Disneyland Guests Don’t Deserve A Shutdown

On December 27, it was reported that the Happiest Place On Earth had an almost total power outage. Fantasyland and Frontierland were the most affected, with other lands of the park having electricity shortly after. The park closed earlier because it reached maximum capacity. Half of the attractions were closed and the guests had nowhere to go.

If you’ve been to a Disney park during the holidays, you know how crowded it is. Thousands of people visiting to give their families a unique experience. Sometimes, these families are let down due to the difficulty of handling a vacation in the midst of stampeding crowds. There’s a lot of pushing, waiting in the queue, and having to eat on a bench because most tables are full.

Add a power outage to the mix.

When I heard the news of the outage, I was flabbergasted. How could Disneyland not have a backup plan for power? It felt like the recent power outage at the Atlanta airport. I could only be sad for those who spent $100+ to visit a powerless park.

Some might think it’s easy to blame Disney in these situations, but it makes sense. As the years pass, the tickets, food, drinks, and merchandise gets pricier. As the experience costs more, people should be expecting more. No Audio-Animatronics with technical problems, not a hint of garbage on the floor and the nicest Cast Members we can encounter in the world.

But that’s not the case.

In Disneyland and Disney World, there hasn’t been that much of an improvement in the parks besides newer attractions. And Disney needs to improve in these areas as the parks get more crowds.

What happened in Disneyland this week is just a warning for what happens when you don’t keep improving. We know that things can go wrong, but this feels more of a case where they haven’t improved any power systems because it wasn’t needed and they could still charge more for the parks.

I just hope Disneyland and Disney World are getting ready for what is coming in years ahead. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will change the dynamics of Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If they don’t have systems in place for these kinds of situations, prepare for grumpy guests.

Disney parks are based upon illusions. If they don’t keep that promise, the brand will eventually start to be damaged. It’s time for Disney to reconsider how they see the parks; stop considering them mere cash cows and start working on the artistry and guest experience that made them some of the most recognizable places in the world. Yes, they may have given refunds after the outage, but they can never refund the hopes and dreams of families that wanted a magical vacation.

Many Fans Hate The Last Jedi And I’m Glad That’s The Case

Spoilers ahead.

For all of you die-hard fans:

It is time to throw all you prejudices and fan theories to the trash.

After having seen The Last Jedi twice, I understand the rage that has raised from many fans. All the reassurance that dear J.J. Abrams gave with ‘The Force Awakens’ halts, blowing up every single fan theory available from the last two years since the release of Episode 7. Rian Johnson takes us by the hand to see how our nostalgia gets burned to ashes. In many ways, ‘The Last Jedi’ is a rite of passage, were everything we believed in gets destroyed.

I’m so happy that many fans hate the film. As of right now, Rian Johnson has a smile on his face while watching the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Every single person in production knew this will be a divisive film and they are ready to embrace the hatred.

The Last Jedi leaves the moviegoer as conflicted as the characters themselves. Everybody has to shift their thoughts about this space opera galaxy. The Last Jedi works as a pseudo menace, a threat that the universe will take everything you love about Star Wars.

I’m so glad this is the case. Rian Johnson didn’t have to please the viewers in order to make a good film. He doesn’t care about the fan’s opinions. He did what was needed to transform the franchise.

I’ll try to dissect the film to understand it. Many fans have to watch this movie twice because there is a lot going on. We don’t have time to process the information. This is a more visceral Star Wars film, compared to J.J’s tactical approach to reignite the universe in ‘The Force Awakens’. Maybe this is why the movie became such a rage machine for many fans.

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State Of The Galaxy

Since Lucasfilm was sold to the Mouse, two films have been released under the Star Wars universe.

In 2015, ‘The Force Awakens’ launched the beginning of a thrilling trilogy. With gentle nostalgia touches and interesting characters, most fans of the saga gave the film a thumbs up. J.J. Abrams was able to blend the old with the new, having a consistent storyline with different characters.

In 2016 we had ‘Rogue One’, which explains how the Rebels obtained the plans for the Death Star. Being a Star Wars Story, the film separates from the episodical saga in tone. Even though it received praise from the critics, the movie had some flaws. Some people noticed the lack of character development as the main problem with this film.

What these two films have in common is that they land on common grounds: some known characters, established stories and trying to fill some gaps in Star Wars. Lucasfilm wants you to know the franchise is in good hands and they’re willing to give you the best of what Star Wars means to you.

Enter The Last Jedi.

Rian Johnson comes with the most disturbing of the recent films. It gives you the best of Star Wars from the original trilogy and the prequels (because we can say that Canto Bight and Snoke’s office is on prequel territory, right?). The difference is that things start to shake up. We find out that some things we thought about the universe aren’t as true. The Last Jedi introduces the notion that there is more grey area between the light and dark forces that balance the galaxy. The story gets more complex, less about the battles and more about the meaning behind all this conflict. And all of this begins changing all your expectations from the very beginning of the film.

Blowing Up A Dreadnought

As the scroll finishes, we only have a few minutes until we get a First Order vs. Resistance confrontation. Poe tries to contact Captain Hux to give time for his team to get ready. The conversation begins with the simplest of jokes, yet it communicates to the audience that they’re in good hands. We see Rose’s sister die while bombing the dreadnought.

From the start, this is an intense film. We see Poe Dameron facing the Resistance’s command, lead by Leia. Finn doesn’t want to fight and tries to escape. General Hux is in a tough spot with Supreme Leader Snoke. Kylo Ren learns that he must solve his emotional conflict. Everyone is dealing with internal struggles that may or may not payoff.

Somehow, this first battle encounter is the spark of the conflict within many of the characters in the film. Rian Johnson wants to deliver a battle scene to let us understand later the development of each character. As the second film in this recent trilogy, external and internal conflicts are everywhere.

The Tall, Pale, Skinny Guy

Many fans have pinpointed the different style of comedy in The Last Jedi. In my opinion, it still feels Star Wars, but in a way we haven’t seen in other films. The dark tone of every shot needs some comic relief that the characters in The Force Awakens can’t deliver; BB-8 is too busy being the most badass droid in the galaxy and Chewie is taking care of the Porg invasion in the Millenium Falcon. Because newer and important characters (Rey, Kylo, Finn, Poe, Rose) are struggling, the comedy must appear from another place. This is why I believe that the jokes feel different, as they reflect on Star Wars itself rather than on a single character.

Poe holding on Hux works as a joke because we know that in Star Wars people take threats seriously. Luke throwing a lightsaber strikes us as silly (for me, at least) because we deify the Jedi as an exclusive lineage (spoiler: it’s not). Rey asks Kylo to put some clothing during the ForceSkype™ because, even though they’re talking about a serious topic, it is uncomfortable and she doesn’t need to see him that way. In the end, these jokes touch an emotional fiber of ours, breaks some ‘rules’ we have added as fans, and makes us remember that this is a human story after all.

Porgs

I make a clear distinction between Porgs and the jokes of the movie because they are more of a comic relief and running gags. Porgs do the job BB-8 had to do in The Force Awakens, but in a much bigger scale. Porgs are charming little creatures we just want to hug as the only comfort we have in the movie. They fill us with joy and cuteness when we need it most.

Many people were scared they would become the next Ewoks (I like Ewoks), but they ended up being fun little running gags. I love when the Millenium Falcon is plagued with Porgs. I love when they see Chewbacca eating their little friend. I love when they fly around the mysterious Jedi island. Rian just decided to embrace silliness with these creatures, besides having the practical purpose of hiding the puffins present in the island during filming.

Leia Is Strong With The Force

In a desperate action by Kylo Ren trying to reinforce himself that he can deal with his internal conflict, he tries to kill her mother Leia. He wasn’t able to push the button, but it was too late as a fellow First Order pilot blows up part of the Resistance’s space ship. We see Leia (and Admiral Ackbar) die in this attack.

Leia’s body starts to move in space. First her hands, then her eyes, as she extends her arms to fly to the spaceship.

Leia has Skywalker blood within her. She is strong with the Force. Even in The Force Awakens, Leia has some moments when she viscerally feels how Han dies. So yes, it is plausible that she has enough powers to fly through space and straight to the spaceship.

Many people have criticized the fact the Rian Johnson could have killed her in this moment, as it happens early in the film. Even though this decision could be made due to the terrible loss of Carrie Fisher, it destroys Poe’s arc completely. Without Leia, it makes no sense that Luke could come back and help the Resistance. In the end, Leia is much more that a nostalgia character in The Last Jedi.

One of the recurring themes in this film is understanding the Force at a different level. In some ways, Leia’s power to go through space foreshadows this arc of the story: The Force can be used as long as you embrace it and use it to bring balance to the universe.

Rey’s Force Crash Course

Due to the amount of character development that Rian Johnson tries to deliver to every single character, there are few details about Rey’s training under Luke’s tutelage. But I find this thought, expressed by many film critics, misleading. Even though Rey’s training isn’t as action-packed as Luke’s in Empire Strikes Back, she gets enough wisdom to comprehend the Force within her. Also, she makes some self-exploration as she embraces the Dark side as much as the Light, understanding how the Force is balanced. Yes, I wanted more Jedi training, but this would mean that it would me a remade Empire Strikes Back moment. I like the fact that her training doesn’t come as much from Luke, and more from understanding problems and finding answers for her internal conflicts. Let’s remember she is also dealing with the constant ForceSkype™ with Kylo, and that has a significant importance to her character’s arc.

The Finn-Rose Trip

As Finn is about to escape, he encounters Rose. She was grieving over the loss of her sister, as she sacrificed to tears down the dreadnought. Finn tries to take advantage of his hero status to get rid of her, but she is much smarter than that.

Rose’s belief in Finn gets shaken, but soon they bond out of geekery. They relate technical information to the idea that the First Order can now track spaceships through hyperspace. The relationship slowly builds up until they can go on a trip to find the code breaker.

Both are emotionally struggling, as Finn looks for Rey and Rose just lost her sister. They are looking for answers and this trip will give them some. They grow as they relate more to the cause of the Resistance. In the end, they find their place in the galaxy by understanding that they are part of something bigger.

Canto Bight Shows The Best Of The Prequels

As Rose and Finn take the trip to find the code breaker, we end up on Canto Bight. So far this has been one of the most divisive sequences of the film. I’m going to settle on the fact that this B plot is necessary for the characters and the overall story.

First of all, Canto Bight shows how the prequels could have gone right. Richly detailed, with interesting characters, this sequence makes the Star Wars universe look so much bigger, something lacking from The Force Awakens.

Second, this casino setting explains to us how the war is financed. It shows how a part of the galaxy is living a normal life while others are fighting for freedom, just like it happens in real life. It’s just the way it goes. Maybe people criticize this because it feels like real life, but for me is the reassurance that the film also projects a stance on a current situation in society, which makes it relatable.

Third, without this plot, Finn and Rose would have never grown as characters. Finn would have escaped and failed at helping Rey. Rose would have escaped too, now that she has nothing to fight for. Both characters grow, they find their place, and that is what makes this sequence essential.

Some have also criticized DJ, the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro. In the few moments we see him, there’s a character with a clear purpose. He’s just taking advantage of the war as those millionaires on Canto Bight. DJ exposes that there’s a middle ground for those that don’t care about politics or the force. As a consequence, the themes of the saga feel much richer and deeper.

I understand that the Canto Bight sequence takes a little more time than needed to state its purpose, but I’m glad we are being exposed to other parts of the galaxy. If we don’t allow directors and screenwriters to take these kinds of risks with the saga, it will never flourish like it has in other media like canon-related books.

On The Rey-Kylo ForceSkype™

In my opinion, every single conversation between Rey and Kylo was my favorite bit of the entire movie. It is clear they’re both finding out what to do as they go along. In their story arc, many questions need to be answered. Sometimes they even have a certain accountability partner vibe until the battle in Snoke’s office.

As they try to find out their place in the universe, a moral dichotomy is present between both parts. Rey wants to understand the dark side to resist it. Kylo wants to know how he can outgrow the current status quo. In this dichotomy, we are constantly wondering who will switch to the light/dark side. We’ve been trained that the Force has only two sides and no in-between. Luke plants the idea of a Jedi-free Force, where this power belongs to everyone.

When Kylo kills Snoke, it is pretty clear who has turned. But Kylo hasn’t switched to a side, but to an ideal: burn the past down to build something from the ground up.

This ForceSkyping™ also prepares us for Luke’s Force projection, as we see for a few seconds that Kylo has been able to project himself to be with Rey in the same physical space. As the pieces move into place, we understand the reasoning behind these conversations and how they let to Rey and Kylo’s personal development.

Snoke Died. Now What?

Snoke’s death was the most surprising moment of all. Yes, my eyeballs fell off as the camera panned horizontally to reveal Yoda, but the fact that Kylo killed his mentor without any mercy left me speechless. Snoke’s death is the realization that Kylo is willing to kill the past, even if it is needed to destroy all the politics of the dark side.

The other aspect of this death leaves many fans wondering the story of the all mighty Supreme Leader. What we know, if we get picky about the way the character is portrayed, is how similar he is to Kylo Ren. Just think about it. The way he establishes his power through imagery instead of real power. Granted, we see him doing some badass Force stuff in the movie, but it is used only when necessary. Giant hologram? Gold robes? Surrounded by guards? No Sith needed that much to establish its power.

I’m not sure about his destiny in Episode 9 or the Star Wars Universe, but Snoke needs to be explained, whether in a book or a film, as it is one of the biggest plot holes in both Episode 7 and 8.

Poe Dameron

Poe gets quite some lessons about leadership as he is getting ready to be a prominent leader for the Rebels/Resistance. Having Holdo as someone who makes him step back of his old tactics allows the character to evolve. What we get is a stronger character, that is much more thoughtful than it appears. Many people raved about Poe in The Force Awakens, but for me, it was just a pilot friend of Finn. With The Last Jedi, there is a stronger arc for the character. Maybe he won’t be the main commander in Episode 9, but he’ll definitely be a very prominent character as Holdo and Leia are not with us anymore.

Hyperspace As A Weapon

This is the most beautiful shot in the film, and it dares to create new visual storytelling for the saga.

Holdo sacrifices for the greater good and Poe Dameron learns from that. Some fans have stated that this hyperspace scene breaks the entire film. Why use weapons when you can destroy a ship into hyperspace? First, I’m sure those spaceships aren’t cheap. Second, you’ll need to have an equivalent spaceship to evacuate. Third, the logistics of leaving the spaceship are much more complicated than having other vehicles for attack (X Wings, Tie Fighters).

As I said, this is my favorite shot of the film and I applaud braveness in a franchise film. Rian Johnson is exploring what can be done within the universe and we get feats like this one from Holdo.

For those who still think using hyperspace is illogical: watch episode 7 of season 4 from Star Wars Rebels. Thank me later. 

Phasma Isn’t As Badass As We Thought

Of all the things that have bothered some fans, Phasma’s death is the one that affected me the most. She had the potential to be a great character and there’s even a whole book detailing her backstory. I’m doubtful she will come back. Finn was able to defeat the commander that gave him so many headaches, but we are left with no other ideas about her character. I always saw her as some mediator within the high ranks of the First Order, as Hux and Kylo are always in tension. Well, at least we had a short fight with her and the knowledge that her armor was bullet proof.

Yoda

I gasped when the camera panned to see Yoda as a force ghost. It was the most surprising yet logical appearance of a character. Just as Obi-Wan appears as a force ghost in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke needs to be remembered that he is doing his best, but the fight isn’t lost. Upon Yoda’s death, he has become wiser, acknowledging how the old religion has many wrong ideas, just like Luke has discovered in his lonely retreat.

Besides the word play Yoda does to tell Luke that Rey has everything she needs to learn (because she stole the books), he gives the final push to Luke, showing him that he needs to give hope to the rest of the galaxy.

Luke And Leia

This sad farewell from the Skywalkers is meta. You can’t stop thinking that Carrie Fisher is dead. But besides that, this scene foreshadows somehow the fact the Luke is force projecting himself. The fact that Han’s dice fall under her hands because she is the only one to be force sensitive, C3PO wondering if it’s actually his master, the close-ups that we have of Luke’s younger and groomed beard. We get enough time for us to understand what is happening. It is genius that few people catch this upon first viewing because we have deified Luke in such a way that we don’t see these smaller details.

Your Fan Theory Doesn’t Have To Be Considered

As you have read, I wanted to touch upon several points instead of doing a pretty generic review of the film. What I want to pinpoint to most is the fact that your theories about the last 2 years don’t need to be canon. Rey doesn’t need to be a Skywalker, Snoke isn’t as strong as you thought so and Leia is stronger with the force than expected. This film opens up so many questions and possibilities because it breaks free of the pressure that many fans give it. Even though Star Wars has a big fan base, a big portion is one of the most close-minded, hermit individuals that just want a story similar to the original trilogy. I don’t want a Star Wars film that gives me the same regurgitated plot. Maybe I don’t agree with the plot, but at least it is making me think about this universe so much.

The Last Jedi will sure be considered one of the best Star Wars films of all because it was willing to take risks within the universe. We as fans are growing with the new possibilities this film has given us. I don’t know what to expect for Episode 9 because Rain Johnson did mental Jedi tricks on me and that is amazing. I just hope that many fans that have negative thoughts on this film would be willing to give it a try, as the next film closes on the many gaps that it has opened just like The Empire Strikes Back did in 1980.

Coco Respects Mexico And Latin America: The DisOutsider Review

 

After two weeks of waiting for the international release, I saw the film last Friday. I haven’t been spoiled by any plot points, but sure there were reactions that had me biased. At the end, the film made me cry, laugh and be in awe as Pixar represented a delicate celebration of Mexico’s culture.

As a Latin American, I’m tired to see cartoons of our cultures on screen. Even Mexicans represented in entertainment are a bland, Tex-Mex version of themselves. In many cases, Hollywood attempt at diversity ends up doing more harm than good.

Coco’s different. In the first few minutes, we are immersed in the narrative of Miguel’s family by telling what we need to know via ‘papelillos’ or little banners used in Mexican festivities. I may not be Mexican myself, but our cross-cultural bonding leads to common customs manifested in different ways.

What makes Coco a great film is that it tells an universal story in a local culture setting. Family is the center of western families, which makes it a topic you can empathize no matter your relation with it.

I’l try to pinpoint certain aspects of the film that make it truly Mexican and Latin American in a way. Enough has been said about the plot and story, so I’m not getting deeper on this side of the film.

La Familia

Family is the core of any Latin-American society. Compared to other cultures that I know, our bonding with what might be considered distant relatives (aunts, uncles, nieces) is much closer. We meet regularly and we enjoy it, compared to the tortuous Thanksgiving dinner that many North Americans get stressed about. We try to stay in contact as much as possible. In the end, we love our families (most of the time).

In the first few minutes of the film, this family bonding is shown. The Riviera’s live and work in the same place. Grandmothers stay with their sons and nietos. They have a small business that goes from generation to generation, like a tradition. Sometimes this tradition is great; sometimes people are locked into a job they don’t like (like Miguel’s case).

I have friends with businesses that go from generation to generation: from small shops, to bakeries, to architectural firms. It is common to keep the business within the family, as it is the group of people we trust the most (most of the time).

Belonging To Your Town

That small pueblo were Miguel lives is present in every single Latin American community. These small towns, filled with tight bondings and ancient traditions, is where the culture shines compared to more metropolitan areas. These small towns know each other from generation to generation and they don’t consider moving to more urban areas. They enjoy a simpler way of life.

I’ve been to Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia. Each of these countries have some sort of pueblo just like the one shown in Coco. It is where our cultures flourish and expand the magical myths that surround them. In this case, we have an opportunity to experience El Día De Los Muertos within Miguel’s pueblo.

La Chancla

If you’re Latin American, you know about la chancla. That heavy, sturdy and solid piece of shoemaking that can be slapped as a lovely (but harmful) way to tell you that is not what you should do. Let me state that I’m not embracing la chancla as a way to teach children. What I’m stating is that it is common, mostly with elders, to use la chancla as a punishment device. In my house, I’ve never had a chancla experience, but some of my friends do have had experiences with it.

What I like about la chancla in the movie is that it shows the grandmother’s almost dictatorial approach to how family and traditions work. It is clear this is a wounded family, trying to vanish a past that haunts them in a way.  La chancla establishes the character and isn’t used as a running gag.

Most Latin American Countries Have Their Ernesto De La Cruz

When Ernesto De La Cruz appears on screen, it is reminiscent of every single artist demigod present in most Latin American countries. Carlos Gardel, Chico Buarque, Ilan Chester, and more are some of the famous singers that have the same demigod quality shown in Ernesto De La Cruz. We love our local artists but there are just a few that go straight to that demigod star quality.

In some cases, these artists are filled with controversies, like the Willie Colon and Ruben Blades controversy with the song ‘El Cantante’, the song that made Hector Lavoe famous as a solo singer. This is reminiscent of the Hector and Ernesto story, much more complicated and offensive. Still, it has that essence of artist controversy that plagues the stardom of some of these demigod singers.

It Isn’t Only About Mexico

As I have tried to explain in this article, Coco has a local Mexican appeal, yet it reflects as a consequence many of the motifs and tropes around Latin American culture. It shows our own origins, keeping with the authenticity. I don’t know if Pixar made this on purpose or they are even aware of it. I’m glad they took the time to use Mexico as a whole, with its traditions, culture, and overall settings. The plot drives this necessity and I’m glad Pixar took the leap to engage in the culture instead of imposing a plot within a setting.

I remember when us Venezuelans were happy to see that the landscape near Angel Falls inspired the setting were ‘Up’ is set. In this case, they only took the landscaping, kidnapping it from the culture it represents. Even though I’m fine with it and I understood they were only interested in using it as a setting, maybe they could have explored the culture and take part of it for the story like they did with Coco.

El Día De Los Muertos

Coco’s story occurs on a local holiday that ends up being more universal. Pixar does a good job at explaining elements of the holiday and the universe they’re building, just like they had to in the first act of Inside Out.

Lee Unkrich and the Pixar team have done a great film, with the little touches that make it authentic to the culture it represents. Mexico and the Latin American community just had proof that Hollywood can reflect their cultures in a respectful way. They did a fantastic film (among my top 3 Pixar films) with enough special touches that make it stand out as a storytelling masterpiece.

Disney YouTubers Are Also Dealing With Adpocalypse’s Collateral ‘Machine Learning’ Damage

We were just a few minutes into the interview when Christine, known as IvyWinter, told me about her first experience with YouTube demonetization. ‘I am definitely not as big as all of these other channels and maybe they don’t even see me, and then, funnily enough, when you reached out to me, literally that day my video got demonetized’. Christine has around 1,315 subscribers on her channel. Even though she might think of herself as a small channel, she is still experiencing a problem plaguing YouTube, including the smaller community of Disney YouTubers.

 

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Christine in her video How To Plan A Last Minute Trip To Disney World

The Adpocalypse started happening in YouTube back in April 2017. Advertisers started leaving or pausing their campaigns with YouTube because it was placed on unwanted videos.

‘So when that news came it was sort of a really unfortunate series of events because this all originated back with this idea of ads running against videos that advertisers would absolutely want nothing to do with it, in particular the more extremist stuff like terrorist recruitment videos, stuff like that, like violent videos’, Rob from Rob Plays commented, a Disney YouTuber that has risen to 50,000 subscribers since one of his videos went viral. ‘It got to the point were advertisers were pulling their money out and YouTube was put in this really hard position were, as a company, they already aren’t making a profit’

Ever since the Adpocalypse happened, YouTube has established new ways to determine if a video can be considered ad-friendly, depending on the content. This makes sense as videos with unsuitable behavior or terrorist-related should be banned from the platform. What people don’t know is that these policies have affected many family-friendly creators, demonetizing their videos as a result. Christine expands on this issue:

What the problem is, as is being discussed, is that this algorithm doesn’t make sense. The fact that its demonetizing family-friendly channels that literally have nothing wrong it blows my mind. I can’t even believe that DSNY is being hit in every single video. And it’s crazy to me because he is speaking to somebody at YouTube like: ‘Hey you keep doing this’. All they tell him is that there’s a glitch or whatever their reasoning is. But you think, is there really nothing they can do on their back end to say ‘okay this channel is good, were consistently realizing there’s a mistake here, we can exclude him’?. I don’t understand from their perspective why this can’t be fixed.

Jack from the DSNY Newscast channel has been one of the most affected YouTubers. With over 60.000 subscribers, he has been gradually demonetized as his channel started taking off. Since April of 2017, Jack has been producing three videos a week, doing 12 newscasts of Disney-related content per month. He stated that each video takes at least 6 hours of planning, scripting, recording, and editing. ‘And that’s six hours of time you can’t spend with your friends, or your family, or you can’t have much of a social life because, especially with what I’m doing, when the news breaks I need to drop everything and get in front of that camera, make sure people know about that’.

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Jack from The DSNY Newscast

At the beginning, Jack didn’t had much of a problem with demonetization. As the months passed, it started ramping up:

The first video became flagged in August, and I believe it was the Indiana Jones one. And I thought ‘huh, this is a bit weird’. I was annoyed about it but, okay, it’s only one. And later on I had another one and another one. Around 3 or 4 in August. And 4 out of 12 isn’t a whole lot. It hit me a little bit, but I didn’t mind it too much. Then in September, it ramped up a little bit more, around 6 of my videos if not 7 were flagged. In October around 8 of them were flagged. And then every single one in November was flagged, it was demonetized. And that’s really damaging as a creator. Not only it is discouraging to think that there’s 12 videos there, were I’m spending 12 times 6 hours (72 hours). It’s a lot of hours. You’re spending three whole days working on content and you don’t get any sort of monetary, you know, remuneration for it. And I don’t do it for the money, but will need to have money in life to exist. That’s the way the world works.

In the case of Rob Plays, he started gaining momentum after a video called Why Disney Water Rides Smell Different went viral, back in May 2017. He has only been affected by 3 or 4 of his videos. Even though he is in a less complicated position, he tries to understand why the videos are being flagged, even though they are family-friendly. Rob never thought it would affect him, as well as other Disney YouTube channels:

I never thought it would come to Disney. I thought: ‘oh well, the topic is so family-friendly and child safe that there’s no way the algorithms going to go this far and start hitting things’, but it became pretty clear very early that this algorithm wasn’t just hitting more than it should; it was hitting almost everything. It felt that there was no video that was going to escape this.

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Rob in his video AJAX And ACME: Fake Cartoon Companies

Christine and Rob understand the side of the advertisers; no big company is interested in putting their ads on content that damages the company’s reputation and overall message. Even though the algorithm isn’t working as it should, Rob considers it is the only way to take on the problem. As 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, an automated solution is the only way. What worsens the problem is that this process is still making mistakes and it isn’t showing any signs of progress.

When a video is demonetized, YouTube allows you to appeal for a review made by a human. This takes around 24 hours. For a creator to be able to appeal a video, it should get more than 1,000 views. This places small channels in a terrible position, when they need to wait and reach those views until they can appeal. Christine had to deal with this, as her videos could take some time to reach the amount of views required:

What’s even more interesting is that when you try to fight back on that and you’re a small channel, they actually hit you with a message that’s kinda like ‘if you don’t have X amount of views, we don’t really look at this yet’. So I was like, OK, because I’m smaller you don’t even care trying to give me the money back.

Even if you get a 1,000 views within the first few hours, it could take a couple days after your video is reviewed and cleared. In the case of Rob and Christine, this doesn’t affect them as much. Most of their videos are designed as evergreen content, where it doesn’t matter when you watch them. Jack’s case of the DSNY Newscast is different. Rob expands on the topic:

I consider myself lucky because a lot of my videos are intentionally designed to last forever. You could watch that water video any time of the year and it makes sense whereas Jack at the DSNY Newscast, he does news. After a week, those videos lose their relevance. So he needs to get the views right upfront. A day or two of that review could just be really bad for were his channel could go in terms of earning revenue and making a job out of it. I feel lucky because for most of my videos they don’t get the most of their views until a couple of weeks after the video is out. By that time, even for the new videos were I had issues with, they were already cleared out and everything was fixed. It’s not a huge problem for me but at the same time I see it happening to my colleagues that have these other channels and its tough but there is no real… I don’t know what the solution could possibly be besides just sort of powering through this.

When a video is flagged, YouTube doesn’t notify you. Christine says the only way to know if a video is being demonetized is by looking at your videos and checking to see if it has ‘the funny yellow icon’:

Way back, when I first had a few videos demonetized. (…) these were old, video game videos. About a month or two ago, they did give me a little notification once at the very beginning that said ‘some of your videos might be demonetized, click here to see which ones’. They made sense to me because they were horror video games so I could see how maybe it was seen as violence or whatever. Okay, I get it, that’s fine. I put the connection together. But that was the only time I got a notification. When this one happened, there was just nothing, I had to check. And I feel that’s what is happening to a lot of people. They check their videos every day to see if something is being demonetized because they’re not being told about it.

Even if demonetized videos are revised and cleared, the problems keep happening on the side of the creator. For YouTube channels, the first 24 hours of a video are the most important. In some cases, the first day of a video makes up most of the views for the creator. This is the case of the DSNY Newscast; the videos lose relevancy as time passes and most of the money he could get from his videos happens during those first 24 hours. If Jack has a video demonetized, his revenue is affected. Not only that, but YouTube’s algorithm won’t bring him as much traffic as he could, because the site isn’t making money from him.

Christine states that this policy hurts small channels not only for a single video, but for the possibility of reaching out new subscribers. ‘I feel that’s really disheartening for somebody who is small and starting out and if they get demonetized you get this message that says you need to get this amount of views to even look at your appeal. I think that’s going to make a lot of people feel like ‘forget this, I don’t even want to bother to try to grow (…)’.

Taking into account that YouTube isn’t a small company, it is difficult to say they’re tackling the problem as smooth and fast as it should be. In Jack’s opinion, YouTube is only dealing with their worries, without considering it’s the creators who make the platform as popular as it is:

When there’s a thing that affects them, in terms of advertisers saying were not going to advertise anymore on your platform due to ISIS/terrorist content, racist content, things like that being published in the platform, they act very quickly if it affects their bottom line, if it affects their income. But when it affects the people who, if it wasn’t for us creators who create the content, there wouldn’t be a YouTube. If it affects us, they don’t act fast, and they’re not acting on it whatsoever. And it’s a middle point to say ‘oh there’s mistakes in the algorithm’. Well, number one, you shouldn’t release an algorithm that has mistakes in it, and by saying there’s mistakes they’re admitting fault, that they got a faulty product which we can’t file a class action lawsuit against them. (…) It’s a vicious circle, but YouTube are not doing anything about this. And I hope they do, because it would be better for everybody involved.

This demonetization has raised the problem that most creators can’t make money only out of ads. In most cases, they have two or three streams of income that allow them to deal better with these problems and provide better content for their audiences. Among the most common alternate options for income are:

  1. Direct Ads: creators make deals with sponsors to promote their products/services within the video. This allows creators to have extra income and have sponsorships without YouTube as the middle person.
  2. Merchandise: creators make T-Shirts, stickers, and other related products with the logos of the channel, inside jokes, and quotes from the creator. Some are done in limited quantities and sold through sites like TeePublic or Cotton Bureau.
  3. Donation: Popularized by Patreon, creators offer an easy way for their audience to donate to the channel. In the case of Patreon, depending on the amount donated you are part of a tier with some benefits. Some of the benefits offered are private livestreams, exclusive merchandise, behind the scenes content and early access to new content.

Rob and Jack have done some of these options as a way to keep the channel going and rely less on YouTube’s ads. Also, multiple income streams allow you to eventually become a full-time content creator. ‘I think that was always the case’, Rob explains. ‘Even before the Adpocalypse I always felt personally that was something that needed to be setup before I could make that move’. Rob also mentioned that the ad rates are getting worse year after year.

Rob also explains that to prepare as a full-time YouTuber, you must consider yourself a small business:

If you’re going to become a YouTuber full time, you’re starting your own business. It’s a very media-centric business and its on this channel and people call it YouTubing, but it is basically starting a business. To put all of your eggs in one basket, whether there’s an Adpocalypse or not, is a bad idea. I think that what this did was highlight that to people that are aspiring to do this full time or they are already doing it full time. (…)

I asked Jack about a recent merchandise store he launched and his Patreon campaign, as I wondered if it was a reaction to the demonetization issues or part of his roadmap as a content creator. He was candid about it:

To be honest, the store is something I stupidly promised back in June. I opened my mouth and said ‘hey guys, these shirts will be coming soon’. And then I researched, then D23 happened and you lose track of time and you don’t have enough time in the day to do it. The more I researched, the more complicated, I couldn’t do it with Redbubble, they had some bad reviews, also there were bad reviews about Teepublic, and numerous other shirt stores. And I said that I can’t let people who watch my videos have a bad experience, so I thought I’ve got to do it myself. And when I did it myself I realized how little money there is in merchandise. If you do it on a massive scale, if you’re a PewDiePie or a Casey Neistat, it makes sense because its an economy of scale; they’ll buy thousands of shirts at once and that brings down the cost per unit. Whereas mine, I’m not buying a thousand at a time to bring down the cost per unit because I don’t know what size people are, I don’t know which variation they’ll want. I just don’t have the money to be able to buy at that quantity. I don’t have a business loan for it. I don’t have any of that so I just had to do it bespoken to peoples specifications. So the store itself doesn’t actually make a lot of money whatsoever. It’s a lot of work for the store and, for the amount of work that went to it, it’s nowhere near profitable. You know, just because of the amount of hours you put into it divided to the amount of money I’ve made out of it, it’s well under the minimum wage. It’s like 4 pounds an hour. (…)

An the end, the store was more a reaction to his audience that the demonetization. He wasn’t sure about making a Patreon campaign:

The Patreon thing is something that I so desperately didn’t wanted to do. People asked me back in July in my first Q&A if a Patreon was coming and I originally recorded an answer saying no, I don’t want to do Patreon. I cut that because I just didn’t want to say no and then had to. I wasn’t sure about it. So when it came to actually having to do it, it was a very difficult decision because I don’t want to actually. The whole idea of the channel was that the price of entry is your fandom, it’s free. You know, you should love Disney and you should have a place were you can show that you love Disney. I just wish Disney could do what I’m doing. If Disney did what I was doing, then I would be out of the job on YouTube.

Many YouTubers are employing this strategy of multiple streams of income, as it allows them to don’t have all their eggs in a single basket. Christine mentioned that most big channels like Roberto Blake are constantly doing sponsorships and speaking gigs. ‘Its interesting and I wonder if that worries YouTube’, Christine mentions, ’because they made them popular but now they’re finding this other avenues to make money and they’re going to leave and just do that’.

Ever since YouTube, creators have wondered of what could come next as a competitor. Sites like Vimeo and Vidme. Vimeo has been considered a more artistic focused site, relying on features like Vimeo On Demand. Vidme had an interesting proposition, but the site announced that it will shut down on December 15th. So, as of right now, YouTube has had a monopoly in regards to video content for almost 10 years.

Rob has been reading in forums and groups were creators hope that a YouTube competitor, like Vimeo, could take over. He believes that’s not going to happen:

I used to say that the only company that could take down YouTube is YouTube, with their own decisions. But even that I don’t know if I fully believe anymore because what’s required to create the YouTube killer is impossible at this point. It has to offer everything that YouTube offers, yet also have something new and unique that would make people go ‘oh I’ll put my videos there instead of YouTube’ or ‘I want to watch videos there instead of YouTube’. The resources just to create a YouTube clone. Even (Vimeo and others) don’t come close to YouTube’s quality.

Rob believes that the problem is more about the way advertising is handled and how the platform could work better around it. ‘The fundamental business of advertising needs to shift, change in a different direction’. He considers that multi-channel networks (Maker Studios, Awesomeness TV, Vevo) could be a solution, were the networks help you with advertisers:

Taking care of you means, we’re working with advertisers and having direct advertising deals done, we can ensure your video is flagged as monetizable-safe or advertising safe, and then we get you that revenue. (…)

Besides that, he doesn’t see a future were another platform takes over:

If people could understand what it would cost them to do what they do on YouTube on their own, they would understand it’s a steal that we could actually use YouTube for free. That I get to upload and have down-to-the-second detail about people watching my videos. Just all the data and the fact they run ads and I get a cut from that advertising and that I invest zero dollars a month for that technology is amazing. (…)

Christine considers that it could be the time when another competitor comes in:

Maybe this is the moment when someone comes around and makes a little chaos against YouTube. (…) I do think that for a lot of these big YouTubers is all about their brand and they’re thinking a lot about it right now.(…)They think how can I make a brand about myself so that when I have to leave YouTube for whatever reason I can carry my subscribers to whatever platform I’m going next. (…) I still think it’s going to take time for something like that to happen. This is a very slow burn. There’s been issues before for the last couple of years. (…) I believe it’s going to take a little longer.

Not only is a future competitor something that is difficult to see right now, it is also difficult to transition from one platform to the other. Multiple streams of income make it easier to move to another platform, but it does not solve the idea of convincing subscribers to the next platform. ‘I think a lot of people would have to move all around the same time to convince that average viewer to go blind instead of going home and logging on to YouTube, I’m going to go home and log onto this website because this has more of the videos I want to watch that YouTube does(…)’, Rob states.

Rob explained that most full-time YouTubers try to work out long-term plans that allow them to be financially independent from the platform. He will try and be a full-time YouTuber starting January and his focus is having as many backup plans as possible to have enough income streams:

I made this decision that I would quit my job and try to do this full-time for a year and then my videos started getting demonetized and my first initial thought was like ‘oh maybe I shouldn’t then’. But if I’m doing it the right way that shouldn’t stop me because I need to have a plan B, C, D, and E, you know. This is just going to force me to do that and hopefully will force others to do that.

As Facebook is doing a push to have more video content, I raised the topic during the interview with Christine. She mentioned that, even though they have had a focus on video, people don’t consider Facebook like a media platform. Other problems Facebook faces as a possible competitor is that it doesn’t have an easy way to build an audience like YouTube.

Jack at the DSNY Newscast considers he could try other platforms and see if it could be better than YouTube for his content:

There are rumors of Amazon coming up with their own streaming service to rival Google and I can’t wait to see what that is and if it’s better, I will make the move. At the end of the day, whatever I can do to keep the channel going, and if I can keep the channel going on Amazon, I’ll keep trying the channel on Amazon. I’m not tied to YouTube, I’m tied to the audience and the topic, that’s what I care about. I’m an Apple guy. I don’t care about Google, I don’t care about YouTube, I don’t care about them as companies, I care about them as what they can provide for the audience. They’re not providing the best experience. Their apps are not great on the TV or Android. They don’t bring new features that often.

What all of these channels have in common is the fact that they love Disney and they want to keep bringing Disney content to their audiences. It doesn’t matter the size of the channel, this is an issue affecting the Disney community that should be explained.

Recently, TPMVids has been vocal about the problems they are facing with demonetization and the different ways they’ve tried to solve the issue. The channel has decided to re-upload all the videos where the videos were demonetized and their comments disabled. I tried to reach out TPMVids to talk about the situation, but I received no response.

Among other channels that I tried reaching out were Sarah Snitch, Leo Camacho, Fresh Baked Disney, among others.

These creators work endlessly to produce content all of the community enjoys. As an enthusiast that lives far away, it is my way to stay in touch with what’s happening. Whether it’s DSNY Newscast, IvyWinter, or Rob Plays, they all share their love for Disney to their audiences.

I keep coming back to the fact that YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t make sense. These YouTubers make sure that their titles, tags, and keywords don’t fall into any negative category that may lead to their videos being demonetized.

IvyWinter got a video demonetized about how to plan a last minute trip to Walt Disney World. Rob Plays currently does videos related to Disney history and some opinion videos. Jack mentioned that he evades naming ‘Tower Of Terror’ because the algorithm might flag the video for this reason. He even tries his best to cover negative Disney news, like the John Lassetter case, in the best way possible.

Even though some creators try to have multiple streams of income, they might also end up in an uncomfortable situation. Patreon recently announced a decision were patrons will start paying an extra fee for each pledge. This decision was criticized by patrons and creators alike. Patreon decided to push back from the changes.

The next time you watch a Disney video on YouTube, it’s time to realize that these creators are people. Some aren’t making a living out of it and they do it as a side project, like IvyWinter. Others are trying to make a full-time living thanks to their audiences, like Rob and Jack. But the fact is that YouTube’s policies are affecting the Disney community as well as many other channels.

Exploring The Creative Process Behind Pandora: How It Has The Best WDI Attraction Yet

Ever since the opening of Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom there’s a question being asked for the guests who experience Flight Of Passage: how does it rank among the other attractions in the resort? Some insiders suggest it quickly became the highest rated attraction in the Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World, but sometimes these polls are affected by the novelty of the rides. Back in 2015, every time guests asked why the Toy Story Mania Fastpasses runned out so quickly, Cast Members mentioned that it was the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World.

Flight Of Passage is a great attraction. I haven’t been able to experience it myself, but there are enough pictures and videos that make it justice. From the queue to the ride vehicle, it shows the attention to detail Imagineers had put thought in the project.

How did Pandora and the attractions were developed? I raised this question after reading Arielle Turan’s article explaining why Flight Of Passage is the best attraction at Walt Disney World in parallel with James Cameron’s recent interview with Vanity Fair.

Both pieces mixed in my mind about the creative process behind the attraction. Some of them may feel like Speculation Town for these answers, but they aren’t in the Uncanny Valley side of things.

From the very beginning, Cameron’s guidance was evident in the Pandora project. He was fully engaged and wanted to be as true to the film as possible. The Imagineers even had to reschedule construction several times. Heck, even the land opened without even the first sequel being released.

With a project of this magnitude, Disney didn’t gamble without having all the cards on the table. There must have been some details regarding the future of the franchise that made Bob Iger and the Imagineering team believe in the project.

So lets dig deeper on Turan’s reasoning behind her article and how this attention to detail could be better explained by considering how the project got developed.

Cameron states a very interesting detail concerning the Avatar sequels:

So when all the scripts were approved, everything was designed. Every character, every creature, every setting. In a funny way it was to the benefit of the film because the design team had more time to work. . . . Most of the actors, the key principals, have all read all four scripts, so they know exactly what their character arcs are, they know where they’re going, they know how to modulate their arc now across the first two films. We all know where we’re supposed to be dramatically in the saga, and that’s great. Let’s face it, if Avatar 2 and 3 don’t make enough money, there’s not going to be a 4 and 5. They’re fully encapsulated stories in and of themselves. It builds across the five films to a greater kind of meta narrative, but they’re fully formed films in their own right, unlike, say, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where you really just had to sort of go, “Oh, shit, all right, well I guess I better come back next year.” Even though that all worked and everybody did.

According to Cameron, most of the pre-production, including scripts have been done years in advance from the sequel’s release.

During this time, Cameron was also collaborating with Walt Disney Imagineering for Pandora. Is it too crazy to say that Imagineering could have had access to the scripts or key plot points of the franchise? When guests enter Pandora, we are able to visit it because of what happens during the sequels. The Avatars and the humans have finally agreed on protecting the environment, allowing guests to visit the place. If WDI is all about the story, then they had information enough to develop the attraction.

Putting aside the scripts, they even could have access to the models from characters and landscapes to be used within the attractions. This could allow Imagineers to be way ahead of the game. Just imagine if some landscapes and creatures that we see in Flight Of Passage make sense as the sequels get released. The attraction could have a new meaning each time because we understand how they fit within the Avatar Cinematic Universe.

Still, there are some details that Imagineering had to create no matter where the sequels are heading. ACE, the travel company that lets guests visit Pandora, is a classic WDI trope used as a vehicle to explain the transition between Animal Kingdom and Pandora.

What we should understand is the deep synergy that we could have on our noses without even noticing. In this sense, Flight Of Passage could be more of a progressive attraction: as we see more sequels, the visuals make sense to us. Also, we might get more emotionally invested in the attraction, raising the bar to those guests that already get teary-eyed in the ride.

Let’s focus on some details of the Flight Of Passage queue, as described by Turan:

You walk through an indoor bioluminescent forest, where the ACE researchers have been studying plant samples and the effects they have on detoxifying the air. Then you enter the lab, where you can see that different experiments on Pandoran creatures are being conducted; signs on the wall describe banshees as keystone species, and why it is important to protect them.

What if we get more details from this laboratory in an Avatar sequel? Can we probably get the identity of the impressive Audio-Animatronic figure from the queue?

And it’s impossible to forget the possible deal of Disney buying 20th Century Fox, the current distributor of the Avatar franchise. Disney isn’t buying the company only for this reason (X-Men is more important), but they might have already a good financial relationship with the studio. Pandora is a great marketing device for the sequels and, if WDI had full access to most pre-production material for the sequels, 20th Century Fox had to be fine with it. In the end, Disney has already spent more money on Avatar than Fox:

You made Titanic for 20th Century Fox, which has been your longtime studio home. And you’re making the Avatar sequels for them, but there are reports now that the Murdochs are interested in selling the movie studio. What would that mean for you and your films?

Probably not that much. I’ve always had a good relationship with Fox. If they sold to Disney that wouldn’t be bad because Disney actually at this point in time has a bigger investment in Avatar than Fox does in terms of spent money.

Because of the Pandora—The World of Avatar themed land at Disney World?

Yeah, exactly. So I get along great with Fox; I’m sure I’d get along great with Disney.

Tuan’s last comments express how it may be a new and shiny attraction, but it’s the heart that makes it popular:

I want to keep being impressed by Disney, and I’m sure when the next shiny new attraction opens, I’ll be impressed with that one as well. However, right now, Flight of Passage manages to be a state of the art attraction with a strong story and emotional heart. This is what keeps the lines long, the FastPasses rare, and people like me gushing about the attraction for years to come.

So yes, Flight Of Passage and Pandora as a whole might be the best project from the Imagineers so far. That shows what happens when the creator of the IP is willing to be involved in the project and appreciates Disney’s blindfolded commitment to a newborn franchise.

Source: Vanity Fair , WDW Info