J. Richard Singleton
Copyright J. Richard Singleton 2011
Published at Smashwords
Defending Walt Disney to cultural purists and academics is like defending the Nazis at Nuremberg. Jack Zipes uses the words “stranglehold” (Classic, pg. 333) to describe the Disney adaptations and claim that his company has “held [the stories] captive ever since” (Classic, pg. 332). However, since no one can claim ownership of these stories, no one can steal them. And unlike the Nazis, everything that Disney did was logical and humane for the time and place. One does not need to defend what Disney the man and Disney the company did right and does do right, but one only needs to point out the massive holes in critics like Jack Zipes’s arguments.
Walt Disney neither invented the animated film nor told entirely original stories in those films, but Neal Baer observes that Disney pioneered the idea of a chair being a chair. Before Disney, animators allowed a chair to be rubber and pictures to be a reflection of ideas, not a depiction of the real world; Walt Disney’s vision was simply in making cartoons more real. In his features, the people are real to the same degree that the world the characters inhabited is real. The rules of physics do apply (unless magic is involved), which is the bane of cartoonists, who presumably enter the field because the real world is too restrictive. As contradictory it may seem, Disney’s creativity was rooted in his rigidity, and the man so noted for his company’s artistry was a businessman, at best.