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When I was a kid, I hated Disney. I remember being seven when Aladdin came out, and deciding on the car ride back from the theater that I was against it. I thought it was too commercial, that only dumb kids liked it, that it was condescending. (I probably even used the word “condescending.”) I was, as you can imagine, the most unbearable kid in the world.

Imagining this kid lecturing you about Mickey Mouse. That's the level of annoying I'm talking about.
Imagining this kid lecturing you about Mickey Mouse. That's the level of annoying I'm talking about.
Matt Nedostup

I maintained my anti-Disney crusade throughout my childhood, turning up my nose while every other kid fell in love with The Lion King and Pocahontas. I wouldn’t even give it up for Beauty and the Beast. I only made an exception for The Nightmare Before Christmas, my favorite movie, which was technically released under Disney’s Touchstone Pictures banner, as I would point out to everyone.

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I never had a very defined reason for hating Disney. (I did go to Disney World when I was five and had diarrhea the whole week, but that's probably not related.) I just knew that other kids liked it, and I wanted to be different. I’m sure some of my arguments had merit, but I’m also sure I was just denying myself happiness because I thought it was more important that I be right and everyone else be wrong. It’s an ongoing problem.

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I vowed never to willingly consume Disney entertainment, and for years I didn’t. But meanwhile, executives deep within Disney’s Imagineering Bunker were imagineering a way to make me eat my words. They had figured out the formula to produce perfect animated musicals on an assembly line, and it worked for them year after year, hit after hit. Of course they were going to replicate that.

When they saw that Pixar had invented something that could replace them, they didn’t fight it. They bought it. I had only just learned how amazing Pixar was, and the news of the takeover in 2006 struck me like a blow. But by then I was in my 20s, and years of depression had started to teach me to take myself less seriously. I made my peace with Pixar’s acquisition just in time, because I had no idea what was coming.

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One by one, the Disney behemoth swallowed every universe I had loved as a child. First Marvel, then Star Wars. They applied everything they had learned from decades dominating a narrow medium (children’s animation) and used to it conquer a much broader one (all media for everyone). They applied the same assembly line process I had bemoaned as a child, using it to manufacture movies based on the characters who meant everything to me—and I loved every second of it.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe was like a gift to nerds. We had suffered through years of substandard superhero movies. Now quality, interconnected superhero movies, featuring characters who looked and acted like they had in the comics, were coming as regularly as tax day. They were formulaic, but they had personality, and were different enough from each other to always feel fresh. (At least to someone who already loved the characters.)

And Star Wars sealed the deal. If Disney had to do one Herculean task to win me over, it was to erase the greatest heartbreak of my childhood: the Star Wars prequels. And they did it. They hired J.J. Abrams, because they knew only the best person had a chance. And he god damn did it.

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So now, by sheer cunning and force of will, the Walt Disney Company has officially humbled me. Twenty years ago I vocally boycotted all of their products, and today I watch almost nothing that wasn’t made by them. Movies, TV (Luke CAAAAGE)… they have totally won me over. I like to think Walt Disney would have been proud, although maybe not because I’m a Jew. But that hasn’t been conclusively proven.