Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, June 09, 2006

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, Is It The Death Of PC?

If ever there was a point in time when political correctness reached its zenith, it was in 1997, when Disney retooled its Pirates of the Carribean ride to remove any hint that pirates might actually have been less than respectful in their behavior.

This was most evident in what used to be called the "Chase Scene," in which a couple pirates with leacherous lears forever chased a couple voluptuous women. In 1997, it became the "Gluttony Scene," as platters of food were placed in the women's hands.

"The pirates aren't after sex," we were supposed to think. "The nice pirates just want a lovely meal."

No more! Disney has retooled the Pirates ride to make it synch with it's successful Johnny Depp Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and at least some degree of political incorrectness is back in for pirates. From a chat report on IMDb:
As the bateaux float into what used to be called the Chase Scene but was re-titled the "Gluttony Scene" for the '97 rehab, riders will notice the chase is back on and the food is gone. The additional animatronics from Epcot's old World of Motion ride that were added in '97 have been removed, and a couple of the original turntables with pirates chasing the girls have been put back in. Some of the girls will be carrying treasure and jewels as they run from the pirates but the contrived "pirates are hungry" plotline from ‘97 has mercifully been scrapped.
Talking about pirates and not talking about rape ... that's as unnatural and ignorant of history as talking about Islam and not talking about jihad. It's incorrectness raised to an art.

And there's more. A bit before the bateaux (the slow-floating boats of the ride) reach the renewed Chase Scene, they take you by this:
As the bateaux round the fort and head into the town, the Dunking Scene will also look slightly different. New audio tracks are here as well, with the the pirates demanding the mayor to tell them the whereabouts of Jack Sparrow. Just beyond this scene, where there used to just be some barrels and open space, Johnny Depp himself makes his first appearance in the ride. Peeking out from behind two young giggling lasses, the first of three animatronic Jack Sparrow figures makes an appearance. Jack Sparrow doesn't have much to say here, but the sight gag the Imagineers have cooked up here is quite telling of some of the changes further along in the ride. Let's just say once you see where Mr. Depp has placed his hands on these two young ladies as he tries to get a better look at the mayor you'll realize that any hint of political correctness from 1997's infamous rehab has been thrown out the window. It seems that some cheeky fun has again returned to the pirates repertoire.

"Cheeky fun?" As in a hand on a butt? OMG.

How significant a macro-sociological bellweather is the retooling of Pirates of the Caribbean to make it less politically correct?

The fact that it is Disney doing this is significant, because the company has been a leader in the PC movement. Remember Pocahontas, in which they created an Earth Day Earth Goddess who wooed John Smith away from his Eurocentric ways to become the New World's first registered Green Party voter? Whatever happened to the real Pocahontas, who thought the European culture superior and adopted their religion? Dead by PC.

PC covers a broad field ... race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, political orientation ... but both of the major changes to the ride, the Chase scene and the Cheeky scene, address only sexual PC, and more specifically, heterosexual PC. All in all, this isn't a terribly significant area of PC control; I would rather see revisions to the Rules of PC allow us to once again talk about religion, faith and the downside of sinful behaviors.

Unfortunately, it appears that it's now OK for pirates to chase women in a Disney ride not because Disney is stepping down from its PC pedestal, but because they have in Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow character a money-making franchise that is himself less PC than the 1979 revisions to the ride.

Sparrow is a wierd mix. He has an Archie Bunkeresque disregard for what's right and not right to say. He is overtly sexual with plenty of swagger, but he also has gay undertones that Disney uses to continue to reinforce a PC approach to gay issues.

Sparrow would chase a woman around, though, so "Gluttony" is out and "Chase" is back. All in all, the retooling says more about the sophistication of cross-market promotions and less about whether a PC leader is rethinking its position.

Still, PC has a gravity that is unsustainable over the long term, and the fact that it's once again OK to have children watch animatronic pirates chase animatronic wenches tells us its grip is weakening.

I doubt that too many youngsters watching the pre-1997 Chase scene really thought much about sex while watching the funny pirates chase the fat women. Unfortunately, the sexuality movement has far outpaced the PC movement in its wretched success, so when youngsters start enjoying the refurbished Pirates ride, I'm afraid that all too many of them will know exactly what's on the pirates' minds as they chase endlessly after the playful wenches.

Hat-tip: Incredible Daughter #3
Photo credit: Top David Patterson
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