Cinderella reopened Disney’s floodgates in 1950, busting open the blockbuster box-office that had basically eluded the studio through the 1940s and simultaneously erasing from impressionable young memories the legacy of Rosie the Riveter. Their 1953 follow-up would offer a companion book of Disney Gospel to go with Cinderella’s nightmare vision of broken nuclear family units. Peter Pan, in retrospect, seems much more a footnote among the studio’s 1950s output. Its most enduring image is that of Tinker Bell swirling around EPCOT and using her wand to send a burst of pixie dust across TV screens to tip The Wonderful World of Disney into commercial breaks. Metaphorically, though, this makes Tink and her wand the single most succinct piece of iconography in Disney’s entire commercialized canon. She takes the cash, she cashes the check, she shows Disney what they want to see: product placements, corporate synergy, women reduced to Barbie-doll sizes. Coupled with unconfirmed pedophile (socially, if not sexualy) J. M. Barrie’s advocacy on behalf of refusing to act one’s age and of keeping your dreams from escaping the playpen, the rhetoric of Peter Pan would be nefarious enough without bringing into the mix the “What Make The Red Man Red” number or the fact that it’s Michael Jackson’s favorite film. (Fittingly, the 1990s VHS revival of the Mary Martin live television version revealed that production to be as enduring as Disney’s film, which only serves to highlight the shortsightedness of Disney’s arguments on behalf of fantasy retardation. After all, kids will even accept breasts on Peter Pan and a nelly “Mrs. Hook’s little baby boy” as a villain, so long as you give then a few catchy numbers.) If the men in Peter Pan are all united in their love of war games (the Lost Boys and Indian tribes repeatedly catch each other and then release their prey so as to perpetuate their derring-do), the women fare no better under their two options. Either they follow the lead of Tinker Bell and the nubile inhabitants of the mermaid cove, forever nursing unfulfilled crushes on the prepubescent boy wonder of Never Land which drive them to pouty, vindictive woman-hatery (Tink, at one point, actually tries to have Wendy killed), or they opt to follow the example of Wendy, who skips from grade school-age to schoolmarm without taking so much as a pit stop in between to address that pleading twitch between her thighs. Never Land? More like Never-Gon-Git-It Land.
Tink's eternal glow is the showcase avatar for the digital remastering. The glow may represent a lie (Tink hasn't been laid by needle-dicked Pan, so it's impossible to imagine she would be glowing), but the image is pretty as a popper full of pixie dust, and about as synthetic. Par for the "Platinum Edition" course, but this one makes even Lady and the Tramp's Shrinky-Dinks hues look a little bit patchy. The prints can't be getting newer, so that must mean whatever autopilot computer software Buena Vista uses has been updated to v. 2.0. Skip the 5.1 surround remix, unless you're curious to hear what it would be like to experience Tink dyking out and reenacting The Shrinking Lover.
Platinum Edition, diamondique extras. While the DVD producers behind this line continue to allow such flotsam as audio commentaries and (gasp) black-and-white footage of Walt Disney sneak onto the tail-ends of their double-disc sets, their allegiance remains focused on the sort of interactive games that would've bored children even in the age of NES. Smee's Soduku Challenge, for instance, defaults to a beginner's board in which only two squares are still open. That said, I failed miserably at Tarrrget Practice, which can only mean I'm middle-aged. Good thing my newly-middle-aged self can watch yet another pervy jailbait video: in this case, the pop-and-locking antics of T-Squad. Rounding out the set are things such as a look at all the different versions of Peter Pan that were pitched before Walt green-lit the least interesting, an explanation from Walt himself on why he decided to make the film, a loopable flight above a chintzy computerized London skyline, a DVD storybook, and a sneak peek at the forthcoming direct-to-DVD Tinker Bell. More than enough for parents who have refused to grow up and watch their own kids without the help of a TV.
I won't grow up.at least so long as Disney continues to put out Platinum Editions that allow me the opportunity to speculate on the loneliness of cartoon characters' self-imposed celibacy.