Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Learning Geography from It's a Small World?

It may seem that learning geography from It's a Small World is about as useful as learning astronomy from Space Mountain. But these rides form important impressions on whole generations of kids, so it's worth analyzing them and thinking about what we're saying. Here's a geography blog with an entry on doing just that for It's a Small World. It's a bit long and tends a bit too much toward making fun of the strange colors and caricatures in the ride, which is like criticizing The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the fact that a caterpillar probably wouldn't be able to eat so much on Saturday. There's a lot more to think about with what the stereotypes are doing, and the all-white finale (and the not-so-subtle insertion of classic Disney characters into the mix). Still, it's a step in a very interesting direction. Some day I'd love to teach a class on Theme Park Studies where we do things like this.

And, by the way, all those Saturday morning cartoons and Pokemon shows have a big effect on a lot of people (and not just Herman Cain). I'd argue that you understand more about people by studying these than other less-read and less-experienced works.

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