Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shellie May

This is Shellie May:

Do you know her? I didn't either. How about if I said, she is the girlfriend of Duffy:

Yeah, I know. I had that blank stare too. 

I took my family to Japan just few weeks ago to do our annual visit which included checking in on my father and running around hither and yon with my brother to gather various paper work for the inheritance procedure, which stressed me out so much that I broke out in hives.  But that is another post altogether. 

We had told our 5 year old daughter that we would take her to Tokyo Disney Sea this time, since last year we took her to Tokyo Disney Land. I know, the kid is totally spoiled. I also find it amusing that she has only gone to Disney parks in Japan. 

I have never been to Disney Sea. It's been open for 11 years and yet I've not gone. I've been to Disney Land plenty. We love Disney Land. We once went there on my husband's birthday and he forced me out of bed at 7am by jumping up and down and we proceeded to spend 12 hours there. Last year when we took our daughter we got to see her tiny mind blow up when she saw Cinderella's castle. It was like a commercial. So we were excited to go. Before we went, we spoke to my three nieces ages 19, 17, and 12 to get the low down. They coached us on which rides are good for a 5 year old, which rides are likely to have a long wait but are fun, what food to get, etc (by the way, the Gyoza Dog by 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea ride is not to be believed). Then they said, "are you gonna buy her Shellie May or Duffy?" and I just stared at them.  

"Who are they?"  

"You don't know who they are?"


"Aren't they Disney characters?"

"I have no idea.  Are they?"

Then my sister-in-law, who was listening laughed and said,

"Is it possible they just made them up for Disney Sea and are not actually based on any stories?"

Then my youngest niece Ayana told me the whole deal. Shelly Mae and Duffy are apparently the toy bears Minnie made for Mickey. Nope. Doesn't ring a bell. I'm not saying it didn't happen, I just don't know about that story. Then she went on to say that they are THE things to buy at Disney Sea (but not at Land), and if you own them, you bring them there to show off to people that you have them. I said "I see...well, that sounds pretty silly."

She was right.

It is the most brilliant and frightening marketing tactic I've seen. I know we're talking about Disney so I shouldn't be surprised, but the amount of those bears carried by people at the park was incredible. It was also like a sociology experiment in how to make people feel left out. And we went on a weekday after a holiday in Japan so the park was pretty empty.  The people who were there were young couples playing hook and college kids playing hooky, and some families with young children. But the majority of people there were adults.  Carrying bears. Before you judge, let me explain (though I was judging throughout the park).

Japanese people like cute things. If you know of any Japanese stationery goods, it's stuff with cute cartoon animal characters on them. We like things that are compact and cute. Even grown men like cute things. Look at Anime. Cute things are not just enjoyed by kids, but by all ages. I have no idea why this is. Maybe because we take work and life so seriously that we find some odd comfort in looking at cute things. Similarly, Japanese people like to drink even though we process alcohol very poorly (hence, I don't drink). It is a sight to see when you get on a subway in Tokyo at 11:00 p.m. and it is PACKED with drunk people and people who just got off work. Good times. Japanese people also obey trends. If enough people wore underpants on their heads, the whole country would follow suit.

Anyway, this obsession with cuteness is particularly spread amongst young women in their late teens to early twenties. There are girls who actually believe that Micky Mouse lives at Disney Land and they come with a back pack with 25 Mickey key chains dangling from it and wear Mickey ears and carry serious Nikon cameras and take photos of him (not WITH him) like he is an actual celebrity. Creepy. I felt weird being the only one around who actually had a child who wanted to take a picture with him. And along with that are people with Shellie May and Duffy obsessions. I saw so many couples who wore matching mouse ears and carrying those bears I wanted to punch them. I kind of get young women doing that but I wanted to go up to the men and shake them and shout, "JUST LOOK AT YOURSELF!"  I'm sure that is very sexist, but come on!

 Donald surrounded.  If you look closely, the girl just left of Donald is wearing Mickey ears AND carrying a Shellie May purse.

There are various spots at the park where you are supposed to perch your bear and take a photo of the scenery.
On it, it says "For their safely, do not seat children here."

Anyway, after about 6 hours of being there, our 5 year old said she wanted Shellie May. Great. We had told her that we couldn't buy a bunch of stuff for her because going there was expensive on its own, but that we will buy her one thing. So we couldn't really argue with her. We went to a store and she immediately grabbed one that was dressed in the most hideous pink dress. I looked at the price tag and it was nearly $40 so we started showing her smaller, slightly more tasteful ones but her lower lip was begin to quiver so just from pure exhaustion, we compromised and got her a bigger one but without the dress. As we spent the next two hours at the park with Shellie May before heading home (because our daughter wanted to make sure Shellie May got to ride all the rides, too), we realized that her face and paw prints are shaped like Mickey's head. Creeeeepy. Also, she is tinted pink.

So we now have one. I am not going to bring this bloody bear back to Tokyo Disney Sea, but then maybe I should so that I won't get roped into buying another.