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Disney Electric Holiday window display brings some high tech Xmas cheer to NYC's Madison Avenue

Disney Electric Holiday window display brings some high tech Xmas cheer to NYC's Madison Avenue

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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 body image.

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 outright.

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  ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... the five minute-long video art piece that drives the whole Disney Electric Holiday display was premiered.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The whole premise of this short piece of animation was that Minnie -- as she was window shopping for a new dress ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... day dreams about what it might be like to travel to France for Fashion Week.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Once there, with the help from Tinker Bell, Minnie gets to experience what it's like to strut down the catwalk ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... 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.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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 ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... 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) ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... The Mad Hatter (who seated behind Bridget Foley) ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... not to mention the Cheshire Cat (who suddenly appeared just to the right of Naomi Campbell & Carine Roitfeld)


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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 runway.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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 lollipops ...


Copyright Barneys New York. All rights reserved

... or this Minnie Mouse Electric Holiday ornament ...


Copyright Barneys New York. All rights reserved

... or this Electric Holiday tote bag) ...


Copyright Barneys New York. All rights reserved

... 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.


Photo by Jim Hill

It was also nice to peer in through the windows at some of the limited edition Disney Electric Holiday merchandise ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... 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 priced stuff.

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 Holiday.


Photo by Jim Hill

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 ...


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... 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."


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So which Mickey Mouse do you prefer? The super-skinny super model or the feral monster?

Your thoughts?

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  • 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 ...

  • @Mattonymy

    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.

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