This is the final installment in the series called “Walt Disney on Trial.” What we have tried to do in this series we have taken the stuff from the court of public opinion against Walt Disney and tried to address it with snippets of history and unravel the lies and mistakes with the truth that is discovered when you examine the real evidence. The key here is that we have tried to examine the truth and the real evidence, which if you are going to try to make an informed and rational decision, you have to take into account.
Was Walt Disney perfect? No, of course not.
Was he a saint? Saint Walt?
Nope…he was far from perfect just like all of us.
But as for the allegations that have been aimed at Walt, well, if you look at history you discover they just are not true.
So then you are forced to move to the Why? …. Why do people believe the lies? Why to do people keep believing and repeating the lies? Why did Meryl Streep say what she said as we referenced her as being the most recent public attack on Walt that seemed to get traction in the new cycle?
Why… why… why?
Ah, the why is much trickier. Why would you say something untrue about a man you have never met? Interestingly enough, most of the people who hold such strong opinions about Walt never met him and never knew him.
Why would you say something about his studio which you never worked for? When the people who did work for him are very honest about tough he could be, but they never jumped into the stories, lies, and accusations that are often thrown about so carelessly.
Why would you comment on a history that you know nothing of? All of those are fair questions simply because Meryl Streep, critics, and those who feel the urge to share their opinions will always make those kind of comments with the intention of getting some kind of reaction or attention.
Actors are sometimes much more fun to watch and easier to enjoy when they stay on script. They are masters at bringing stories to life on the screen from a script. It is when they don’t have a script or are reading from the wrong script that their storytelling can go horribly wrong. That seems to be what has happened in the case of the awards ceremony.
Walt himself said, “I have no use for people who throw their weight around as celebrities, or for those who fawn over you just because you are famous.”
Ms. Streep used her celebrity platform to grind an ax, share her unfounded beliefs, and make a point that was important to her… never considering whether it was based in truth or founded in falsehoods. She decided to tell a story. And the story just doesn’t have enough truth to back it up.
None of us, except Ms. Streep can accurately answer the “why” she said what she said. In the moment she made the statements she was presenting an award. She wasn’t really thinking about Walt Disney, his family, his history, his legacy, his fans, or his impact. It is easy to say hurtful and untruthful things when you are not thinking about the person you are saying them about.
Because, if you were thinking about them…well, you would never say them. Especially if you didn’t know for sure they were true. That just isn’t nice and is uncalled for.
Hmmm …that does sound critical doesn’t it? Yet, the criticism isn’t aimed at Meryl Streep, it is aimed at me, and perhaps at you (or at least someone you know if that is easier) Here is what I mean. All of us have said things that have hurt others at some point. When we did it, the person we were talking about was not as important at that moment as we were. (At least in our minds and hearts) The most important thing in that moment when we say such things is to be heard, to have someone notice what we are saying, and to find others who will agree.
In life, there is a lesson for all of us in this… when we say things that hurt, insult, or damage the reputation of others we must be very cautious. Especially when we are spreading rumor, lies, and don’t really have a frame of reference to know whether or not what we are saying is correct or accurate. When we make harsh statements, in the aftermath we either feel satisfied when we have said what we said… or… in hindsight, wish we hadn’t done it. We might even feel sorry for the hurt we caused, regret it, learn from it, and become better for it.
All of us have had moments when we said something that we wish we could magically make disappear. We can’t but it would be nice. So we have to decide that even in our bad moments, we will learn from them and allow them to make us better as we move forward. For those that have been so critical and spread such malicious gossip and rumor about Walt Disney, perhaps there will come a day that they will pause and take the time to slow down long enough to realize that there is not enough evidence to make the statements they are making. It may not change their opinion, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, wisdom dictates that we keep opinions to ourselves, especially when we have no evidence to validate them. In the recent case, although her commentary on Walt Disney was bitter, perhaps the end result will somehow make Meryl Streep and critics like her, better.
Any bad moment contains that potential.
I thought the Walt Disney Family Museum (founded by Walt’s family) had a great response. They invited Meryl to come to the museum and take a tour. In doing so, they suggested she might discover the truth. When you know what the truth is, you can offer than kind of invitation. If Meryl Streep wants to really discover the truth, perhaps she will take them up on her offer. Perhaps some of those who through the years have believed, bought into, or perpetuated this misguided and malicious kind of chatter will also take the invitation offered from the family and discover some things they never knew because they haven’t taken the time to discover them. (Sadly, as of this writing, she has not taken them up on their invitation – which in some ways, is very telling.)
Actors tell stories that can impact others.
Your life tells a story that impacts others.
Walt Disney lived a life that told a story.
Floyd Norman’s blog said this about Walt’s story, “He was not a perfect man nor did we expect him to be. Like most of us, he continued to grow as he moved through life and in time he recognized women could compete alongside men. He knew that talent had no color or ethnicity and he judged people by their ability to do their job and do it well. Walt Disney was a man of his time, but he was determined not to be imprisoned by it. He dreamed of a better world and even had the audacity to try and build it. Hardly an American to be vilified. Walt Disney deserves to be celebrated.”
Remember the story you are telling can change the world.
If you don’t know the truth about something, it is probably best to be quiet. Think before you talk. People are listening. Words can’t be taken back. Once they are spoken out loud, in our culture they can resonate for a long, long time. Make sure you say things that build others, encourage them, and make them better…those are the kind of words that will change the world. Then you have a story worth living and telling.
This is the conclusion of a series entitled – Walt Disney on Trial. All five articles are available on the website. If you haven’t checked them out and would like to do so, then feel free to navigate around and dig into the story, the history, and the evidence yourself. There are a couple of links to get you started below. The feedback from the series has been great. Thanks for sending it along. One reader sent the following summary of the series and said, “it is one of the most thoughtful, honest, and realistic glimpses into the life and world of Walt Disney that I have ever run across. Thanks for taking the time to share your insights.”
Another reader shared, “for years I heard so many nasty things about Walt that somehow, just didn’t seem to be right based on other things I had heard. I am so glad you took the time to summarize and highlight a few things that helps clear this up. It reminds me that although he was not a perfect man, his creativity, his passion, and his genius has helped shape the world in amazing ways.”
To read the first installment in this series click the link below
To read the second installment in this series click the link below
Walt Disney on Trial is a series that is being compiled by author Jeff Dixon. Jeff has written a series of novels set in and around Walt Disney World entitled, The Key to the Kingdom, Unlocking the Kingdom, and Storming the Kingdom. The latest installment in that series is called, Terror in the Kingdom and will be released soon. He is also the author of the new book, The Disney Driven Life. This is a book that draws life lessons and leadership principles from the history and life of Walt Disney. Some know Jeff as Dixon On Disney – and he resources and comments on Disney history, attractions, and news. He is a researcher that draws heavily on the incredible works of Disney historians and biographers with an attempt to understand and apply the life lessons that are uncovered.
Some of the research for this series comes from
It’s Kind of a Funny Story – by Rolly Crump (Bamboo Forest Publishing. 2012)
Walt Disney-The Triumph of the American Imagination – by Neal Gabler (Vintage 2006)
Walt Disney and the Promise of Progress City – by Sam Gennaway (Theme Park Press 2014)
Walt’s People – 15 Volumes – by Didier Ghez (Theme Park Press 2005-2015)
The Vault of Walt, Vol. 1-3 – by Jim Korkis (Theme Park Press 2012-2014)
Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow – by Christian Moran (Theme Park Press 2015)
Walt Disney An American Original – by Bob Thomas (Disney Editions 1976)