Things You're Just Supposed to Know

Most of the time, Long-Forgotten assumes that readers are already familiar with basic facts
about the Haunted Mansion. If you wanna keep up with the big boys, I suggest you check out
first of all the website, After that, the best place to go is Jason Surrell's book,
The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic (NY: Disney Editions; 2015). That's the
re-named third edition of The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies (NY:
Disney Editions, 2003; 2nd ed. 2009). Also essential reading is Jeff Baham's The Unauthorized
Story of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion (USA: Theme Park Press, 2014; 2nd ed. 2016).

This site is not affiliated in any way with any Walt Disney company. It is an independent
fan site dedicated to critical examination and historical review of the Haunted Mansions.
All images that are © Disney are posted under commonly understood guidelines of Fair Use.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Haunted Mansion is Blue, and Phantom Manor is Pink


I've lived long enough to watch the modern feminist movement go through more than one intellectual stage.  In the 70's it was still called "women's lib" more often than "feminism" and a bad guy would be called a "male chauvinist" (with the option of adding "...pig") rather than "sexist," but it was the same thing.  I remember that at one point the argument de jour was:  "Men and women are the same, same, same, except for some incidental plumbing."  I don't think anyone ever really believed that, and going into the 80's I remember a countermovement within feminism that stressed how utterly different women were from men.  This was another extreme and ultimately indefensible position.  At times these neofeminist authors seemed almost ready to embrace the old stereotypes that women were...well...utterly different from men.  Sorta like this:  "Of course women are lousy drivers.  That's because their brains work differently than the brains of the men who devised the cars and roads."  Needless to say, that type of argument didn't last.

It seems to me that a commonsense middle position has since swept the field.  Men and women are very different, but neither sex is complete or better without the other.  Men are from Mars; women are from Venus, blah blah blah.  The trouble begins when the male psyche is taken as normative and the female psyche is looked upon as a deviation from that norm.  Enormous injustice has resulted from that.  Male and female psyches need to be equally respected, with no trivialization of the one, no idolization of the other.  At the end of the day, is there any other goal worth taking seriously?

I see a growing acceptance of this view not only within moderate feminist ranks but also within the general culture.  Is it possible we're actually learning?  Look below.  No one but a madman would run an ad like this today, and I dare say the men would be nearly as quick to roll their eyes as the women.

And if you think about it, the sexism at work here is implied rather than overt.  It's subtle, and yet it leaps off of the page for many (most?) modern readers.  This points to a transformation in the general culture.  I suppose they're out there, but personally I don't know any guys who long for the good old days when "women knew their place," and I'm pretty sure men and women alike find Gaston an obnoxious and ridiculous character.  Don't believe it?  Just you watch, and I'll prove it.

.                                                       No one EATS like Gaston,
.                                                       Has bad FEETS like Gaston,
.                                                       No one likes to sniff bicycle SEATS like Gaston!

There, see?  Gaston is a big jerk.  I wrote that new verse myself.  That's right, a guy wrote that!
" I can tell " ?   What's THAT supposed to mean?

I am not saying sexism is dead and there's nothing left to do; I'm just saying it's time to recognize (and rejoice) that an attitude of respect and equality seems to be emerging more and more as the expected, default position in the public square, and artificial arguments that few people ever really believed are losing their punch.  These days, instead of ads like the above you'll see articles about men and women and charts like this one in the same magazines, and the only gripes the editors are likely to get are from people who know there aren't three S's in "privateness."

This lengthy preamble is my preemptive strike against accusations of sexism from bitter diehards who despise the new consensus as insufficiently radical.  Stop sucking on that lemon for five minutes and go read this classic Dave Barry column.  I think we enter a very healthy stage when we can all laugh at ourselves, even when the topic itself is serious.  Who wants to be angry all the time?

Now that the cards are all on the table, and you know where I'm coming from, on with the show.

The View from Mars

For men, life is a test, a proving ground, an arena.  "The world" is other, it's an entity apart, indifferent to you at best and hostile at worst.  You pass through life, and you hope that your life's work leaves some kind of positive mark behind you, a change for the better.  But there will be inner and outer obstacles to this achievement, and those are dragons you must fight alone.  You are not a man until you defeat them.  Essentially, there are but two characters in the masculine drama: You, and Everyone and Everything else.  No matter how deeply and sincerely you are bonded to someone else in love, they can never fight your fight for you.

None of this is news, and you can find plenty of support for it in sociology and psychology.  This quote will do as well as any:

Men are made, not born. Across a broad sweep of cultures, this central theme recurs with stunning regularity [....] Unlike women, men must take actions, undergo ordeals, or pass tests in order to become men. They are told to “be a man” whereas women are not told to “be” women (though certainly women too are socialized into gender roles). In this way, a surprising number of cultures converge in treating masculinity as something that must be created by individual and collective will [....] Culture after culture features rites of passage from boyhood to manhood. Only select men can achieve “manhood,” and it must be won individually.      (Joshua Goldstein, War and Gender [2001])

The same passage in that book points out that "being a man" means going against instinct, against what "comes naturally."  If a "real man" is injured while engaged in a worthwhile task, he ignores the pain and does his duty.  If a "real man" is angered, he suppresses his retaliatory impulse and dispenses justice dispassionately, fairly, and rationally.  And most importantly for our purposes, if a "real man" is frightened, he does not panic and run away but continues to move forward despite his fear.

The View from Venus

The female outlook on life is quite different.  The emphasis is on being rather than doing.  The world is not a foreign territory, a wrestling opponent, or a dark passageway en route to somewhere else.  It's home.  It may be a happy one or an unhappy one, but it's home.  You're not out to recreate the world from scratch but to understand it and discern the harmonious whole in which you are certain you somehow have a place.  That requires diligent and uninterrupted attention to relationships with other people.  (Repeat that sentence ten times.)  Tests consistently show that on the whole, women evidence less interest in individual accomplishment and more interest in cooperative activity to achieve a common end.  There is also a conviction that feelings and intuitions carry their own weight of validity, and since they play as big a role as anything else in determining what people actually say and do, that's a perfectly pragmatic notion.  Women have an innate conviction that the world we all live in now is supposed to be a secure, happy, and beautiful place.  Again, there's nothing particularly radical or novel about this analysis.

Gendering the Mansions

I've never been to Phantom Manor in Paris, but I've read about it and seen plenty of photography and video, and I've listened to the soundtracks.  It's obvious that PM represents a self-conscious departure from the Haunted Mansion formula used in Anaheim, Orlando, and Tokyo.  Based on everything I've seen and heard, I have to say that I don't like PM as much, but I don't have a big problem with it either.  So long as the others are still around, PM represents variety, a different take, a change of pace, and on its own terms it seems to succeed well enough.

However, here's my theory as to what really drove them to do something different:  The Haunted Mansion is a boy, and Phantom Manor provides the necessary counterbalance.  It's all girl.

When I say that the HM has an essentially masculine character, while Phantom Manor is essentially feminine, I have to stress that this has NOTHING to do with appeal. I have to say that because, inevitably, I get a chorus of retorts along the lines of "Well, I'm a guy and I LOVE Phantom Manor," etc. That's irrelevant. That's not what I'm talking about.  Girls are interested in guy things, and vice versa, and besides that there's a little man in every woman, a little woman in every man (and they're all scrunched up and very uncomfortable), so appeal isn't the issue.

UPDATE May 2020. Phantom Manor was overhauled in 2019 and now has a slightly different storyline, influenced at several points by the "Constance" backstory in the American Mansions. I don't think the revision destroys the dichotomy I am drawing in this post, except that the new PM holds out the possibility that Melanie is not entirely without options in the afterlife. The notion of the "helpless female" is thus watered down in the new version, but not eliminated. Accordingly, I will let the following stand unrevised, just be aware that it is based on the original PM.

The Man in Mansion

People unconsciously reflect their outlook on life in anything creative that they do, from important projects to "trivial" ones—like building a haunted house attraction.  In fact, I think one of the reasons spookhouses are perennially popular is that in their own goofy way, they are allegories of life, and it's essentially life as seen from a man's point of view, because men build them.

Think about it.  Whether we are speaking of those garage quickies with rubber masks and flashlights that we made as kids, or Disney's Haunted Mansion itself, most haunted houses are essentially the same thing:  A one-way trip through a dark, twisted corridor past scary scenes representing manifestations of death and the threat of death, until you emerge on the other end, preferably through a different door than the one you came in (so as to keep it a corridor in form).  With these kinds of make-believe haunted houses, you never pretend that you're moving in.  It isn't your house.  You pretend that you're exploring it, moving through it, and escaping it eventually.

(upper left pic photoshopped from original by Matthew Hunter Ross)

The only task upon entry is to keep going. The only way you can fail this task is if you chicken out.  If you should panic or collapse in fear, someone has to come and rescue you.  Which is pretty embarrassing.

It's not hard to decode the allegory.  You're born.  There's no turning back now.  You pass one scary unknown after another until you leave this world. As long as you keep going, you feel you've succeeded in the most basic task, because this world, with all of its threats and perils, didn't defeat you.  You didn't collapse; you conquered your fears and kept going.  That's a masculine scenario.  However, nothing in the allegory addresses the male need to accomplish something with his life.  It only speaks of the necessary prerequisite.  After all, you'll never succeed if you don't persevere.  You must conquer your fear of failure, or of death, or simply of the unknown, before you can hope to achieve anything worthwhile.

This is the backbone of the "Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion" script.  "C'mon, let's keep going" is Mike's mantra all the way through.  He takes a dominant leadership role (typical enough for 1969) and poor Karen his girlfriend is a stereotypical female, dragged along by Mike much of the time. They see frightening, threatening, and inexplicable things, and they have to make ad hoc decisions without even knowing if the decisions will make things better or worse. ("Quick, in this doorway!" "Hold the candles; I'll try to open one of these windows." "Come on!  It's the only way."  "Come on! Stay close.")  Mike understands the situation instinctively.  You do the best you can. You act. You'll only make it through if you manage to control your fear and keep going.

The spookhouse ordeal is very simple:  (1) go in, (2) pass through a series of dangerous and frightening scenes without wetting your pants, (3) go out.  Congratulations, you did it.  Running that gauntlet is a rite of passage for boys.  Admittedly, it's a rite of passage for many girls too, since it's a ticket to "older kid" status rather than "manhood" per se; nevertheless, no girl regards getting up the nerve to go on Zombie Castle as the next step toward becoming a real woman.

If all of this is true, it should not be surprising to learn that the spookhouse has been something of a testosterone spill from the start.  To begin with, it's a mechanical construction, a great big jerkety-bang electric train set.

One of the first acknowledged masters of the spookhouse genre was Bill Tracy.  Tracy invented many of the popular "stunts" that still populate many a carnival dark ride, and his Whacky Shacks and Pirates' Coves were wildly imaginative, psychedelic nightmares (of which few survive).

And Tracy was . . . well, a guy.  He loaded up these rides with ludicrous, over-the-top gore, toilet jokes, and buxom, scantily-clad damsels in considerable distress (torture chambers, fiendish saw mills).  Tracy's admirers are a little squeamish about this last feature, and I certainly have no interest in defending everything he did.  My sole purpose here is simply to point out the overwhelmingly masculine character of these rides which helped define the genre.

Marc Davis was a real guy too.  Absolutely nothing girlie about the man.

He's famous for rejecting the notion of "story" in the dark rides he helped develop in favor of a series of experiences.  And sure enough, it has often been observed that the true "story" of the HM is not a story at all, it's you-going-through-a-haunted-house.  Those real-time experiences are the story, and you are the main character.  This is consistent with the whole spooky dark ride tradition, where the tableaux are loosely connected at best and generally function as a series of tests of your nerves, confronting you with the reality of death.  What has not been observed is that this approach reflects a quintessentially male outlook on life.

YOU as main character + THE WORLD as an ordeal
you pass through = masculine view of reality.

The Manner of Phantom Manor

A popgun string of disconnected experiences is not particularly interesting to females.  There needs to be some sort of story, however threadbare, before it engages them, because human relationships are what it's all about.  Look, you're never absolutely alone.  Life is a web.  Everything is connected to everything else.  True, the Haunted Mansion has no story, but the world it presents hangs together so well that it always feels convincingly like there could be a story (better: like there IS a story), and apparently that's enough for female Mansion aficionados to feel at home.  It's really what sets the HM apart from the typical spookhouse, where the various scenes often have no logical connection whatsoever with each other.

But women have their own idea of what horror is, and it's not hard to find it.  There is a thriving literary sub-genre known as "Female Gothic" or "Women's Gothic" (with its own sub-genre, the "Gothic Romance"), which has been fueled by a steady stream of female authors, going back virtually to the birth of the Gothic fiction genre, and it has been sustained down through the years by a predominately female readership.

(I suspect that some of you readers are much more qualified than I to approach this subject, and I will look forward to any comments that may result in a revised and improved survey.)

Traditional Female Gothic novels stick to a predictable template:  A young, virginal woman, unattached, becomes trapped in some sort of evil enclosure created by a perversion of normal human relationships, especially with regard to men.  Thus, her father, or uncle, or beau, men who should naturally take a protective role, turn out to be monsters of depravity.  Other women (usually older) may be extremely cold and cruel, or uncommonly naïve and stupid, perverting and weakening the natural roles of motherhood or sisterhood or friendship.  Quite often the parents are good, but they both die while the Gothic heroine is still young, leaving her vulnerable to less virtuous relatives.  Clergy are invariably weak and often evil, offering no help and no solace.  In brief, the safety net of proper human relationships turns out to be a spider's web, and there is no escape, because that web is reality, it is life.  What should be home has become a trap, a dark castle full of terrors.

In traditional Female Gothic, the heroine is eventually rescued by some kind of knight in shining armor.  A man's response to the same situation would be, "This sucks.  I'm outta here.  And if Uncle Silas tries to stop me, I'll just whack him with this fireplace poker.  If I fail, hey, at least I failed trying."  But that contrast misses the point.  The Gothic heroine may pick up the poker at some point, but don't count on it.  She is much more reluctant to go that route because she simply does not see an alternate reality.  These books depict for female readers a nightmare, and it's a nightmare of helplessness and isolation, the collapse of goodness and beauty in a world with no apparent exit.  In light of the feminine view of reality, that is a chilling concept indeed.  It's a formula that sells and sells and sells. (It is this point, however, that is watered down a bit in the 2019, revised PM. It is for that reason that I think the new PM is less horrific in some deep, fundamental ways.)

Female Gothic invented the denouement known as the Supernatural Explained, and the genre has continued to lean heavily upon it.  You learn at the end that the ghostly doings were nothing but malicious tricks with wires and trapdoors, or else it was all a mistake, and we're treated to a "scientific" explanation of the supernatural phenomena.  (Think of the Nancy Drew mysteries, some of which borrow not a few elements from this genre.)  This comes as exceptionally good news because the book then concludes by revealing that the wholesome web of reality is still the real one, and the dark and horrible one was illusory.  The terrors were errors and the nightmare is over.

So how does this relate to haunted house attractions?

Little girls like to make haunted houses too, but unless she's got a lot of tomboy about her, what you typically get is theater, not the dark twisted corridors described earlier.  She's got her shawl and robe and is mistress of some castle (or whatever) and you're met at the door by this pint-sized Morticia Addams.  She'll likely have you sit down (not "keep going") while she tells you all about life in her castle, delivered in the most sepulchral voice she can manage.  You're a spectator.  You're invited to relate to someone else's make-believe life.  Phantom Manor, here we come.

It should be painfully obvious that Phantom Manor is just a Female Gothic novel turned into a ride.  It has all the ingredients.  Imagineers say they picked the name "Phantom Manor" because it's not too different in French and English, and I believe them.  That just makes coincidences like this that much more revealing:

(from 1966)

Even the bad guy in the cover art looks familiar.

In Phantom Manor, nothing is your story: it's entirely Melanie's story.  The basic plot is that Melanie's father killed her fiance and kept her a prisoner in the house.  Now their ghosts haunt the place.  There's a lot more, but many details are purposely kept vague.

So you see Melanie's ghost, and— "Why look, she's...she's crying!  Poor thing!  What could have happened here?"  You're sucked right in, now it's relate, relate, relate.  Men can certainly do this, but with women it's like breathing.

You can see the contrast with the HM already in the (original) stretching room.  Unlike the portraits in the other Mansions, at PM you just got the same message repeated over and over.  It's Melanie-in-peril x 4.  In the Haunted Mansions, the Ghost Host tauntingly invites YOU to commit suicide. In Phantom Manor, you're only a spectator, a witness to a murder.

Phantom Manor is plainly theater.  It even has a lush, cinematic musical score (it's magnificent), but if you just can't seem to give a rat's bladder about Melanie, then a lot of PM is bound to be tedious.  Part of the problem for me is that I'm not impressed with Julie Svendsen's portraiture.  Her Melanie has no personality.  I'm sorry, but to me she looks like a stuffed deer.  Maybe I'm missing something that others see.

Wonderful Worlds of Color

I'd like to take a quick look at an argument that some may find weak and subjective.  Be that as it may, I think gendering is apparent even in the graphic artwork for the two rides.  Look at the uses of color.  The Mansions have kept to a remarkably consistent palette of greens and blues over the years, with occasional warm splashes of orange and yellow.  Your mileage may vary, but it feels masculine to me.  Boy's room colors.

Now turn to Phantom Manor.  Is commentary even necessary?  The swish of lace
petticoats whispers through this artwork.  And *sniff* do I detect a trace of perfume?

So What?

Okay, so the HM is blue and PM is pink.  Are there any significant conclusions to be drawn from that?  With regard to Phantom Manor, no, not many.  It's there.  It works.  It provides a gender balance otherwise missing.  There aren't any plans to tamper with the ride.  You go, girl.

With regard to the Haunted Mansions, however, the foregoing discussion may explain why many fans resist and resent the importation of "story" into the ride, whether it's Constance and her husbands or the Dread Family.  It's not just that it goes against Davis's prescription; it's a lot more visceral than that.  There is this inarticulate but nevertheless very real sense that the ride is being emasculated by such alterations.  Possibly the foregoing discussion will be helpful for some of you Mansionites who are equally uncomfortable with those changes but haven't quite been able to put your finger on the reason.  Is "castration" the word you're searching for?


  1. I think it's worth pointing out a relatively recent change to the Disneyland Mansion that is a very clear example of it's emasculination. The passive, beating heart bride is now an evil, heartless bride who has murdered several men who dared try to claim her as theirs!

  2. And let's not forget Madame Leota. - once bound to her seance table for what we could have assumed an eternity. Now, thanks to another relatively recent change, she ihas been liberated and is free to soar about the room (though still confined to her crystal ball - undoubtedly by her own preference).
    And if we are not limiting examples of emasculination in the Mansion to elements added after opening day, then we might consider the dear old woman sitting in serenity atop the tombstone of a beheaded man whom we must assume is her former spouse. Although I admit that one requires a stretch of the imagination. Or does it? Hmmmmm....?

  3. OMG - I can't believe you mentioned Bill Tracy! I was *just* at the Haunted House on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, MD last week! It still contains many of Bill's original "stunts" from 1964. Indeed, they are most definitely designed to appeal to men more so than women. Went on it for the first time in more than 30 years, and got stuck on it when the car in front of mine had a flat tire.

  4. A very well written argument, mate. I had not considered these points, but I am convinced of your view here.
    For my own part, I have always felt that the story of the Haunted Mansion was in line with the original ads run by Disney; a retirement home for ghosts. I like it that way. Which supports your masculine argument quite nicely, I believe.

  5. I should add that I don't consider Constance as a character to be an example of emasculation, just because she's something of a feminist antihero, a ruthless survivor in a world dominated by men. Remember that Davis himself put such a character in there in the form of the stretchroom Widow portrait (Walt's favorite—and he was a real guy too). The portrait has since been identified as Constance of course. I think many, if not most, men will cheerfully admit that women have historically been given the shaft and are good-humored about a little schadenfreude in the form of a character like Constance. Freudians will tell you that Constance betrays a castration anxiety, but that's not what I'm talking about in this post. The emasculation strictly refers to making the characters you see the "real" story of the HM. That's theater. That's not what the HM should be. "Bernie" at WDW in the new queue is just as much an example of emasculation as Constance.

    1. I'm super late to this discussion (and I'm going through your blog in chronological order) but it's so interesting to see you call Constance a *feminist* anti-hero when to me she seems incredibly sexist. The idea that all women are men-hating gold-diggers is a common screed among the red pill crowd, and there's a complete lack of independence from men as she is only ever seen accompanied by one or in her wedding dress. She's denied even the complexity of killing her spouses because she likes to kill her spouses (see: Bluebeard). She just wants money. It's such a stock trope, but the entire room devoted to her makes in seem like the Imagineers somehow thought it was an original story.

      (And I hate that her connection to the house is so tenuous, even though she somehow merits a whole room in it. It's not even something from her first husband, so that she had time to develop an emotional bond to it. It's the family home of her fifth.)

  6. Despite your preamble, you lost me with this line: "For men, life is a test, a proving ground, an arena. "The world" is other, it's an entity apart, indifferent to you at best and hostile at worst."

    I'm a man and I do not look at the world this way at all.

    Maybe SOME men look at the world this way. Maybe American men in the 1960's looked at the world this way. But this view is not universally held amongst men. In fact, it is because of observation that I don't believe in essential gender characteristics. I've met manly men and womanly women, and all points inbetween and other. This sort of thing has far more to do with your upbringing, ethnicity and nationality, life experience, philosophical and religious outlooks and such than your gender. The fact that I am a Canadian is automatically going to give me a different outlook on the world than that held by an American, and the fact of my being a Romantic is going to give me a different outlook than that held by a Rationalist, and the fact of my being a Christian is going to give me a different outlook than that held by a Muslim, and those play out in a far more significant way than does gender.

    Any of those might work better and more fruitfully as a source of discussion regarding the different mansions than imposing a fiction about gender identity and essential gender characteristics that is simply untrue.

    1. Cory,

      There is some truth to your argument of cultural relevance. In Tokyo HM is in Fantasyland, for example. A decidedly non-Japanese mansion full of non-Japanese ghosts would fit nowhere else. I do not believe this contradicts the gender argument at all, but it is an added facet.

  7. And Madame Leota and Constance aren't even in the kitchen! My word!

    On a more serious note, there seems to be fewer obviously male fans of the Mansion than female. I'm assuming this is just a coincidence, but still it's quite interesting.

    1. Just now finding this comment: "there seems to be fewer obviously male fans of the Mansion than female" and it seems no one responded to it.

      I find quite the opposite: At least 85% of HM fans are male. Only seem to be a small handful of female fans, at least as far as any discussion boards go. All but one of my HM friends are male.

  8. "Bernie." I meant "Bertie."

    Cory, I respect your position even while disagreeing about gender orientation being totally a construct. That's the reason for the preamble: to lay out the theoretical basis for the analysis that follows. If someone rejects the theoretical basis, and therefore the argument, that's fine. I respect that. I knew this would likely be a controversial discussion.

    "Gender characteristics" vary among individuals. What I'm generalizing from are statistical averages, you might say. "Men are taller than women" is true (statistically) no matter how many women basketball players you point to. Likewise, I'm sure there are men who betray little of the worldview I describe, etc.

    The reason I'm not convinced that gender is ENTIRELY a construct is that there are too many identical trends that cut across all cultures, religions, and time periods. The notion that you become a man, depending on your performance in life, is found practically everywhere, but no such similar notion applies to females to the same degree. Variations among individuals are taken for granted.

    The book that firmed up my opinions the most in this area was Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance by Stephen Goldberg. I've read hundreds of books in my life, but I don't think I've ever encountered a more logically airtight presentation of a theory than Goldberg's book. He just leaves you nowhere to go unless you consciously embrace irrationalism or suprarationalism.

  9. Interesting post. I've been on Phantom Manor and despite the fact that there is a definite storyline there, it feels cluttered and confusing. If I hadn't have read Jason Surrell's book, I wouldn't have understood what was going on. Why are there zombies in a "phantom" manor? I know that these are the people that perished in the earthquake, but couldn't they have been a little more ethereal looking? I agree that the the other mansions while not having a story per say have a flow, if you will. You are exploring a haunted house, seeing strange, amusing, and frightening events ( with some vague possible "threats" via the Ghost Host, the COD and now Constance) and then make your escape. Loose tableaus feel connected. I think in part the Ghost Host's limited narration helps, he explains just enough to let you draw your own conclusions. I really wish they would've kept Vincent Price's English dialogue along with the French version. They kept the English dialogue for Madame Leota, I don't get it. Phantom Manor needs something to clarify that there is a narrative and deliberate flow at work. In film you have time to build up a narrative, on a ride if you are telling a story you need to make the plot/events clear at a glance if you intend to go without dialogue. Melanie needs to be more of the emotional heart of the story and the Phantom needs to be clearly shown as the villain. and that he is not only responsible for trapping Melanie, but he'll try to keep the foolish mortals (us) in the mansion forever too. The more feminine mansion puts you in "real" danger narratively (not just vague threats) in Phantom Manor and the average doesn't even know it.

  10. Wow - awesome! You used one of my old family photos that I didn't Photoshop for your post!


  11. Having never been to the Paris park, I don't know how much opportunity is afforded to visitors to dig out the story of PM, so your comments are intriguing. Are interested visitors just supposed to piece together whatever clues they may find during the ride, or is there an outside source of information available in some form? From your comments it sounds like there is nothing outside the ride itself.

    I wonder how much the Imagineers banked on guests' prior acquaintance with the basic premise of countless Female Gothic novels, along with things like color symbolism (Melanie in white, the Phantom in black, etc)?

  12. I think we can all agree that there is a wide variation of psychological characteristics within the male and female populations, even if the distribution shows a majority of one characteristic or other. I appreciate when writers explicitly qualify blanket statements with modifiers like "most" and "tend to," but I try to assume that's their intent even if they don't put it in black and white. Anyway...


    "She" ("Marilyn" was Dan Ross's pen name) wrote the original set of novels based on the TV show "Dark Shadows;" I've always been struck by the parallels between that show and the HM. Walking into the Mansion for the first time was like walking into Collinwood-made-life!

    "Unlike women, men must take actions, undergo ordeals, or pass tests in order to become men."

    Heh, I didn't need to look at the byline to know that was written by a man!

  13. Matthew, great, and I've added a caption. Sometimes I lose track of where photos originally came from (very unprofessional, I know).

    Melissa, interesting about "Marilyn"; I didn't know that. And you are correct. The qualifiers should be taken for granted. When someone says "men are taller than women" (to use that illustration again), you can assume there are "most's" in there and that the writer isn't an idiot and is speaking of statistical averages.

    I know there are people with heavy philosophical and even religious and political investments in the notions that the sexes have "natural," innate roles by virtue of their X and Y chromosomes, just as there are people with the same investments in their conviction that gender roles are entirely social constructs. So it's a difficult topic to discuss without raising hackles. The thing is, there are mountains of anthropological and sociological data that inform the topic, but a lot of people aren't interested in doing their homework before setting their views in concrete. The thing that impresses me about Goldberg's book is that it is literally (yes, literally) exhaustive in its survey of the particular subject he discusses, taking into account thousands of societies, and in the second edition he addresses literally (yes, literally) every single point by every single critic who found fault with something in the first edition. All that, plus the fact that everyone seems to agree that his logic is virtually impeccable makes it one helluva strong book.

    (And with regard to nature vs. nurture in determining gender roles, Goldberg proves that it's a both/and, not an either/or.)

  14. I would have to read the book you reference, but there are two objections I would submit to your reply as presented.

    The first is a flawed data set, being both incomplete and inaccurate information doubtlessly skewed by the desire to find essential gender characteristics. Coming-of-age rituals are ubiquitous for both genders across every culture, not simply for men. They do differ between genders, but they also differ between cultures. Different cultures impose different gender values on their children. Statistical generalizations might be more applicable to biology than to cultural constructs like gender, but even then you're in fuzzy territory. Biology still must account for hermaphroditism, transgenderism, homosexuality and the distinction between genetic and biological gender (i.e.: women who are XY, men who are XX, and people with one or three chromosomes). Some cultures, usually indigenous ones, actually have more than two gender categories, which leads to the next objection...

    The second is the inherent fiction of dualisms. There are 16 different personality types each in the Myers-Briggs and the DISC systems. In the Keirsey Tempraments system, there are four tempraments with eight roles, and there are six personality types in the Holland Code with most people centering on two apiece. There are nine Enneatypes. In Multiple Intelligence models, there are seven distinct learning intelligence types. There are about 196 countries in the world, almost 7000 different languages and a countless number of ethnic groups. There are over 20 major world religions, and in just in Christianity alone, there are over two billion adherents scattered amongst 38,000 denominations and sects. There are almost 7 billion people on this planet, 83% of which are not of the Western cultural tradition...

    But "men are like this and women are like that"? Go ahead, pull the other one. When you try to generalize by saying "men think like this..." my second inclination (after saying "no I don't") is to ask "men from where?"

    I think there are at least two far more salient explanations for the perceived "emasculation" of the Phantom Manor that you argue:

    1) The ride is a product of WDI's ill-conceived obession with imposing narrative stories on everything... The particular story thread they took for inspiration from was the Haunted Mansion's bride. I don't think the visceral dislike for Constance really goes any deeper than the fact that this whole obsession with narrative storytelling is fundamentally flawed. It makes you a spectator rather than a participant, which makes for bad attractions more often than not (see: The Little Mermaid, Pirates of the Jack Sparrow, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, whatever cockeyed backstory they invented for Buena Vista Street).

    2) The ride was built to appeal to a European audience... In fact, if I was being extra-saucy, I might counter-argue that what you perceive as the emasculation of the Phantom Manor is really just an example of a general tendency amongst Americans to perceive European culture as effeminate. You could make just about the same argument for the whole of DLP: the Swiss Family Treehouse makes Adventureland *domestic*, Discoveryland is *pretty*, etc. Heck, you could try and make the same argument for Paris, or France in general. This article is more a mirror you're holding up to yourself than a real window through which to examine DLP.

  15. Cory, as always, I appreciate your comments. We're in greater agreement than you may think. I fully admit that "Men this..." and "Women that..." articulations are going to wander in and out of larger as well as more-tightly restricted socially constructed circles. Some of PM vs. HM may indeed go down to a circle as tight as French vs. American. I also agree that there is more than one angle as to what (if anything) is wrong with PM (although as a matter of fact I'm not arguing here that there's anything wrong with the PM per se, I just don't want the HM's to be turned into PM - lite).

    I think I know where you're coming from, having taken my doctorate from a very theologically liberal school (the GTU in Berkeley). Barf, that sounds pompous and condescending, doesn't it? Let me put it this way: I'm having no trouble recognizing the arguments and following your line of thought! My response to the blizzard of human variations out there that you cite (and you could go on, I'm sure) is this: One can lose EITHER the forest OR the trees in these debates, but we should do neither if we can help it. I agree with you that dualism has been and continues to be, at best, greatly overrated (Queer theory has some good points), but on the other hand, "Biologically Male" and "Biologically Female" is one dualism that does happen to cover a good 99.9% of the territory, so IF one can demonstrate that some gender roles have a neuro-endocrinological basis, THEN it is legitimate to speculate and explore how far these may affect the thinking of the two sexes independently of culture. I think Goldberg does indeed demonstrate in an airtight argument that such a neuro-endocrinological basis does exist.

    That said, I do not mean to imply in this post that all of the malethink-femalethink I describe along the way is entirely or even mostly biological, so I'm at fault if that is not clear. We have very little experience of how the two sexes among African Bushmen or Australian Aborigines would react to the two rides, so in the absence of data I'm perfectly willing to admit that quite a lot of the blue-pink gendering I see between the two rides may be uniquely The Difference as filtered and developed through modern Western Euro-American cultures. It's not a big deal to me whether it's 10% or 90% culturally conditioned, all I'm saying (and this may be the actual sum of our disagreement) is that I think there is some degree of neuro-endocrinological biology in the mix.

  16. I think y'all are overthinking this male/female thing. The Haunted Mansion is designed from a masculine perspective, while Phantom Manor is significantly more feminine by design. Well, at least till they get to the zombies and the wild west ghost town, anyway. That part of the attraction never did make any sense to me... Maybe the design team was trying to compensate for the overtly feminine house...?

    Whether readers do or don't fit a specific gender mold isn't really relevant to this specific discussion. It's just a general label for discussion of a theme park attraction, nothing more.

  17. I would agree that there are biological differences at play, but as per one of my objections, the biological differences THEMSELVES are not dualistic... It is AT BEST a spectrum if one still insists on maintaining dual endpoints (I also cannot help but wonder how much of this is coming from the American disdain for diversity and complexity, and a cultural preference for dualistic simplifications [i.e.: two-party politics, us-them foreign policy, the black-white divide, 1%-99%, etc.]... But this is a subject I've been pondering since seeing Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln for the first time a few weeks ago and hearing it's nearly delusional insistance that his words spoke to some kind of universal values that applied "all men" rather than just the internal bickering of American politics... anyways... I digress heavily).

    On top of the fact that biology is fuzzy there is the variation with which those biological differences play out in the enculturated construct that is "gender". I find dual-genderism kind of hard to swallow (not to mention a little imperialistic) when there are whole cultures out there with three or more gender categories. It's not just liberals and queers who noticed this.

    I don't think we necessarily disagree as much as it would appear at first blush, insofar as how much you're qualifying your statements in the comments section. My initial objection was to "men are like this and women are like this" generalizations on the grounds that they are simply untrue (as evidenced by my being a man and not thinking like that). Now we're getting down to this being an incomplete Western-Euro-American lens. My question, then, is how far does it get qualified until it's just admitted to be a useless lens?

    I think there are some good points in your argument - such as the connection to the feminine Gothic writer tradition - but I don't think it requires such a particular, and demonstrably false, lens of gender.

    Incidentally, having been on the PM, I would agree that it is beautiful but flawed. The flaw, from my perspective, is the insistance upon a storyline that turns me from an active tourist through a Haunted Mansion to a passive spectator of Melanie Ravenswood's story. It's not as effective because I'm not invested in it, even if the Phantom is supposedly trying to get at me. If anything, in your argument, the PM is masculine because it's all The Other.

    I don't think the HM is currently at risk though. I like Constance and dont' see her as the interjection of a story. She is an extended gag occupying the attic with a few reference points outside it... She is no more of a "story" than the Mummy or Leota or the Raven.

    1. Well, I can't see anything distinctly American about seeing the sexes as a duality. You find that all over the place.

      I'm having trouble following part of your argument. I don't see how the biological difference between male and female is not dualistic. There are biological hermaphrodites in which the distinction is difficult to find, but they're a very tiny fraction of the whole. In 99.9% of the human population, the two reproductive systems are clear and distinct and you have one or the other. The genetic difference is also clear and distinct in 99.9% of the cases (or whatever the actual figure is). You find a similar physical differentiation with all vertebrate animals, falling into the two categories of male and female. Cultures who see three or more genders must be using something other than physical biological features as the measuring stick, in which case when they say "gender" and I say "gender" we're talking apples and oranges.

      Certainly there is variation in the way these physical biological differences play out in various cultures, but it is not an infinite variation, and furthermore, the areas in which there is no variation are not trivial ones. Goldberg proves (and I don't use the word carelessly) that no society has ever been found anywhere at any time in which men did not rule (= did not hold the majority of the positions of power, authority, and public prestige). As far as we know, there has never been a society in which women ruled, or even in which they held parity with males in positions of acknowledged authority.

      Goldberg knew them wuz fighting words when he originally published his thesis, and the result was a flurry of frequently outraged rebuttals over the next 20 years. He methodically addresses every single objection published by other anthropologists and sociologists and destroys each one beyond any reasonable dispute. He knows his stuff. It may be politically incorrect, but to date, no one has published any evidence that genuinely refutes his claim. In all societies, men rule. Since absolute sociological universals—zero exceptions—are practically unheard of, the basis of the phenomenon he describes must be biological. (And yes, all his terms are defined with care.)

    2. I think what I'm finding odd at this point is the fact that you acknowledge that gender dualism is a faulty premise requiring massive qualifiers but you're sticking to it anyways. You said "I don't see how the biological difference between male and female is not dualistic. There are biological hermaphrodites in which the distinction is difficult to find..." The second sentence answers the rhetorical question of the first. It seems that you're trying to assert that "Third Genders" are dismissible as mere statistical variations, but when you assert gender dualism you are making a socio-ideological claim for which ANY variation is contrary evidence. Even when you try to qualify Third Genders with a "but..." you have still acknowledged that they exist and therefore gender is not binary.

      To puzzle this out I spent the evening reading what I could of Goldberg and his critics and I think I see where you're getting that from. He seems quite categorical and dualistic in his approach with little patience for variations, all of which he excuses with a misapplication of scientific parsimony. A scientifically elegant explanation is still required to be comprehensive, which his hypothesis is not in the least. His argument that there has never been a matriarchal society ever (that is, societies organized by what he would recognize as a dominance heirarchy governed by women with no men in positions of power) relies on a very narrow and dualistic idea that societies are EITHER patriarchal OR matriarchal. It seems that if any society has ever had men in positions of power then it is patriarchal and if it has ever had any women in positions of power then those women don't really matter (it's at its silliest when he says there have never been "significant" women leaders and then goes on to LIST THEM). Most of his rebuttals were simply handwaved dismissals, saying that these objections on the basis of social complexity or historical circumstance or whatever don't matter. So what? They still exist, and his inability or unwillingness to develop a more comprehensive hypothesis is a critical failure on his part.

      After reading what Goldberg has to say, I'm not suprised that you brought up the boogeyman of "political incorrectness". His offending the intelligentsia appears to be an important part of the narrative he uses to justify his hypothesis (which, to be frank, is a VERY American thing to do... Baiting intellectuals and asserting that something is true BECAUSE it offends people is not generally considered a sport elsewhere in the world). I would point out, however, that my objection was not a feminist objection. When you said that "men are like this and women are like this" I didn't say that you were wrong about women. I said you were wrong about me, as a man. My objections are indiviudalist, masculinist and humanist/multiculturalist, not feminist.


    3. ...con't...

      That goes back to the fact that he's working from a flawed data set. His thesis of the male dominanace drive is simply wrong. It's not true. His description of male drives is not true of men, nor is it true of many men I know. It IS true of many women I know. In fact, many of the emotionally coldest, least nurturing and most competitive people I've known have been women. Curiously this fact is often represented in female deities and theological concepts around the world, but Goldberg already handwaved that off. If religions do not do him the courtesy of conforming to his hypothesis of gender dualism and patriarchy, then evidently religion is not that important.

      Altogether I wouldn't say that his hypothesis has been refuted as such. It simply has not been proven. He has done an inadequate job of accounting for variation and been overzealous in his categorical and binary thinking, to the point where much of what he claims is self-evidently false if not self-contradictory.

      So why does he think this way? Whether or not his being American has anything to do with it, I grant that I was developing out the issue of nationality that I introduced before. If one was to look at any one case of binary thinking it would not be exclusive to the United States, but it is the cumulative effect. The Lincoln Robot was right about one thing: America will destroy itself because of its inability to reconcile its dualities... Democract/Republican, black/white, red/blue, 1%/99%, Union/Confederacy, Us/The Terrorists... I suspect that it is a fatal flaw written into the very fabric of your genesis as a nation created by war. Annhilating each other in the name of a political orthodoxy is probably the most fundamental characteristic of American cultural identity (Why do you think you can't manage even simple collective efforts like universal healthcare, which every other civilized nation takes for granted? I've never seen people who absolutely, positively LOVE their country but HATE their countrymen as much as Americans do). It cannot help BUT overwrite itself onto supposedly scientific research into the *apparent* binary of gender. That's a lot of why I brought up cultures with multiple genders, which you found a very gentle way of saying were wrong. There are more ways of looking at the world than The American Way.

      Anyways, now that I've probably completely offended your sensibilities, I'll just end off by saying that I think some of your ideas about the PM are interesting. I said that before, and I think it's worth developing without being hung-up on the idea that the attraction is somehow genetically effeminate.

    4. Thanks Cory, and no, you haven't offended me. I genuinely appreciate the time you've taken to give substantive responses, and I respect your point of view. Many of my comments have been sincere attempts to understand your position better, because I've thought it was worth knowing. I do think you're misunderstanding Goldberg, who tirelessly points out that he is dealing in statistical realities: most men, most women. (One small note: His claim in not that there has never been a society with women running the show and NO men in positions of power: he says there's never been one with women ruling with even so much as a simple majority or even with a 50/50 split. It's a claim that has been out there for 40 years now without successful refutation.) I don't want to drag this out, but I have to ask about one thing you said. If I understand you correctly (and I may not be), a duality that accounts for 99.9% of the population (let's say), with a tiny remainder left out (in this case, the number of hermaphrodites in the population as against the male/female dichotomy), then the duality is false because it is not absolutely comprehensive. It sounds as if you're saying that every possible case of everything must be accounted for before a category can be used legitimately. In that case, no categories of any kind can be used (except perhaps in mathematics). Nothing that can be said in human language will ever account for 100% of the referent with a remainder of absolute zero. One person born in the history of the human race with three arms is enough to invalidate the statement that humans have two arms. But sociology deals with the realities of big numbers, averages, because social structures are based on expectations of what is thought to be typically the case, not necessarily invariably the case. Social structures rarely if ever pretend that they account for 100% of the phenomena they deal with. So a duality that works 99.9% of the time will probably be reckoned as close enough for dualistic social structuring in any society. Am I missing something?

    5. Any deviation from a binary makes it, by definition, not a binary. Saying that dualistic thinking is accurate for 99.99% of the population means that it is completely inaccurate, because you have acknowledged that it is not a binary. Now, I admit that I have a tendency to focus on the deviation because that's the most interesting part, but nevertheless there you go. There is always variation. Binaries are invariably false (and often the product of someone trying to tell you what to think). Even atoms have three types of subatomic particles and even God is a Trinity.

      I noticed that you've fixated on hermaphroditism, but it's a much broader issue than that. About 1.5% of births display intersexuality. 1 in 500 males are born XXY, 1 in 18-40,000 men are XXYY. 4-5 in 100,000 men are actually XX. Approximately 10% of the population is gay. Ideas of masculinity and feminity differ from culture to culture. Many cultures have non-binary ideas of gender. Then there's culture as a whole... Exactly what are his biases in determining how a society functions and how power is distributed through it? He can claim to be going where the stats lead him (and if you don't like it you're just part of the feminist intelligentsia), but how he chooses to record those stats and the biases with which he interprets them are another thing entirely. He claims to be objective up and down, usually in the face of critics pointing out flaws in his methods, just before he handwaves them off. I'd be pretty curious, actually, to see a similar survey done by people from more openly multicultural societies that don't carry the mental burden of dualistic thinking.

      And remember, this discussion was prompted by your saying that "men are like this" and me saying "no I'm not." Only later were the categorical statements about gender qualified, but even then, those statements still are not true of myself and most of the people I know. People viewing the world as an arena of competition is pretty evenly distributed between genders and not particularly widely held between either. However the lies... damn lies... statistics are massaged, it still has the fact of being sufficiently untrue for me to take notice.

      Which then brings it back around to the subject matter of the blog: given that categorical statements about gender are factually untrue (a fact you admit by the very act of qualifying your statements and arguing statistical majorities), how exactly does a theory of the Haunted Mansion gain by having one applied to it? What can be said about the HM's being designed by American men in the 1960's or about the PM's recollections of themes Gothic literature that requires a specific gender theory to help it along? Exactly what use is it, compared to the rest of the magnificent work you've done on this blog? What's the point of it?

    6. If binaries are invariably false, then language itself collapses as a truth-telling conveyance, because every assertion separates some particular thing from "everything else" in an ad hoc binary system. "A" and "not A" is a binary system. Respectfully, the problem I see in your position is that you need to define what the two things are that are being set forth as a binary set (falsely, in your view). As I said earlier, sociologists deal in large numbers, percentages, because social structures are generally based on what is believed to be "typical" and not necessarily "invariable, absolute." So if the sets, that is, the nouns that someone like Goldberg is using are "most males" and "most females," he can certainly make binary, dualistic distinctions between those two nouns that are perfectly accurate. The minorities left out by both sets are not being spoken to at all, because they are not numerically significant enough to account for social macro-structures. (I don't mean to keep defending Goldberg, but he certainly does not "wave away" his critics. He patiently refutes every objection using strict logic, and I've never seen an ad hominem attack, against "feminists" or whatever.)

      But enough of Goldberg. You ask what I was thinking bringing all this sort of thing into a blog like this one. Reasonable enough. I began with a premise that is today widely accepted by moderate feminists, psychologists, and the general public, that men and women (as groups, on the average, typically) are quite different in how they look at the world. If people weren't aware of this and didn't accept it, they wouldn't find that Dave Barry column so funny. Well, it simply occurred to me that the HM and PM seemed each to presume one of the two basic worldviews as they are commonly described, one reflecting the male outlook and the other the female. I thought it was an interesting and entertaining theory that one ride "thinks" like a typical male, and the other "thinks" like a typical female, so I put it out there. In my opinion, the two worldviews as I describe them are not particularly controversial (not anymore, anyway), so I didn't expect any blowback beyond "Bah! The Mansion is girlier than you think," or something like that. There was never a suggestion that "men think..." means 100% of men, only the bulk of them, and within that bulk only to lesser or greater degrees. I assumed that that sort of "sociological rounding" would be obvious, and I am sorry if I was mistaken in that.

      I was not concerned with how culturally restricted the duality may be. Barry's column might not be funny in Zimbabwe, I don't know. The malethink-femalethink duality is certainly widespread enough to include the cultural worlds in which these rides operate, if the duality is accurate at all, so it was not a necessary consideration for my purposes.

      (to be continued...)

    7. (continued...because once I get going I can't seem to shut up)

      One reason I like doing a blog like this one (and can justify to myself the time spent on it) is that it provides a common starting point in something that is—let us admit it—not intrinsically very important (a pop artifact intended for light entertainment) but which a lot of people with very different personalities and backgrounds happen to like and are interested in knowing more about. So I may find myself grooving along here with someone who I might otherwise be arguing with furiously on, say, a political blog, but we both think Claude Coats totally rules this project. This is good. Reminds us that we're all humans and tend to take ourselves too seriously. Besides that, bigger and more interesting topics grow out of these humble beginnings, like the whole artistic enterprise, artistic interaction and cross-pollination, human hopes and fears as seen in the jokes we tell ourselves, our psychological quirks, and on and on. The beauty of it is that if you start spouting nonsense at some point, no one is going to get hurt, because the thing you're wrong about is still, ultimately, only a ride at Disneyland.

      I hope that helps?

  18. You're right, GG. For the purposes of comparing the rides, the pinkish and bluish tints are clear enough, however deep the dye actually penetrates. It's just that the topic is interesting in its own right. The HM/PM contrast can spark bigger discussions, but you certainly don't need those discussions to understand HM/PM.

    The cowboy thing may well be an example of Europe/American contrast. Apparently the Wild West sorta kinda functions to them as Transylvania functions to us. At any rate, old castles and old graveyards aren't very exotic things to them.

  19. An interesting note: Up untill the late teens of the 20th Century,Americans concsidered PINK a male's color--being more decisive and blue was considered a girls much of Western Europe this is still the case.

    A little known fact was that there was almost a chance that actor JAMES COBURN would be the voice of PHANTOM MANOR.......had Vincent Price not been available. I think Coburn would have made a fantastic Ghost Host for Paris!

  20. All the talk of blue mansions and pink manors has "La Manoir de Rosamonde" running through my head.

  21. Coburn had a great voice. Possibly he would have been better than Vinnie (don't hit me, folks! Don't hit me!). I like Vincent Price, but I've always thought you had to see him as well as hear him in order to appreciate his special presence. Still, he did a good job in The Great Mouse Detective, I must say, so what do I know?

    The color thing is interesting. I didn't know about the pink/blue reversal. On a similar note, before the "blue state-red state" thing was born in 2000, I seem to recall that the reversed assignment of those two colors was just as common, if not more so. Red = Dem; Blue = Repub.

    1. I don't have words to describe what a big Vincent Price fan I am, and I'm thrilled that we still have the recordings he did for PM... his voice was not what it was, when he did them. The ravages of illness were already apparent. It's too bad they couldn't have done them even a year earlier.

  22. True enough on the State color thing. Even before 2000 my grandpa was furious when he thought the Dems won by a landslide only to discover the colors were reversed in his mind.
    A convincing case and intriguing replies have made this a great post, and it was a LOL moment~
    “This sucks. I'm outta here. And if Uncle Silas tries to stop me, I'll just whack him with this fireplace poker. If I fail, hey, at least I failed trying”

  23. Phantom Manor also brings up the question of unique events as we see Melanie reenact her past and her present trapped state. If this is so than by the end of the ride the Phantom is prevented from taking the souls of the explorers and Melanie (now skeletal) points out an escape route. If these are unique events like in the other mansions than Melanie has regained control of the manor (i.e. finally picked up the proverbial fireplace poker), so she may not be the the helpless Gothic heroine anymore by the end of the ride. This interpretation bears more than a passing resemblance to that awful remake of The Haunting. If these are not unique events then Melanie's only power is to be able to make sure those foolish enough to enter the manor escape her terrible fate. I think this second interpretation is what most people would go with. That also may be while the ride feels unsatisfying. If you care about Melanie at all, you want to save her, but are unable to do anything but escape with your own life. Because Melanie's presence dominates the ride, the rider feels sad and frightened by the Phantom and the decaying residents of the canyon town. These are grim ghosts without the grins or at least grins mocking Melanie's fate and the explorers' arrival, knowing full well that the Phantom is trying to trap us here as well. If this is the tone that was meant for the ride then it is just another haunted house ride, that makes it feel very out of character with a Disney attraction and feel like it belongs in a different type of amusement park. Maybe there are other interpretations to be had, but that's just my two cents.

  24. "If binaries are invariably false, then language itself collapses as a truth-telling conveyance, because every assertion separates some particular thing from "everything else" in an ad hoc binary system. "A" and "not A" is a binary system."

    The law of non-contradiction is not establishing a binary system, and actually produces grotesque mental gymnastics when one tries to use it in such a way. I've found that a particularly fun way to bait Objectivists is to point out that Ayn Rand's application of non-contradiction is factually wrong in light of evolutionary theory, since impermanence, liminality, transition and objects being indiscrete are part of the fabric of the universe. The point of non-contradiction is not to say that the world is divided up into Potatoes and Not-Potatoes (obviously your thesis about the HM vs. the PM is wrong because both attractions are equally Not-Potatoes). It's to say that something cannot logically be a Potato and Not-A-Potato at the same time. That is, something cannot have a set of characteristics and the absence of those same characteristics at the same time. The reference point of Not-A is A, not "everything else". That is why the law of non-contradiction is stated as A/Not-A, not A/B. A and B may be logically coherent. "Everything else" is useless as a diagnostic category (as evidenced by the HM and the PM being identical because both are Not-Potatoes).

    We could whip off into discussing the nature of language and whether or not language is actually a truth-telling medium, but suffice it to say that the lack of binaries does not pose a problem for language because language is fully capable of expressing complexity, nuance and uncertainty. Sticking instead to the topic at hand... If you were use the law of non-contradiction in reference to gender, your binary would not be Male/Female, because Female is not Not-Male. As I mentioned before, regardless of how statistically insignificant one assumes it to be, Male and Female can actually be coherent categories: someone can be both at the same time. However you define Male, Not-Male is going to be useless as a diagnostic category because it will not only include women, but also people who are not women (heck, according to your definition of "men think the world is an arena of conflict", Not-Male includes some whole religious sects and Male includes quite a few women I know).

    So logic is failing the cause of gender dualism here. Onto statistics then... I actually have no problem if you want to make qualified statements about certain groups. If you want to say "large percentages of American men tend to hold this certain philosophical worldview", then sure, that may be reasonable. But when you categorically say "men think this", thems fightin' words (and no, qualifiers are not implicit, because I don't know what your qualifiers are... Are you talking about American men? 20th century men? Straight men? Who?). Any thesis built on the assumption of a gender dualism is not only going to be objectionable, but terribly easy to refute. I already provided two far more substantial and demonstrable reasons why the PM is different from the HM: 1) Imagineering's obsession with narrative and B) the European audience.

    "(I don't mean to keep defending Goldberg, but he certainly does not "wave away" his critics. He patiently refutes every objection using strict logic, and I've never seen an ad hominem attack, against "feminists" or whatever.)"

    I'd recommend a scan of his website. That's all he does.


  25. ...

    "If people weren't aware of this and didn't accept it, they wouldn't find that Dave Barry column so funny."

    Who finds it funny? You have to be socialized into finding "men are like this and women are like this" jokes funny. They are only effective if you've been taught - formally and informally - the gender viewpoints required to support them. Barry is an American writer and I'm not surprised if American readers found it funny. "Men are like this and women are like this" is one of the staples of American humour. Actually, of American culture in general. The message resonates through TV shows and advertising and newspaper columns because it is constantly being reinforced throughout them like an echo chamber. Step outside that culture and that form of humour is itself openly mocked (one of our most popular comedy shows ever up here in Canada - The Red Green Show - was an extended satire of the male stereotype, and another - Kids in the Hall - consistently obscured the cultural boundaries between masculine and feminine... and, for the record, I thought that Barry column was pretty vapid).

    Fair enough on your motivations for posting your thesis... I don't want to come across as challenging your right to do that or to explore ideas. I'm just challenging you in return to question the utility of the idea now that it's out there. I also appeciate your comentary on the universality of Disney, even though the reasons you gave are exactly why I've felt the need to pull myself away from Disney forums. They include people from all walks of and outlooks on life, even people who might not share one's commitment to critical thinking, logical argumentation or being passably informed *sigh*

  26. I shouldn't have used "A" "not-A" since that is the language of the law of non-contradiction, as you show. I meant "A" and "the thing(s) you are distinguishing it from" ("not-A") when you say "A is this...." It's the purpose to which you are putting the language. If I say, "Those signs are identical," there is a good-faith assumption that the conversation partner knows (or should know by then) what features the speaker has in mind. Of course, no two signs are identical, but for all practical purposes the distinction the speaker wants to make will normally be clear enough, or can be clarified if necessary. My "men are..." and "women are..." were no sloppier than what you can find all over the place. Once it is clear that you obviously mean "most, and to varying degrees" as continual qualifiers, you're accurate. I think anyone should know that there are individual exceptions to practically anything you say about people, and in the arena of sociological comment, the fact that you are "rounding" shouldn't need to be stipulated.

    The masculine traits/feminine traits distinction is hardly an American dichotomy. "Vive la différence" say the French. And Goldberg does prove that certain masculine traits (most, and to varying degrees) and certain feminine traits (most, and to varying degrees) are sociological universals. The idea that gender-based outlook is entirely a social construct, something children are born without and learn, I think is rubbish. Two year old boys gravitate to trucks and trains as if drawn by a magnet in ways girls rarely are. Anyone who has raised kids (and grandkids) will tell you stories about that sort of thing. My granddaughter is much girlier than her mom or grandmoms, and she has been since she was old enough to express any kind of preference at all. No one taught her to be that way. The neighbor's little boy, first time he saw a pickup truck at the other neighbors worksite—it was like seeing the face of God. My second grandson came out of the chute as macho as they come, acting "like a boy" as soon as he was able to act at all, and he's still that way (he's 5). His brother is less so, but still "typical boy" in many ways. It's just rubbish that this is "training."

  27. Cory, I need to say one more thing. If you go back and read your own comments throughout all this discussion, you will note that there is America-bashing in nearly every one of them, sometimes altogether gratuitous, having nothing to do with the subject as far as I can see. This animus is tiresome. Your irritation with Americans' supposed sense of cultural superiority ("There are more ways to look at the world than the American way") is nothing but a display of your own.

    DELETE FROM HERE The "Here in Canada" arguments are a more blatant example of cultural arrogance than anything I ever see coming from American writers and commentators. TO HERE.

    I suggest you check out the log in your own eye. But quite apart from that, the continual recourse to "Americanism" as an explanation of the subject at hand is simply unconvincing. If American attitudes about masculinity and femininity are so idiosyncratic or extreme, how is it that products of American pop culture such as films and TV shows are so enormously popular all over the world, not even restricted to "the West"? A glorified soap opera like "Dallas" is staggeringly popular overseas and continues to be so in endless reruns. Male/female entanglements are that show's stock-in-trade. You can't tell me that its popularity is merely due to a horrified fascination with these strange humanoids from planet America. That won't fly. Men and women all over the world identify with the characters and get hooked on the show. From that bit of evidence alone, I'd say it's ridiculous to claim that our assumptions about the sexes are largely our own.

  28. Cory, I'm deleting the comment on "Here in Canada," which is not accurate, and I apologize. You do not explicitly label your viewpoint as Canadian. It doesn't make it any less condescendingly anti-American, but my remark was wrong.

  29. So I'm sure you are aware of these, but here are the actual portraits used in the attraction:

    And scroll a little bit down the page...

    They give her a little more personality than the prototypes. She looks like she could maybe be a real person. Though based off the look she's giving in the second image, maybe she had this coming. I don't know.

    Being a fan of PM (without actually getting there, yet) I find it frustrating that even though there is a cohesive storyline holding the attraction together, it is a CHORE trying to dechiper it while riding. I don't mind that it leads toward the feminine, being a person who would rather have a companion through life's tribulations then going at it alone. I've never considered that a feminine quality, though I won't argue it, for the sake of discussing these attractions. What I don't understand is why they seem to wait 2/3rds through the attraction to make you realize you are also in peril, not just Melanie. If the Phantom really is a threat, then his pressence should be a little more evident in the first half. He essentially disappears until the ballroom (though there is concept art having his show up in other early scenes). I think that's one of the best ways they could pull the guest into the story being told. It all feels a bit passive until you leave the house and encounter the Phantom in the graveyard and think "oh crap".

    It seems some people are concerned that what we witness is Melanie's continual fate she must endure, and that we are powerless to stop it, which makes for a bad Disney show. While it is depressing, let's not forget that everytime you took a trip on Snow White's adventures for many a year, you were essentially killed by the evil queen. And Mr. Toad's wild ride sent you to hell at the end. At least in PM, you get to escape with your soul.

    Anyways, thanks for posting! And thanks for including PM in a lengthy discussion...I'm a sucker for its soundtrack.

  30. Thanks Arch, for drawing attention to those, and I would agree that she has a little more personality in those, although I still can't find much there.

    Kind of an obvious point, now that I think about it, but originally Vincent Price did the whole Ghost Host-type narration, and he also did the Phantom's laugh (which is still used). Question for you European readers: Is the current narrator presented as a separate Ghost Host character or as the Phantom himself? When it was all Vincent, you had the evidence of your ears that the GH was likely the Phantom, in which case the little veiled threats in his monologue (similar to the HM) would supply the sense of danger to you, the guest, that seems to be lacking in the first part of the ride as it now stands.

    And yes, the soundtrack is wonderful.

  31. I'm not exactly sure what was so offensive about my comments on what Canadian humour is like and how its deconstruction of gender stereotypes differs from humour I've seen repeated over and over again on American TV that reinforces gender stereotypes. I'm certain I could be accused of being anti-American for all sorts of reasons, but I don't see how pointing out a cultural difference like that is arrogance.

    I glommed onto the question of Americanism for two reasons. The first is that I've been meditating on the tendency to assign American cultural values as universal truths ever since seeing the spree of inanity that was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln... Probably one of those "every problem looks like a nail if all you have is a hammer" things, and I apologise for that. The second is that I think the cultural differences between the intended audiences of the HM and PM is far more significant a factor than supposed gendering, and I genuinely think there was a subtext to your argument - probably unintended - that European culture is effeminate. Culture is the MOST salient issue here.

    As should probably be pretty obvious by now, I found the gender stereotyping offensive. I found it offensive in itself because its not true (as evidence by "I'm a man and I do not have the philosophical worldview assigned to men") and for the wider cultural context in which gender stereotyping has been used to oppress and marginalize women and GLBTQ persons. Getting "fag!" shouted at me pretty well every day for a whole decade because of my hairstyle and colour of my clothing was tiresome and only made possible by baseless, encultrated insistence upon what manly men and girly women are supposed to be like. And regarding what children naturally gravitate towards,I teach thousands of children every year as a museum educator and haven't noticed any significant trends as to what boys like vs. what girls like when they come to our institution. I found it offensive as applied because, despite your protestations at the beginning, your argument pretty clearly followed that pattern. The PM being "effeminate" was a problem, the HM getting "emasculated" by Constance was a problem. "Castration"? Really? Well, I actually like Constance, so I guess that adds to my being womanish and hysterical. This argument you insulated right from the beginning by asserting that anyone who disagreed with it was being unreasonable, illogical and politically correct. In retrospect I should have just kept my mouth shut, because what can you say when any possible counter-argument has been pre-dismissed?

    In a blog that is otherwise filled with brilliant insight and reasearch, being an absolute joy to read, I think this particular post happened to be a poorly argued non-sequiter and entirely unnecessary. Anyways, I'll let it rest there, since we're obviously both getting heated over it.

  32. 1) Fair enough; the discussion has probably run out of usefulness (within a forum like this one anyway!)
    2) I don't know if you noticed, but I withdrew the comment about Canadianness as unfair, so you don't need to defend that particular point as far as I'm concerned. My protests were pointed elsewhere.
    3) To reiterate a point I stressed in the post, this has nothing to do with the appeal of the rides, so the masculinity and femininity of the audiences is explicitly irrelevant. I'm not hinting in any way that Europeans are effeminate.
    4) I'll leave it to any readers who happen to have followed this discussion to decide if I ever "asserted" that anyone who disagreed with me was "being unreasonable, illogical and politically correct."
    5) To reemphasize a point too easily mistaken, it is not Constance who emasculates the HM, it is the importation of story and transformation into theater rather than experience that does so (if the theory is correct at all). The fact that Constance is who she is and does what she does is coincidental. The Dread Family is equally emasculating.
    6) I'm sorry for the pain this has caused you or anyone like you. I bear no ill will and I will continue to enjoy and respect you and your work.

  33. HBG2, the long-missing, but not forgotten, effect of a lamp floating window to window behind the curtains of the second floor of the Disneyland Haunted Mansion has just recently been fixed. This effect is a very interesting illusion, I would love to see a post on it for your readers. You may have to go with just diagrams though because pictures of the second floor of the facade are very hard to come by.

  34. I'm glad the effect is back. My understanding is that it goes long periods without being fixed, because it's such a low priority. As for a post, I'm afraid all I know about it is from a rough description that may or may not be completely accurate (think of a hole in a revolving coffee can with a light inside), and I've only ever seen this one photo of the effect, so there isn't much to write about:

    1. To quote the hymn:

      There’s a light in the window for thee, brother,
      There’s a light in the window for thee;
      A dear one has moved to the mansions above,
      There’s a light in the window for thee.

    2. The candle in the window is important as a lure. "Seeing the light in the window, they may try the door. Finding the door unlatched, they may come in" ("The Candle in the Window," _House and Garden_, Dec. 1922, p. 38). Of interest, from the same article: "Like a beleaguered city the home watches its gates, scrutinizes those who pass them. Its enemy, the vast world, lies outside. Days come, days go. The truce seems never ending. Then, on one night of the year, the forces of the home make a sudden sally into the world. From every point are debouched these strange and potent warriors of the heart. They swarm over the plains of the world -- and the world succumbs! The signal for the beginning of this great fight is a candle set in the window."

    3. In that capacity it's still a potent and widely-recognized symbol (at least as of 1970). Witness the Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, "Long as I Can See the Light" (from Cosmo's Factory). "Put a candle in the window, 'cause I feel I've got to move; Though I'm going, going, I'll be coming home soon, long as I can see the light."

  35. There's a much more interesting theory going on here than the one involving laughably archaic gender stereotypes, I think. The Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor come from entirely different genre conventions. One is the product of funhouse traditions and the other is steeped in Southern Gothic literary allusions. I think that's where some of the narrative confusion in PM is coming from. It starts out as a classic Southern Gothic story and somewhere along the way it turns into Weird West. I've never been on it, having never been to France, but it sounds like an abrupt tonal shift.

    As a side note, strangely enough, girls in my age group (late 20s-early 30s) DO actually have our own spooky coming-of-age rituals. Almost all of us have, at some point in our youth, played around with a Ouija board or something similar. It might not sound like much to an adult male, but the apprehension and excitement is very real and you're similarly scorned by your peers if you balk at it. Nobody wants their friends to think they're a sissy, not even girls.

    You could certainly tie that into Madame Leota's seance and, stretching it further, turn-of-the-century spiritualism. Just from my cursory research into it, I'd say that spiritualism craze was definitely female-dominated.

  36. The female coming-of-age rituals you speak of are nothing new, of course. Ouija boards and pajama parties have gone together for a LONG time.

    You raise a VERY interesting point with regard to the occult, however. I think you find there that gender stereotypes match the male/female outlooks precisely. As an instinctive, knee-jerk reaction, which sex to you immediately associate with these terms? Magician. Sorcerer, Wizard. Now which do you associate with these? Witch, Medium, Fortune Teller.

    Men go into the occult to find tools that may help them get what they want. Power tools, you might even say. Women to into it to find webs of connection within existing reality that are ordinarily unseen and unattainable without secret knowledge. Remember that Wiccan (with its high percentage of female practitioners) insists that it is a Nature religion or practice. It purports to explore and to value what is already there.

    The religious taboos concerning witchcraft and the occult, theologically speaking, are warnings that the hidden network devotees think they are finding is an illusion created by malicious non-human intelligences. Men may be more apt to believe that the world houses such malicious intelligences, since the world is already regarded with a certain detachment and even suspicion.

    1. Modern day paganism is split pretty 50/50, I think, but AFAIK, Wicca is mostly women. It's certainly got a different flavor to it than, say, Aleister Crowley and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Incidentally, that group was formed around the same time as the Spiritualism movement, which as I said was primarily women (and hucksters, too, but that's beside the point.) Sort of gives the era that yin-yang flavor you're talking about.

      Ouija boards at pajama parties certainly had that air of delving into to an unseen reality. Maybe that's something that appeals to young girls of a certain age, and maybe that's why more young girls, in my experience, tend to dabble in that stuff. I don't know what the boy's side of things was like, so I really can't say how different it is for them. I'm sure it's pretty different for the kids nowadays than it was when I was a wee lass.

  37. And just to be clear:

    "men" = most men, and within that majority, to varying degrees
    "women" = same thing

    And leaving open the question of how much (if any) of this is purely the result of cultural training and reinforcement and how much (if any) is physiological (as in, neuro-endocrinological).

  38. In theatre, a "masculine plot" is one where the play ends with a distinctly different situation than it began with, and the "feminine plot" is cyclical, with all of the characters more or less reverting to their situation from the beginning.
    By that logic (which I'm not sure I necessarily agree with), Phantom Manor would be masculine, with Melanie becoming free from the Phantom after a clear climax to the plot. The Haunted Mansion would be less so, I think, for the reason that the ghosts may or may not return to their original states afterwards, and starting the cycle again.

    1. That's very interesting; I didn't know about those nicknames. I'm not sure I can agree with your analyses of the "plots" of the two rides, however. Does Melanie escape at the end? I was under the impression that nothing is resolved, that she remains a prisoner of the Phantom. What indicates that she has become free? As for the HM, it definitely isn't a cycle. What you see is depicted as a unique event, something that has never happened before (hence the Caretaker's astonishment).

  39. My picture from Trimper's Haunted House (the one of Bill Tracy's Crooked Corridor) was used on the Long Forgotten Blog! I feel so accomplished!

  40. I always thought of PM as more feminine mainly because of the romance involved. I mean, I'm inexplicably drawn to it for that reason. I have said before I would go to Paris just to ride it, while I chickened out at the HM. My favorite ghost stories are ones with more romantic back stories. However, if I were stuck in Female Gothic story, I'd just punch someone and get the heck outta there.:)


  41. There was a question asked concerning the presentation of the french-speaking Ghost Host at Phantom Manor... considering the good (Bride) vs. evil (Phantom) conflict the attraction is supposed to represent there isn't much space for interpretation in my opinion. The Ghost Host MUST be the Phantom, also because they kept the allusion to "there is always my way" in the Stretch Room and the Phantom hanging Melanie's groom is clearly the active part in the scene.
    The only other possibility would be the groom being the GH but that would be rubbish, because if he, too, were haunting the house, there is NO WAY for her not to have found him by now and be done with wandering around the rooms all her afterlife! (This is something that always bothered my about the Haunted Mansion film, the late revelation of Elizabeth made no sense to me...)
    Also, with the Phantom as the GH, his obession with her is somewhat emphasized (he keeps talking about the beauty of the house whenever there's a portrait of Melanie present), no matter if you interpret his character as her over-protective father or some evil entity come to destroy her joy and happiness.

    When riding the attraction this October, by the way, a possible interpretation for the weird Ghost Town scene hit me... though it's probably far fetched and relies heavily on the reading of the HM "window fall" as the attraction-goers "death"!
    Since one is going down into the earth after seeing the Phantom standing next to that freshly dug grave, it's not difficult to imagine being buried alive. The crazy colours and stuff in the Ghost Town display are so incredibly off and nightmarish, that one could see the entire scene as some kind of near-death hallucination before managing to get out and being shown the somewhat safe exit route by the bride... but don't ask me how we came from the grave-yard into the wine cellar of the house! ;)

    Also, with Phantom Manor sitting in Frontierland, I can understand the imagineer's interest for a ghost town scene in a more literal sense... even if it's way too sombre to be read as a clever pun/joke/whatever...

  42. There is no ambiguity about it: the GH is the Phantom. Vincent Price did the original GH narration for the ride. That narration was replaced very early on, but it is still Price's laugh that is used by the Phantom throughout.

  43. Interesting idea. I tend to stray away from thinking with stereotypes, though they do exist for a reason, and there are many who apply to them. The core idea here isn't offensive to me- since this idea is large-scale, the larger constructs supporting it aren't inherently wrong. And yeah, I see it. The Mansion is scary until it turns into a party- a fun summer flick either way you view it- horror or comedy. The Manor is a tragedy, through and through, tinged with the idea of dead romance and punctuated by horrific imagery- it's dramatic and unsettling- a chick flick with a dark twist. Not to say that guys don't watch for the plot and girls don't like silly fun, but the general image makes sense.

    But honestly, I view it as more of a dichotomy between Paris and America, which it probably is, although the nations as wholes could be argued to be feminine and masculine, respectively, if personified. Paris has a reputation for beauty and romance and an overall dramatic mood, while America is known to be brash and funny and more direct. The rides reflect these conventions.

  44. I chuckle that you mentioned Bill Tracy. I live in Utah and our local amusement park, Lagoon, has TWO surviving Bill Tracy dark rides: Terroride and Dracula’s Castle.

  45. Hi, long-time (female) Haunted Mansion fan, glad I stumbled upon your blog-I've been reading it for a few months now. Mostly, I enjoy your analyses.

    Part 1

    My thoughts (other than there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of female posters in this thread):

    "It's tiring being angry all the time." I'm paraphrasing your quote from the beginning about angry feminists, but IMO this is where you theory begins to lose the plot, because it both misunderstands the Female Gothic, and affects your interpretation of women seeing the world as a web/as a safe place.

    You seem to agree that, as you said in a comment, "women got the shaft" historically. So:
    There's a lot of sexual violence and domestic abuse and sexual harassment that women experience, historically and to this day (the stats are easily Googled, I won't get into them here). That experience of gender-based violence, and surviving (or not) that violence, IS the female coming of age story. Those experiences make up the women's haunted house.

    In fairy tales, way back from the very beginning, surviving childbirth (or dying in childbirth) was akin to surviving or dying on the battlefield (related reading suggestion: At The Bottom of the Garden, a dark history of fairy tales by Diane Purkiss; all but the last quarter of it is great). So you see? There IS a lot for women to be angry about.

    And so we come to the point of the Female Gothic.

    In fact, I wouldn't even separate the Female Gothic from the Gothic. The genre is one and the same. Going back to the books published by Minerva Press in the 18th C (related reading tip: Valancourt Books is a small press re-printing many of these stories), the books were mainly written by women, for women, as a way to express all the violence and fear and anger that is otherwise unutterable. And that tradition continues. Women are the biggest consumers of horror, always have been. Because we know that we *are* treated as alone in our experiences and how horrifying that isolation can be. And so Shirley Jackson the Novelist is born. And you get the Brontes spinning gorgeous Gothic tales out of their experiences of oppression and their alcoholic, abusive brother. You think Jane Eyre couldn't pick up a poker stick? She resisted the emotional vampirism of St John; survived Gateshead and Lowood; made a life for herself; and Rochester was only worthy of her once he was ruined and literally blind (and Jane financially independent, btw). Wuthering Heights is a story about cyclical abuse; Tenant of Wildfell Hall (though not as Gothic as Eyre and WH) is about surviving and escaping and starting over after domestic abuse; Mary Shelley's monster is what happens when we alienate people who are different-like oh, I don't know, her mother, feminist philosopher Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women and first female war reporter...who was carried off by childbed fever in the end. (con'd...)

  46. Part 2 of 3

    Gothic and horror stories are filled with tales of trauma and survival unique to the female experience. Gender based violence is a haunted house you must find your way out of. Whether you live to tell the tale or not, the Gothic story is about that journey-down to even the most grotesque and sensational of Gothic tales, like VC Andrews' Flowers in the Attic series and the chilling My Sweet Audrina. (Related reading suggestion: Dark Families, published in Believer Magazine, about Andrews' work. The difference between Andrews and the Haunted Mansion is that Andrews' heroines wind right back in the attic, despite their best efforts. This isn;t from a lack of picking up poker sticks; it's how trauma works).

    I'm glad someone mentioned spiritualism. That it was female dominated was no accident. This was the time when biological essentialism in regards to gender and race became a popular notion. Gone were the philosophies of Enlightenment and humanism that attempted to see a person for their soul (a fun microcosm of this is to look at the education of noblewomen in 1500s England and its swift decline in the years following the death of Elizabeth I; reading suggestion: The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser). The hard sciences, led by men, started to solidify, and these sciences found that women and people of color were biologically (not just spiritually) inferior. They could not participate in these sciences. And so spiritualism, the pseudoscience, became a place for women to be heard, to make money, to attempt their own scientific and religious interpretations of the supernatural, to sit at the head of the table (literally, in the case of the seance). It was their first step to the laboratory and the rectory. Related reading suggestion: Victorian Ghosts in the Noontide, by Vanessa D. Dickerson. Related to that, during this time period, women writers became the biggest contributors to ghost stories at a time where the amount of ghost stories and preoccupation with the supernatural was unprecedented. What does that say about the way we view haunted houses?

  47. Part 3 of 3

    Other reading suggestions: Monster, She Wrote, about the women who pioneered speculative fiction, horror, and the Gothic tale

    Sady Doyle's substack newsletter Dangerous Characters (many newer posts are public).

    What I am trying to say is, you underestimate the role of anger/fear as a result of gendered violence (fun fact: our rates of PTSD are higher than men's, combat or otherwise; more American wives were murdered by husbands than soldiers killed on the battlefield during the first several years of the Iraq was) in the lives of women, and how it manifests in stories when we cannot talk about it-or indeed that it is so commonplace as to be the norm-because if it wasn't seen as business as usual, countries the world over would do more to combat it, right? Constance Hatchaway the black widow wouldn't be seen as more weird than the OG Bride, who was the sad but typical outcome of a Bluebeard story...right? What is more terrifying than that which is commonplace, treated as an aberration, or worse, an outright hallucination? (sounds pretty ghostly to me).

    To sum up, it's been a few years. How do you think the PM refurb changes your thesis? I don't necessarily disagree with some of your basic points of the PM as a Gothic tale. I just think you misunderstand the Gothic story and what it says about the female psyche and gendered violence. If the PM is feminine because it is Gothic, it is because the Gothic story has been the story of women all along; not because women are somehow more connected to the world and want to be rescued/are desperate to see the ghost as not the ghost. The horror is that the common experience of women created the ghost/not ghost as it appears in traditional Gothic stories in the first place.

    Oh! One last thing-you pointed out the gender differences between witch and warlock. Funny, per the Fraser text mentioned earlier, warlocks were seen as having the "good", "white" kind of magic while witches were seen as having the bad, "dark" kind. The people with the white magic were mostly men---not a coincidence! In fact, much of your discussion about commonalities across cultures re: how men and women are portrayed has more to do with patriarchy than anything else. It's one of those, this is so obvious to me, why can't men see it too? (...and we can go back to my earlier ghost analogies with that parting thought).

  48. One request please...

    I tried posting this comment anonymously earlier, and then under my personal email; I don't think any of those comments were actually submitted for approval. If too many were sent I apologize. If you please, I would prefer you publish my comments under this account, because 1. I edited my original comment when submitted anonymously/under my private email, and 2. I did not realize I was signed in to my private email and would prefer not to have that info public. If you approve my comments, please approve the ones submitted under this (AdsoOfMilk28) email. Thank you! Have a good day.

    1. As I said in the post, someone who knows more than I about "women's gothic" may want to chime in, and it would appear that you are such a one, so your comments are welcome. A few points. When I said it's tiresome being angry all the time, I wasn't saying there's no reasons to be angry. When I said that it's futile to argue that nothing significant has changed with regard to women's rights, I didn't say that nothing remains to be done. I still think that men and women think differently, that men tend to see the world as an adversary and women tend to see it as home, and women's horror is therefore that the only planet and in many cases the only life they've got has been a nightmare from which there seems no escape. Men's horror is not the same. Gothic literature may well give veiled expression to the abuses women suffer, as you say, but I don't think it's ever the case that a female believes she cannot be a genuine woman until she triumphs over her fears and circumstances, whereas men DO believe deep down that they are not real men until they slay the dragons. And that fact does seem to be very close to a sociological absolute. As for the new Phantom Manor, I think it's part of a trend to rid ourselves of the notion that women are helpless victims of circumstance. It's why the auction scene in POTC has been revamped, it's why Constance moved into the stateside HM's, and it's why PM was re-scripted.