Pseudosciences, Fashion Doll Tie-In Films, and The Golden Age of Disney Channel

I’m not sure where I stand on the subject of pseudosciences. As someone who still identifies as Muslim and believes in (for the most part) the teachings of Islam, I’m not really allowed to believe in other higher powers other than my God. I do firmly believe in science as well, however I find it interesting how coincidences occur in relation to these pseudosciences, or how often we force ourselves to adjust and fit to what these non-sciences suggest in order to believe.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve recently, in the last two months, discovered a spiritual guide of sorts online. She does tarot readings per zodiac sign and so far she’s been very insightful. I feel like it’s a good thing to keep in the back of my mind, but I know I’m still loyal to my faith. I hope Allah knows I’m really trying.

Anyway, this horoscope lady, had foretold (if you can even call it that) that I’ll be faced with some conflict with an Air sign, that I will have lost control. These power shifts are happening. Throughout the last week of January, whilst fulfilling her other predictions, I’ve been trying to decipher who it is exactly I will lose control to. I think I’m starting to figure it out. She said that I would think I still had the power, but then realise once it’s too late that I no longer have control. She’s right. I don’t have control in this situation. As much as I’d like to, I don’t. I no longer have the upper hand. I may have never had it in the first place. Instead of trying to save face, perhaps try admitting that you’ve shown your hand. You might’ve even played all your cards.

You can’t always get what you want. You’re never really in control and even when you are, there are still things beyond your control. This is the lesson I have to learn. I also have to learn to just let go and lean into things. Especially this loss of control thing. It’s scary. It’s fucking terrifying. But I gotta learn. I’m not gonna learn anything if I don’t do it. I’m not exactly sure how it is I’ll just give up control, but I guess acknowledging it is a good first step.

Kehlani just released a new acoustic track on SoundCloud. I love her voice. I love her. She’s one of the women I hold very dearly in my heart and look up to so very deeply. I admire how much she’s grown into this uninhibited artist. That’s just goals man. I’m planning on just writing songs tonight. I think I deserve a little time for myself.

I find that I keep learning new things about the people I already know. It’s fascinating. Sometimes I observe people and make these observations known with such conviction that I don’t even consider that maybe that’s not the case. Stay humble, dummy. This month is not the time for arrogance.

I think my arrogance is how I overcompensate for the things I’m insecure about (obviously). It’s my way of trying to regain control. It’s not doing anything for you, sis. Let it go.

I can’t tell the difference between sheer recklessness, bravery, or outright stupidity when it comes to myself. Over the last week I have tried two very new things which require a lot of gall to pull off. I’m proud of myself, but at the same time I feel like there’s something wrong. It’s a really silly feeling. I think the denial of loss of control is manifesting itself in discomfort and anxiety. I don’t know what I’m doing, truth be told. But I need to learn to be okay with that.

I think the words “I’m tired” don’t hold anymore weight coming out of my mouth. Tired has become a constant state of being and that’s really unhealthy. I like healthy. I like being honest and upfront with people because that’s healthy. I like meditating and doing my laundry on time, and taking long showers and eating good shit because that’s healthy. Maybe it’s a Virgo thing; I like things to be natural, and clean, and healthy. Sometimes I get too tired to just chuck the clothes on my floor into the laundry bin. Speaking of laundry, do your laundry bitch.

I need to learn to mind my business better. Like, I really have no time to be distracted this year. But distractions can be fun sometimes. Like, super fun. I find new things to be very thrilling. So thrilling in fact that I want to keep the thrill. Maybe that’s something you can’t control either.

I’ve also been on a little nostalgia wave. I think nostalgia is the closest word to it. It might also be safety-blanketing. I realized that from a very early age, the media that I consumed had a powerful effect on me. I saw Liz Lemon in 30 Rock at age 11 and the seeds were sown into my mind that: “Hey, maybe I could right for TV.” It’s really exciting that the very prospect could be or is on the horizon. Anyway, I rode this nostalgia wave all the way back to Disney sitcoms. Obviously, I grew up watching That’s So Raven, Lizzie McGuire, and Even Stevens; introducing very impressionable American concepts surrounding family, love and friendship. I think Raven might be the reason why I desire foresight so much. There was that Disney Channel Circle of Stars cover of the Circle of Life featuring the cast of the aforementioned show including Kyla Pratt from The Proud Family that I just love watching. It makes me feel so warm.

Then came the wave of sitcoms that remained in my consciousness for years like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phil of the Future and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and it’s later spin-off Suite Life on Deck. There were crossover events, New Year’s Eve Specials, even the ever so exciting Disney Channel Games. We were to be sold this ideal lifestyle wherein your favourite stars were all best friends, and they could just as easily somehow be your friends too. It’s the precursor to the interconnectivity, and perhaps invasiveness, of platforms like Instagram. I need this to stay grounded.

Wizards of Waverly Place impacted me, and continues to impact me heavily. Selena Gomez’ Alex Russo was an incredibly captivating character; she wasn’t your typical Disney lead–Alex was mischievous, a little underachieving, sometimes anarchic. She has a tomboy-ish rebel streak paired with dry (by Disney standards) wit. Also, Justin Russo could like, get it. David Henrie was fine as hell. Still is. Justin Russo was the nerdy guy you were hoping to land in your class someday. The feature length TV movie really made me introspectively investigate my relationship with my mother. I think Wizards was really well-written, and it had a level of self-awareness that was so ahead of it’s time.

Suite Life had some jokes that really went over my head as a kid. It just hit me as I gain more insight about this industry that there are rooms full of adults writing these episodes. Hannah Montana was sweet; it really sold the dream. The Hannah Closet is still one of my greatest fantasies. Man, what a fucking closet that was. The theme song to Cory in the House still gets me hype. Sonny with a Chance was really ahead of it’s time. It was my training wheels into falling for SNL. It also had a level of meta self-awareness that I grew to appreciate as I got older. Also, who in their right mind didn’t fall for Chad Dylan Cooper at some point?

These shows exist in a self-contained universe with rules that don’t allow some of realities harshness to permeate for the sake of #TheChildren. It’s a really interesting case study when it comes to comedy writing.

Then comes the Disney Channel Original Movies, a subgenre within film that goes under appreciated to this day. Let’s start with my favourite girl group in the history of girl groups: The Cheetah Girls. I’ve put Cinderella by The Cheetah Girls into my January playlist. What an empowering song. When they go to Barcelona in the second film, that lullaby A La Nanita that they perform with Belinda still gives me goosebumps and the false illusion that I can somewhat sing in Spanish. I loved seeing ambitious teenage girls go after what they want. We can’t talk about Disney Channel Original Movies without the most iconic of all Disney Musicals: High School Musical. It’s an understatement to say that HSM  means a lot to me. It was a massive part of my childhood, and it’s one of those cultural phenomenons that I’m so proud to be apart of and am so grateful to have experienced in it’s prime. Some of my other favourites that I really should watch include: MinutemenDouble Teamed, Lemonade Mouth, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, Lizzie McGuire: the Movie, Princess Protection Program, Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off, and Jump In! There’s a lot of them. Oh! And Pixel Perfect!

Another subgenre of films that really captured my interest when I was younger were films made as tie-in promotion to fashion dolls. MyScene Goes Hollywood is an interesting one, especially with more insight into the film industry as I’ve gotten older. The plot to that film is that the beautiful and evenly tokenized MyScene girls have been cast as extras in a teen spy film starring Lindsay Lohan. Suddenly, another lead actor has fallen injured and so Madison takes their place as the main antagonist and the Hollywood-ness gets to her head. It’s a nice look at keeping your friends close and how corrupt fame can be. Some pretty heavy shit to sell some toys. What was also quite eerie about watching this film in 2018 is that Harvey Weinstein makes a cameo in this, and it’s being consumed in a post-Weinstein world. It’s interesting, however I really don’t know what to make of it at this point.

The Bratz films were also a lot of fun. In this post-stay woke era as well, you become unnecessarily aware of issues like cultural appropriation etc when it comes to things like this. However, letting myself be problematic for one sec, I’m going to talk about some of the films I really enjoyed. I think Bratz Genie Magic proved to be controversial but the Katia girl was real cute. Bratz Diamondz, Fashion Pixies, Rock Angelz, even the live action one were all iconic. Who are we kidding, if you re-watch the live action one now, it is a full-blown mess. But a enjoyable one nonetheless.

I love going down memory lane, it can be quite grounding. And it’s really interesting to observe especially now as someone who works or is preparing to work in the entertainment industry. It’s not the same anymore. I don’t know what kids nowadays have as an equivalent. What’s their Wizards of Waverly Place?

I’ve been having trouble staying present and staying out of my head. I think this is all really cathartic. I love reconnecting to things I used to love. I still in fact love all of these movies and shows despite not having experienced them recently. Would you consider Bratz Diamondz to be slow cinema? You decide. (That was a joke).

I think this is all for the night. I’m getting really sleepy and I am a lot less anxious than I was earlier. I’m rewatching some episodes of American Vandal.  I am a sucker for mockumentaries. I’m going to have to do a separate post on them entirely. I think I just needed to remember what I’m passionate about, and what I love about myself. Maybe there’s more to it than that as well. I think it’s going to take time. Whatever is going on, it’s going to take time to return to equilibrium. Alright. Good night.

Love, Ari.

Published by Ariane Anantaputri

sharpay evans sympathiser. screenwriter & stand-up comedian. this is where i talk about movies and my mental health.

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