only worthwhile product distributed by Disney in decades.

I neither know nor care whether Comcast will succeed in their efforts to acquire Uncle Walt's legacy. At an initial offer valued at $54billion, it's a deal (or no-deal) that is bound to excite those who follow the movements of big money.

Personally, I'd rather see Disney and all its works fall into a great black hole of oblivion.

Maybe then we could have back the original, un-sanitised, pre-Disney versions of classics like Bambi, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Greek myths.

Maybe then our children could get to know the great fairytales without the syrup rotting their teeth away.

***

I SUPPOSE I should congratulate The Darkness on their triumph at the Brits, being Suffolk bors 'n all. And there is, in a way, something good about it. They are at least themselves, their own invention, not the creation of some record company executive or "reality" TV show.

On the other hand, it's a glum comment on the state of popular music when a falsetto-pitched, spandex-clad bunch of Seventies throwbacks are greeted as something fresh and ground-breaking.

To read some of the dreck that's been written about them, you'd think the Lowestoft foursome were reviving pop in the kind of radical way punk did in 1977.

Whereas they are in fact a retro novelty act comically recreating the very sound and look that punk blasted away.

Frankly, Queen were ghastly the first time round. If you want to ape them, that's fine – in the privacy of your own home. But don't tell me this is the future of rock 'n roll.

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