Road to Final Analysis: Creating Thesis Statements

  • Possible thesis
    • The Disney fandom is linked closer to the AIDS epidemic than what is spoken.
    • Through the Disney fandom, those affected by the AIDS epidemic have a way to explain what they are going through.
    • The Disney fandom is creating a space for those affected by the AIDS epidemic to have a voice.
    • Through the ideas about gay culture found by the Disney fandom in works made by Disney, it can be seen that the Disney fandom is connected to the AIDS epidemic.
  • What questions do I need to ask to prove any of these true?
    • How is the Disney fandom connected to the quilt?
    • What is the Disney fandom’s link to the AIDS epidemic?
    • What is the evidence of gay culture found by the Disney fandom?
    • What is counted among the Disney fandom? Star Wars? Marvel?

Finding a source to answer questions

Finding a source to answer the question: What is the relationship between Disney fandom culture and the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

-How did Disney fandom grow from the end of the Disney Dark Ages (1970-1988) to the Disney Renaissance (1989-1999)?

-How did Disney fandom interact with gay culture in the last century?

The book Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out by Sean Griffin is about finding the relationship between Disney and gay culture.  Gay culture was very affected by the AIDS epidemic, so by finding how Disney is connected to gay culture, one may be able to find a connection to the AIDS epidemic.  The book even says that many AIDS quilt panels have Disney Iconography and/or lyrics.  The Little Mermaid is a good example, as the film can be analyzed to see a gay storyline.  The Little Mermaid was the first movie in Disney’s Renaissance era which was the era that saw the resurgence of a fan culture after a company-wide decline due to Walt Disney’s death.  There is also the unofficial “Gay Days” events at Disneyland and Disney World.

Creating Research Questions

What is the subculture seen in the panels memorializing Howard Ashman?         In the Howard Ashman panels, it seems that they are focused on the animated characters that are featured in the movies that his music was used in.  I think this shows that there is a fandom for those movies and around Disney animation in general.  I think that his music is a reason for why so many people are attached to those movies.

What is the relationship between Disney fandom culture and the HIV/AIDS epidemic?

Visit to NAMES Project 1: Objectively looking at the panels


The NAMES project is a project for people to memorialize a person that was important to them who died of AIDS by creating a 3’x6′ panel (about the size of a human grave).  The panels are then put together geographically into 12’x12′ blocks, often eight panels per block.  These blocks can be sent around the country to be used in parades and other displays.  As of June 2016, there are more than 49,000 panels in 5,956 blocks.

There are ten panels memorializing Howard Ashman in the NAMES Project.  The NAMES project HQ only has three of them so they were my focus for the visit.

Block #4359

From the NAMES project block 4359

In a small section of the panel written in sharpie is Taylor ’95.  There is nothing else written to show who might have made the panel.  The panel seems to be made of a white cotton fabric.  It looks like the designs are painted on the panel.  Howard Ashman in all capital letters is straddling both sides of the magic carpet on the bottom of the panel.

On the left side of the panel, there is Ariel with Sebastian.  Ariel has a purple flower in her hair (from the Under the Sea sequence).  Ariel seems to be in mermaid form as she is still wearing seashells and because Sebastian seems to be floating, not resting on any surface.  Sebastian looks frightened and seems to be talking to Ariel.  Ariel is turned facing Sebastian.  Ariel’s hair seems to be the same color as Sebastian.

In the middle of the panel, Aladdin and Jasmine are on the magic carpet (probably from the A Whole New World sequence).  Both are smiling and their faces are fully seen.  Aladdin is wearing his Prince Ali outfit of white with gold trim and belt, purple cape, and purple feather attached to his turban by a purple jewel.  Jasmine is in a pale green version of the two-piece outfit that she wears for most of the film.  She has her jeweled hairband on and her black hair has been tied in sections all the same color as her outfit.  She is wearing a gold necklace with gold triangle earrings that go almost to her chin.  Her hair is out behind her like it is being blown by wind.  The magic carpet has gold tassels, a red top, and a blue underside.

On the right side, there is Belle and the Beast (probably from the Beauty and the Beast ballroom scene).  The two are very close to each other.  Belle’s hand is holding onto part of Beast’s arm.  Beast’s eyes are closed while Belle’s are open as her head seems to be resting on Beast’s chest.  Belle is in her off the shoulder yellow ballgown with gloves.  Her brown hair is partly tied up in a bun with a yellow circle with hair going down over her neck and partly down her back.  Beast is in a blue jacket with gold trim and a ruffled shirt shown under the jacket.  The Beast’s fur is a couple of shades of brown layered on top of each other with gray colored horns.

Block #2423

From the Names project block 2423

On the top of the panel, Howard Ashman is spelled out in pink felt letters.  On the bottom of the panel the lyrics “Certain as the sun rising in the east, tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme, Beauty and the Beast.” are spelled out in blue felt letters.  Both sets of letters seem to be stitched onto the panel in all capital letters.  On the panel in small black letters is written Libby Puckett Charlotte, NC as an artist’s mark.  The panel seems to be made of a cornflower blue cotton material.

In the middle, Belle and Beast are painted, frozen in mid-dance with a silver circle behind them like the moon.  Belle is in her off the shoulder yellow ball gown with gloves.  Her brown hair is partly in a bun and is partly flowing behind her due to either movement or wind.  Beast is in a blue jacket with gold trim with a white shirt underneath the jacket and a gold vest.  He is in black pants that a have a gold stripe along the side from top to bottom and his feet are large and bare.  The shirt cuffs are out from underneath the jacket.  There is a small jewel at the top of the shirt.  His tail is sticking out behind him.  The Beast’s head is down, seeming to be looking at Belle.  His fur is brown with a blue ribbon tied at the back of his head.

On the left is the silhouette of a castle made out of black felt.  There are lines of silver glitter that seem to be clouds.  Above, painted in black thin all capital letters is “To a man who I did not know, but with his beautiful song touched my life in many ways.”

On the right side is the rose under the glass jar.  Both the rose and jar are covered in a gold glitter with some glitter used to outline the bottom of the jar.  Above, painted in black thin all capital letters is “As the sun continues to rise, the spirit within this song will live in our hearts forever.”

Block #5472

From the Names project block 5472

This panel seems to be made of white cotton with all the elements being painted on.  Howard Ashman is written on the top left side in all uppercase letters in these colors from right to left and top to bottom: red, brown, light blue, yellow, light purple, light green, green, peach, forest green, dark blue, dark purple, and red.  Next to Howard Ashman in blue is 1950-1991.  Across the bottom of the panel in blue is the lyrics “Watch and you’ll see, someday I’ll be part of your world.”

On the right side of the panel, is the Beast in a blue jacket with yellow trim and white ruffles in the middle of the jacket.  The Beast seems to be smiling which is showing his fangs.  His horns are the same color as his brown fur.  He seems to be looking down.

To the left of the Beast are Flounder and Sebastian.  Sebastian is riding Flounder with both seeming very happy.

I visited the panels on Monday, February 5 and this is what I noticed.