Synopses & Reviews
"Disney is so good at being good that it manifests an evil; so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it's unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness....Disney isn't in the business of exploiting Nature so much as striving to improve upon it, constantly fine-tuning God's work."
from Team Rodent: How Disney Devours America
In 1996 the Walt Disney Company reported $18.7 billion in revenues, a thunderous 54 percent jump from the previous fiscal year. By 1997 Disney's revenues had surpassed $20 billion. This torrent of money comes from films, television, home video and stage plays, radio and TV stations, theme parks on three continents, computer software, toys and merchandise, sports teams and hotels, real estate holdings, shopping centers and retail stores, housing developments and even a cruise line. Today Disney touches virtually every human being in America for a profit. And according to veteran journalist Carl Hiaasen, that is rapidly becoming true as well in France, Spain, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Australia, China, Mexico, Brazil and Canada. "Disney is well on the way to devouring the world," says Hiaasen, "the same way it devoured this country, starting first with the youth."
"Who is more powerful Disney or God? It's a tough call, but no one...has grappled with this spiritual question more hilariously than Carl Hiaasen." Frank Rich, The New York Times
"Comic novelist and investigative reporter Hiaasen combines his talents to dis Disney....Hiaasen urges resistance to the conglomerate's hijacking of American culture, leaving it to inspired readers to build a better mousetrap." Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly
"[H]ilarious and venomous....Hiaasen, in addition to being one of our best popular novelists, is a longtime investigative reporter with the Miami Herald, and he details goings on [in this book] that would do the con men and sleazebags in his mysteries proud....If you've ever read one of Hiaasen's mysteries, you know he can be killingly funny (if you haven't read one, for God's sake, stop wasting time with this). Team Rodent is a swift, hilarious read....But the laughs shouldn't disguise that there is a serious and complex subject here, the same one addressed in the early X-Files episodes and The Truman Show: the ability of power to create its own reality....People do not want to believe that, because it's selling Mickey and Donald, an obscenely large conglomerate actually behaves like one. But has any company that has set its sights on transforming the way the world looks, and going about that master plan with autonomy, ever summed up its philosophy any more honestly than 'It's a Small World After All'? And isn't it about time to change the name of that tune to 'Mickey Über Alles'?" Charles Taylor, Salon.com
"As summer looms and families plot their vacation destinations, Team Rodent serves as a timely warning to canny parents. The book is fascinating and darkly hilarious. Hiaasen chronicles Disney World's foibles with equal parts malicious glee and wincing lament. My sole complaint is that it's a tad too short; I could have devoured twice as many essays without feeling even half full. I had to pace myself toward the end, lest I finish too quickly." Christopher Bolton, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
"Disney is so good at being good that it manifests an evil; so uniformly efficient and courteous, so dependably clean and conscientious, so unfailingly entertaining that it's unreal, and therefore is an agent of pure wickedness. . . . Disney isn't in the business of exploiting Nature so much as striving to improve upon it, constantly fine-tuning God's work."
--from TEAM RODENT
How Disney Devours America
"Revulsion is good. Revulsion is healthy. Each of us has limits, unarticulated boundaries of taste and tolerance, and sometimes we forget where they are. Peep Land is here to remind us; a fixed compass point by which we can govern our private behavior. Because being grossed out is essential to the human experience; without a perceived depravity, we'd have nothing against which to gauge the advance or decline of culture; our art, our music, our cinema, our books. Without sleaze, the yardstick shrinks at both ends. Team Rodent doesn't believe in sleaze, however, nor in old-fashioned revulsion. Square in the middle is where it wants us all to be, dependable consumers with predictable attitudes. The message, never stated but avuncularly implied, is that America's values ought to reflect those of the Walt Disney Company, and not the other way around."
About the Author
Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida and presently lives in Tavernier, smack in the middle of the Florida Keys. He is currently Metro columnist for the Miami Herald, where his award-winning columns on rapacious development, egregious business practices, and corrupt politicians have helped clarify issues for the Florida citizenry. Hiaasen turned his hand to fiction in the early eighties. His first novel, Tourist Season, was published in 1986 and named "one of the ten best destination reads of all time" by GQ magazine. He is the author of several other bestselling novels including Double Whammy, Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, and his most recent, Basket Case.
Reading Group Guide
1) Hiaasen says that we need sleaze in our lives that it provides a moral compass. Disney is so savagely clean, they eliminate all hints of sleaze. Is this good or bad?
2) Hiaasen says Disney is scary because they're trying to improve upon nature. They create a fantasy and want to convince people to choose their fantasy over reality. Is this good or bad?
3) Frank Rich, in the New York Times, says that it's dangerous that Disney controls so much they can use ABC News to cover the opening of a new theme park, further blurring the distinction between news and entertainment. What makes this so dangerous?
4) Do you know that, in Florida, Disney is above the law? They have their own government, police force, and fire department. Hiaasen feels they get away with way too much because they control Florida's economy. Do you agree? Haw can this be stopped? Should it be stopped?
5) Children love Disney characters. Do you? What message is sent by these characters? Hiaasen feels Mickey Mouse has as much influence as Jesus Christ. Agree or disagree? Good or bad?
6) What did you think of the sit-com Ellen? Was ABC (Disney) right to cancel it?
7) There is a lot of bad news about Disney's new Animal Kingdom. Have you heard any of it? Is Disney able to control the news?
8) What do you think of the religious right boycotting Disney because of their support of homosexuals?
9) Would you want Disney coming into this town to "clean it up" the way they've cleaned up Times Square?
10) Would you want to live in Disney's mostly white, very safe town called Celebration? Do you think that such towns with very specific idealistic and governmental goals are good for America?