Being the Original Disney Fan Circa 2006
Entering High School and Still Loving Animation
Back in 2006, I entered my freshman year of high school, something I was wholly unprepared for, more so than other teens my age, due to my autism. To say I was socially awkward would be like saying in Star Wars Chewbacca is Han’s copilot aka obviously, duh. All my life to that point I had related better to adults than kids my age due to the fact that ironically I was more mature in so far as I never cared what other people thought of me. I was myself in time where it was uncool to be so.
During my time in high school, enjoying anything Disney, animation, or anything that wasn’t Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, Law and Order and the like, was beyond uncool. At that time, admitting to watching or even worse, actually liking Disney was akin to admitting you watched and liked baby shows such as Teletubbies and Barney. While I have nothing against these shows (as a matter of fact I was a huge fan of the latter during my toddler years), those are meant for a specific age range learning things like shapes, color, morals, etc…
Watching What I Loved
Despite this, I didn’t let it stop me from watching what I loved. The fact that it didn’t earn me very many friends and quite often got me picked on, didn’t matter to me. The main thing that mattered to me at this age was simply being myself regardless of what others (even my own family), said. My defense whenever people asked me why I liked these types of animated shows despite being in high school was, well who makes these shows other than grown adults? Sure, they could have taken the position simply for money to pay the bills, but when it came to one show, in particular, Phineas and Ferb, showrunners and creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh appeared so enthused and excited about this animated show, during behind the scenes interviews and extras. As the show went on and continued to grow, these feelings seemed to do the same.
Even at the young age of fourteen, I knew it was inappropriate to be into stuff like sex, drugs and things similar. As a result, I didn’t watch shows with those subjects in them until I was comfortable with it, which happened around my junior year of high school (12th grade/level for those outside the United States). If my memory serves, the first show I watched that used these topics was White Collar. It was a dramatic police procedural that ran on USA Network from October 23, 2009-December 18, 2014. In the words of IMDB, “A white collar criminal [Neil Caffrey] agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter, and conman”. It was smart, funny and lasted six seasons.
As a side note, yes it obviously did take me longer to mature into these shows than those around me, to the point that even close family members, namely one in particular, was wondering if I was too old for the shows (mainly animated) I was watching. While that may have technically been true, I didn’t care and watched what I wanted to, not what society told me I should. During that time, I was unabashedly myself in time where most people were too afraid to be.
Social Media Connects Fans
For the longest time, Twitter was my main escape to talk about the “childish” things I loved. It was on Twitter and online in general where I slowly transformed into the woman I am today. Now, believe it or not, my embarrassment of watching animation as a teen continued right on through about 2015-2016 during the time of Star Wars Rebels. At the same time, the well-known event Star Wars Celebration was happening practically right in my back yard. Due to this, I had a choice to make, remain a closeted animation fan for who knew how long, or openly tell my family that is what I liked and figure out a way to attend the celebration. I had recently joined the Star Wars bandwagon and loved everything about it.
Being as season 2 of the show was premiering early there and I thought I wouldn't have another chance to experience something like that with other fans of the show, I knew there was only one answer. So, mustering up my courage, I told my family and quickly figured out a way to get tickets (called badges) into the event. From there, I anxiously waited until the event finally came. After all, that was my main reason for wanting to go. Sure, everything was else was great, but seeing that show with other fans when I had kept my love of this show hidden for so long…it was my current dream…well that and meeting Dave Filoni, the creator of the show. As mentioned in a previous post, I came close, but sadly didn’t achieve it.
Sadly, due to how lines were structured, I didn't get in. Oh well, it happened, time went on and I am back to counting down the time until the next Star Wars Celebration which is ironically enough happening back in Anaheim, California, aka still practically in my backyard.
Being Embarrassed to Watch Animation Around Family
Enough about that, back to the topic at hand, me being one of the OG Disney fans during a time when it was far from cool to do so. At first, it wasn't easy to do so around my family. While they knew I watched cartoons, I was still embarrassed for quite a while to do so in front of them. So embarrassed was I that whenever they were around I would sooner change the channel to the news, turn the TV off and dive into my phone, or pretend I was doing just about anything else. While I didn’t care what my peers thought about me, my family was different. They had the real power to judge and criticize me. While logically I knew it shouldn’t matter, emotionally it was a different story.
Another one of my favorite shows during this time was Phineas and Ferb. For those who don’t know, it was a show about two step-brothers who made the most out of each and every summer day by building the wackiest of inventions. At the same time, they also had a pet platypus named Perry who unbeknownst to his owners, battled the not so evil scientist Dr. Heinz Doofensmirtz on a nearly daily basis. For more information and a list of episodes click here. It’s still a fun show that I highly suggest. Rumor has it, that there’s going to be a new movie featuring these characters coming to the Disney+ streaming service likely sometime in 2020. This coming from an animated show that began back in 2008.
This wasn’t the only animated show I was into despite being out the show’s targeted age group. The next animated show that pulled me in was, of course, another Disney show known as Gravity Falls. It starred twin siblings Mable and Dipper Pines and followed them as they stayed with their great uncle Stan in the not so ordinary town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. It was home to many of the weird and mysterious, including one inter-dimensional being known as Bill Cypher. For more on him and the show overall, click here.
The Difference Between Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls
There was one key difference with this show and the previously mentioned Phineas and Ferb. That difference seemed to be more support or more of a presence online. Considering the number of sensors this constantly pushed while still somehow being completely child-friendly I wasn’t too surprised. Everywhere I turned on social media and Google, it looked as if everyone was not just talking about this show but praising it like mad. Even with some of the imagery and topics in several of the episodes, if I had any kids, I wouldn’t have minded them watching this.
Needless to say, I couldn’t have been happier. While it now seems like everyone and their mother is on this bandwagon of nostalgic things (animation being one of them) being popular, cool and acceptable, I just felt like sharing my experience of being one of the original people who liked and even loved these types of shows before they were truly popular. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have an amazing day!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Megan Rickards