Get thee to Disneyland

With all the religious groups boycotting Disney, I'm beginning to get the impression that the Magic Kingdom and the Kingdom of Heaven are not quite the same.

In April 1996, the Roman Catholic group Knights of Columbus sold $3 million worth of Disney stock to protest "Priest," about a gay cleric. Maybe the knights just needed the cash. The Roman Catholic Church spends roughly that amount every five years in legal costs in child molestation cases.

In June 1996, the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention threatened a boycott because Disney extends benefits to same-sex partners of its employees.

In August 1996 the Assemblies of God called for its 2.5 million members in August to boycott Disney for "abandoning the commitment to strong moral values." For 25 years the church offered free Disney discount cards to employees and missionaries.

"In recent years we have watched with dismay the productions of the Disney Corp. abandoning the commitment to strong moral values, and have noticed this moral shift in a number of Disney-sponsored films and events," the church's General Presbytery said.

The Assembles also criticized Disney's Orlando, Fla., theme park, which has held Gay and Lesbian Day.

Well, what did they think Anything Can Happen Day was all about?

Assembly member Carol Maxwell said she has noticed a deterioration in Disney's morals.

"It's real subtle," she said. "It's like putting a lot of satanic things in to the movies. A lot more evil is prevalent, with the good guy not always being able to be identified as the good guy."

Subtler still are the subliminal messages some are seeing in recent Disney films. Personally, I think it started with the dancing mushrooms in "Fantasia."

The American Life League claims that in "The Little Mermaid," the man performing a wedding appears to either have a holy water sprinkler in his pocket or be glad to see somebody. But you could say that about just about any fold. In the promotional artwork for the movie, though, one of the castle spires in the background looks very much like a penis, moreso than your usual tall building. Urban legend has that the image was drawn by a disgruntled artist as a last act of defiance. Disney later changed the artwork.

In "Aladdin," the League claims to hear the hero whisper, "Good teenagers, take off your clothes." According to the script, he's saying, "Scat! Come on. Good tiger. Take off and go. Down, kitty."

I don't know. That sound a lot filthier to me.

Three-fourths of the way through "Lion King," Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon are lying on their backs, looking up at the stars. Simba gets up, walks over to the edge of a cliff, and flops to the ground, throwing up a cloud of dust. Eddies of dust form and dissipate in the roiling cloud, and at one point the curves and angles in these eddies appear to form the letters S-E-X.

I usually roll my eyes at rumors like that, but I've seen stills, and you don't have to be Wilson Brian Key to see that one. It has been suggested that the letters were slipped in by a special effects company ("SFX" or "SCX") hired to work on the film, but that explanation is also unconfirmed. Just the sort of disinformation the Magic Kingdom wants you to believe.

The story goes that a 4-year-old boy viewing the video with his head tilted to the left, supposedly noticed the appearance of the letters S-E-X and told his mother about it. She told the American Life League.

You know, if a 4-year-old can spot the word "SEX" in a cloud and knows what the word means, I think this raises some questions about how this kid is raised. I don't think Disney's the problem here.

© 1996 Randel Shard.