This is Week 1, day 4 of my New 13 Weeks Radical Reading Experiment. I keep a daily journal of the most interesting media I encounter each day. See or create something I should check out? Email me at DaveSwindlePJM@gmail.com.
According to Variety, Streep was presenting fellow actress Emma Thompson with the organization’s Best Actress award for her portrayal as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers in the film “Saving Mr. Banks.” Along the way, Streep called Thompson “a beautiful artist” and “practically a saint.” And then she turned her attention to Disney, played in “Banks” by Tom Hanks.
Disney’s reputation has long been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism, but Streep focused most of her attention on Disney’s treatment of women, calling the legendary impresario a “gender bigot” and quoting longtime Disney animator Ward Kimball, who said his boss “didn’t trust women or cats.”
Streep also accused Disney of supporting “an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group,” believed to be a reference to the Motion Picture Alliance, and quoted a letter purportedly written by Disney’s company to an aspiring female animator which read, in part “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men.”
Late Wednesday night, the Walt Disney Family Museum fired back at the actress via their Twitter account, suggesting that Streep needed to get her facts straight.
As usual, the attempts to defend Walt Disney from the Marxist disinformation that has dogged him since the early 1940s are inadequate. Nobody has yet to explain coherently how and why these rumors emerged in the first place. I’ve been piecing together the story the past few months in my research through the different Disney biographies and offer a few highlights at the end of today’s link round-up. I’m not finished with my research yet — there are still several more books I need to finish reading — but it doesn’t take long to find the names of the ones responsible.
2. From the Korea Herald, via the Epoch Times: Koreans become more conservative
Progressives are often associated with being doves in South Korea’s North Korea policies while conservatives are associated with taking strong national defense postures against the Stalinist regime.
The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs survey was conducted between January and June of 2013, as North Korea was escalating tensions by conducting a rocket launch in December 2012 and a nuclear test in February 2013. Kim Jong-un then unprecedentedly closed the inter-Korean Gaeseong Industrial Complex in April 2013.
“Our society itself has become increasingly conservative,” said Bae Jong-chan, chief director at Research and Research, an opinion survey company.
3. Today at PJ Lifestyle from Charlie Martin, exploring a theme I wrote about in September 2012 in a more optimistic way than I did: Is Phone Sex a Sign of Conscious Thought?
Her carries it on a little further, when the main character falls in love with the personality that serves as the front end for a new operating system. They eventually consummate their love in what is supposed to be a rather steamy, and apparently mutually satisfying, episode of what’s a whole new meaning of “phone sex.” (I say “supposed to be” because I haven’t seen the movie yet; in any case, this isn’t a review of the movie.)
So here’s a question for you: when Samantha, the operating system’s personality, has an orgasm, is it real or is she faking it?
4. Hat tip to Charlie’s piece for reminding me of this David Gelernter essay in Commentary that I mostly disagree with but that still has some worthwhile points and is admirable in stylistic dazzle, as is to be expected from the author: The Closing of the Scientific Mind
The Kurzweil Cult.
The voice most strongly associated with what I’ve termed roboticism is that of Ray Kurzweil, a leading technologist and inventor. The Kurzweil Cult teaches that, given the strong and ever-increasing pace of technological progress and change, a fateful crossover point is approaching. He calls this point the “singularity.” After the year 2045 (mark your calendars!), machine intelligence will dominate human intelligence to the extent that men will no longer understand machines any more than potato chips understand mathematical topology. Men will already have begun an orgy of machinification—implanting chips in their bodies and brains, and fine-tuning their own and their children’s genetic material. Kurzweil believes in “transhumanism,” the merging of men and machines. He believes human immortality is just around the corner. He works for Google.
Whether he knows it or not, Kurzweil believes in and longs for the death of mankind. Because if things work out as he predicts, there will still be life on Earth, but no human life. To predict that a man who lives forever and is built mainly of semiconductors is still a man is like predicting that a man with stainless steel skin, a small nuclear reactor for a stomach, and an IQ of 10,000 would still be a man. In fact we have no idea what he would be.
5. Openculture.com: An Introduction to the Political Philosophy of Isaiah Berlin Through His Free Writings & Audio Lectures
Berlin was enormously prolific, in print as well as in recorded media, and we have access to several of his lectures online. One radio lecture series, Freedom and its Betrayal, examined six thinkers Berlin identified as “anti-liberal.” Perhaps foremost among these was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In his lecture on Rousseau above (continued here in Parts 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6), Berlin elaborates on his important distinction between types of liberty, a theme he returned to again and again, most famously in a lecture, eventually published as a 57-page pamphlet, called “Two Concepts of Liberty.” Berlin adapted much of the ideas in these lectures from his Political Ideas in the Romantic Age—written between 1950 and 1952 and published posthumously—a text that Berlin called his “torso.”
6. Book reading from this morning, Ann Coulter’s Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism:
“It is a fact that hundreds of agents of this blood-soaked ideology became top advisors to Democratic presidents, worked on the Manhattan Project, infiltrated every segment of the United States government.” – page 34
7. Noah Rothman at Mediatite: Dershowitz: Christie Should ‘Lawyer Up,’ Prepare for Criminal Prosecution over Bridgegate
Lawyer and Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz appeared on CNN on Thursday where he insisted that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie could be held criminally liable for the death of a 91-year-old woman who passed away after being caught in traffic resulting from the closure of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013. Dershowitz said that prosecutors could hold Christie liable for “willful negligence” and recommended that he be prosecuted in New York because of the governor’s “history of taking revenge.”
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin noted that Dershowtiz has already recommended that Christie “lawyer up” and prepare to face criminal prosecution over his involvement in the bridge closure. His argument centers on the death of a 91-year-old woman, but he also said that many others may have suffered as a result of the New Jersey government’s actions.
“Clearly the people who originated the traffic jams and approved them are guilty and probably guilty of crimes,” Dershowitz asserted. “Their actions led directly to very significant harms, particularly if they can demonstrate that the woman died as a result of the traffic jam.”
8. The Algemeiner: Actress Meryl Streep Blasts Walt Disney as Anti-Semitic; ZOA Condemns Actress Emma Thompson
Ironically, Streep’s nine-minute speech was to honor the actress who portrayed ‘Mary Poppins’ creator P.L. Travers in The Walt Disney Company’s ‘Saving Mr. Banks,’ Emma Thompson, who the Zionist Organization of America denounced on Thursday for her letter in the Guardian advocating for a boycott of Israel’s Habima Theater troupe, which is to perform later this year at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, in London.
9. Noah Rothman again at Mediaite: Press Agonizes over ‘Culture’ of Christie’s Admin After Dismissing ‘Culture’ of Obama’s White House
Follow the most fair-minded media critic online at twitter here: @NoahCRothman He’s one of the best non-ideological writers analyzing politics and the media.
It is perhaps a leap to believe that Ms. Streep intentionally set out to trash Walt Disney in a publicized speech with the implicit intention of harming Ms. Thompson’s Oscar hopes and thus raising her own chances of securing a nomination, with the side effect of boosting The Weinstein Company’s August: Osage County‘s box office as it expands this weekend. But Oscar season is one rife with politics and skulduggery, one where how a film is perceived morally is as important as how its perceived critically. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio aren’t working overtime to convince everyone that Paramount’s The Wolf of Wall Street is not an endorsement of Mr. Jordan Belfort for fun. And those unheroic allegations about the real Captain Phillips didn’t materialize out of thin air, much to Sony’s chagrin.
Streep’s news-making reiteration of Walt Disney’s long-alleged sins, in a speech intended to honor Emma Thompson, helps Streep while hurting Thompson. It would no different than Viola Davis giving a toast of Meryl Streep in January 2012 where she scathingly criticized the conservative politics of Margaret Thatcher. Ms. Streep’s Oscar chances and August: Osage County‘s box office prospects are now improved while Ms. Thompson’s Oscar hopes and thus Saving Mr. Banks‘s box office prospects (doing well with $60m domestic thus far but with much to gain from Oscar traction) are harmed.
Yes, that rationale makes enough sense. But who was actually behind the smears of Walt Disney that Streep is recycling in her campaign for another Oscar? And why do these rumors persist so long after Disney’s death? Who is to blame? In my New Year’s Resolutions list last week I announced my intent to finish researching it this year:
Disney himself was convinced Communists were behind the smears of him. Page 170 of Bob Thomas’s Walt Disney: An American Original excerpts a 1941 statement he made to a newspaper columnist about the lies printed against him at the time which still haunt him even today half a century after his death.
Last year I read these two Disney biographies that promote the closet-Nazi smear:
I suspect this passage from page 211 of Leonard Mosley’s Disney’s World of being Soviet disinformation. It offers unsourced allegations and a fake sounding quote also without source. The way the smears of Disney appear match a number of the patterns that Ion Mihai Pacepa described in his book Disinformation about how the KGB sought to frame iconic figures after their deaths. Smearing of Pope Pius, Lyndon Baines Johnson (for JFK’s death), and Nicolae Ceausescu’s political enemies mirror the attacks on Disney.
“[Arthur] Babbitt evolved into a leftist intellectual given to a preachy style of speechmaking that many found grating.” – Steven Watts, page 217 of The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life. This animator was Walt Disney’s arch-nemesis who led the strike against the studio. He hated Disney his whole life after the bitter strike at the studio. In Marc Eliot’s Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince he is the source of the claim that Disney attended Nazi meetings. He was telling that as late as 1990, when Eliot conducted the interview. So for 25 years after Disney’s death he was smearing his old capitalist boss.
The animators who led the strike against Disney were influenced by “the leftist culture of the Popular Front in California” according to page 207 of The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life:
A few years ago a novel that depicts Disney in his final days as a racist, antisemite, and sexually deranged narcissist was released. I read it recently and in addition to the attacks on Disney as a bigot it also recycles Babbitt’s whining about his boss not really deserving as much credit as he got and not being a real artist:
It has been recently turned into an opera — thus matching the technique used to smear Pope Pius with The Deputy play: aim at the high-brow intelligentsia and then just let the smear filter down to the masses.
What is it about Disney and his films that has driven Communists, progressives, and the elite of today’s Hollywood so mad for so long? I have my ideas about how Disney embodied the traits of Americanism in action more boldly and visibly than any other entrepreneur or entertainer in the 20th century. But there are still more books to read before coming to any conclusions.
Among the next titles on my list is what’s regarded as a more measured — but still Marxist — anti-Disney critique focused more specifically on what culture his films, TV shows, and theme parks actually promoted. So in the coming weeks and months I’ll hope to dive into The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art and Commerce of Walt Disney…