So have you been following this whole Disney / Barneys
Electric Holiday controversy?
If not, let me do a quick recap: Back in August, when
Barneys New York first released some concept art for the special holiday
windows that Disney artists & animators would be creating for this luxury
retailer's Madison Avenue flagship store, the Internet kind of lost its mind
for a while there.
Copyright Barneys New York /
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
People got one look at Minnie, Daisy and Goofy reimagined as
ridiculously thin super-models and suddenly there were thousands of people
online squawking about how Disney and Barneys New York were supposedly sending the
wrong message to America's youth. How -- by putting together a holiday display
along these lines -- Disney & Barneys was somehow promoting an unattainable
Which is why there suddenly all of these concerned
cyber-citizens signing online petitions and urging others to send e-mails to Disney CEO Bob Iger
& Barneys New York CEO Mark Lee, asking them to cancel Electric Holiday
Thankfully, Bob & Mark stuck to their guns. And two
weeks ago tonight, with many members of New York glitterati wearing Glow with
the Show Mickey Mouse ears ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved
... as they sat in the blocked-off Madison Avenue in front of Barneys New York's
flagship store ...
... the five minute-long video art piece that drives the
whole Disney Electric Holiday display was premiered.
The whole premise of this short piece of animation was that
Minnie -- as she was window shopping for a new dress ...
... day dreams about what it might be like to travel to
France for Fashion Week.
Once there, with the help from Tinker Bell, Minnie gets to
experience what it's like to strut down the catwalk ...
... only to then be roused from this high fashion-based day dream by her
longtime beau, Mickey Mouse. Who's just bought Minnie the exact same dress that
she was just looking at in that shop window.
So as you can see, Disney Electric Holiday hardly deserved
its controversial reputation. To be honest, the most surprising aspect of this
five minute-long video weren't the super model versions of Snow White
... and Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog" ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved
... But -- rather --
the other Disney characters who were looking on in the crowd at Paris Fashion
Week. Which included Captain Hook (who
was paired with Linda Evangelista) ...
... The Mad Hatter (who seated behind Bridget Foley) ...
... not to mention the Cheshire Cat (who suddenly appeared
just to the right of Naomi Campbell & Carine Roitfeld)
On the night that Disney Electric Holiday premiered, perhaps
the biggest reaction of the night came when that legendary fashion fiend
Cruella de Vil was revealed to be backstage at Paris Fashion Week. With Julien
d'Ys himself attending to Cruella's coif before she then headed down the
So you get the idea of the whole presentation, right? Disney
Electric Holiday wasn't a message intended for America's youth. It was just a
silly bit of Christmas-time fun that -- in the words of Sarah Jessica Parker
(who served as the MC for the November 14th launch of these holiday windows)
Photo by David X Pruting.
Copyright Barneys New York. All rights reserved
... were the perfect marriage of the " ...
sophistication associated with the Barneys brand and a youthful magic
associated with Disney."
Bob Iger (who was also on hand when these windows were
unveiled two weeks ago tonight) echoed Parker's sentiments. Talking about how
proud he was that The Walt Disney Company was associated with " ... something
that's quintessential New York and that's Christmas windows. And not just any old Christmas windows, but the
fabulous Christmas windows that Barneys New York always presents."
Of course, one of the reasons that Iger was proud to have
The Walt Disney Company associated with this year's holiday windows display at
Barneys New York was that 25% of the
sales from limited-edition Electric Holiday product (like this solid chocolate postcard ...
Copyright Barneys New York.
All rights reserved
... or this set of Disney Electric Holiday character icon
... or this Minnie Mouse Electric Holiday ornament ...
... or this Electric Holiday tote bag) ...
... will be donated to the American Red Cross. And given
that New York State & New Jersey are still reeling from the impact of
Hurricane Sandy ... Well, this particular fundraising effort couldn't
have gotten underway at a better time.
So once all of the celebrity-inspired hoopla associated with
the November 14th unveiling for Disney Electric Holiday dissipated, how were
the windows themselves? On the night of November 16th (as Nancy and I were
headed out of NYC after covering the 15th anniversary of "The Lion
King" 's Broadway opening), we deliberately drove up Madison Avenue to
Barneys New York's flagship store. Where we then got out and spent a few
minutes ogling the Disney Electric Holiday display.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
And one of the very things that I noticed was that -- while
the score that Oscar-winner Michael Giacchino had created for this Christmas
window display was witty and quite memorable ...
(L to R) Mark Lee, Chief
Executive Officer of Barneys New York and composer Michael Giacchino. Copyright
Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... it was also really, really loud. I mean, it was after
11 o'clock at night when Nancy & I finally dropped by the Madison Avenue
flagship store. And even with our car windows closed, we could actually hear
the Disney Electric Holiday score booming several blocks before we arrived at Barneys New York.
As for the window displays themselves ...
Photo by Jim Hill
... they were really well done. Though -- to get the full
effect -- you actually had to stand across the street from Barneys New York and
watch as this carefully coordinated video window / colored light display played
out over the surface of the entire building.
It was also nice to peer in through the windows at some of
the limited edition Disney Electric Holiday merchandise ...
... and realize that -- thanks to this store being closed at
that time -- I could then avoid the temptation of actually having to buy this high
So if you're in New York City over the next 5 1/2 weeks and
are in need of a high tech jolt of Christmas cheer, be sure and drop by Barneys
New York's flagship store on Madison Avenue to check out Disney Electric
And for those of you who are still somewhat disturbed by the
thin, dead-eyed version of Mickey Mouse who appears in Minnie's
walking-down-the-catwalk day dream ...
... Trust me, folks. There have been lots more disturbing
incarnations of Mickey Mouse. Take -- for example -- the Mickster as he
appeared in that 1995 short, "Runaway Brain."
So which Mickey Mouse do you prefer? The super-skinny super
model or the feral monster?
I don't know what's sillier - the reaction from the folks on the Intrawebs, or the fact that Disney approved this and didn't expect a backlash, and couldn't come up with a better reaction than "you folks just don't get it" when the backlash occurred. A tempest in the Mad Hatter's teapot, if you ask me, but such are the times we live in.
So they're actually selling "Glow With the Show" ears at Barney's? Hope they sell better there than they have at the parks. I'd hate to think how much they must cost if you buy them from there... ;-)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Strange as it may seems, Mr. Schneibs, Barneys New York is not marking up the Glow with the Show Mickey Mouse Ears. On Madison Avenue, people are paying the exact same price that they pay on Main Street, U.S.A. $25.00.
To be honest, I wish that Disney would lower the price (which would then encourage more Guests to buy them). Because when you can catch a show of "Fantasmic!" or World of Color where a good portion of the crowd are actually wearing these things, the resulting effect is ... Well, magical.
Feral Monsters. No Comparison. It's made even funnier since Disney refuses to acknowledge the existence of that cartoon.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Interesting side note here: It turns out that the feral Mickey who appears in "Runaway Brain" isn't the only version of Mickey Mouse that The Walt Disney Company is pretending never existed / actively distancing themselves from.
Care to guess what the other version is? It's the Mickey-as-casually-dressed-owner/MC on that animated series,"House of Mouse."
Seriously. Earlier this Fall, I was interviewing the folks who were working on "Epic Mickey 2." And they told me that these two takes on Mickey Mouse (i.e. Mickey-the-monster from "Runaway Brain" and Mickey-as-host on "House of Mouse") were now off limits. That people weren't supposed to reference or acknowledge those when working on any future projects.
The "Runaway Brain" version, I can kind of understand. But I have to wonder what was so offensive at a tie-less Mickey Mouse serving as the owner / host of his own Disney-toons-only night club.
Sometime the executives at The Walt Disney Company can be downright weird ...
That doesn't sound completely true. There are plenty of references to Runaway Brain inside Disney. I have a snowglobe that features him very prominently, there's a vinylmation of him, as well as other collectibles. I also remember seeing the poster being sold at the parks not very long ago.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Matt, I don't know what to tell you. I was at dinner with one of the game developers on Disney Interactive's new "Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion" back in October. And this gentleman was obviously very well versed on what The Walt Disney Company's current attitude when it comes to Mickey Mouse, which version of that character are being pushed and which versions are now being downplayed. More to the point, this developer shared that "Runaway Brain / House of Mouse" story freely not only with me, but the four other reporters who were seated at that table. So I'm pretty confident when it comes to the sourcing of this particular Mickey Mouse story.