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Secrets. It is the puzzling, impure nature of popular mechanized culture that underlies the author's concern. His harshest criticism of Disney is that the entertainment machine he set in motion "was designed to shatter the two most valuable things about childhoodits secrets and its silencesthus forcing everyone to share the same formative dreams." That is probably an exaggeration, suggesting that, like Disney himself, Schickel romanticizes the. good old days, and sentimentalizes the nature of childhood as well. Schickel argues that Disney could not have been an artist because his simplified view of reality narrowed rather than expanded consciousness. Yet time and again he somehow feels the need to hold Disney up as an artistonly to wind up proving that he wasn't. It is usually done in a tone of deep disappointment.
None of this, however, spoils the book's validity. Schickel himself puts it best: "Our environment, our sensibilities, the very quality of both our waking and sleeping hours, are all formed largely by people with no more artistic conscience or intelligence than a cumquat. If the happy few do not study them at least as seriously as they study Andy Warhol, then they will lose their grip on the American reality."
* Last year, according to Walt Disney Productions, 240 million people throughout the world saw a Disney movie, 100 million watched a Disney TV show every week, 800 million read a Disney book or magazine, 50 million heard Disney music, 150 million read a Disney comic strip, and 7,900,000 visited Disneyland.