Friday, December 24, 2004

Pixie Dust and Wishing Stars

Who took Christ out of Christmas? Mark Pinsky blames Walt Disney.
In a sense, Disney was well ahead of his time, presenting an inclusive approach to faith in a predominantly Christian nation. "The things we have in common," Walt once wrote, "far outnumber and outweigh those that divide us."

Other areas of Disney's entertainment empire reflect this view. No theme park has a Main Street church; no cruise ship has a chapel. This magic kingdom has little reference to the kingdom of heaven. Disney World national television ads entice visitors to a special, seasonal presentation "for those who believe in the magic of Christmas."

Why the magic, rather than the sacredness? Perhaps it is more evidence of a Hollywood disconnect. Walt, the storyteller, knew his movies would need some agent of supernatural intervention, but he did not want religious figures. Children who were not Christian, both in North America and worldwide, might feel excluded from cartoons infused with a different faith, and their parents might not buy tickets.

So instead, Disney chose magic, something universal to all cultures – and customers. While characters may use theological vocabulary ("miracle," "blessing," "divine"), they wish upon a star when they are in need, rather than pray. They rely on fairy godmothers rather than a Savior, and sprinkle pixie dust rather than holy water.


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