Monday, August 19, 2019

The Dis-fluencer Identity Reveal

For future readers who stumble across this and wonder what the heck it is, it's a parody of this article that was the Most Important Thing Ever on Disney Twitter for about an hour and a half before 2019's D23 convention.

It all started in mid-2008. We were only weeks away from the global economic meltdown that would see millions turned out of their homes, leave lasting scars on an entire generation, and--most crucially--give this article a weighty and important context.

I'd known beloved Disney chairman and golf aficionado E. Cardon Walker for years. In fact, I was the one who gave him the idea to fake his death in 2005. He'd invited me to join him for lunch on the second floor of Epcot's Electric Umbrella restaurant. Naturally, someone of my great importance and intense physical attractiveness wouldn't normally be caught dead in the Electric Umbrella. But I think I realized what a great story it would make in eleven years time, so I assented.

Card and I were practically alone up there on the second floor, which was strange since my strong personal magnetism usually causes people to be uncontrollably drawn to me. In between bites of his barely-edible quick-service cheeseburger, Card was opining on the difficulties Disney faced in the changing global marketplace. "Lemme tell ya, kids these days, they ain't the same as they useta be," he said. "What with their Ataris and their fax machines. We gotta get 'em while they're young, really speak to 'em on their level with something they can relate to."

Card leaned forward slightly. "That's why I'm thinkin' board games. All different kinds of 'em. Y'know, Pete's Dragon, The Black Hole, Adlai Stevenson--characters that kids today are really into!"

Then my old friend Card changed the subject to something we'd discussed many times in the past--his aborted 1976 Presidential campaign. He'd been all ready to go with a great campaign slogan and everything. "Just tell me that 'I've Got A Hardon For E. Cardon' isn't the greatest thing you ever heard!" he said, stabbing his finger at me in a Harrison Ford-like manner. (Hollywood legend Harrison Ford is someone else who owes their career to me, but that's a story that's best left for when I make it up for another time.) But alas, just before he was set to announce, his candidacy was derailed by a fierce ARPAnet campaign led by a young upstart named Alvarez "Al" Lutz. After the turmoil of the Nixon-Ford years, Lutz believed that America's next Chief Executive should have, in his words, "really big teeth". And in 1976, no one's teeth were bigger than Jimmy Carter's. Seriously, the man was part beaver.

Sadly, Card and his human-sized chompers were no match for Al Lutz and his massive three-person audience. (The Internet revolution was still a couple decades away at this point.) So Card had to stay in his dead-end job as Chairman of the Walt Disney Corporation. He never forgave Al for that, and on that afternoon in 2005 he hatched a plan: "What if we co-opt Al Lutz's name for our own purposes?" he said.

It was a great idea, but unfortunately Bob Iger beat him to the punch back in 2001. So Card and I decided to create another kind of online Disney "influencer": one with no influence at all! Difficult? Yes. But as Thomas Edison once said, true genius is 51% inspiration, 65% perspiration, 37% whiskey, and 82% intellectual property theft.

Anyway, Card and I decided that I would create an Internet persona named "David Landon". He'd start small with a few message board posts, then start a blog. But--and this was the key to the whole plan--he would pretty much stop going to the Disney parks after 2010 or so, and his posts would mostly be bland and uninteresting. Also, he would be late to the whole social media party and would never establish a meaningful presence there, either.

As the years went by, our plan worked perfectly. As "David Landon" cleverly flew under the radar, Bob Iger's Disney gobbled up intellectual property like Cookie Monster gobbles up . . . whatever it is he eats. Doritos? Kale? I can never keep track of what these "millennials" are into.

After the company's acquisition of Marvel started to reap huge rewards with the ever-increasing popularity of the Marvel film series, I worried that "David Landon's" influence on Disney might be too overt. So when he was invited to appear on a popular Disney podcast, I did my best impression of a stuttering idiot. And it worked! The Disney behemoth continued to roll along, vacuuming up intellectual property the way a ShopVac sucks up evidence at a crime scene before the police arrive. And when Bob Iger completed his piece de resistance--the $9 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm--"David Landon" reacted with a bizarre stream-of-consciousness rant full of obscure references that might've made people wonder if he was suffering a stroke, assuming they read it. Which they didn't.

Once it was clear that Disney no longer needed me, "David Landon" left off writing about the company and mostly talked about Star Trek. And wouldn't you know it, that particular franchise is suddenly in the midst of a multimedia renaissance! Its future looks even brighter now that CBS and Viacom have re-merged. And through it all, "David Landon" looked for all intents and purposes like a bland nobody with no influence over anything! Exactly like Card Walker and I planned!

But now, it's time to pull back the veil and reveal what you intelligent and attractive readers have no doubt already figured out: my real identity is

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