Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out

Sean Griffin, Author New York University Press $55 (292p) ISBN 978-0-8147-3122-2
Move over, Tinky Winky! In this sprightly analysis of classic and contemporary Disney fare, queer theorist Griffin breaks new ground in media and cultural studies while outdoing right-wing politicians and fundamentalists who see homosexuality everywhere. Griffin's lavender-tinged view of the extravagant drag-queen theatrics of Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians, Gaston's supermacho posturing in Beauty and the Beast and the camp sensibility he detects thoughout Aladdin may raise eyebrows, but Griffin is careful in building his argument that Disney images have been enormously influenced by gay culture and in showing how gay culture has, in turn, claimed and appropriated those images. Drawing on extensive research on the Walt Disney Corporation, Griffin shows how the Disney name became culturally synonymous with ""family values"" in the 1930s and '40s, and elucidates the development of a new, more adult, image and market under Michael Eisner in the 1980s. He is the first to reveal in detail the role of gay people--including artists and writers--at the corporation, and the formation of LEAGUE, a professional group for Disney's lesbian and gay employees. Although his postmodern critical methods narrow the readership for this book, Griffin, who teaches film and media at Florida Atlantic University, is adept at using them to delineate the influence of gay culture on mainstream American culture. His analysis of gay culture's affinity for fairy tales (such as the writings of Hans Christian Andersen and The Wizard of Oz) and that culture's subversive critique of traditional gender roles, in particular, are excellent. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-8147-3123-9
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