‘Disney adults’ and why they hate the internet so much

In an article by rolling stonegave writer EJ Dickson a deep dive into the history of Disney fandom and the (often used negatively) term “Disney Adult.”

It’s likely that most people have heard the phrase “Disney Adult” at some point in their travels across the internet, but what exactly does it mean? Where did it come from? Why is it often thrown as an insult?

While Disney fans have been around since Walt first created cartoons, “fandom” as we know it thrived with the introduction of the Internet. It grew out of forums and chat rooms in the early heyday of online communities and has continued to grow into blogging sites like Tumblr and social media like Instagram, where new generations of fans share their love for princesses, classic animated films and of course – DisneyBounding (a trend to wear clothes). resembling a Disney character). While neither positive nor negative in and of itself, the fandom fueled free speech and the growth of an obsession for all things Disney.

People have used the term “Disney Adult” for years as a pejorative against Disney fans, especially those who frequent the theme parks. It recently hit mainstream consciousness again thanks to a Reddit thread in which a bride decided to pay for Disney characters to show up at her wedding instead of paying for dinner for her guests

This prompted Dickson’s article. She quotes Jodi Eichler-Levine, a professor of religious studies at Lehigh University who studies the intersection of Disney and religion, as saying, “People said that Disney fans are a plague to society, that they will see the end of Western civilization.” to be.”

Dickson says many fans and experts she spoke to used the word “cringe” when describing “Disney grownups.”

“At the most basic level,” Dickson writes, “it seems deeply embarrassing to outsiders to plunge into a subculture ostensibly aimed at children—despite the fact that the Disney parks, as Walt Disney first conceived them , were largely intended for people of all ages.”

“A lot of people think it’s very naive,” said Sabrina Mittermeier, Disney fan and postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in American cultural history at the University of Kassel. “It’s a lot of escapism, and if that works for you, then it works really well. And if not, it has the opposite effect.”

Dickson points to a reason for intense hatred of “Disney Adults,” which is that Disney experiences are expensive. The high-profile social media influencers are the people who can afford to visit the parks often and are therefore mostly white people. People of color often feel alienated from the predominantly white fandom.

“There are more ‘Karens’ in the Disney fandom than others,” Mittermeier says.

Of course, as Dickson points out, the Disney fandom is fairly evenly distributed by gender, but the “Disney Adult” is stereotypically thought of as a young, millennial female. That’s why most of the vitriol on “Disney Adults” is aimed at women.

“People see Disney as sentimental. When we think of the park’s experience, it’s mushy in a way that other ways of consuming fandom are not,” said Amanda Brennan, senior director of trends at XX Artists. “It’s emotion-driven — with these fans there’s so much emotion packed into all of this, so it’s seen as a very feminine activity. And there’s still an element of female fandom that’s looked down upon in a way.”

Idil Galip, a Ph.D. sociology candidate studying fandom also pointed out the generational differences. †[M]illennials should be more youthful,” she explains. “But now they’ve all of a sudden become kind of cringey. You are expected to grow out of it in some way, or at least hide it.”

“Disney Adults” became the term for fans who were thought to be out of touch with reality. Stubbornly refusing to admit that dreams don’t come true and that the world is terrible. But that’s not quite fair, is it?

Eichler-Levine went on to explain, “When we pathologize these people, we call normal joys and sorrows and the human experience something that is sick. And Disney fans are not sick.”

In other words, the fact that someone likes something you don’t doesn’t make them wrong.

Are you a proud Disney adult? Tell us your feelings about the term in the comments.

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