Friday, January 14, 2011

It is not a wonderful day for pie.

Something interesting seems to be happening on the island.  I have found evidence of someone else wandering around.  I hope this means that I'll have a way off sometime soon.  Nothing definitive yet, but I'm sure that there's someone else here.

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.

Family Guy.

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.

The episode in question is fairly straightforward, Stewie and Brian use device to travel between multiple universes in a fashion similar to NegaDuck in the current "Crisis on Infinite Darkwings" arc in the BOOM! comics I wrote about before.

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.

The Universe where "Everything was drawn by Disney".

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...


Wait...WHAT?!?!

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.
The idea that Walt was an Anti-Semite just confuses the hell out of me.  I have no idea where it came from, but if I HAD to guess, I would think that it came from Adolf Hitler.


Yeah, that Hitler.  The most evil man of the 20th century.  The man who is responsible for the deaths of six million Jews, gays, gypsies, disabled, and mentally ill, and countless other victims.  Turns out he had a soft spot for Disney movies, and his favorite movie was Bambi.

That's a weird thing to think about.  I don't know how Hitler's love of Disney movies translated to the idea of Walt Disney loving Hitler's ideals, but it simply isn't true.  Walt hated Hitler's ideals and even created a propaganda piece denouncing Hitler and the Nazi's regime: Der Fuehrer's Face (1943)
Summary: Donald Duck is a Nazi.  It's a horrible life, and he wakes up from it, realizing it's a dream he says that he's grateful to be an American citizen.  I'm not joking, this cartoon really exists, and it's definitely worth checking out.

The cartoon isn't replayed much, if at all, and I'm not aware of any DVD releases of it (though PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong!)  However, the cartoon IS on Youtube and can be watched there.  It's a funny little short, and it has it's own "Pink Elephants" type-dream sequence at the end.  It's not the best thing Disney ever made (It is a propaganda piece after all) but it does make me laugh at times.  It very clearly and unabashedly denounces Hitler however.  It actually makes me wonder if "Der Fuehrer" ever saw this cartoon.

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...
These guys.

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.

Song, Song of the South, Sweet Potato Pie and I shut my mouth.  Gone, Gone with the wind, There ain't nobody looking back again.--Alabama 


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.

A clever little trickster who frequently got himself into scrapes with Br'er Fox, and Br'er Bear and had to use his wits to get himself out of them.

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.'"


To top it off, the movie premiered in Alabama in 1946.  That's 9 years before Rosa Parks sparked the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.  Because of segregation laws, officials refused to allow James Baskett who played Uncle Remus into the theater.  Walt didn't find out till after the premier, and he was livid.  Throwing a massive tantrum and yelling at the officials who refused to allow Mr. Baskett into the theater.

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.

8 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Think you're taking it a tad too seriously. Family Guy is supposed to piss you off and be offensive--it's like South Park in that sense.

    Disney wasn't perfect. He was ahead of his times, but he still did some racist portrayals (the Indians in Peter Pan are the most awful in my mind). I don't know where they got the Jew thing, FG probably just ran with a stereotype they'd heard. They tend to do that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and I was signed in on Mom's blog and I commented there, so that's why her comment was deleted when I realized my mistake..

    ReplyDelete
  4. I can't defend the "What makes a Red Man Red" song in Peter Pan. I honestly don't know what Walt was thinking there. And I never said he was perfect. Like I said, there are some bad things that legacy. I targeted Family Guy because they were the ones who most recently continued spreading this misconception. I could have also picked on SNL's TV Funhouse for the sketch that they did where they had Uncle Remus sing "Zippity do da, zippity yay/Negros are inferior in every way" And I defended FG to a point. My purpose was to try and knock some of the misconceptions about Walt away. A lot of people, especially my age really do rely on Family Guy for their info. (I wish I was joking, I've met them, I won't name names, but I got into an argument with one who cited Family Guy as his source.) Quite frankly though, I dislike Seth MacFarlane for this very reason. He likes to spread ignorance. At least Matt Stone and Trey Parker do research before they lampoon someone. Give me a choice between South Park and Family Guy, I'll choose South Park.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I won't defend Seth MacFarlane because of his portrayals of women. Especially poor Meg--it's really quite horrifying. I'm just saying it's pounding a nail with a sledgehammer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Some nails need to be sledgehammered.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'll defend "Peter Pan" and the "What Makes a Red Man Red" song. Pan in NOT, I repeat, NOT a PC character by any stretch of the imagination. He and his story is less then perfect, more so by modern standards. To pass judgment on them based on today's standards would be silly. Would it be a good idea to make something like that today? Probably not. But please, let the past be what it is: the past.

    Besides, if "Peter Pan" and that song can get 3 DVD releases and talk of a Blu Ray release, why can't "Song of the South," which is far more mild, get a single DVD release?

    By the way, Donald's Nazi cartoon is on DVD. Check out this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Walt-Disney-Treasures-Front-Lines/dp/B0000BWVAH/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1311661345&sr=1-1

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, that's very interesting to know. I'm definitely going to have to pick that up at some point.

    ReplyDelete