A Case for Wholesome
There was a time when we had a plethora of things presented before us that contained the ingredient of wholesomeness – anything from television shows to movies to theme parks — all had a wholesome spirit to them.
As Christmas approached and then swiftly left us (as all things in life seem to rush by these days) there are myriad movies and shows that are family-oriented, fun, and even wholesome – both old and new. But what happened to having – and creating – wholesome content year round?
Back in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s we had family shows like Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Gidget, The Brady Bunch and so much more. Even the cop shows had a morality to them and a dash of wholesomeness. As far as movies, we had plenty of Disney films – both animated and live-action that had good stories as well as a good moral at the end – or just fun films that didn’t make you feel worse than you did when entering the theater.
As far as theme parks – Disneyland was a shining beacon of wholesomeness – from the attractions to the castmembers to the entertainment. Soon other large amusement parks opened – with at first the same goal of being wholesome family fun.
But as time marched on, somewhere someone decided there needed to be darkness, fear, and evil, or just “thrilling” with an emptiness at the end – while making those things sound “fun”. Movies became darker, television shows became edgier, and theme parks started to introduce “fright zones”. And what was shocking at first to all, became the norm – the best allegory to this is the frog in the pot of water. Slowly warm it up so the frog gets used to it, and by the time it’s boiling, it’s too late for our frog.
Darkness has overcome our society, our nation, and our world.
But the good thing is, as experience designers, theme park makers, content producers, WE can change all that and right the ship. We don’t have to give in to what we think the public demands because the things that are wrong are popular. Steve Jobs even said “The public doesn’t know what it wants. We have to show them.”
Let’s look at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion as an example…
When it was being designed, Rolly Crump and some other Imagineers presented to Walt some pretty frightening ideas, so much that Walt was taken aback and was indeed frightened by them. So (and this is a very loose history btw), they made it less scary (but kept it spooky) and silly. It’s not only the perfect combination of the two, but it’s a timeless classic attraction, while being wholesome to a degree. Notice how it, and so many other classic Disney attractions have stood the test of time? Why is that? (You know the answer)
I challenge you, yes you, to do something different to inject a bit of wholesome goodness into your next project – whether a new theme park attraction, television show, movie – whatever. Let’s get rid of shock for shock’s sake. Let’s take out cheap thrills for memorable fun ones instead (the first 3 Indiana Jones movies, Star Wars, etc. all have fun memorable thrills as an example).
Let’s turn our theme parks back into wholesome places for families to visit – even during the Halloween Season. I’d even go further to state there’s a need for theme parks that teach kids about things sorely missing in today’s educational system (and even in the home), like VALUES, MORALS, and how to overcome adversity vs. claiming victimhood. How to grow from mistakes and owning up to one’s self vs. blaming everyone else.
So, what can you do to make the world a better place, with the abilities and “super powers” you possess? Try adding a dash of the magic ingredient called “wholesome” into your next project. If we all do it, the world will eventually become much nicer.
Think about it, and let me know in the comments below your thoughts.
All the best,