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GARY SMITH: Wonderful world of distraction

Grandkids inspire a nostalgic (and practical) return to Disney by Gary Smith | March 12, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

I got reintroduced to some old friends the other day. Well, OK, maybe not "friends." Acquaintances. Sometimes "frenemies."

The Lovely Mrs. Smith and I were in the car, chauffeuring the youngest of the Little Princesses somewhere, the other day. In an effort to dispel what was beginning to sound like some concerns about the level of service emanating from the middle seat, my wife switched our song app to the Disney channel.

And just like that, we got to hear another Disney "I Want" song, this one about how Belle would really like to break out of the confines of her small, provincial village in the south of France and on to adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere.

This, of course, flies in the face of recent trends that have Parisians breaking out of the confines of living in a city in the middle of a pandemic to experience life in small, provincial villages in the south of France. But since "Beauty and the Beast" predates covid by a few years, I'm going to give them a pass on understanding demographic trends.

Now, I have a confession to make. I actually like Disney movies. Specifically, I like a group of Disney movies that came out in the late 1980s through the 1990s. And while, yes, it's a little odd for someone my age to think fondly back on tales of Little Mermaids and Lion Kings and Beauties and Beasts, there is a very base motivation here – namely the preservation of my sanity.

The thing is, the Lovely Mrs. Smith and I raised the majority of our children at a time when DVRs and recording programs and buying and/or renting big clunky tapes was at its peak. Which means, thanks to the magic of this wonderful technology I'm sure derives from some NASA project (because, apparently all good developments come from going to the moon), our children could both demand to and watch the same shows over and over again for, basically, the entire day.

And, I know, some of you are saying it's wrong to let your kids watch that much television. That would be those of you who never had children. The rest of us? Yeah, sometimes you just need a break. There's only so much "Duck, Duck, Goose" a guy can play.

The fondness for Disney films derives not so much from the rich textualization of the illustrations or the "important" lessons about self-actualization they imparted. I mean, I guess those are important, except the answer to everyone's problems always seem to be "marry a member of royalty." And recent events would indicate that's not as much of a box-check for happiness as it was once thought to be.

No, I appreciated the Disney films not so much for what they were, but for what they weren't. Namely, Barney and the Teletubbies. Which are separate entities and not a grunge band from my college days. At least not that I or the people responsible for licensing those two are aware.

And if you think hearing the assorted Grammy-winning offerings from various Disney films over and over and over again is a problem, just try to get "Skidamarink a dink a dink a dink, skidamarink a do" out of your head. Or to not inadvertently hum it at a staff meeting.

At least if you reference the Circle of Life at a team meeting, you'll get knowing nods and not screams of pain and things thrown at you.

These days, I'm well past the period where the kids are watching movies endlessly on the family television. Heck, I'm well past the time when the kids are watching anything on the family television, at least not at my house. Which is sad in a way, but sort of the, well, the Circle of Life.

But, with a wave of grandchildren either here or on the way, the Lovely Mrs. Smith and I are once again needing to find ways to, if not entertain, at least distract them. Because, again, "Duck,' Duck, Goose"... not any better or easier.

So we're brushing off the Disney, rolling out the favorites and getting the band back together again. And, since movies are often markers of periods in life, I'm looking forward to it. Those were good times and I do miss them.

If nostalgia isn't enough of a draw for you, just remember, the thing that made Disney songs better than other forms of earworms still exists.

Doubts? Well, here's something to consider: "Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo ..."


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