As a Disney and Pop Culture critic and blogger I keep coming across this great big lie that tells fans they aren’t “true fans” unless they agree to love and accept everything given to them. That if they criticize or question a company or property, they are somehow not really fans of said franchise or company. I think it’s time to properly put this lie to rest.
You can be a “true fan” and still criticize something.
Actually I would argue that challenging what you love makes you more of a fan as you care about choices and actions and don’t just accept whatever you are told to accept. You truly want what you love to be the best or to do better. If everyone just accepts what they’re given, even if there is a decline in quality or continuity, or values, somewhere, then there’s no reason for the company or property to ever improve.
Arrogance leads to hate and hate leads to the dark side.
Disney has demonstrated arrogance repeatedly. From Bob Iger indicating that just putting the name Star Wars on the new additions to Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios would have guests rushing in. To the choice to pare back Galaxy’s Edge and cut out the character restaurant because people would rather look at their phones anyway. To the free publicity Instagram walls instead while they cut shows and performers. To the constant overspending and assimilation instead of creation, and so on.
Disney, Lucasfilm and even Marvel Comics have demonstrated repeated arrogance and distain for fans that didn’t agree with all their choices. We even had Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo mocking a fan openly on Twitter for reacting to ‘The Mandalorian’ season finale in the way that Disney wanted him to. I would argue that the great lie is that these companies currently care about the IP and customers they are the caretakers for.
Here at Pirates and Princesses and our sister YouTube Channel Clownfish TV, we are big fans of Disney and I’m still a fan of some Star Wars.
I’m sure some of you are now scratching your heads wondering how that could be possible as we criticize both of those things all the time. This is where the great lie plays in. We criticize because we want them to be better. To do better. To treat their customers and fans better. To treat their loyal Cast Members and employees better.
We were in the Disney Media program when we built and ran The Kingdom Insider. We loved Disney so much we started Pirates and Princesses several years ago, and then partnered up with Academy Travel to build The Kingdom Insider, just to be closer to the magic. But like an impressionist painting, when you get really close and see how it’s put together, some of the magic goes away. When you have people literally over your shoulder monitoring every post you make, making sure you have every hashtag the committee wants, etc. it impacts your true feelings. When you can’t even make one legitimate criticism, hoping to help improve something like Toy Story Land, because you are being “negative.” It opens your eyes a bit.
Incidentally, the “negative point” was that it was too hot and needed more shade and after several people mentioned the same thing, they added more umbrellas to the area.
Disney and, for lack of a better term, “Pixie Dusters” need to understand that maybe fans just want someone to listen. You can’t always have only good news. You can’t always have only positive feedback. Even if you insist that a positive comment has to be said before a negative one, sometimes the negative outweighs the positive and that’s when you need to sit down, listen, and find ways to make the positive outweigh the negative.
Loving something and pointing out shortcomings are not mutually exclusive, contrary to what some people want you to think.
If you love someone and you see them making choices that will likely harm them in some way, you don’t sit back and let them do it. We all want these legacies to continue. Many of us want the Disney brand and magic and parks to continue. Disagreements are bound to happen and that’s good. It allows discussion and growth. But when you can only have one point of view or opinion. When you have to swallow whatever is given you and like it because they say so, it’s bound to create some push-back.
Frankly, everyone and every company fails from time to time and that’s normal and good. Growth comes from experience, cooperation and learning. Of course you can not please everyone, but you can listen. You can tell your employees to stop attacking and harassing the customers that you need to survive. You can understand that most people aren’t wanting you to fail or fold, they just want you to do better.
You can be a fan of certain parts of something and not love it all.
Some people may only be a fan or love part of something and not all of it. Maybe someone is only a Star Wars sequel trilogy fan, or a prequel trilogy fan, or a classic trilogy fan. Or maybe someone loves the Magic Kingdom but doesn’t care for the Animal Kingdom. Maybe someone loves Captain America but doesn’t love America Chavez.
It happens and it’s okay. You are still a fan.
So, yes, you can be a fan and not love everything or agree with every choice or call out bad behavior.
At the end of the day you can feel how you want to feel. We call out things we feel are wrong all the time and yet we still have Annual Passes, we still visit the parks, I still run this blog. Because I have hope that the positive will outweigh the negative and I legitimately care about the parks, the Disney brand, Star Wars, Marvel, pop culture, etc.
Think what you want, but I am a fan.
Kambrea / Geeky Sparkles
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.