Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Disney Hipsters?

   When people hear the term hipster there is often a knee-jerk reaction.  For most that reaction is negative, focusing on the sarcastic nature of the proverbial beast. The majority of self branded hipsters are in fact sarcastic, ironic, obnoxious downers.  However, when starting Disney Hipster Blog nearly three years ago I felt the need to reappropriate the term for the better…after all, if we judge books solely by their cover then I am without a doubt a hipster.
    Assuming most people will associate my hipster appearance with the lesser desirable traits, I had to think long and hard about a more positive spin.  This is where art comes in.  After personal appearance, and being sarcastic jerks, the next most common thread in the hipster community is the desire to create art. Illustration, music, film, writing, performance…these kids love to make art.  Don't get me wrong, this is truly a pygmalion act of self love. Hipsters make art so that other hipsters can admire it…and the circle never stops. These incestuous communities are completely self serving. Everyone convincing the other of their own self worth.

 I blurred the line between my "real" art and my "blog" art...

   Taking sarcasm and irony out of the picture, the core of the hipster subculture is simple. Form over function.  Aesthetic value plays a role in every decision.  Physical appearance, obviously, but it goes much deeper than that. Interior decoration, which restaurants to eat at, what car to drive (or bike to ride…), even where to shop for groceries.  I don't buy certain brands of soy yogurt simply on the basis of the graphic design of the packaging. Its an unwavering principle that I live by every day, and yes, its ridiculous.
   As a young adult, living, working and making art in Brooklyn, I had no time for Disney. Though I'd grown up loving Disney animation my sarcasm had reached feverish levels to the point of not being a genuine person anymore. I couldn't talk about Disney without being a downer. In my head I was creating real art, and Disney was nothing more that fluff for the masses.  I was living for myself and literally nothing else.  I was the main paragraph, and Disney was the margin.  (I understand how dorky this all sounds, and it is…I was not a cool person. But what 20 year old is?)

20 old me playing bad music on the NYC subway...

   As if by fate, in 2006 I was dragged kicking a screaming to Walt Disney World.  The idea of spending a week somewhere that I was intrinsically against appalled me.  What was there for me, a self dedicated, skinny jeans wearing, form over function hipster at Walt Disney World?  I honestly believed this was going to be the worst week of my life.
   Here comes the plot twist.  I fell head over heals, madly in love with Disney World, to the point of being obsessed. The kind of obsession that keeps you awake at night, and drives your every thought.  While the idea of Disney being fluff for the masses is not far off, it also comes with a dense storied history and level of detail that I'd always admired in other companies. You see, if anything is true, its that Disney defines form over function. 
   This is where the idea for Disney Hipsters come in.  Take into consideration our form over function lifestyle, which places aesthetic value over everything else, and our obsessive love of Disney…who THEORETICALLY does the exact same thing. Also consider a hipster's penchant for creating things, we knew we had to do somethings with this.  How could we not?
   The Disney Hipster Blog (and subsequent podcast) has always come with the tagline "critiquing the aesthetic choices of the Disney company…" which sums up our endgame pretty well.  We have always felt the need to hold Disney accountable for their poor design choices, as well as applauding the good ones.  In addition to these critiques we also wanted to create original content as well, in the form of videos, paintings, music etc…thus strengthening our argument for our chosen "Disney Hipster" moniker.

Disney World gave me new things to be obsessed with…

   The only hipster trope that we do not support in our critique is rampant sarcasm and irony.  These things do have their place, and when applied correctly can be pretty awesome.  However in the context of examining art they only take away from what I want to say. Sarcasm can muddle the message and confuse the reader, which is never fun for anyone.  As far as irony goes, yes we can appreciate something solely because its ironic, a few choice lines in the final scene of Carousel Of Progress come to mind. However we never make aesthetic choices based on irony.  In short sarcasm and irony play a big part in hipster culture, but loses its value in the context of a blog…and almost always comes off as being mean.  Wanting to focus on the positive (towards people…not necessarily Disney) and wanting to differentiate ourselves from most other hipsters, we choose not to use these devices too often.
  Let's focus for a moment on why we felt the need to brand our online presence at all. For one, we've never felt the need to hide behind our computers. As a fan of the Disney blog community long before we started DHB I was always drawn to sites that featured real people, who I would come to associate with actual faces.  Not only did these blogs seem more down to earth, but I was likely more empathetic towards them when our opinions differed.  Also, we just love taking pictures of ourselves, and knew
that our blog would feature these photos, sometimes exhaustively so.

I mean, seriously we're adorable. How could we have a blog that didn't feature us
up front and center? ;)

   We also needed a way to separate ourselves from others.  There is no shortage of Disney fan blogs which seem to be on an endless cycle of coming and going.  Many of these blogs don't make it past their first anniversary, while even fewer truly thrive.  I knew for me to continue such a large project for any length of time I would have to be validated through readership. I also knew, based on my own reading habits, that the blog would have to differentiate itself for the others in one way or another.  In other words, I needed to thrive, and to do so we needed to brand ourselves.
   An aside to the conversation of why Disney Hipsters? As with any conversation about aesthetic choices, this blog is filled with opinions.  Our opinions are often times very well thought out, and based on extensive exposure to the subject matter at hand…but sometimes its a gut feeling. Simply not liking something just because its ugly is, in our opinion, totally valid.  Let us never forget that opinions vary from person to person, and opinions cannot under any circumstance be wrong.  One thing you should know about Disney Hipster's opinions is that they're never forced.  We would never dislike something out of shear negativity, nor falsely appreciate something out of rugged individualism.
   We have always encouraged an honest open discourse concerning this silly love of Disney. At the heart of it we should never forget that this is a hobby that we all enjoy. Whether actively as a writer or passively as a reader, we all get a certain amount of joy out of our Disney obsession.  The community is big enough for everyone, including anonymous blogs and branded blog personalities like ourselves. The only thing there is no room for is blatant needless negativity.


  1. My parents moved a lot before I was born and, during their travels, they made a lot of friends, some who were parent stand-ins for them while they lived thousands of miles away from their real parents. One of these couples would send my brother and I gifts every year for Christmas, without fail.

    I'm so glad they weren't around to see me open the presents, because I always let my parents know how poorly their friends had chosen gifts. One year, this lovely couple sent me a Sesame Street Sing-Along cassette. I remember being particularly brutal about it. Of course, when I grew to love the album, I had to listen to it in secret, having made it clear I was too good for it. My parents ended up finding how much I loved it when my brother did a poor job taking it out of the cassette player (tape everywhere) and I couldn't hide how upset I was.

    Being curious to a fault, I’ve spent a lot of my life poring over whatever I was most interested in at the time. What I’ve found, again and again, is the more passionate I became about something, the more I learned, the more of a jerk I would become, the more I would judge something before I had experienced it. And when I would catch myself saying something particularly stupid, I would remember that dumb Sesame Street Sing-Along cassette and how much I loved it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still get repulsed by a lot of what I consider to be crap. But I try to give it a fair shot and figure out what people would like about it. I try to experience enough of it that I can explain where it fails. And most importantly, I try to remember that sometimes the reasons that people love things has nothing to do with the thing itself.

    Maybe it’s better to just say that form over function should be a guideline for everything, including criticism. It’s too easy to say you “hate” something. Taking the time to craft that criticism, to turn it interesting and engaging, that’s form over function.

  2. You kids are adorable. I just stumbled across this blog today, and I'm in love. I appreciate every post I've read so far, and you've taught me so much in terms of insider tips and advice to obtain the most out of any future trips. I am taking my twin daughters to the parks for the first time in 2019 (when they're 7 y.o., as I understand this is the earliest age for them to appreciate everything and make lasting memories they'll cherish forever...even though I WANT to take them TOMORROW) but I already have the itch. My favourite time killing activity is doing research on what has changed at the resort so I can get the most out of our epic journey, which will include a Disney Cruise to cap it all off. Any chance you darlings might be shipping off betwixt now and then?
    Keep up the good work, hipsters. I anxiously await reports from your October sojourn.

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