So! For anyone who doesn't know, I've been working in Disneyland Paris for the past ten months or so, and since I've finally left the place, I can't stop humming Disney songs every three minutes wherever I go. Call this my way of exorcising them - for the next ten days, I'm gonna draw a list of the ten best songs in the Disney canon. With commentaries, obviously, otherwise I would not be I.
Oi begorrah! To begin with, then!
NUMBER 10: AN ELEPHANT FLY
Link to the song
Why not start with Dumbo. The gist of this song is that Dumbo gets out of the circus and presents himself to these crows, but they do not believe he can fly. The song might be a little higher up in this list if it weren’t so friggin’ racist. Of course that serves to make the song more poignant – the point is that, scorned by the dominant social classes, Dumbo turns to the minorities (the crows, who are so patently a travesty of black Americans that I wouldn’t be surprised if they started rapping). Yet even the minorities reject him, and the song emphasises his solitude as a phenomenon of the stage (in fact it closes on an image of the little elephant being sad, which come to think of it is really depressing. Fuckin’ ‘ell, now I’m getting depressed just by writing this!).
The song is very cleverly executed, built as it is entirely on puns, and there is a certain suggestion that seeing ‘an elephant fly’ is itself a pun (meaning, a ‘gigantic fly’). Or at least, it is a phrase struggling to become a pun (like Dumbo is struggling to be accepted) against the resistance of linguistic construction. So the point would be that ‘I been done seeing about everything’ when language (or the rules of language) are transcended and meaning is achieved at its margins, by breaking rather than respecting its rules. This suggests an interest in the tension between the ossification and renovation of meaning in language (and its parallel with the social acceptance of individuals within a codified society), but the song never explores this theme in real depth, and its point ultimately remains suggestive rather than illuminating. This, alongside the racism, is what leaves it down in the tenth place, without escalating any further up.
I need a beer.