Steven Johnson brooding on DisneyWorld
Steven Johnson has been to a conference in Paris, but played truant for a while.
” The afternoon that I arrived I made a quick excursion to the Magic Kingdom solely to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. (In my experience, the EuroDisney version of Pirates is the best.) I’ve probably gone on that ride 25 times in my life, but this time, an entirely new thought occurred to me. Forgive the flair for the obvious here, but those pirates are terrorizing that town: they’re firing on it with huge cannons; they’re setting fire to houses; they’re drunkenly chasing after local women, presumably to rape them; they’re shooting off weapons indiscriminately into open windows. If you think about people in the actual Caribbean towns hundreds of years ago, being attacked by pirates must have been just about one of the most terrifying things you could imagine. Pirates were the Al Qaeda of the 18th century. But on the ride, they’re not even supposed to be scary; it’s all played for comic relief. All of which made me wonder: in two hundred years, when we’ve all moved on to new fears (gray goo and sentient machines, no doubt) will Disney roll out a new set of rides? Suicide Bombers of the Middle East? Terrorists of New York? ”