Disney’s Carousel of Progress & FacebookOctober 30, 2020
I grew up in LA, so I’ve been to Disneyland a lot. My first lessons in economics and marketing — scarcity, fiat currency, opportunity cost, sub-brands — were in Anaheim. Between 1959 and 1982, park visitors were asked to engage in game-theory and segmentation exercises to get the most magic from their kingdom. Admission, when I started going, set you back $3.75. It’s now $154, an inflation-adjusted increase in excess of 300% (#worthit). Ticket books were extra and segmented A-E (worst to best rides). E tickets, needed for the best rides, were a luxury brand positioned between Van Cleef & Arpels and Aman Resorts in the mind of an eight-year-old. They cost 85 cents.
I can’t stand it when people don’t know how to spend their money. I have successful friends in Florida who have a statue of themselves at the base of their circular stairway. Make. It. Stop. Anyway, I felt similar disgust when a rookie visitor would burn an E ticket on a lesser ride like The Sailing Ship Columbia or The Enchanted Tiki Room. What a waste. You didn’t want to go on Space Mountain? Yeah, that makes sense.
On Wednesday, the Senate commerce committee had a book of E tickets. They patched in three big tech CEOs (Pichai, Dorsey, and Zuckerberg) and were set to delve into the future of internet regulation. Specifically the thorny but critical topic of Section 230, an all-day pass that lets big tech do whatever they want in the park. They can even smoke pot on the Skyway gondola, a sublime if inefficient way to get from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland, without risking incarceration at Disney Jail. An actual thing. Not that it happened to me in 1983. Definitely not. But I digress.
Senators on the committee had Space Mountain within reach but opted for Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln instead. Only Ted Cruz was Lincoln. And the Great Moments were weak and weird diversions to The Rainbow Ridge Pack Mules and Tom Sawyer River Rafts. Note: If you’re thinking I’ve taken this analogy way too far, trust your instincts.
At some point, Senate and House subcommittees will run out of E tickets, and big tech CEOs — whose lobbyists, money, and comms departments have nearly overrun government — will begin ignoring House and Senate subpoenas and will start sending underlings, as they’ve been to the park too many times and have companies to run.
“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear? And why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC suppressing views contrary to your political beliefs?”— Sen. Ted Cruz
Uh, well, Senator … nobody elects a CEO of a company. They are appointed by a board, who are (theoretically) elected by shareholders. And every media company, including Twitter, despite what they claim, gets to make these decisions.
What’s crazytown here is the GOP panel members, similar to George W. Bush, decided to attack the wrong enemy (Saddam had as much to do with 9/11 as Bambi’s mom, and we’d be better off if both were still alive, can’t wait for the hate mail on that one). GOP panel members attacked GOP allies — Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. Misinformation and conspiracy theories spread 6x faster than truth on their platforms. The far right is more “gifted” with both these things than the far left.
The largest donors to the GOP have been Sheldon Adelson and Koch Industries. But the biggest supporters of the GOP have been Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. Both men deftly deploy various lipsticks to distract from the cancer — nose rings, ice baths, silent retreats, and Sheryl Sandberg. The cancer is algorithms that register, in a millionth of a second, that Messrs. Zuckerberg, Pichai, and Dorsey’s wealth increases if more enraging/false content is promoted, leading to more engagement, ads, revenue, and shareholder value. The algorithms have been programmed to make these men wealthier, at the expense of our commonwealth.
This summer, the House antitrust subcommittee, chaired by Representative Cicilline, put on a master class on how to hold a hearing. They were prepared, disciplined and went straight for the Pirates of the Caribbean — allocated resources effectively. I wonder if the House is becoming the body where youth, preparation, greater turnover, and diversity (on several dimensions) elevates their brand above what was once considered the chamber with more gravitas. The Senate’s “hearing” this week was a sh*tshow, with Senators Cruz and Blackburn swinging wildly and not landing a glove on the platforms. It was similar to watching our failed attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis … minus the dignity and heroism. This was an October surprise that didn’t even try to cover up how politically motivated the timing and flawed the mission.
The silver lining? A split screen of Jack Dorsey and Ted Cruz likely means beards have jumped the shark. Overdue.
The whole thing was a waste, and depressing. A squandered opportunity, similar to venturing to “The Happiest Place on Earth” to eat Meat Lovers’ Flatbread at Pinocchio’s Village Haus (both exist) and ride Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress, where we are forced to watch creepy animatronic figures discuss technology through the lens of the fifties.
Life is so rich,
P.S. Excited to welcome Professor Adam Alter to the family. Sign up for his Product Strategy Sprint, running January 12-26, 2021. And I’m back on YouTube — in this week’s video, only 1 in 4 Americans can distinguish fact from opinion.