Oh My Disney: When Fandom Goes Corporate
Sprung up over the past month is a new website that deals with everything Disney, and in ways that are familiar to many fans out there. GIFs, top 10 lists of things, and other silly posts that appeal to the funnier side of Disney characters and films (for example, Damsels Not In Distress). However, for all the joviality, there is something that appears slightly off about Oh My Disney, which is not surprising since it’s the corporation itself that’s calling the shots.
If you visit the site, everything appears innocently enough:
Sure the Disney Company makes no attempt to hide the corporate signage, but it doesn’t display them as prominently as you might expect them to either.
The posts themselves look appealing, even enticing with such titles as:
But what’s this, right at the top?
O…K… Maybe a contributor is a bit of a fan of that godawful show?
With another round of The Bachelor coming to a close today (at 8|7c on ABC), we found ourselves asking the question on everyone’s mind: Who would win if all The Lion King men were pitted against one another on The Bachelorette?
Hmmm, that’s an all-too-subtle-yet-painfully-obvious “hint” that the show is on ABC tonight isn’t it? How many fan sites do you know crow about other properties within the Disney empire in such a blatant display of corporate synergy? Well, uh, none. (No, the ‘advertisement’ flags don’t count, they’re so ubiquitous on the web these days, they blend into the background.)
A bit further down the page we get the marketing schtick for the latest Oz movie that [oh so conveniently] just hit cinemas here in the US.
These blatant promotional posts are not slammed down users’ throats, but they are dispersed just enough to make them appear to be of similar thread than the less serious ones.
The Problems With The Oh My Disney Model
It would be all to easy to point out and discuss the rash of commercial posts on the site, but that would be the obvious (and therefore, easy) choice. No, what Oh My Disney represents is a company attempting to subvert the very fan culture and trust that sustains it.
You see, fans and fandom help support studios, but more often than not, they reside outside of the studios control. Sure, there is some communication (one-way most of the time) but if a studio tries to pull the rope, fandoms can react in the most unpredictable ways (just look at how many ‘reboots’ have been needed over the years.)
With Oh My Disney, the company is attempting to, not so much manufacture, but certainly to control how fans interact with the company and its content. It is trying to not only dictate which content is appropriate, but it is also attempting to dictate how fans react with it.
Just look at the Lion King post, who the heck isn’t going to click on that? Everyone likes the Lion King (except me). The same goes for all the other ‘original’ posts that give fans a few golden nuggets of joy.
The problem is that OMD remains a corporate entity, and thus, it also retains the one-way communication. You can share posts wherever you want, but if you disagree, you won’t be able to air your dissatisfaction on Disney’s website.
Ultimately, Oh My Disney subverts fandom because it strives to prove that the company itself can do it better. That they can create better, funnier posts and that they can sneak in some advertising while they’re at it. That’s a betrayal of fan’s trust, who have already been doing so for years without any help and still remaining loyal to the company.
How are they expected to feel when they learn that not only is Disney muscling in on their turf, they’re trying to sell to them as well? You know the answer as well as I do. At the end of the day, it’s dishonest, but then what else are we to expect from Disney these days.
These should be pretty obvious, but just about everywhere not connected to the Disney Company. They’ll even be real fans, just like you on the other side of the computer screen doing it for the love, not a marketing employee doing it for the money.
Is Oh My Disney a corporate wolf in sheep’s clothing? Let us know with a comment!