muni goes to disneyland



The ad space in the Powell Street MUNI station has been bought out completely by Disney this month. The entire top level has nothing but advertisements for Disneyland's 50th anniversary "celebration" this year. When a theme park is hyping an anniversary or "discovering the magic" in their promotional materials, that to me means, "No new rides".

In the ads, characters appear to be wildly rejoicing at the prospects of an anniversary celebration. There's Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and...Chicken Little? Yes, Chicken Little gets invited to the party, ahead of Pluto or Minnie or any other characters that people care about. Did anyone see that movie? Wasn't Zack Braff involved? Does Chicken Little lack the ability to cry because of anti-depressants? Was Foxy Loxy an epileptic?

Besides Disney's attempts to force-feed Chicken Little to an apathetic public, the weird thing about the ad campaign is the portrayal of Mickey Mouse. First of all, he's wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Goofy and Pluto also have the ears, but they're carrying them, or whipping them around in a 50th anniversary frenzy. C.L. is nearly unrecognizable in his hat, but then again, he's pretty much unrecgonizable anyway. Mickey is the only one wearing his ears properly, which is odd, since he already has big silly ears. How does the ear cap even fit him? Aren't they smashed under the hat? Mickey is also holding a Disney gift bag, which contains a Mickey Mouse doll. That is a either a disturbing sign of Mickey's narcissism, or a quiet indicator that even Mickey is not immune to Disney's pervasive capitalist ethos.

This only furthers the tradition of public transit advertisements that ruin my interest in their product. In the past, I have had the same reaction to overblown marketing blitzes for Be Cool, Tom Waits and Robert Wilson's The Black Rider, and online syphillis testing. Advertsing on MUNI only causes me to transfer to the product the negative associations I already have about commuting.

One could argue that Disneyland is the perfect advertising partner for MUNI. After all, when I think of MUNI, I think of delays, funky smells, overcrowding, endless waiting in line to board poorly-maintained vehicles, and regular increases in ticket prices with no corresponding improvement in quality. All of those things can apply to Disneyland as well. Maybe it's not that Disneyland is advertising too heavily on MUNI; it's that MUNI should re-brand its light rail service as "MUNI's San Francisco Adventure".


Maybe it should be called the M Line Electrical Parade. There could be fireworks in the tunnels, or at least wintergreen lifesavers. While station operatives would still drone unintelligably over the loudspeakers, they could start doing it in cadence, backed by computerized music. I, of course, would continue to dress like a cartoon princess each and every time I rode the trains.

"Hang on to them ipods and glasses, 'cause this here's the mildest ride in the wilderness! The wilderness of, uh, Balboa Park."

Or the operators' apathetic announcements could be an over-repeated sequence of identical and occasionally offensive jokes that haven't been funny since 1965. And there could be people getting gored by rhinoceroses by the side of the tracks, but it would be okay because they're just comic natives.

Or, okay, you know how you can look through the front of the cars and see the tracks ahead? They should replace that big window with a projection screen showing your daredevil progress through ice asteroids and enemy bases. Instead of arriving at work every morning bored and sleepy, you'll be exhilarated by how you totally helped take out the Death Star even though you're just a passenger vehicle!

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on March 18, 2006 6:23 PM.

re-examining songs from my youth, part 4: "mr. jones", counting crows was the previous entry in this blog.

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