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

Matthew Hodge ()
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Matthew Hodge: Musical Theatre Department, William Peace University, Raleigh, NC 27604, USA

Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 7, issue 8, 1-11

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.

Keywords: Disney; EPCOT; music; appropriation; world; park; entertainment; sounds; cultures (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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