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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(8), 136; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7080136

Disney ‘World’: The Westernization of World Music in EPCOT’s “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”

Musical Theatre Department, William Peace University, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA
Received: 24 July 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psychosocial Implications of Disney Movies)
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Abstract

Although Disney’s EPCOT theme park markets itself as a place to experience other cultures and reflect on Earth’s history, the dominance of a Western perspective omits true authenticity, specifically in the music of its nighttime show IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. This 13-minute long presentation offers a visual retelling of humanity’s existence accompanied by an original musical score that guides the narrative. The consecutive music section titles provide insight into critical points within Disney’s story arc: Prologue: Acceleration, Chaos, Space, Life, Adventure, Home, Celebration, and Meaning. While sounds of music from other cultures do present themselves—albeit in stereotypical and clichéd fashions— they are arbitrarily highlighted within a framework of Western musical components. This framing allows Disney composers to control the perception of ‘others’ through music. Furthermore, the final Meaning section is entirely built of Euro-American musical conventions, insinuating that cultures arrive at their most enlightened, evolved selves when they become Westernized. Despite its impressive technological advances and complex musical composition, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth is guilty of implementing Western musical frameworks that Disney utilizes in the majority of its films and theme parks. View Full-Text
Keywords: Disney; EPCOT; music; appropriation; world; park; entertainment; sounds; cultures Disney; EPCOT; music; appropriation; world; park; entertainment; sounds; cultures
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Hodge, M. Disney ‘World’: The Westernization of World Music in EPCOT’s “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 136.

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