Thursday, July 31, 2008

I want to make money: Disney, please have your way with me

This was Sal's idea.

It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, and I’m surrounded by a sea of screaming, not-quite-teenaged girls. Where am I, and how did I get here?

Dan: You see, when a mommy and a daddy love each other…

To answer the first question, in brief, I’m at an Avril Lavigne/Jonas Brothers concert. The ‘how did I get here’ part take a bit more explanation.

Dan: You’d hope we took drugs and forgot the half-hour drive to the concert venue. But there we were, sober as can be.

This whole thing started innocently enough; I have blamed my younger sister (a solid 10 years my junior) for my love of all things ‘tween’ for entirely too long. When were both younger (and possibly wiser), we’d watch “Even Stevens,” “Lizzie Maguire,” “Kim Possible,” and a variety of other shows together after school. I would like to think that this era (the late ‘90s, early 2000s) is when the solicitation of young stars by the Disney Channel became commonplace.

Dan: You can’t forget the “Boy Meets World” repeats. I found these much better at 1 a.m.

Lizzie Maguire, played by Hilary Duff, was always a popular character. She was sweet and bubbly, with a definite charisma. She was also a little chunky in that average pre-pubescent stage. Then one day, she decided that on top of her TV career, she wanted to take a stab at superstardom via music. Don’t get me wrong; I loved me some Lizzie Maguire. I even liked the movies and volunteered to take my sister to see them in the theater.

Dan: I actually skipped a college class for the Lizzie Maguire movie. I’d waited long years for Gordo and Lizzie to kiss and I thought this was my best chance. Plus the soundtrack was bangin’.

Little Ms. Duff decided to drop Lizzie Maguire, drop a bunch of weight and start a career as a singer. She had a few hit singles, including “So Yesterday” and “Come Clean” but nothing particularly awe-inspiring. She had some OK music videos, and that was pretty much it. Oh, and then there was that one time when she teamed up with her particularly schnoz-endowed sister, Hayley, for an upbeat rendition of “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

Dan: “Beat of My Heart”… solid gold, co-written by then boyfriend Benji Madden of Good Charlotte fame.

There’s Shia Lebeouf, who was initially known on “Even Stevens,” but was most recently featured in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I admire the fact that he never attempted a music career. He’s an actor and he knows it, and that’s what he’s sticking to.

Dan: I tried to hate the kid, but he’s surprisingly a good actor. He just picks bad scripts.

Now on to today’s Disney stars. We’ve got Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, The Jonas Brothers, Zac and Codey, and all those yahoos from “High School Musical” one through infinity. These kids are being pimped out by the Disney channel like nothing I’ve ever seen, and believe me, I’ve had some experience with pimps.

You absolutely can’t walk into Wal-Mart, Target or pretty much any department store without seeing their faces on something. You can’t watch TV without seeing a commercial for one of their CDs, shows or movies. They are always staring at you. There is no escape from their bottomless, soulless eyes.

There’s hardly anything respectable about them. It’s highly likely that their parents shoved them into stardom like chubby little kids down cheeseburgers. They have no control over their images and I doubt the get a whole lot of free time. They (or more likely their parents) are willing to put their images on absolutely anything. There’s no discretion whatsoever.

Dan: Stage parents crack me up. I hope to one day shove a young Dan onto the stage to set off traps to take down Christmas burglars, play the now-loved, soon-to-be-replaced young kid on a sitcom, or whore him out to Disney channel where he will hit the trifecta of singing, dancing, and acting. It’s a true sign that you and the devil have been in negotiations. I’ve already written about this here.

Hannah Montana shirts, shoes, dolls, watches, dishes, cereal, CD players, TVs, lunchboxes…it never ends. I’m just waiting for the day I go to the store to grab a box of tampons or condoms and see the Jonas Brothers’ shining faces staring back at me.

Dan: I want Jonas Brothers deodorant so I can smell like Rock and Roll. Maybe vacation at Camp Rock. Or go to the beach in my official Hannah Montana banana hammock. Just kidding, I don’t wear thongs to the beach… I wear nothing.

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