Thursday, May 21, 2015

Young bucks

We are going away this weekend, to visit my Little Bro and his fam, and this will be the first long multi-state roadtrip we have taken since the bino turned two. It is in fact probably the first long multi-state roadtrip we've taken since the bino was just shy of one and a half, and back then we could more or less count on him being amused for long stretches of time by chunky board books with textured patches on each page, and/or him taking naps while being lulled by the rocking movement of the suspension cruising the highway.

Anyway, in our family two years old is the threshold age for being allowed to watch movies in the car, so the bino is now eligible. This is a good thing, as my wife and I are big fans of the peace and quiet afforded by letting the younguns just movie marathon their way through an arduous trek along the interstate system. The logistical challenge arises in the fact that our current setup is a dual-screen portable DVD player, and now we need a third screen. For a child who sits in the middle row of the family SUV, while the older sibs sit in the back row.

Luckily we had a fairly ready solution for this. We finally joined the modern era and began using the digital copy codes included in various DVDs to download movies onto our iPad. So now the bino can hold the iPad and watch whatever he wants, while the older two can watch what they want together independent of their baby brother. Marvelous.

Of course this required not just downloading content but installing a Disney-branded app as well, and because I was taking care of this techno-chore on a weekend afternoon, the kids got curious and started looking over my shoulder and the next thing I know we're just going through the hundreds of previews the Disney app provides access to. Man do my kids love watching previews. I mean, granted, so do I, so they come by it honestly, but they have brazenly nondiscriminating tastes, as well. They have no idea what's good and what's mediocre and what's a cynical cash grab that no one in the right mind is supposed to condone the existence of by expressing any interest in whatsoever. You know, crap like Bambi II.

Which I am not making up! My wife and I decided a while ago that Bambi is one of those "classic" movies our kids can safely skip, so I have no idea why they would be intrigued enough by the cover/poster art to demand to watch the trailer for a sequel I had no idea existed. Actually, it's worse than a sequel or even a prequel, it's the dreaded midquel, the kind of movie that dares to ask the question "What, exactly, took place in between a scene in the original movie and the following scene where it was obvious significant time had passed, meaning significant in quantity not in importance or else the original movie wouldn't have skipped right past it?"

Bambi II covers the time between Bambi's mother dying (whoops, spoiler) and Bambi becoming a full grown deer. Apparently, since he is the young heir to the mantle of prince of the forest, he needed to spend that time hanging out with the buck who sired him and who is the current prince of the forest. And Disney actually got Sir Patrick Stewart to do the voice of Bambi's father! Also of note to trivia buffs: Bambi II was the last Disney movie to be released on VHS, and holds the record for amount of time elapsed between an original movie and its Part II (64 years).

It all leaves me wondering who these movies are for, though, especially in light of my thoughts on completism lately. I don't consider myself a Disney superfan, although I do like the vast majority of Disney stuff. I have met people who are Disney superfans (including a delivery nurse when our daughter was born who I remember had a Tinkerbell tattoo and talked about her family's vacations to Disneyworld in a very matter of fact way, that whenever they took a family vacation it was ALWAYS to Disneyworld, which I thought was ... odd) but I can't imagine they are the target audience for these direct-to-video inessentials that, despite being produced by Disney manage to feel like cheap knock-offs. I would in fact imagine the superfans would find these brand-driven monetizations a bit tawdry, a poor reflection on their undying love for all things House of Mouse.

So, who then? People whose kids watch so much tv and so many movies that they get bored with the mainstream canon of Disney movies but refuse to watch anything other than Disney movies but are ok with things that barely feel like Disney movies because they're the dregs of the Disney output? Do those people really exist? It's a strange world after all, I suppose.

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