Disney Chicks are like Trekkies. They are bizarre and insufferable and make whatever their prospective obsession happens to be appear terrible and soul-devouring.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Disney movies and I like Star Trek. I can say things like that because I am a nerd myself.
Maybe I’m just bitter Walt Kelly never got an amusement park.
I’m sorry for the hostility in the first bit there. I’m just testy because I’ve lost a few friends to the mind-numbing positivity that is Disney. You know the ones I mean. They’ve been indoctrinated and have only love, admiration, and fear for the Mouse and zero tolerance for anyone who didn’t particularly care for High School Musical.
I recently read [skimmed] a book called Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member by Kevin Yee. For some reason, perhaps it was the title and the seemingly ironic uber-happy cover, but I was somehow under the impression that this memoir was going to be a dark examination of the seedy underbelly of Disneyland. I was expecting some mad ravings from a deranged, disgruntled, and disenfranchised former employee. I thought it was going to be the unmasking of the Mouse. A shameless deconstruction of the Happiest Place on Earth. Totally biased and skewed, but entertaining! This was not the case.
As I wearily perused the remaining chapters, I was hoping for something good tucked away. It soon became clear to me that Mr. Yee had no intention of staining his former employer. I thought, well there’s a big man. He can walk away with respect for the Man and he can take the time to collect his thoughts and share with us what he learned. It was not this either.
Then I thought maybe it was gearing up to be an account from a male Disney Chick (we’ll call them Disney Dudes). It would be a super-happy-saccharine-cotton-candy-sweet-tooth-deluxe-eat-it-up ad nausea ode to the One with the Round Ears. Totally biased again but in the reverse thrust. So delighted and positive it would prove dishearteningly hilarious. Again, not the case.
Instead what I found within the pages of Mouse Trap: Memoir of a Disneyland Cast Member was one of the most tepid and toothless accounts of anything anywhere in existence. I was astounded at how boring it all was. Yee hasn’t recorded naughty backstage stories. He has compiled his work schedule, the minutiae of his shifts, and a list of the random events the park threw for its workers. And no feeling behind any of it. This was not a memoir but the account of a single cog in a monstrous contraption. I hadn’t been this disappointed in literature since I read Amberville.*
There was no mouse trap at all. There was nothing. When Yee comes close to something that might be interesting he completely handles wrong. There are passages that explain the importance of good customer service and then there’s the part where he tells of how of he had to inform people the elevator was broken and the time where he talked with Henry Winkler that simply states he “had a long chat with Henry Winkler, a real down-to-earth guy.” This is a man who had worked in Disneyland for 15 years and most of his stories feel emotionally distant and monotonously robotic…which I find even more telling.
The damp writing style reminded me of how I imagined the inner-monologue of one of my old managers at Barnes & Noble must have played out in his head. Everything is like looking through a foggy View-Master but it doesn’t really matter because it’s all about providing quality customer service. Total bureaucrat. It’s like the teleplay to a “Welcome to Wal-Mart, New Employee!” video. Why write this book? Who is the audience? Who could possibly find any of this entertaining? Then it all hit me. Almost everyone I had ever known who had worked for the Mouse on a peon level had become this. This was not the Kevin Yee that existed before Disneyland. This was aftermath. If you ever wondered what someone without a soul would write like, check out this book. It’s a disturbing horror story of what clean employment can do to a man.
Disneyland suckers you in with its pristine everything-is-always-perfect approach. It gets almost everybody. Some are repelled by suspected phoniness, smelling a rat. Others embrace it as the Atman joining with Brahma. Still others see it simply as a business that tries really hard to uphold a quality reputation. Whatever you think it really is, the cold fact lays before us: Yee has joined the Mouse. It is too late for him. It will undoubtedly be years before he can readily relate to normal society. He writes this memoir with the last strength he has to tell the truth, but the Mouse’s hold is strong and his words are mangled and his purpose is lost. A telling account indeed.
I feel bad for ragging on the one guy like this. He’s a victim here too after all. I’m sure he’s a splendid guy. Probably loves his kids. Pays his taxes. Don’t worry. He’ll get his soul back. The cog doesn’t see much of the rest of the machine, but his ambivalent and dim perspective, although familiar and tedious, might just give us a glimpse of something truly chilling at work.
A part of me does want to give him the benefit of the doubt. One of my roommates pointed out while I was yelling at the book that it’s exactly the sort of thing I would do. I would bill my book as a tell-all memoir but only write boring passages about what I had to eat on a given day and what the weather was like. I would do that because I would find it personally humorous and delight at the expense of my idiot readers. I would do that. Might there be other comedy sociopaths like that out there? Maybe Mr. Yee just pulled a fast one.
*Amberville by Tim Davys so did entice me. A hard-boiled detective novel except all the characters are stuffed animals? It was irresistibly askew in premise…but mind-numbingly disappointing in execution. All but totally devoid of wit or irony. Sad day for stuffed animals everywhere. All this being said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity go out and enjoy these too awful books, you schlubs.