In 1983, Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt decided they would go to Disneyland…and were thrown out for violating the dress code. Bruce told this story (again, it’s not a new one) on Jimmy Fallon last Friday. Here is Steven’s published response to this.
THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH
I was thrown out of Disneyland today. The psychic scars this caused date back to a seven-year old who faithfully watched Mickey strike up the band every afternoon and lusted after Annette until about 15 years later (I still need a shot of Skippy peanut butter now and then).
I had heard about discrimination back in the Sixties, having to do with “Longhairs” not being allowed in. Although even then I somehow figured this rule – if it existed – would probably apply to long-haired guitar players and not, say, long-haired violin players. I think that double standard would also apply today because I found that the rule I couldn’t believe existed is in fact being strictly enforced. The fact is this visual discrimination, the concept of a dress code at all, is a serious flaw in our legal system and is nothing short of legalized prejudice.
At Disneyland, enforcing this ridiculous law is also an attack on rock and music and all the people who believe in it. They’re telling me nobody rocks in the Magic Kingdom. Nobody expresses their individuality in the Magic Kingdom except maybe that guy in the rodent suit. It’s the ideal fairground for James Watt.
As a country we made great strides in the Sixties, mostly in the area of civil rights for blacks, and that was great. But now we have an ever growing number of the population, of which I am a part, who express themselves visually; those whose appearances are an important form of self-expression.
Every human being is born with a uniqueness which society eventually forced him to suppress. I believe that when young children are forced to conform in this way, the frustration creates serious problems later on. The lack of self-expression becomes self-destructive, often resulting in violence or drug use or excessive drinking or any number of outlets of which I am sure Walt Disney wouldn’t have approved.
The idea of a dress code is a gaping loophole in the very civil rights laws everyone fought so long and hard to get passed. For example, if Disneyland didn’t want to admit black people, all they would have to say is that they don’t like the way they are dressed. Twenty years of humanitarian progress down the drain.
Of course, the most blatant prejudice a dress code suggests is against the poorer segments of society who perhaps can’t afford to attire themselves in clothing of which the security guard approved (depending on his mood that day).
Obviously dress codes don’t begin and end at Disneyland. They are an embarrassment to our society in whatever restaurant, club or public facility they exist. But I think any place billing itself as “The Happiest Place On Earth” is a good place to start.
So I think it is time to boycott Disneyland until the vague and unfair dress code they enforce is abolished once and for all. The First Amendment to the Constitution is freedom of speech and expression. People who live their lives expressing themselves by the way they look, doing no harm to anyone, are entitled to the same rights that allow the Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members to run around protected by our tax dollars. Everyone should be entitled to the same protection under the law. Abolish legalized prejudice. Abolish all dress codes now.
Little Steven, 1983
Disciples of Soul
Manhattan, New York.