Yesterday was June 26, or 6/26 — As in Experiment 626: Stitch. While it certainly hasn’t caught on like May the Fourth has or even Lost Day (4/8/15 16:23:42) did, Stitch Day really could have been a viral sensation that would surely have been played out by midafternoon. Of course, any Stitch-centered narrative went out the window when actual news broke yesterday, setting off a sea of rainbow avatars across social media instead of blue ones.
Believe it or not, there are a few comparisons I could draw between the two events. For one, there’s the obvious mention of “Ohana” that plays such a prominent role in the film. If you’re somehow unfamiliar, “Ohana” means “family” and “family” means “no one gets left behind or forgotten.” The other connection I thought of was how much of the day (and the week, for other reasons) was focused on love and hate. Incidentally, these two emotions really sum up my experience with Stitch as a character.
Lilo and Stitch was released in 2002, which means I was probably a freshman in high school when I saw one of the hilarious teasers for the film. Starting with a scene from a classic Disney film (I’ve seen ones for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King), these trailers first had me expecting some sort of re-release was imminent, much like the old days of Disney… or like a few years ago when 3D rereleases were all the rage. Instead, the scene was literally stolen by a blue dog-looking alien with big ears we were then told was named “Stitch.” At the time, I thought these clips were really clever and I actually still do.
The next summer, I went to see the film with me friend Mic. By this point, I actually worked at the movie theatre and was able to get us in for free (bonus!). I don’t remember much about the film except that I liked it well enough and I recall that Mic and I both nearly died laughing at the scene where Lilo decks a girl in the face for calling her crazy.
I always thought Stitch was pretty cute and admired the rebellious nature showcased in the teasers. But then something happened: Stitch got annoying. It’s not just that Stitch, who was supposed to be the oddball and rebel, was now seemingly everyone’s favorite, but stunts like wrecking Cinderella Castle to celebrate the opening of Stitch’s Great Escape rubbed fans the wrong way.
Not as any form of protest really but just because I don’t need chili dog belched in my face, I have never been on Stitch’s Great Escape and have no plans to. Additionally, this attraction — which is widely considered one of Disney’s worst ever — has sullied the character for me. To be honest, I don’t even really mind the TP’d castle all that much, but if Disney thinks that that’s what Stitch stands for then I was always inclined to agree and despise him thusly.
This casual disapproval has started to turn around for me over the past few years as I’ve seen positive versions of the character, namely in Tokyo Disneyland’s The Enchanted Tiki Room: Stitch Presents Aloha e Komo Mai. In that show, 626 is still a bit of a troublemaker but a friendly one who just wants to have a good time and play some songs. The animatronic in Aloha e Komo Mai also reminded me how cute Stitchy is when he’s not attacking you in a darkened theater.
At this point, I’d say I’m a fan of Stitch. This is to say I might not run out to buy the Blu-Ray or spend hundreds for pins that he’s on, but there’s a very real chance I’ll grab a Tsum Tsum of him in the near future. So happy belated Experiment 626 Day, Stitch — I won’t leave you behind or forgot you, but I also won’t go on your attraction.
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV