FIREWORKS! by James  Fernald


If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy)
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America’s holy of holies—Disneyland—is desecrated by big government in this strident right-wing satire.

In the year 2030 a metastasized federal government combines tyrannical means (citizens must get computer chips implanted in their hands) and leftish ends (they shut down talk radio). Its worst crime is the nationalization of Disneyland, once “a shining city on a hill” built by “the tools of free thought and free enterprise,” now a desolation of joyless bureaucracy and liberal preachiness. At the once-magical theme park, smiling staffers have become surly union stiffs, hotel guests are rationed three pieces of toilet paper a day for their no-flow commodes and health-conscious snack concessions sell nothing but fruit, yogurt and bran muffins. The attractions have been re-engineered to impart politically correct group-think: the Star Wars extravaganza has been shuttered because of pressure from the World Peace Coalition, Sleeping Beauty Castle has become Sleeping Woman Castle, animatronic parrots denounce Western imperialism and Buzz Lightyear’s Astro-Diplomacy ride encourages youngsters to appease dictators by dispensing foreign aid from a spaceship. Fernald and Favish pen touching odes to the fun and loveliness of Old Disneyland—especially the “casual serenity” of the monorail—to set off their cartoon vision of a monstrous public sector of the future. To them, government is part pacifist Darth Vader, part wicked stepmother who won’t let us eat junk food, part tax-hungry ogre that “sucks the life out of its people and endeavors to eat out their substance as the decades unfold.” It all makes for a tiresome fable in which labored whimsy serves mainly as an excuse for shrill political harangues. (Why would bureaucrats give Snow White an eighth dwarf named Angry? Because, the authors explain, “the driven, narcissistic flow of purely negative emotion fuels the machine of totalitarian omnipotence that the government has built.”) The lurid dystopia is less convincing as a prophecy of liberal fascism than as a caricature of Tea Party paranoia.

A dreary, un-Disneyesque fairy tale that delivers leaden agitprop.

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 2010
ISBN: 978-1451534634
Page count: 320pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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