Folks, it's not a joke. The U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security believes foreigners perception of America should be given by America's spokesperson, Mickey Mouse. Are you kidding, me?
It will be shown in the international arrivals halls of all major US airports as well as in visa-processing offices around the world. Major airlines will also be encouraged to show it on aircraft shortly before landing in the US.According to The Independent,
From now on, the nerves of international passengers queuing up at passport control at airports in Washington DC and Houston will be soothed – or otherwise – by a sappy seven-minute film made by the folks at Walt Disney showcasing all that is wonderful, scenic and nice about the land of the free.
While the no-dialogue video is packed with clichés of Uncle Sam – such as the inevitable shots of the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and Golden Gate Bridge – travellers who consider themselves allergic to all things Disney should not necessarily despair. Mickey and his gurgling-grating laugh are not featured in the film and Disney even resisted the temptation to use it as a vehicle to promote itself and its theme parks.
The idea for it was Disney's, however, stemming from the widely held perception that the US has become less hospitable to foreign tourists since 9/11 and statistics showing the US winning a declining share of overseas tourism. It deployed Frederico Tio, a veteran of Disney films such as Finding Nemo, to make the short film and then donated it to the US government free of charge.
Under Bush...our foreign policy has been reduced down to Ariel the Mermaid, Aladdin, Mickey Mouse, Pluto,..for God's sake...reduced down to Simba. But according to George W. Bush confidant, Karen Hughes, it's not that bad an idea. Commenting on the film,
"[the film is]creating a warm first impression, and first impressions are important".Folks, I'm not kidding. Here is their "joint" press release,
"We greatly appreciate Disney’s significant contributions to our efforts to make America’s embassies and airports more welcoming to our international guests. Disney’s creativity and excellence wonderfully capture the essence of America, which is embodied in the diversity and values of our people,”This week I attended a movie premiere, but without Hollywood stars – this is Washington after all. The stars of this film are the men, women and children of America, shown at work, at play and going about their daily lives. This new film was produced by Disney, at no expense to the taxpayers of America, and generously given to the U.S. government to help us welcome international visitors to our country.Karen on Dipnote, The Official Department of State Blog,....
As a communicator, I believe the first principle of effective communications is clarity – and this video clearly says: We want you to come to America, you will be most welcome. At the same time, it quietly communicates the greatest strength of our country – our people.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State in partnership with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts premiered “Welcome: Portraits of America,” a multi-media initiative to welcome international visitors to the United States.
“Travelers form their first impressions of America when they arrive at our borders. Our global reputation therefore depends on making visitors feel every bit as welcome as they feel secure,” said Stewart Baker, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security.
The film and still portraits showcase the diversity, friendliness and optimism of the American people. The film will be shown in the Federal Inspection Areas of U.S. airports, and in U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, while the still portraits will be incorporated in posters, banners and other imagery welcoming visitors to the U.S. The video and images will not feature or promote any commercial entities. The first airports to feature the images will be Washington Dulles International Airport and Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, to be followed by the nation’s other international airports.
For the project, Disney attracted a world-class creative team including producer Federico Tió, a highly-regarded marketer of some of America’s best-known motion pictures. Born in Havana, Cuba on May 1, 1962, Tió came to the United States on one of the first "Freedom Flights" in 1965. Tió’s crew embarked on a cross-country odyssey to capture the content for the video, including images of ordinary Americans at work, play, with family and at moments of introspection.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced a joint vision to enhance border security while streamlining security processes and facilitating travel for legitimate visitors in January 2006. As part of this initiative, the Secure Borders, Open Doors Advisory Committee was established with participation from the business, travel and tourism and academic communities. One of the goals of the Advisory Committee is to help the Departments of State and Homeland Security establish a friendlier, more welcoming process for visitors from the time they apply for a visa to their entry into the United States.
Excuse me, but I believe I just tasted a little "regurg".
"We thought it would be nice for people to be greeted by beautiful images that inspire them to explore America," Mr Tio said of his film. A Cuban immigrant himself who arrived in the US aged three, he focused not just on landmarks and landscapes but also on the country's ethnic diversity.
It was a project, he said, that took him and his assistants on an almost 15,000-mile trek through the US over 42 days. Characters featured in the final cut include an immigrant from Mexico tending to grapes in the Napa Valley, a former "lost boy" from Sudan brought to the US as a child and a Midwestern farmer.
** I tried my hardest..I couldn't find a embed video to place on my site. Apparently the Department of State wants YOU to come to "their" site and take a look. Sneaky, sneaky, they are. You can watch it at Dipnote, The Official Department of State Blog.
Same Players. Different Scandal.