D23: What Does It Mean?
D23: What Does It Mean?
Posted Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at 1:43p Pacific Time
With the uptick in popularity of events like Comic-Con, I suppose it was inevitable that Disney would take control of its relationship with fans and launch an official fan club. And it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do: why shouldn't Disney own that relationship, and why shouldn't it make a little money off it? The more important question to the people who read a site like LaughingPlace: will D23 benefit Disney fans?
I think it's probably a wash. Yes, the D23 Expo will certainly be fun to go to, but some of that fun will almost have to come at the expense of shows like NFFC. Similarly, there's no way that a fan site will score an Imagineer interview if there's a waiting space in an upcoming issue of "Disney 23 Magazine." Fans will be getting a strengthened "official" relationship at the expense of a relationship with weaker independent Disney sources. Whether that's good or bad is hard to tell at this point, but the quality of Disney 23 Magazine and the Expo will decide.
Where I have an issue with D23--and, admittedly, it's a minor one--is on the subject of membership. Disney has no shortage of clubs it wants you to join, among them: Club 33, the Disney Vacation Club, Annual Passholders. (I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.) Disney is arguing for the umpteenth time that I need to pay a premium to elevate to the exalted status of "member," when those benefits seem slight, especially considering the two biggest aspects of D23--the new magazine and annual expo--are also accessible to non-members.
Furthermore, even for a company like Disney that turns out hundreds of products a year, there's only so much "special access" that can be granted. With my D23 membership Disney promises special access to events, merchandise... indeed, the same sorts of access that have been promised to so many other clubs. (Pity the poor Disney folks who have to figure out who gets first dibs on, say, a new attraction opening or an artist signing. I can imagine the D23, DVC, AP, and Club 33 marketing managers getting into a tussle.)
The "become a member" mantra was old already, and to me the D23 membership cards and certificates feel like obvious gimmicks. Would anything have been lost had Disney simply announced a first-class fan magazine and expo, rather than yet another club to join?