Discussing the Real Walt With Kids

TanakaandSons

New Member
Original Poster
Fellow parents...

My kids, little internet prowlers they are, have recently "discovered" that Walt wasn't exactly a saint.

Of course there is no shortage of stuff like this floating around. Any advice on how I should answer their questions? They are in intermediate school and old enough to ask serious questions so I feel I should give them serious answers. Agree?
 

Magenta Panther

Well-Known Member
Tell them that Walt Disney was a good man who created a lot of good things that are still enjoyed today. That is the truth. And also tell your kids that most of the bad stuff they hear about Walt is stuff made up by the envious or people who feel the values he espoused are a threat to their idea of progressiveness. Which is also the truth. Oh, and also tell them not to believe ANYTHING they see or hear on Family Guy or anything Seth McFarlane says. He lies like a dog, makes his living from offending people and slanders because he can't write good jokes. (Also the truth). :D
 

pumpkin7

Well-Known Member
Tell them that Walt Disney was a good man who created a lot of good things that are still enjoyed today. That is the truth. And also tell your kids that most of the bad stuff they hear about Walt is stuff made up by the envious or people who feel the values he espoused are a threat to their idea of progressiveness. Which is also the truth. Oh, and also tell them not to believe ANYTHING they see or hear on Family Guy or anything Seth McFarlane says. He lies like a dog, makes his living from offending people and slanders because he can't write good jokes. (Also the truth). :D
Seth McFarlane annoys me when it comes to Disney and Walt.
 

Seabasealpha1

Well-Known Member
Agree with all the above. Just tell them how to like question everything...and not to believe everything they see online...enforce that Walt was a good man...and just keep the love going all throughout...

It is kinda bothersome some of the things people will believe...and say...I can't mention Walt on occasion without some slack-jawed redneck pulling out the Antisemitism card...gets on my last nerve...hang in there! Oh, and if it comes down to people saying Disney movies are racist and the like, just keep the idea that all the films were made with the best intentions at the forefront of your argument. I had to take a media analysis and criticism class taught by a ticked off Floridian feminist...trust me...she laid on the Disney hate real thick...and it was more than enough work to keep my mouth shut...just keep on the positive side...

best of luck!
 

WED99

Well-Known Member
Maybe it's time to share with your kids one of the hardest facts of life...

Everybody's a little bit racist.

However, when most of these "racist" films came out racism wasn't much of a thing. African Americans were considered to be lesser than whites. Not much was known about Native Americans, so the media made up their own stereotype. I don't get offended when I see your typical outback Australian wrestling a crocodile in movies, so I'm having a hard time believing Native Americans were offended by Peter Pan.

Going online and trying to single out Walt as a racist is almost identical to tattooing "Give me attention" on your forehead. Why can't people just focus on the fact he created things that make people happy?
 

donaldtoo

Well-Known Member
I've read 7 Walt Disney biographies, and knew he was no "saint" before ever reading the first. No sparkly Cool-Aide drinkin' or pixie dust snortin' here, 'cause (also being a CM) I've seen it, warts and all. That being said, Disney is my thing, and I love it more each day. And, more than anything, I want TWDC to return to Walt's original vision and standards.
Although, Walt was one of the most incredibly imaginative, visionary, creative, productive people in recent history and really gave a darn about the product he produced for ALL to enjoy, he was, yes...human!!! :eek: ;)
He was ALSO human at a different point in our history. But, no matter how you slice it, to me anyway, he was basically a pretty good man in heart and soul. :)
 

englanddg

One Little Spark...
Premium Member
I think a better talk wouldn't be how to "address whether Walt was a saint" or not...but more about understanding context and how to do proper research online to obtain a balanced perspective.

I wouldn't exactly call "Cracked.com" a viable news source (it's not, it's tongue in cheek humor...)

http://voices.yahoo.com/walt-disney-was-not-racist-1672959.html

I am very disappointed to see how many people are STILL perpetuating the nonsense that Walt hated Jews, or other ethnicities. Allow me to clear this up for anyone who is unsure.

I will illustrate my point by quoting from the book "How To Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life" written by Pat Williams with Jim Denney, because they word it so much better than I could, and they quote credible sources.

Some revisionist critics have accused Walt of racism or anti-Semitism, and a lot of intellectually lazy people have repeated the accusation without bothering to check the facts. It's hard to know where these charges originated, but some Disney scholars believe they may have originated in the union smear campaign against Walt during the 1941 strike. In any case, there should be no doubt about this: Walt Disney was NOT a racist.

"Walt was sensitive to people's feelings," composer Robert Sherman told me. "He hated to see people mistreated or discriminated against. One time, Richard and I overheard a discussion between Walt and one of his lawyers. This attorney was a real bad guy, didn't like minorities. He said something about Richard and me, and he called us 'these Jew boys writing these songs.' Well, Walt defended us, and he fired the lawyer. Walt was unbelievably great to us."

Artist Joe Grant, who is also Jewish, agrees. "Walt was not anti-Semitic," Grant told an interviewer. "Some of the most influential people at the studio were Jewish. It's much ado about nothing. I never once had a problem with him in that way. That myth should be laid to rest."

Floyd Norman, an African-American story artist, also rejects the racism accusation. He recalls that, during the 1960s, several civil rights leaders tried to force the Disney studio to hire more minorities. "The funny part," he said, "was that minorities weren't knocking at the gates to get in. The jobs were there if they wanted them and if they were qualified. It's like the old ruse that Walt didn't hire Jews, which was also ridiculous. There were plenty of Jews at Disney. Personally, I never felt any prejudice from Walt."

Katherine and Richard Greene, authors of Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney, discussed this question in an article on The Disney Family Museum website. Like me, they interviewed hundreds of people who knew Walt well-and they, too, found that in all of those interviews, "not one recalled a single incident in which this alleged anti-Semitism reared its head." They observed:

"Jewish employees like Joe Grant and the Sherman Brothers all violently defend Walt's memory. Meyer Minda, a Jewish neighbor of Walt's in Kansas City, didn't remember any evidence whatsoever of anti-Jewish feelings in Walt or the Disney family. Even when Sharon dated a young Jewish man, her parents didn't voice any objections ... in fact, the authors of this essay are Jewish, and from the outset of a decade of research into Walt Disney have looked carefully through the record-letters, memos, conversations with reliable sources-for any evidence that Walt may have harbored a dislike of Jews. None was found.
Furthermore, in 1955 the B'Nai B'rith chapter in Beverly Hills cited him as their man of the year. Hardly an award likely to be presented to an anti-Semite."
[*NOTE* In the special Walt Disney: the Man Behind the Myth, it was noted that B'Nai B'rith spent months doing their own investigation into Walt's background. They were totally satisfied that these claims were completely unfounded.]

Those who truly knew the man will tell you-emphatically and unanimously-that Walt had a heart so big it embraced all of humanity, regardless of meaningless distinctions such as language or skin color. The only race he recognized was the human race, and nothing did his heart more good than to see people coming together from all over the world to share their hopes, goals and dreams.

From the section of the book on opening day at Disneyland:

On the green of Town Square, Walt stood beside California governor Goodwin Knight, along with three military chaplains representing the Protestant, Catholic and Jewish faiths.

Ever see a little Donald Duck short put out during WWII called Der Fuehrer's Face? You should. No anti-Semite would ridicule Hitler that way:

When Der Fuehrer says "We is de master race!" We heil! (raspberry) Heil! (raspberry) Right in Der Fuehrer's Face ...

Walt didn't care about your status in life or income either:

Actor Dean Jones recounted another incident: A gardener at the Disney studio left some tools in an empty parking space. When a producer drove up and saw the tools in his space, he honked at the gardener and gave the poor man a chewing-out. Walt walked up and interrupted the producer's tirade. "Hold it!" he said. "Don't you ever treat one of my employees like that! This man has been with me longer than you have, so you'd better be good to him!"

Bob Thomas, author of Walt Disney: An American Original, said:

"He was also tolerant when an animator was arrested on a homosexual charge. 'Let's give him a chance, we all make mistakes,' Walt said. The animator continued at the studio for many years afterward."

Another passage shows that Walt didn't let political differences drive a wedge between him and an employee:

Despite Walt's intense anti-Communism, he was never a McCarthyite or a "Red-baiter." He took a live-and-let-live approach to other political viewpoints. Herb Ryman recalled an incident that demonstrates the political tolerance of Walt Disney.

"Everyone knew that Walt was a committed anti-Communist," Ryman said. "Very patriotic and all that. So someone thought they would do damage to one of the writers on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by telling Walt that the writer was a Red. They thought that Walt would fire him or investigate him or kick him off the picture. Well, Walt's answer was, 'I'm glad to know that. It's a relief that he's a Communist. I thought he was an alcoholic.'"

He even had sympathy for a man who had viciously tried to destroy his career-Charles Mintz, who had back-stabbed Walt by holding the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit hostage and hiring away most of Walt's key animators, forcing him to abandon Oswald and move on to a mouse:

Sometime later, Walt happened to run into Charles Mintz at Universal Studios. Mintz sat in the waiting room, hat in hand, looking nervous and lonely. Setting the past aside, Walt exchanged pleasantries with Mintz. Later, he wrote to Roy and said, "Poor old Charlie. It was sad to see him that way."

Walt even had love and respect for animals:

Lillian recalled that Walt had a soft spot in his heart for animals for as long as she knew him. "Walt wouldn't allow the gardener to set traps for the ground squirrels or gophers," she once told an interviewer. "He would say, 'They're little creatures and have to live like anybody else. They're not hurting anything." When Lilly protested that the animals were poaching all of the berries, peaches, and melons in her garden, Walt replied, "You can go to the grocery store to buy food. They can't."

Finally, to anyone who still chooses to believe that Walt was such an evil man, I say this: Have some class and don't talk about someone who isn't here to defend himself.

OK, I'll come down off my soapbox now ...
 

Sam4D23

Well-Known Member
This is one of the problems with the company today. They portray Walt like a saint god. If the modern Disney Company could they would have frozen his body and placed it under Sleeping Beauty castle. This built up, over exaggerated image results in untrue assumptions by today's youth. He was a great man, but like us all he was no God; he was a creative man that changed the world and has left a lasting mark. He made mistakes as we all do but he also turned mistakes into beauty's.

As for the rumored racism I really don't mind it. It was a different time and era- insulting him about it shows how stupid our generation are.
 

Magenta Panther

Well-Known Member
I think a better talk wouldn't be how to "address whether Walt was a saint" or not...but more about understanding context and how to do proper research online to obtain a balanced perspective.

I wouldn't exactly call "Cracked.com" a viable news source (it's not, it's tongue in cheek humor...)

http://voices.yahoo.com/walt-disney-was-not-racist-1672959.html
Bingo! You got it. Hopefully the wise guys at Cracked (which is an excellent humor site overall) will get it. I've read "How to be like Walt", and what impressed me most was that it was no puff piece, and that he writers did their research. As it happens, I did too, before I became Walt's fan. I couldn't ever, ever admire someone who was racist, no matter what he or she achieved in life. What made me a fan of Walt was not his characters, but his character. It's his character that motivated him to build lasting value into his art. Thanks for writing all of that up. That took a lot of work, and it's much appreciated.
 

TP2000

Well-Known Member
Fellow parents...

My kids, little internet prowlers they are, have recently "discovered" that Walt wasn't exactly a saint.

Of course there is no shortage of stuff like this floating around. Any advice on how I should answer their questions? They are in intermediate school and old enough to ask serious questions so I feel I should give them serious answers. Agree?
Although you were a first time poster who didn't have the common courtesy to return to your topic and engage with those you asked to engage with, I'll indulge you...

Perhaps the angle one should take with kids is not to try and explain why Walt Disney was "racist", but perhaps to introduce the more accurate term of "prejudice" to them and then layer on the necessary prism of viewing these actions through the era in which they occurred.

Walt allowing black crows to represent stereotypical black Southerners was not unusual, and was considered normal comedy material in 1940. And even those who we now consider to be exemplary heroes of the day did things that went above Walt's average prejudice and entered actual racism. Example #467 of this you could use with your kids is that President Roosevelt signed an act in 1942 that was supported widely by congress and most voting Americans to round up all Japanese-American citizens living on the West Coast and send them forcibly to internment camps in the Utah desert for the remainder of the war. The German-Americans and Italian-Americans living on the East Coast, even though Germany and Italy were fascist and evil powers plundering and murdering through Europe, were excluded from internment camps. Only Japanese-Americans were singled out as expendable enough to send off to the camps by force, as signed by President Roosevelt.

That's how life was in the 1940's, whether you were a great President or a man making cartoons. Perhaps that's how you should approach this topic with your kids?
 

George

Liker of Things
Premium Member
Wait...Walt Disney was a real person? Sounds like a crock of you know what to me.
 

HakunaMatata89

Well-Known Member
for whatever his faults were, the good he did in his life to make children and people so happy like disney does makes up for it in my mind.
 

DisMe

New Member
I'm going to take the approach that you are a mom with a busy lifestyle and forgot you even posted a question because you are now trying to figure
out a new dilemma- I always start by telling my kids they have to be careful about what they read online-Not everyone is trust worthy and not everyone needs to share every opinion that pops into their head. Then, I tell my kids no one is perfect. We are all flawed in more ways than one. I also tell them if they plan to aspire to greatness, if they are going to be world changers and make an impact in the lives of others-don't expect everyone to celebrate with you. Some only see the bad, some don't like themselves and therefore can't like others- there are stories of people who worked closely with Walt and now have "stories" to share, taking great pride in the negative Story line they draw as they weave their own personal heroics in to the tapestry of Walt's history. We all realize he did not build this alone. Any leader understands they need to surround themselves with people who are capable in ways they are not. Walt was an expert at this. This is part of his genius- coming up with ideas and finding people to make them happen and better yet finding people to give their best ideas to grow his company. I can go on and on because though I know Walt is not perfect- I have mad respect for all he accomplished. One last thought- it's always easy to tear someone down when they are not here to defend themselves. If these seem to deep- than go back to "Some people have yet to master an age old rule- If you can't say something nice- don't say anything at all"
Thank you-End Rant
 
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