Walt Disney Remembered...


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Walt Disney Remembered
Posted on December 15, 2011 by John Frost

There’s no doubt Walt Disney is an American Icon. What he was able to achieve in his 66 years on the planet shaped the American psyche in ways that we’re still just beginning to understand (see virtual reality for instance). I always find it hard when just 10 days after celebrating his birth, we find ourselves observing his much too early death.

Director Jon Favreau, who is working on a movie called “Magic Kingdom” recently wrote an essay about the influence of Walt for the LA Times.

Walt flirted with bankruptcy his whole life. He took every success and let it ride. Both financially and creatively. And the secret sauce was always technology. We think of “Steamboat Willie” as an old timey black-and-white cartoon but, at the time, it was bleeding-edge tech.

For most Disney fans there’s nothing really new presented in the essay, but it’s nice to see the passion in Favreau. It’s a passion we Disney fans all recognize.

Speaking of passion, there’s a lot of anger in the fan base right now about how the Walt Disney Company is dropping ‘Walt’ from its brand marketing. As if “Disney The Muppets” instead of “Walt Disney’s The Muppets” somehow tarnishes the legacy that Walt left for us all. That’s not to say fans shouldn’t get upset when the company deviates widely from Walt’s vision. There are good fights to be had for sure. I’m just not sure elevating the Disney name to a global brand on the same level as Coca-cola is one of them.

Walt’s real legacy was the drive to be the best, live our dreams, sometimes risking it all, with every resource at our disposal. No matter what the company that bears his name does going forward, the flame Walt ignited will never expire. More than ever it is up to each of us, not the company, to keep it stoked. As fans it’s time we start acting like it.

Magenta Panther

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I think the word "Walt" should remain in front of "Disney" because it should always be understood that the company that is synonymous with the words "magic" and "enchantment" and "family entertainment" was started by a family man, a singular person, not a committee, not a focus group, not an overpaid CEO, but by a man with uncommon drive, vision, talent, instincts, and heart - and we should not forget that man, because a man like Walt doesn't come along every day. The Walt Disney company should not be reduced to a dehumanized corporate title, thus relegating it to the vast herd of similarly dehumanized corporate titles, like Ford (started by a man named Henry) and Chrysler (started by a man named Walter) or Coca-Cola or Fedex or Microsoft. Walt's legacy inspires and uplifts people in ways those other corporate entities do not. His ENTIRE NAME deserves to be remembered and should remain in place as the name of HIS company.

However, in the case of The Muppets movie, I've no problem with just the name "Disney" being part of that title. Because nothing about Walt has anything to do with them. They were created by a person not in any way associated with Walt Disney Productions. They were not adapted and recreated into the signature, unforgettable Disney style as were Snow White, Pinocchio, and Mary Poppins. They are just acquisitions, and so IMO it isn't proper to have the name "Walt" associated with them. I feel the same way about Marvel characters. But latter-day creations like Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid WERE adapted in the Disney style, and therefore merit Walt's name being part of their signature. Because of the creative process used in bringing them into being, they are truly part of his legacy.

Thanks for the link to the article. I enjoyed it very much. :)
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