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Two-part PBS special on Walt Disney


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Political correctness has nothing to do with it. It was offensive in 1946, and it's still offensive. Disney simply didn't get it -- just as he never understood why his workers went on strike in 1941.

 

Yes, and he played to the "Red" hysteria at the time by claiming that the strike was part of an organized Communist effort to takeover Hollywood and that the Screen Cartoonists Guild was a Communist agent rather than a labor union. 

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Yes, and he played to the "Red" hysteria at the time by claiming that the strike was part of an organized Communist effort to takeover Hollywood and that the Screen Cartoonists Guild was a Communist agent rather than a labor union. 

 

Well, can you really blame Uncle Walt for feeling that way, Holden?

 

I mean remember here, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 codified the practice of collective bargaining within these United States, right?!

 

(...and what sounds more like somethin' some dirty commie would say than "collective", right?!) LOL

 

;)

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Mr. Jakeem:  I understand your hostility (somewhat) however I believe you should look into the history of the writer of the "Bra'er Rabbit Tales" and his efforts in constructing the stories.  In addition you should recognize the talents of Jimmy Baskett who was an actor of long standing in various productions.  The author of the stories was a post civil war reconciliation actvisit who was very active in the post civil war re-construction era.   I do believe every one is entitled to their viewpoint but I urge everyone to read the context of events including sources, authors, directors etc and considering all factors prior to their comments.

 

I said this in the other thread under Films & Filmmakers, but I think it bears repeating. It stated in the documentary that Disney sought the opinions of prominent African American leaders prior to filming Song of the South and many expressed their concerns. Then, he just ignored all of them. It's a case of being tone deaf more than anything.

 

I'm not really advocating keeping the movie under wraps though. But that's the decision that Disney Inc. decided many years ago, so the movie remains unavailable through their official channels.

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Regardless of the whys or whats concerning his "Song Of The South" and the handling of the labor situation(which in HIS case could have been handled better by BOTH sides.  For example, someone could have approached him with the grievances without throwing in the threat of a strike.  Disney, up to that pint, seemed a bit absent minded and I honestly believe he would have ironed out some workable solution had he been made aware of the discontent in an unadvesarial manner)

 

Anyway, as I was attempting to at first say, One CANNOT dismiss the immense  contributions Disney made to animation technique, and motion picture producing and SOUND synchronization.  He was a revolutionary innovator, and a savvy businessman.  

 

As for "Song Of The South".

 

Much has been made over the years, mostly by presumptuous activists, of the movie's "racist" bent.  However, I know of MANY African Americans who saw or felt NO offense in it's content whatsoever.   As one black co-worker of mine once said, "I thought the CROWS in DUMBO were more offensive than the WHOLE of "Song Of the South".

 

Black comedian/impersonator GEORGE KIRBY once did a PBS show about the old "Amos And Andy" TV show in which HE heaped PRAISE on all the well done/timed comedy done by an all black cast.  "After two WHITE GUYS in BLACK FACE did the movies in the '30's, I don't see what the complaint about  an ALL BLACK CAST doing it on TV was." he said at one point.

 

After all, when two WHITE guys did similar comedy in the '30's(Laurel And Hardy) NObody complained about THEM making WHITE GUYS look bad.

 

I'll bet some of those people shatter glass when they "cut wind". (thanks for that one, Grandma!)

 

 

 

Sepiatone 

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Yes, and he played to the "Red" hysteria at the time by claiming that the strike was part of an organized Communist effort to takeover Hollywood and that the Screen Cartoonists Guild was a Communist agent rather than a labor union. 

 

And didn't he blame the Commies for the boycott of Song of the South, too? Ah, he was probably right. Communists were doing more than most for civil rights back then and prior.

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I read a wonderful and huge biography of Walt Disney and it discussed all the pro's and con's of his work, his character and his relationships.  I truly believe that everyone today forgets that the movies, the men and women and the community in general reflected the ideas and mores of their times.  It is unfair to criticize someone's ideas and expressions in the context of today.  Who knows how history will view us and our times following a 100 years of experience.  

 

If you truly view Walt's contributions to film, annimation and business acumen it was, for the period a truly amazing compendium of achievements.  I for one own both a copy fo "Fanstasia", which introduced me as a young child to the marvel that is classical music with interpretions that related to a child's sensibility and instilled appreciation thereafter (that and the Texaco Hour) as well as "Song of the South" which were great tales of morality.  I was able to procure both on Amazon UK. 

 

In summary, Walt Disney's creativeness and talent should be respected without the intrusion of today's political correctness. 

I agree Emily. It is unfair to single Walt out, and let all the other ones off the hook. While I am not excusing it, he was part of a certain place and time, just like all his workers were. We cannot nail him for not being more progressive. We can accept it for what it was at that time and appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that is overflowing to abundance in the work (films and TV series). 

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Funny, but I felt this documentary was a well balanced assessment of Walt Disney and seemed very comprehensive, Janet. And so I have no idea where your co-worker got the idea that the man was a "drunkard", as this was never even hinted at in that program.

I agree with you. I enjoyed the program and have been hoping to see it again. I have no idea where that comment from my co-worker came from. Disney certainly looked like he was having a ball with his kids. And just look at all the joy he has brought to the world.

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Since people are dredging up SONG OF THE SOUTH, I thought I'd provide the link to a lively discussion we had about the film last year on this board. The thread was unfortunately locked around 9700 views and 20 pages of responses, which I thought ran the gamut and was very intelligently debated (until the end when a few personality conflicts derailed it). It now has 11,700 views which tells me people are still going back to it and reading it, because they find it relevant.

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/50498-does-anyone-find-song-of-the-south-1946-offensive/

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And didn't he blame the Commies for the boycott of Song of the South, too? Ah, he was probably right. Communists were doing more than most for civil rights back then and prior.

 

Which is why the great Paul Robeson embraced Communism. Unfortunately, it turned out to be his undoing because of the political climate at home.

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As for "Song Of The South".

 

Much has been made over the years, mostly by presumptuous activists, of the movie's "racist" bent.  However, I know of MANY African Americans who saw or felt NO offense in it's content whatsoever.   As one black co-worker of mine once said, "I thought the CROWS in DUMBO were more offensive than the WHOLE of "Song Of the South".

 

Black comedian/impersonator GEORGE KIRBY once did a PBS show about the old "Amos And Andy" TV show in which HE heaped PRAISE on all the well done/timed comedy done by an all black cast.  "After two WHITE GUYS in BLACK FACE did the movies in the '30's, I don't see what the complaint about  an ALL BLACK CAST doing it on TV was." he said at one point.

 

After all, when two WHITE guys did similar comedy in the '30's(Laurel And Hardy) NObody complained about THEM making WHITE GUYS look bad.

 

I'll bet some of those people shatter glass when they "cut wind". (thanks for that one, Grandma!)

 

 

 

Sepiatone 

 

Here we go again! It's all about context and balance. The actors in "Amos 'n' Andy" were brilliant performers. But they starred in the only network television series with an all-black cast -- and most of the characters were scoundrels, dimwits, cheats and harridans. The only decent character was Amos Jones (played by Alvin Childress), and he wasn't even a factor most of the time because the TV version had become "The 'Kingfish' Show."

 

When Laurel and Hardy played buffoons, the film industry was -- and still is -- chock full of positive white images. Name some positive black images on television when "Amos 'n' Andy" was on the air. Nat 'King' Cole came around later, but his variety show didn't survive because he couldn't get any all-important sponsors.

 

And the crows in "Dumbo" were worse. But that doesn't mean "Song of the South" wasn't offensive, too.

 

By the way, have you noticed that Ben Mankiewicz and Leonard Maltin have had to point out insensitive material in some of the selections for TCM's "Treasures from the Disney Vault"?

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I wouldn't call it hostility. It's more like stone-cold disapproval. But I celebrate Disney's genius, vision and his more palatable contributions to American culture. 

 

By the way, I'm from Georgia, and so I know all about Joel Chandler Harris. Frankly, I'd be more inclined to read "The Canterbury Tales" without a modern translation of Middle English.

Mr. Jakeem:  By all means read the "Canterbury Tales" in any version you choose, however if you haven't looked closely the "Prioress Tale" is one of the most heinous commissions of anti-semitism in literature that many students (and adults) read without any insight to what the tale is really telling.

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Mr. Jakeem:  By all means read the "Canterbury Tales" in any version you choose, however if you haven't looked closely the "Prioress Tale" is one of the most heinous commissions of anti-semitism in literature that many students (and adults) read without any insight to what the tale is really telling.

 

Thanks for the warning! I really shouldn't be surprised.

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I've read just about every serious biography written about Disney and was excited to see this TV show with my family. I learned nothing new about him or the company, but it was fun listening to others in the room comment on their revelations.

 

I thought it touched upon several very important points of his personality, artistic & social ideas and his business. 

It was also very interesting what was left out, after all, you can't tell an entire man's life in 4 hours!

 

Disney (company) was always innovative and the show completely ignored the later animation before his death, like 101 DALMATIONS use of Xerox machines and the contributions of classic/pop voice actors like Phil Harris & Louis Prima in THE JUNGLE BOOK. Also, the important "live action" films were barely mentioned outside of POPPINS.

 

But I am glad Disney's WW2 instructional films were mentioned (available from AVGeeks.com) not only because they are interesting (VD can spread via male to male sexual contact!) but because Disney was resentful towards the government for "taking over" his studio.

I'm also glad it showed EPCOT was much more to Disney than just the extra ride (FAIL) it became.

 

Disney was a fascinating, complicated man who built a company that greatly contributed to our culture. The disgrace the company has become since Walt's death is testimony to the man's creative artistry & strength, far outweighing his personal shortcomings.

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Disney was a fascinating, complicated man who built a company that greatly contributed to our culture. The disgrace the company has become since Walt's death is testimony to the man's creative artistry & strength, far outweighing his personal shortcomings.

 

Disgrace? Wouldn't you agree that The Disney Company came out of the doldrums when it began the new generation of animated features (beginning with "The Little Mermaid" in 1989 through the phenomenal success of "Frozen" in 2013)? 

 

Also, the company has diversified during the past 20 years, picking up ABC and ESPN, as well as the rights to the Marvel Universe and George Lucas' "Star Wars" properties. 

 

I have a feeling Walt would be proud of what's happened lately.

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Disney was a fascinating, complicated man who built a company that greatly contributed to our culture. The disgrace the company has become since Walt's death is testimony to the man's creative artistry & strength, far outweighing his personal shortcomings.

Thank you for your quiet and even response to Walt Disney.  I agree with you regarding his artistic and creative strength.  His life and accomplishments are truly a demonstration of creative and organizational skills to develop the contributions that he made for the six decades of his life.  Last night I was watching the series again, as repeated on another PBS station and the exerpts from "The Wonderful World of Disney" brought back memories of Sunday nights and looking forward to the show.  I know my parents took me to see or I watched on TV (I can't remember) some of the documentaries he produced that were really marvelous to ponder on the screen.

 

The one thing I will always remember is the "Wind in the Willows" with Mr. Toad.  The story is a great favourite of mine and even when I was in my 40's and proving you cannot shake the childhood out of you, I opted for "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" at Disney World ....I and another group of excited kids.

 

Several years ago when in New York I visited an architectual exhibit of all the plans and models for Disney Land and Disney World.  Here was a real tribute to his creativeness and skills reviewed with awe and reverence in a Museum of Architecture...truly an exhibit to his creativty and vision.

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Sorry for the double quote here (don't know how that happened!)-- TopBilled

 

Disgrace? Wouldn't you agree that The Disney Company came out of the doldrums when it began the new generation of animated features (beginning with "The Little Mermaid" in 1989 through the phenomenal success of "Frozen" in 2013)? 

 

I think there's the old school group of Walt fans, and the newer generation that does not even know one fraction of Disney's history/legacy.

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The PBS American Experience two-part bio on Walt Disney was great watching & listening.  

Can't say enough good things about PBS. Aside from TCM, PBS has been my favorite station for many decades.

I think that PBS has a solid reputation for presenting their documentaries in as balanced a fashion as is possible today within that medium.

Those who have mentioned that anyone with a life as creative and as complicated as Walt Disney would likely have some things left out, even in a 4 hour documentary, are spot on; but I think PBS did a pretty good job of showing us the real Walt's creative genius, worts and all.

I think someone once said that "Genius and Madness often share the same bed," or words to that effect, and I doubt that anyone would refute that Walt Disney was a genius of sorts...

 

Each of us are a byproduct of our own times and experiences, and Walt was no exception. It was what made him both a great and flawed man. He was after all, human.

 It was mentioned in the documentary that Walt did recognize that the persona he depicted on screen, wasn't the real him. He was quoted as saying, that the on screen image that he created of Walt Disney neither smoked or drank, and never lost his temper, but the real off-screen Walt did both.  

Watching the show I was reminded of other flawed genius' such as Edison and Henry Ford.

 

But what touched me most was the stimulated memories of my "relationship" with Disney, when growing up.

 

I remember my elementary school would fire-up the projector in the cafeteria/auditorium on really rainy days when we couldn't use the playground and also on Saturday afternoons, during what seemed like endless summers, and show us movies and documentaries. Often we'd see a Walt Disney feature. It was there and then that I first saw "The Living Desert." And one Saturday in a long ago summer they showed us "Dumbo," and on another Saturday they played "The Song of the South," so during the late 1950's, in Southern California, there was at least one 16mm print of SOTS circulating.

There may have been one child of color attending my school at the time, and I don't know how she may have felt about it, but the rest of us kids, including myself, certainly enjoyed those Disney shows.

 

During that time the "Amos & Andy" (all-black cast) TV show was on regularly as well, and I fondly remember watching and enjoying it. I remember one episode where the "Kingfish" got a job as a painter and was being paid $100 week. He was so happy that he made himself a little jingle singing "Oh, a hundred dollars a week, Oh, ....." as he slopped on the paint.

That sticks with me because when I first began earning a hundred dollars a week (a very decent wage at that time) I thought of the Amos & Andy show and sang his song.

There was another episode where Andy was trying to pull off some money-making scheme about miniature ovens, I remember Sapphire's mother challenging him about it saying, "How you gonna bake a turkey in a miniature oven?" and after a thoughtful moment Andy shot back with, "Well, instead of the turkey going in the oven, the oven goes into the turkey."

For some reason I remembered that episode when microwave ovens began to gain popularity a decade and a half later....

Loved that show. It wasn't until many years later when I discovered that in the beginning two white guys actually played Amos & Andy.

 

Anyway, back to Walt,...

A kid I went to school with back then said his dad was related to Lillian Bounds' (Walt's wife).

Don't know if that was really true or if they just shared the last name? But as I recall they did go to Disneyland a lot. Don't know if they had free "family passes" or not???

Regarding Disneyland, I am very fortunate that I grew up when and where I did, as it seems that Disneyland is becoming a park for the elite today, whereas when I was a kid it seemed as though Disneyland was intended to be for all of us kids, not just those with uber wealthy parents.

Not sure if the off-screen Walt Disney would agree with this kind of elitist attitude and marketing today or not, but I think the on-screen persona he created would be mortified.

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But I am glad Disney's WW2 instructional films were mentioned (available from AVGeeks.com) not only because they are interesting (VD can spread via male to male sexual contact!) but because Disney was resentful towards the government for "taking over" his studio.

 

 

 

That was actually mentioned in a WW2 instructional film from Disney or anyone?

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I think there's the old school group of Walt fans, and the newer generation that does not even know one fraction of Disney's history/legacy.

everything since Aladdin outta disney looks like it was animated by ritilin-impelled hyperactive people...and they're shameless plagiarizers as well. the lion king was stolen from osamu tezuka's jungle emperor otherwise known to some of us as 'kimba the white lion'.

 

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Jakeem said: Disgrace? 


Also, the company has diversified during the past 20 years, picking up ABC and ESPN, as well as the rights to the Marvel Universe and George Lucas' "Star Wars" properties. 


I have a feeling Walt would be proud of what's happened lately.


 

You have stated my point exactly.

 

I think Walt, at heart an artist, always interested in furthering innovation & artistic creativity, would be appalled by his company's inability to create their own art & entertainment.

 

Disney the mega-company doesn't even make their own animated films any more. They just buy up everyone else's to put their name on it. And if you've ever worked for Disney Co, you'd know how unhappy a company it is.

 

The biggest offense to me is Disney acquiring Dr Suess, who always tried keeping his "brand" to a higher standard than cheap imported plastic toys. 
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You have stated my point exactly.
 
I think Walt, at heart an artist, always interested in furthering innovation & artistic creativity, would be appalled by his company's inability to create their own art & entertainment.
 
Disney the mega-company doesn't even make their own animated films any more. They just buy up everyone else's to put their name on it. And if you've ever worked for Disney Co, you'd know how unhappy a company it is.
 
The biggest offense to me is Disney acquiring Dr Suess, who always tried keeping his "brand" to a higher standard than cheap imported plastic toys. 

 

 

Well, this is why I believe Walt's brother Roy was the unsung hero of the Disney empire. It was he who had to deal with the financial realities that the artistic Walt seemed to eschew. He was the anti-Walt -- very publicity shy -- but he had a major role in establishing the Disney brand. Perhaps he would have been one who appreciated the company's disversification even more than Walt.

 

By the way, it was Roy Edward Disney, Roy's son, who was credited with the revival of the company's animation projects in the late 1980s.

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everything since Aladdin outta disney looks like it was animated by ritilin-impelled hyperactive people...and they're shameless plagiarizers as well. the lion king was stolen from osamu tezuka's jungle emperor otherwise known to some of us as 'kimba the white lion'.

 

 

I dunno, ND.

 

Seems to me as if little Kimba there on the right looks a lot more like the "after" picture of Simba than it does the other way around.

 

(...the "after" picture here being an analogous thought to what Simba there on the left might look like after a few visits to the same doctor that a certain former Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist might have utilized a while back)

 

;)

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I've read just about every serious biography written about Disney and was excited to see this TV show with my family. I learned nothing new about him or the company, but it was fun listening to others in the room comment on their revelations.

 

This paragraph seems to imply that you had considered some biographies about Walt Disney to be less than serious. Could you mention some of them?

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