August 13, 2005

This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (081305)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,General,TWUQs — Tom @ 7:45 am

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

QUESTION 1: How overdue is this? (HT Joanne Jacobs)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

At shopping malls, teens’ hanging out is wearing thin

BOSTON – Speeding through the corridors of the South Shore Plaza outside Boston, a pack of baby-faced teen boys clad in jeans and baseball caps draw angry stares from store clerks and customers. But they don’t seem to care: They’re hip, they’re loud – and they like getting in trouble.

Hanging out at the mall for teens is as traditional as Friday night football games or the annual prom. It’s an escape from chores at home and a chance to flirt and cut loose under artificial lights.

But some malls are saying, “No more.” In an attempt to cut back on rowdy behavior and loitering that many establishments say has become unbearable in recent years, malls are implementing policies that require teens to be accompanied by adults after certain hours, effectively putting an end to a weekend routine long memorialized in classic flicks like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Mallrats.”

The latest example is Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Mass., where as of Sept. 6 teens under 16 will not be able to cruise the mall without adult supervision in the evenings. Eastfield is following the lead of the nearby Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, which also has an escort policy. Both centers join a growing number of US malls enforcing such guidelines, from Chambersburg, Pa., to Chattanooga, Tenn., according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

Mall managers say that packs of teens deter families from choosing the mall as their Friday night outing. Many complain they have become de facto baby sitters. And some invoke a moral principle: Parents, they say, no matter how frazzled and frenzied, should not be dropping off their kids unsupervised in such an unstructured setting for so long.

The article goes on to say that there’s a pushback from kids and parents. My reaction: Too bad, so sad. Malls first and foremost have to worry about staying in business. True, teens spend a lot of money ($169 billion in 2004, according to the article), but adults, who could just as easily buy most of what’s at the mall online, spend exponentially more.

QUESTION 2: How dumb was this? (Warning: Linked post contains obscene language)

Michelle Malkin, who had to disable comments long ago because of incidents like these, got someone fired Thursday simply by publishing that person’s e-mail to her, and letting offended readers do the rest (scroll down to “Patrick Mitchell,” and then look at the first update).

The person involved deserved it, because of the language, because he used a company computer to transmit his filthy missive, and because he was too stupid to think the source couldn’t be traced. Zheesh.

QUESTION 3: Computers are great, but how sad is this? (HT Roger Simon)

No more hand-drawn cartoons at Disney:

The Walt Disney Company has announced the closure of its DisneyToon Studios Australia in Sydney, the company’s last studio producing hand-drawn animated features.

The U.S. entertainment giant announced the closure Wednesday. The move will cost about 250 jobs.

“It is with regret that DisneyToon Studios has decided to close their animation production facility in Sydney in mid-2006,” the company said in a statement, attributing the decision “in large part to the changing creative climate and economic environment” of animation.

Disney began with hand-drawn, two-dimensional animation in films like Pinocchio and Snow White. However, the most popular animated films are now of the computer-generated, three-dimensional variety, like Toy Story, Shrek and The Incredibles.

Opinion Journal notes something Walt Disney once said in jest has come true:

In the 1960s, Walt Disney joked that one day he’d replace his elite corps of animators, known as the “Nine Old Men,” and their slow, expensive way of making hand-drawn movies, with Audio-Animatronic figures.

As Simon and others note, animation, whether drawn or computerized, ends up only being as effective as the underying story. But it’s hard to imagine that computer animation, as brilliant as it is, could have produced the early Disney movies as well.