Regarding “Shine Is Wearing Off for Disney Devotee” [June 2]: I’ve struggled with the same ambivalence that Mary McNamara has about Disneyland, and I get her larger point about Disney’s creeping cultural hegemony and labor practices. After graduate school, however, I overcame my disdain of its capitalistic perpetuation and “whitewashing” an idyllic conservative America. I applauded the innovative multiracial “Cinderella,” largely ignored in any treatise, and I enjoy the Magic Kingdom once or twice a decade. It’s a special kind of place that could never be a local hangout or frequent venue for everyday entertainment. Maybe it’s the admission price, but it’s not outrageous for what you get in an all-day and nighttime adventure for not much more than a two-hour Broadway musical including the parking and souvenir program or a movie and just the popcorn.
Even if you didn’t go on one ride after waiting on a long line, you can see live actors and dancers performing in beautiful productions and outstanding parades, wearing incredible costumes, to say nothing of the fireworks and the water show.
Unfortunately, while Mary McNamara’s anti-Disneyland arguments were valid and brilliantly stated, they were made irrelevant by the same logic in Yogi Berra’s reason for declining to visit a particular restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Why is The Times spending so much time, over several days, promoting the new “Star Wars” attraction at Disneyland? I feel like I am subscribed to a Disney advertising blitz.
Aren’t there any more important news items to cover?
Regarding “My Sordid Disneyland Past: Confessions of a Magic Kingdom Popcorn Man” by Richard Stayton [June 2]: Disneyland was called the Happiest Place on Earth by Walt Disney when it opened in 1955; that sweet innocence and concept is a fading memory I am glad I get to keep. Flash forward to 2019 to Galaxy’s Edge, the latest attraction that is so dark, so foreboding and grim I wonder what the very imaginative and innovative Mr. Disney would think of his happy place now.
Armed Stormtroopers and lightsabers in a desolate and eerie landscape doesn’t sound too appealing. This baby boomer will happily take a pass and admit I don’t understand the phenomenon of this cold, bleak, barren and very unhappy-looking spectacle of doom. The real world is scary enough without having to wait in long lines, pay exorbitant prices at overpriced Disneyland of all places.
You want grim? Just turn on the news for free! It all seems Goofy to me.
Frances Terrell Lippman
The Rocketman’s takeoff
Regarding “The Night Elton John Took Off Like a Rocket” [May 31]: My wife and I were visiting California in 1970 when I read Robert Hilburn’s glowing review of Elton John’s debut performance at the Troubadour.
I was very disappointed that we could not see John while we were here. Back home, in Philadelphia, I was very excited to see Elton John would be appearing at the Electric Factory, a venue the size of a warehouse. We were there when John, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson took the stage.
Those were the days before all major newspapers reviewed rock artists, and long before Twitter and Facebook, which accounts for the fact that there were only about 40 people there to see the show. Elton John and his band easily lived up to the promise of Hilburn’s rave review. I was so fortunate to be there.
Regarding: “Blasting Off Into Fantasy: ‘Rocketman’ Reveals Elton John in a Song-and-Dance Extravaganza”[ May 31]: Why does Justin Chang need so many words to write a simple movie review?
Lessons from ‘Chernobyl’
Regarding “Radioactive Power” [May 4]: As expected, the finale of HBO’s “Chernobyl” ended in an epic court battle between truth and the cost of Soviet lies. It was riveting. But now that the show is over, people living around Chernobyl will have an even harder time getting rid of three decades of stigma.
Journalists and the entertainment industry are fixated on old Soviet relics, thyroid cancer and the abandoned Ferris wheel in Pripyat. I don’t blame them, it’s a sexy topic. But they hardly convey the work that goes into keeping this region straddling Ukraine and Belarus alive, from training children to measure radiation to producing certified safe cheese. In Belarus alone, there are 37,000 small businesses operating near the power plant, up from only 2,000 in 2002.
That’s partly thanks to the international community and the UN. There’s no doubt that the disaster’s legacy, real and perceived, is hard to shake off. Last year for example, Ukraine spent up to 7% of its budget on recovery.
But it’s about time we moved on and treated Chernobyl-affected communities as positive agents of change. They’ve had to reinvent themselves and have a lesson or two to teach the world about nuclear safety.
Chevy Chase, Md.
The writer was head of public relations for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in eastern Europe.
This farewell is underrated
Regarding Chris Barton’s last column [June 2]: Wait, what? No, say it isn’t true, Chris Barton can’t stop writing “Underrated/Overrated” and move to Oregon, can he? Surely he can tele-submit his snide, clever, sometimes grating, yet ultimately amusing insights. Isn’t that what the internet is for? Or, as a backup, surely someone has been groomed to feebly attempt to imitate him, bravely enduring backlash until eventually being accepted as a (sigh) better-than-nothing substitute? Please don’t let it happen.
‘Deadwood’ fans, read the book
Regarding “A Bittersweet Return to ‘Deadwood’” [May 31]: It would have been nice — and respectful — if Chris Barton had mentioned in his article that Pete Dexter is the true author of “Deadwood,” not David Milch.
If you want a better account of this classic Hollywood story, read the acknowledgments in Dexter’s most recent novel, “Spooner.” And if you want proof beyond that, read Dexter’s “Deadwood,” published in 1986. It’s much more engaging, honest and humorous.
I first wrote you when, in your remembrance of those who died last year, you included language under photos of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that said they “committed suicide.”
Once again, you’ve used this counterproductive language in the caption for the photo with Gary Stewart article [“When Music Stops Midnote,” June 2]. The word “committed” implies a sinful, illegal or immoral act. This adds additional stigma to those experiencing mental illness or an otherwise intolerable pain that may lead them to consider or attempt suicide.
As Susan Beaton and her colleagues note, “We now live in a time when we seek to understand people who experience suicidal ideation, behaviors and attempts, and to treat them with compassion rather than condemn them.”
Most experts agree on the language “died by suicide,” as an alternative.
Perhaps by removing stigma and seeking understanding and compassion, we may make people who are experiencing this pain more likely to reach out for help.
As the paper of record for many, you could help lead this change.