Friday, September 18, 2009

The Dark Side of Walt Disney

One afternoon while my young daughter was watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon, I started explaining to my wife that the "real" Walt Disney was by today's standards a flawed character, in some ways wildly at odds with his smiling, grandfatherly persona.

Like his alleged attitudes about race and ethnicity that were not, to put it euphemistically, "modern." Or his treatment of his own animators, and his reaction when some of them tried to start a labor union. Or his testimony in 1947 at the House Un-American Affairs Committee where he branded several animators and Hollywood labor organizers as communists. Or even the famously untrue urban myth that, after his death, he had his body cryogenically frozen so that he might be revived one day in the future. (His ashes actually rest at Forrest Lawn. Like Michael Jackson.)

The other day I stumbled upon an animated spoof about these same allegations on the NBC website that first aired on "Saturday Night Live." Mickey Mouse awkwardly struggles to defend all of this to two little children. At one point, Mickey sort of gives up, exasperated, and says to the kids, "Look, he was who he was. Take the good with the bad. He created me. Think of all the laughs I've given you." And the two kids look back at Mickey, confused, and ask, "You're supposed to be funny?"

It's 3 minutes long and is embedded below:

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