Disney’s ‘Kid Whisperer’ Will Gladly Dig Through Your Children’s Dresser Drawers

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Photo: Courtesy of Disney

As anyone who has ever studied literature would attest, authors often put a great deal of emphasis on composing a strong first sentence as a means to propel their narrative forward. Scholars and critics debate first sentences, bloggers recap them, and even our magazine has been known to feature them in our year-end roundups. And while we're not sure that Brooks Barnes of the New York Times came up with something that will eclipse "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" or "Howard Roark laughed" in the pantheon of great first sentences, we're fairly certain we'll never forget the first line he wrote in his most recent piece:

Kelly Peña, or “the kid whisperer,” as some Hollywood producers call her, was digging through a 12-year-old boy’s dresser drawer here on a recent afternoon.

If you stopped reading after that first sentence, you would probably assume that Ms. Peña is some sort of pederast (8-year-olds, dude). However, it turns out that she's merely a researcher for Disney, one who roots around the drawers of preteen boys in an attempt to understand what makes boys tick so Disney XD can more effectively program to its target market. At one point, she identified that the aforementioned 12-year-old kept a "ratty Black Sabbath t-shirt" stuffed in the back of said drawer, a T-shirt that makes him feel "like [he's] going to a R-Rated movie." Laugh if you will (we certainly did), but Peña is on a team that's been responsible for increasing the station's ratings by 27 percent among children 6 to 14 since it took over for the struggling Toon Disney channel. Which just goes to prove that, even in Hollywood, it really does take all kinds.

Disney Expert Uses Science to Draw Boy Viewers [NYT]