It doesn’t seem like three years since Banksy’s refreshing antidote to the creepy enforced have-a-nice-day-ness of Disney, called Dismaland Bemusement Park – but apparently it is.
At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea and I still do; there’s nothing more depressing than enforced smiling, and no better antidote to such tyranny than a healthy dollop of hyper-realist misery. Dismaland featured such British greats as constant rain, invasive baggage searches and broken rides. You could purchase a black balloon that says ‘I am an Imbecile’, see mock-ups of motorway accidents and nuclear mushroom clouds, genetically modified mice and abandoned, graffiti-covered tube carriages.
But just as Mickey Mouse is the poster-boy for have-a-nice-day capitalism, so Dismaland is overtly political too. They show you how to subvert adverts by reclaiming public space with art, as this video shows:
I wonder what Americans would have made of this? It’s very typically British to queue up for a miserable experience rather than being happy-happy-happy. The staff at Dismaland never smile and openly state that they don’t care about your problems, hence the Customer Service Desk is closed 24 hrs a day. There’s a long queue for ‘pocket money loans’ – a reference to the way companies target children to get their customers while they’re young. And of course you exit through the gift shop…