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December 25, 2011

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Was Walt Disney a fascist?

The biggest evidence for people who say that he was is that he was a founding member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, which was an anti-communist organization during the McCarthy years. And he also testified before the infamous Un-American Activities Committee. And yes – both of these are unnerving political standpoints, no question whatsoever.

However, the thing is that above all else Disney had a sense of humor. No, more than that – humor was his driving force, his raison d’etre. This, I would say, is something that not even his biggest enemies can argue against.

So… Can someone who has a sense of humor (and at his level – where humor becomes a world view) be a fascist in the fundamental sense of the term? Are humor and fascism mutually compatible even? Humor involves looking at the world sideways, bringing together disjointed things, absurdity, taking nothing at face value, fluidity of thought… Fascism is almost the exact opposite mindset. Isn’t it?

For me, when humor (with all of its attributes, and yes – that also includes things like cruelty, I’m afraid) is no longer acknowledged and celebrated as one of the highest (if not the highest) manifestations of the human mind – that is when the end is truly at hand. The time when fascism raises its truest, ugliest head. And, I have a horrible feeling that we are precisely at that juncture now…

4 days later: This seems to be a rather sought after subject! Although it has only been a few days since I made this post I am already getting search results which are related to it. So, I have become sort of fascinated and have been reading some more.

OK – apparently one of the other big gripes with Walt Disney is that he portrayed minority groups and Jews unfavorably. Now, here is my question: Was there any group that was always, consistently, portrayed favorably? Or even omitted altogether? Personally, I cannot think of a single race, denomination or social group (and not too many nations either, for that matter) that managed to escape the sharp end of his wit. Everyone got their comeuppance at one time or another. No one got off scot-free.

Probably the biggest villain of all Disney flicks: Cruella de Ville. Which ethnic/social group was she? Upper class British, if I am not mistaken… And what about Cinderella’s step mother and sisters? White, middle class European ladies par excellence… The herd of elephants in the Jungle Book? They are an unbelievably cruel parody on the upper echelons of the British army, aren’t they? And speaking of the Jungle Book, what about Shere Khan? Yet another upper class Brit, right? And conversely, who is the ultimate ‘cool guy’ of that movie? For me that would have to be ‘black’ panther Bagheera… But then, would people who manage to perceive in Dumbo’s crows a racist slur against African Americans see Bagheera in the way that I do? Rather unlikely…

I already wrote this before, and here it is again: Rather than single out any particular group to vent his animosity upon, my take on Walt Disney is that he did not like humanity much as a whole – period. Which, according to something that I have read just now may not be too far off the truth actually. Apparently Disney was known for his paranoia, including (and maybe even especially) towards the people who worked very closely with him in his own studio…

This post is getting to be quite long, but I simply cannot resist adding my latest findings on the subject:

Pinocchio! Wouldn’t you know it – that is an anti-feminist movie! Given that Pinocchio is created by Geppetto, who is of course a man, and therefore the tale bypasses the role of females as the givers of birth? My word – how unforgivably obtuse of me to have missed this horrifying insult to my own sex for all these years! (And of course that utterly irresponsible Carlo Collodi who wrote the story in 1883! The man has a lot to answer for!) But, how completely objectionable Disney’s adaptation of Pinocchio is doesn’t even end there! Guess what? The fox and the cat: Apparently they are gay! And therefore, needless to even say, extremely insulting to homosexuals!

And then ‘Lion King’! Made almost 30 years after Walt Disney died… It is a fascist film! Of course! (The fact that Lion King is based upon Hamlet seems to be quite irrelevant to its righteously indignant critics. Incidentally, I do not even like Lion King, but obviously for quite different reasons.)

So anyway, this dreadful man, Walt Disney, was actually evil enough to have gone and made a fascist film 30 years after he died! That’s how bad this whole thing is folks! Beware!

Honestly, I do not know whether to laugh or to cry…

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2 Comments
  1. Dec 27 2011

    If humor is no longer acknowledged and celebrated as one of the highest manifestations of the human mind, which characteristics would you say are celebrated today?

  2. Dec 27 2011

    Self-importance. And the whole ongoing credo of political/social/ethical discourse through which self-importance becomes hugely validated, becomes a virtue in fact.

    Don’t get me wrong: Self-importance has probably been around for as long as humans have been around, nothing new there, I would say. However, it used to be that when I was your age ;-) it was something that people would seriously take the piss at. What I am observing nowadays is that it has become extremely “cool” to be self-important…

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