Friday, May 18, 2007
How Much Is That In Kroner?
Normally Friday is a day to rejoice as I roll out my endlessly popular and cuttingly acerbic Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing series, but alas, this Friday, what we have is the release of the third Shrek movie and then a bunch of little piddly indy things as all the other total pussy major studios get out of Shrek's ogre way. And while I may not independently intend to see Shrek, as the father of three American children under the age of 9, it is my responsibility to expose them to as much advertising hidden within supposedly "artisitic" mass media as I can. To not do so borders on child abuse, frankly. I can't in good conscience contribute to the raising of children in this country at this time who aren't thoughtlessly dutiful consumers and who can reliably tell the difference between commercials and content. It would be like asking them to fail at life. Or become communists.

So I have no doubt that sometime in the next 2-3 weeks, this Shrek will be seen by me. It's not sadness you're registering, it's more the cold, rigid inevitability of familial expectation akin to the vacuous, unknowable blackness of death. But hey, that's what fathers do.

It is this kind of inescapable, doom-like burden of action that found me recently making the 90-or-so minute drive out to Carlsbad to take the family (as requested) to Legoland.

Normally, such requests would be dismissed, ignored or met with an appropriate level of fatherly violence. But as it turns out, I've already made the mistake of a) explaining the concept of "birthdays" to my children and further complicated the situation by b) letting them know when theirs are. Their day comes and they ask me to do things and, as a married person who sleeps, completely vulnerable, every night next to a woman who knows where we keep the scissors, I must make an honest attempt to appease these children.

Legoland, though, my God... I know we're spoiled in SoCal as far as theme parks go. We have the grandaddy of them all in Disneyland, we have one of the great roller coaster parks in the world at Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, SexxxWorld... that last one isn't quite as well known as the other and, when pressed, I will admit it's more of a book-and-novelty-item shop in a strip-mall somewhere between here and Fontana, but "theme park" is a state of mind; you have to decide what is more exciting, a boat ride surrounded by singing animatronic pirates or a place where you can potentially rent someone who will call you "captain" and agree to be "keel-hauled"?

My main objections to Legoland are that it is, first of all, almost EXACTLY as expensive as Disneyland to get into. This is a crime. Disneyland I am willing to ridiculously overpay for because I know once I am inside, I will be force-fed carefully staged, focus-group-tested fun whether I want it or not.

Legoland is more of an unknown commodity to me, only having been there twice now in my whole life. When I go there, I go in cold, not knowing what to expect. If I were someone else, this could mean the giddy excitement of anticipation and the wonder of discovery. For me it just means I can't make a detailed list of Expected Fun on an Excel spreadsheet around which I can organize my day to the minute. Pass.

Secondly, Disneyland is American. Walt Disney, although descended from Canadians and therefore tainted and possibly a spy, is from America, made his name in America, built his multinational corporation in America. Lego, on the other hand, is a multinational corporation founded and operated from... Denmark. I know when I think of fun and excitement, the first thing I think about are the Danes.

No, wait, hold on. I'm confusing "fun" with hopeless existential angst and the smell of cod oil. That's what I think about when I think of the Danes.

But oh, you have to try Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling" Tilt-A-Whirl. It isn't any fun, but at the end of it, you will have a deeper insight into the ultimate meaninglessness of existence. And you will kind of want to kill yourself. Mostly from the motion-sickness.

The main problem with Legoland is the forgettable generic-ness of the place. There's a pirate area and a castle area and a science-y kind of area, blah blah blah. One section is actually called "Fun Land". Not a single one of their rides has been crammed down my throat as a feature film or a video game or a Happy Meal or anything. It's like they never heard of corporate synergy or vertical integration. The underlying subliminal message is subtle but frighteningly clear. They might as well call it Chairman Mao's Playhouse.

Already my kids want to go back, but I am reluctant. If I'm going to be gouged, I want to know that my money is going straight into the pockets of Hollywood Jews, where the money of all good Californians eventually belongs. Legoland cannot offer me that kind of patriotic assurance.

My kids don't like roller coasters, but at least if we went to Magic Mountain, I could promise them a front row seat to a murderous fight between authentic Los Angeles gangs. No gangsters go to Carlsbad.

You offer me nothing, Legoland, except the opportunity to be separated from my money at unreasonable rates and to be heartsick disappointed at what I get in return.

If I want that, all I have to do is fill my minivan up with gas.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.45




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