It's the word that every Disney executive dreads: Recall.
Officials at the Mouse House still shudder when they think back on the "Rescuers" recall of 1999. When 3.4 million copies of that newly released video had to be pulled off store shelves. All because -- in just two frames out of the 110,000 that made up that 76-minute-long animated feature -- you could catch a brief glimpse of a topless Playboy Playmate in a window that Bernard & Bianca flew by.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Mind you, Mickey didn't want to spend the money necessary to pack up all of those "Rescuers" cassettes & send them back to the factory. Where they were first bulk-erased and then re-recorded using a centerfold-free dub of the film. But Disney takes its family-friendly image seriously. And the corporation will do whatever it has to in order to protect that image.
Which is why Mouse House officials are now wondering if they should recall "High School Musical : The Concert -- Extreme Access Pass." Given that they'd just learned that -- on a bonus feature that's found on this newly released DVD -- one of the dancers that appears in this arena show can be heard dropping the F-bomb.
To be specific, the offensive language can be heard during the "High School Musical: On The Road" featurette. When Lucas Grabeel is taking viewers through a typical day for the cast of "High School Musical: The Concert." The F-Bomb gets dropped as all the dancers & performers are taking part in a pre-show ritual. As they gather together in a circle backstage, psyching themselves up for the concert they're about to give, one of the members of the cast (It's impossible to tell just who) can be heard swearing.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Now let me stress here that this obscenity gets shouted during a point in this "High School Musical: On The Road" featurette when there is a lot of screaming & yelling going on backstage. Which is how this F-Bomb managed to slip by the folks in Buena Vista Home Entertainment (Soon-to-be Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)'s Standards & Practices Office.
More to the point, you have to have a fairly sophisticated home entertainment system in order to be able to hear this "High School Musical: The Concert" cast member swearing. Which brings us to Disney's current dilemma.
You see, "High School Musical: The Concert" has been available for purchase since June 26th. Which means that -- over the past 14 days -- tens of thousands of copies of this DVD have already been sold and are now being played in homes all over America.
So in order to get those discs back ... Well, Disney will first have to officially announce this recall. Then the company will have to make free mailers available to everyone & anyone who wants to replace their copy of "High School Musical: The Concert -- Extreme Access Pass" with a new F-Bomb-free edition of this disc.
And to be honest, the Mouse doesn't want to do that. A recall like this is going to be expensive. More to the point, it's going to damage the reputation of the company's newest family-friendly franchise at the worst possible moment.
To explain: Disney's "High School Musical 2" marketing campaign is just about to get underway. And Mickey has lined up all sorts of promotional partners this time around. With everyone from Danimals drinks (Which is offering one lucky prize winner the chance to host a "HSM2" movie party at their school that Zac Efron & Corbin Bleu would attend) to Wal-Mart agreeing to help push this Disney Channel Original.
Copyright The Dannon Company / Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
It's that retail giant's "High School Musical 2 All Access Pass" promotion that (I'm told) most troubles Disney Company officials now. You see, all 1800+ stores in the Wal-Mart chain will soon be taking part in this two-week-long in-store event. Which -- starting this coming Sunday -- will encourage kids 6-through-17 to go online and register for a prize package that will include :
Now how are executives of this Bentonville, AR-based corporation going to feel if -- just as their stores are putting up all of their "HSM2" -themed signage -- they also have to pull every copy of "High School Musical: The Concert -- Extreme Access Pass" off the shelves? Or -- worse than that -- have to deal with angry customers who are now trying to return this supposedly G-rated DVD because it contains swearing?
Copyright 2007 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. / Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Can you now understand why Disney officials have been extremely reluctant to put this particular recall in motion? Given all the PR problems that this potentially is going to cause the company. Not to mention how upset the Mouse's "HSM2" promotional partners are going to be.
Of course, one might argue that -- given that this swearing can only heard on one of the bonus features of this disc (More to the point, that you can only really hear it if you have a high-end home entertainment system) -- that Disney doesn't need to recall this DVD. That it might be enough if Mickey just warned customers about where the F-Bomb is located on this particular disc. So that parents could then tell their children not to play the "High School Musical: On The Road" featurette.
Mind you, there are those that would then complain that the Walt Disney Company was only taking half-measures like this because the Mouse cares more about saving money then it does about protecting our children. So this really could be one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations.
That said, Disney executives knew that they were going to have to do something once word about this obscenity got out. Which is why the suits back in Burbank have been wringing their hands since June 29th. Which is when the news that there was a problem with the "High School Musical: The Concert -- Extreme Access Pass" DVD originally began circulating within the company.
Which is why it's going to be REALLY interesting to see what happens next. Will this be "Rescuers" redux? Or will Mickey find yet another way to defuse the F-Bomb?
Ratatouille: $109 mil and only a 35% drop in box office from the previous weekend, with no marketing campaign (cause they don't know how to market it), no WalMart tie-ins, no trip to France, no cooking school promo, and minimal advertising for a summer picture.
Will the target market for HSM spend a half hour turning up the speakers and replaying a boring promo in the hopes of hearing a dirty word? One they hear at school every day for free with no rewinding necessary? (Yes, they even hear it at the proper school your angelic child goes to. They also talk about sex and drugs there.) Most dvds already have the disclaimer that the extras are unrated. If a parent is concerned, I'm sure Disney Co will refund their money. This just isn't the same thing as nudity in an animated cartoon sold to and for children. Some lawyer could bring a civil suit, but it's completely frivolous. Play the old standard, "that's not what the actors said...the actors are screaming 'truck yeah' "
I guess I'm just one of those folks who thinks it's just a word, and not a particularly harmful word at that. Sure, it is considered an obscenity. But (as curmudgeon pointed out) this is a word that kids could hear at school. Or at home. Or in the mall. Or on the street. Or on TV. Even in some PG-13 movies. It isn't hate speech. It's...a word. A word with many meanings, sure, but still...just a word. As far as I'm concerned, it's much ado about nothing.
On an entirely different note, I once heard that Brad Bird made it so that Ratatouille would be critic-proof. I wonder what the story was there...
Honestly, my first reaction was to laugh, just because of the way Disney company has put so may eggs into the HSM basket.
But, I don't think this will be that big of a deal.
First off, if the word is so inaudible, hopefully most people won't care.
Also, as far as I understand the article, this wasn't one of the film's stars or anything. I wouldn't think this would cause a major backlash, but you never know what someone will latch on to..
Hey Jim, a great second weekend for Ratatouille (only a 38% drop) and that doesn't merit an article?
Must be too positive.
makes me wonder how many people would even hear the word or would have even heard about it if someone like Jim would not make such a big deal about it.
If anything the only reason people will know about this is if the media reads jim's article or gets a call by someone and is told about it just so that they later could report it and have something interesting to dish out on a boring news day.
and Ratatouille over 109+ million in 10 days. At this pace within the month it should easily reach CARS numbers which had 117 in ten days. I also have a strong feeling that the international numbers might even be higher than CARS. Ratatouille still has not been released in any big foreign market and already has garnered over 5 million in small markets like russia, brazil and Uraguay.
Ratatouille's results for the weekend are still estimates and not final yet. Jim is probably waiting for the real numbers to come in before commenting on them.
I honestly cannot believe that Jim thought this story was newsworthy enough to write an entire article on it. Oooooooooooooooooooh .... someone said a bad word!!! Whatever shall we do???
First off, this is HIGH SCHOOL Musical, not ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Musical. I'd be very surprised if there was one high-schooler in the entire world who didn't know the effword. Second, if it's barely audible anyway, who's gonna know?? That is, unless people like Jim write big stories about it.
Also ... if anyone actually sees a topless chick in that window in the Rescuers frame, you've got better eyesight than my LASIK-corrected 20-20!! It looks like a purple blob to me.
WDWTITAN24: "Honestly, my first reaction was to laugh, just because of the way Disney company has put so may eggs into the HSM basket."
My laugh would have to come out like "Muhahahahahaahaaa," admittedly.
WDWacky, someone has kindly placed a black box over the appropriate spot in the image. You can read more about that image, and see the uncensored one, here.
I thought when I saw it that it was a painting, actually. Very small and grainy. Done with that now. Yeugh.
Too bad it wasn't a two-disc set. Perhaps it would have been possible for the Mouse to edit the content, make tens of thousand more discs of bonus features and send them out? ;)
I'm sorry, but each time I read something about High School Musical on any Disney website, all I ever have to say is..."Who cares?"
I realize it's a big Disney franchise, and as a fan of the Walt Disney Company I should care...but I just don't care.
I guess I'm 38 years old and I'm not in-touch with the young audience, but I teach Middle School and High School and I'm pretty exposed to what they're into and ...I still really don't care!
I guess Jim has to report it. It's company news. I just find it the furthest thing from my mind when I think of Disney.
Was bringing Ratatouille up in the comments really necessary? People here complain every time Jim writes an article about Pixar, but mentioning it here again and again sure as heck won't make him write any less.
Now that that's out of the way...isn't it pretty much standard to throw a "Bonus features not rated" line somewhere on the back of most DVD boxes? If it's on the package, then Disney is probably in the clear, especially since it sounds like this is anything but a blatantly obvious use of the word.
Anyone have the DVD handy that would be willing to check what the legal text says?
"WDWacky, someone has kindly placed a black box over the appropriate spot in the image. You can read more about that image, and see the uncensored one, here."
Oh my God, are you serious??? What I want to know is what derranged moron actually spent enough time analyzing this film frame by frame to come up with that! Even knowing it was there and staring it took me a good 10-15 seconds to finally see the woman!
Swearing on the one of the DVD bonus sections? I'd just leave it alone. 50 years ago it would have been a big deal. Not anymore. It would cost millions of dollars to fix and that's money that can be better spent elsewhere. Plus you got the fact that many people may not even watch that section of the DVD. It the flub happened during the concert then yeah go ahead and recall it. But it didn't so don't worry about it. That's my two cents worth.
Just love it as it is. No point of making a big deal about it, that would just draw attention to it. And if it's hardly recognizable, why bother..
Uhmm.. Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) becoming Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (WDSHE).. So, WDSHE will *only* be distributing Walt Disney Pictures films, and Touchstone & Miramax Home Entertainment will come back (in full capacity)? Because, I couldn't imagen an R-rated Hollywood Pictures horror baring the name "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment DVD"..
(Love?! Leave, of course..)
Disney should simply offer a refund to those few parents who might be so offput by the F-bomb in the bonus DVD material. I think most people will be forgiving, especially if it's hard to hear and featured in "unrated" bonus material. Still, I understand Disney's dilemma. Confess and apologize to that .02 percent who might be irked. No need for an expensive recall, unless the story gets so much attention that Wal-Mart and others are demanding action.
It's certain that most kids (especially at the high school level) hear and use the F-word on a fairly regular and consistent basis. Heck, I've heard preschoolers use the F-word in addressing their parents ... ever seen Super Nanny? I agree the context and use of the word in the bonus material here isn't all that disconcerting and certainly not directed as a slur against some individual. I find attack speech far more offensive.
All this is a bit silly, but I can understand the concern.
Still, I'd argue that parents often don't pay close attention to song lyrics or things their children are watching or hearing. For example, the film and soundtrack for "Grease" was a big deal when I was in high school ... and I remember our pep squad doing routines to "Greased Lightning," which features some pretty graphic language.
If I had been an adult at the time, especially the coach of the pep squad, I doubt I would have approved the "Greased Lightning" number. As a student back then, I felt like we were in on a joke that went over the head of many adults who simply looked at John Travolta/Olivia Newton John/PG rating as safe and wholesome.