Monday, September 20, 2010

Africa: Land of Lions on vacation

While on vacation, I took Econolad to Disney's It's a Small World ride and was fascinated by the presentations. Europe was packed so full of people you wouldn't know there are any animals there. Asia has a tiger, a panda, and a snake but is otherwise also quite heavily populated by people. Same story for South America. Africa and Oceania though feature more animals than people! In this shot I took that encompasses all of Africa other than Cleopatra and the pyramids (the size of the exhibit is itself a telling feature) I count 13 animals and 12 people. The lion is of course front and center.
(Course, as a kid I always liked Africa best because of the animals. My first word associations for the ride itself are the laughing hyenas and drum-playing rhino.)
So here's the challenge. If you had all the exhibit space of Europe, what would you include for Africa? Demonstrate the diversity of people and land, the beauty, the cultural richness, anything you want to celebrate in Africa. And how do you demonstrate and teach to a predominantly ignorant Western audience the differences between varying nationalities or ethnic groups in Africa the way European stereotypes are lovingly portrayed?

Would it really do a better job depicting the underlying message to just show exhibit after exhibit of kids in t-shirts and jeans, undifferentiated by stereotyped garb almost no one wears anymore? Or touring different metropolitan areas? It's a Small Western World either way.

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