The Walt Disney Company is synonymous with two things: family entertainment and an iron grip on its intellectual property. Unless gays are involved. They can do what they want.
Currently, a parody of a Miley Cyrus video is an Internet phenomenon. “Party in the FIP” is a take-off on Cyrus’ hit “Party in the USA,” which is on Hollywood Records, a Walt Disney Company. “FIP” refers to Fire Island Pines, a famously gay New York beach. The video features, in the words of MSNBC host Carlos Watson, “guys dancing on the beach in Speedos.”
In a segment on August 31, Watson said, “It appears that Disney is in on the joke, or at least they’re laughing at it too.” He turned to cohost Kerry Eleveld, of gay publication The Advocate. “What do you think about Disney, who doesn’t always seem to be the most progressive company in the world, seeming not only to be to be okay with it but making phone calls to the creator of it?”
“They might not be incredibly progressive,” Eleveld said, “but they’re smart business people. It never hurts to have gay men on your side.”
The company has apparently figured that out. Disney World theme park in Orlando, Fla. has been hosting “Gay Days” since 1991.And for Disney to wink at the use of tween-idol Cyrus’ material shows just how important the gay market is to the company.
As Reason Magazine’s Jesse Walker wrote in 2000, “In one of the most famous copyright cases of the '70s, it successfully halted sales of Air Pirates Funnies, a risqué underground comic by Dan O'Neill featuring the Disney characters, even though the comic was clearly a Mad-style parody.” Disney was also at the forefront of lobbying for the Bono Act of 1998, which extended U.S. copyright terms by two decades.
As laudatory as Watson and Eleveld were of Disney’s selective progressivism, they showed a new respect for Cyrus, who has said she liked the parody.
“It is so interesting to me how Miley Cyrus, unlike the one-hit wonders who seem to fade away, she seems to keep getting bigger. She seems to keep growing into new audiences,” Watson said.
“Yeah, yeah, and of course, she's been on Facebook and Twitter talking about this particular video, saying how much she loves it. So – I can't remember what her exact buzzword was,” Eleveld replied. “She continues to grow. She may have an edge. Obviously she has a father in the business. It helps to see what kind of path he took. Maybe he's giving her a few tips.”