Behind the Schmaltz

This time around, I review a Lifetime movie and a PBS documentary. There isn’t much similarity between them, but they DO both deal with allegedly wholesome family entertainment.

The Unauthorized Full House Story – Beth and I watched this crappy Lifetime movie about a crappy television show largely because Full House Reviewed talked about it. The “unauthorized” title makes it sound like they’re really going to show some dirt on the series, or at least make some up. But no, it was pretty much just as syrupy as the show. They did try to bring up conflict and drama in a few areas, like Bob Saget’s sister who died of cancer, Saget playing a loving father while neglecting his real family (how ironic!), John Stamos wanting to be a respected actor, Dave Coulier’s crappy love life, Candace Cameron wanting to have a normal life, and the Olsen Twins’ mother being concerned about how her kids had become a multi-million-dollar franchise. (If that’s the case, then why did her other daughter also get into acting?) And while they made a point of contrasting Saget’s off-color humor with the character of Danny Tanner, they gave the impression that Stamos and Coulier basically WERE Jesse and Joey. It’s kind of weird that they made a point of showing Stamos’ relationships with Paula Abdul and Rebecca Romijn, but Alanis Morissette wasn’t mentioned at all. Neither were the drug habits of Jodi Sweetin and the Olsens. One part that particularly stuck with me was when Cameron said that her brother kept pressuring her to become more religious, and Stamos said something like, “Kirk has religion, and I have my music. You need to find your own thing.” So religion is basically just a hobby? Hey, as an atheist, I’d kind of agree with that; but it’s kind of a weird message from a Lifetime movie. Not to mention that Kirk’s religion is essentially bigotry and intolerance with Jesus as a front. The whole thing ends with the whole cast reuniting at Candace’s wedding. Did they even all attend that? I don’t know, but I have heard that the Olsens tend to avoid their former co-workers. I’m not sure why, since as lousy as Full House was, it’s not like they’ve done anything better or more famous. Maybe they only want to be known for their business acumen.

American Experience: Walt Disney – A two-part PBS documentary that chronicled Walt’s life and made a concerted effort to be even-handed. It pointed out his creativity and the incredible successes and amazing influence he had, but also came right out and admitted to his temper and favoritism. He was presented as someone who could be either a great friend or a bitter enemy. Its take on Walt’s infamous anti-union stance was interesting, presenting him as somewhat naive, really not understanding why wage disparity was a problem. He went on to blame communist infiltration, and his brother Roy ended up settling with the workers while Walt was out of town. The documentary made it clear how important Roy was to the company; Walt was the creative genius and a great self-promoter, but Roy had the business sense. Another interesting bit of trivia making Walt seem rather stubborn was that he spoke to the head of the NAACP and other black intellectuals before making Song of the South, then proceeded to ignore them. Normally I don’t take any particular issue with Disney’s feel-good, optimistic take on the world; I’m in favor of escapism. It’s different when you’re more or less insulting potential customers, however. Maybe Walt would have learned to be more racially inclusive if he’d lived longer, but I guess we’ll never know for sure. Featured footage included interviews with people who had worked with Walt, as well as some of his television performances and film from the opening of Disneyland. As Art Linkletter (the TV host at the opening ceremonies for the park) might have said, I heartily endorse this program.

Anyway, M-I-C…see you real soon!

Still less hot-headed than the OTHER Donald who’s been on TV a lot recently.

This entry was posted in Revisiting Disney, Television, VoVat Goes to the Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Behind the Schmaltz

  1. Did the documentary comment on the hypocrisy of Disney building his empire on public domain properties and then turning around and petitioning the government to extend copyrights?

  2. marbpl2 says:

    Did Disney himself petition the government, or his successors at the company?

  3. That Full House Story picture is some really weird Uncanny Valley stuff.

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