But the creative imagination doesn't work by xerography. You can subsidize it and nurture it, but you can't buy it. Americans love buying things for their kids, and a lot of them will love taking their kids to The Little Mermaid, fooled by its look of gaudy expenditure, just as a lot of them love taking their kids to Vegas. Apparently, one of the American dreams of our time is to have your kids grow up to be compulsive gamblers or pricey hookers. It somehow doesn't feel accidental that the last Broadway musical this garish was that other disaster, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public. Americans think they can buy anything, even a happy ending for a story that, in every version until Disney's, invariably ended tragically. E.T.A. Hoffmann, Vincent Wallace, Lortzing, Catalani, Dargomyzhky, and Dvorak couldn't make the marriage of man and mermaid work out. Neither could La Motte Fouqué, H.C. Andersen, Giraudoux, or Lampedusa. Only Disney insists. That piece of obstinate corporate wrongheadedness, present from the start, explains the outlook that gave rise to such miserable results: Nothing will ever really harm you, and everything's marketable.