In the meantime, I've sensed a great disturbance in the Disney Force.
What I've found troubles me to my core. I'm a Disney Wizard, and my powers are derived from the legacy that Walt has left in this world, both good and bad. And there are certainly some bad parts to the legacy. That being said, what I encountered must be addressed.
It seems today that all you see, is violence in movies, and sex on T.V. but where are those good old fashioned values on which we use to rely?
Certainly not on this show.
Now please don't get me wrong. I have no problem with satire and parody, and no problem with "Family Guy" in general. True, I don't think highly of it, but I have enjoyed a few of their episodes (their Star Wars specials are especially fun to watch) Heck, Walt himself used parody and satire to try and convey certain points.
The thing I must discuss, as evidenced by the screenshot that I chose, is the two minute segment in the episode "Road to the Multiverse." This will actually lead into a deeper discussion in a few paragraphs.
Most of the "other" universes are just about as nonsensical as the ones in the Darkwing Comics. A universe where Dogs are the dominant species and humans are kept as pets for example. One universe in particular however, grabbed my attention.
They draw most of the cast of "Family Guy" in a Disney-esque style (with many of them having been turned into anthropomorphic animals) sing a cute little song "It's a Wonderful Day for Pie" and Stewie and Brian contemplate staying in the "Disney-verse" forever. Then the door opens and "Mort the Jew" the Family Guy embodiment of a stereotypical Jew opens the door and the "Disney" characters proceed to horribly maim poor Mort, because this is a "Disney" universe.
And everyone knows that Walt Disney was a racist anti-semite who thought all Jews should die...
Disney was an Anti-Semite? Since WHEN!?! You sure could have fooled me, considering the large number of Jewish people who worked for Walt, including Maurice Rapf one of the writers on the infamous "Song of the South"(which I will cover in a few paragraphs). Walt approached him personally to write the script for that movie.
Speaking of Pink Elephants, I guess we should cover the other misconception about Walt.
After all we know that Walt Disney was a vehement racist, and all of his black character's are nothing but derogatory stereotypes right?
Well, yes and no. It's easier to see where this idea comes from, when you have character's like say...
But let's REALLY look at them for a minute. The leader of this group is named "Jim Crow". Let that sink in for a minute. Then consider this. These stereotypes help our main protagonist "Dumbo" realize that he CAN fly. They make fun of him yes, but in the end--but ultimately they prove to be ON Dumbo's side and his only friends besides Timothy Mouse. Now consider the year this came out. (1941) Little kids won't get it (I certainly didn't, and I watched Dumbo in the 80s and 90s) but the message to adults is pretty clear. Remember how I said I don't mind the use of satire and parody to convey points? And that Disney himself did it?
Jim Crow and his group is NOTHING like the stereotypes of the day, which were always derogatory to wards blacks. These crows are a giant "Take That" to the racism of the day. And done in a way that is so subtle that it would go over the heads of a lot of people. If that's not enough for you, let's look at Disney's most infamous picture.
Okay, yes I know that that song has nothing to do with the movie. I just like it. This movie is really an adaptation of the Uncle Remus stories that Walt grew up with. Uncle Remus stories aren't well known today, but they were very popular once upon a time. These were stories based on African American folk tales that were told in the deep south by former and current slaves. They were collected by Joel Chandler Harris, and told Aesop like-stories, stories that taught people lessons and spread wisdom. Most of the stories were about Br'er Rabbit.
This movie is one of the most infamous in Disney history. To this day, Disney still refuses to release it on DVD. After all it's very racist.
Only...it's not really. Okay, yes, by today's standards, it IS a kinda racist piece. Uncle Remus seems to be a vagrant with no job and is proud of that fact...and he speaks with distinctly southern black dialect...only...that's the way the original piece was written. And yes, many people found it to be racist as well, but Disney was actually colorblind (in a metaphorical sense). He wanted to portray the stories, and that's all he really cared about. He knew that one of his script writers (Dalton Reymond) had some racist tendencies, so he hired Maurice Rapf (whom I mentioned earlier) to balance him out. Rapf was the exact opposite. To quote the book Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination:
"Rapf was a minority, a Jew, and an outspoken left-winger, and he himself feared that the film would inevitably be Uncle Tomish. 'That's exactly why I want you to work on it,' Walt told him, 'because I know that you don't think I should make the movie. You're against Uncle Tomism, and you're a radical.'"
So, have I answered the question of whether Walt Disney was a racist anti-semite? Ultimately, no. I didn't know him personally, and there will always be those who are convinced of what they believe to be true no matter what the evidence says. But I do believe that I've made a solid case against. So here's hoping I have convinced a few.
Just don't ask me if Walt had his head frozen.