We Made Disney Fans Say Incredibly Mean, Angry Things

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​They are faithful to a huge organization, led by the vision of one man, claiming to find love, happiness, and redemption in allegiance to its symbols and lore. It makes them sing, cry, and make pilgrimages of thousands of miles. But there's a dark side to this faith: catch them off-guard with any criticism of what it offers and they'll spew venom.

No, we're not talking about religious zealots. Not exactly.

We knew that this week's cover story on Disney die-hards was going to ruffle some feathers among other sects of Disney die-hards, particularly those who don't think that the company's official fan club is "bullshit," for example. 

The story follows Pete Werner, who came to Disney in an unconventional way: In his mid-20s, recovering from multiple addictions, he stepped into Epcot and was never the same again. 

We followed Werner through the establishment of his own fan site, its growth into a large fan community, and his disappointment (and anger) when Disney unveiled its own club, D23. We also profiled some other Disney fans, most of whom were unconventional (and middle-aged men) but all of whom admitted that their nitpicking fascination with Disney was rooted in a very sentimental, sometimes nostalgic love for the feelings and companionship that the parks and characters evoke.

RECORD SCRATCH. Wait, Pete Werner said bad things about the company? That's all the people commenting on our story needed to hear. Did they chime in with thoughtful, reasoned defenses of D23 and Disney or elaborate why they thought these fans were misguided?

A little. But they prefer ad-hominem attacks. No need to reprint them here. 

The discussion thread about our story on the DIS boards, Werner's site, got shut down because DIS regulars were arguing with one D23 faithful who joined the boards just to argue with them. They were cursing too much, violating board policy.

The people on the DIS boards are largely happy with the story, praising Werner for his honesty and personal growth. They ventured over to our comments section, but were quickly fought back by the Disney faithful.

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​Note that the last commenter's name is "Holy."

Feel free to judge, lest thou be judged, for thyself by actually reading the story.

Stefan Kamph is a New Times staff writer.
The Pulp: Facebook | @thePulpBPB
Stefan Kamph: Story archiveFacebook | @stefankamph

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The DIS board forum wasn't shut down for using bad language -- it was shut down for quoting the language Pete Werner used in his article.  Ironic.  He won't allow expletives on his forum, but he'll go calling Disney itself "bullsh*t."


P.S. The "attacks" come from your failure to follow one of the first unwritten rules of journalism, typically enforced by editors to ensure their reporters don't go focusing on the wrong thing: Consider the source.  For all of the apologies about Werner's background, it doesn't seem like you stopped to wonder, "Does this guy actually represent Disney fans, or is he one of a handful of people who take issue with just about anything Disney does?"  A little questioning of OTHER Disney fans might have given you the answer.  He does not speak for me, or millions of other Disney fans, whether they belong to D23 or not.


Oh, brother.  Did you read the worthwhile and insightful comments that your story was poorly written, poorly researched and not very interesting, in the end?  Curious that, in the times in which we live, you decided to single out on some obscure, bitter fan who wants to pick a fight with Disney over its own fan club (because HE didn't get consultation rights) than look at, say, how the Occupy movement is affecting tony South Florida, how gay bashing is still happening (and with increasing frequency), or how the Internet is making reporters and editors incredibly lazy.  It wasn't a very good story, Stefan.  It's certainly not one worth defending or trying to make grow into some viral Internet sensation.  And while this guy apparently is your friend, you did him no favors in the way you portrayed him.  He comes across as an angry, mean, petty, vindictive, foul-mouthed fellow with a hyper-inflated ego and way too much time on his hands.  He has made a lot of money off of Disney; if anyone could afford the $75 if only for the opportunity to actually BE involved in the Disney fan process officially (because that's what D23 is, the "official" club, not the "unofficial" boards that are using Disney trademarks and copyrights with abandon), it's him.


LOL if only all the homeless complaining about your FNB story  had a message board to air their grievances than you'd see some REAL colorful language

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