Conservative media icon Glenn Beck recently spent time with National Review‘s Eliana Johnson, and their time together has led to a revealing profile of a man who is changing his focus little by little from tackling hard news to impacting culture.
Beck shared the inspiration for his move toward culture: none other than Walt Disney.
The item that most inspires him right now is a prospectus of Disney World, hand-colored by Walt Disney himself, which he has propped against a window — or at least, a photocopy of it. He keeps the real item, which he won at an auction three years ago, at his home in Dallas. “I’m now the owner of every book written on Walt Disney in any language,” he says. He doesn’t know exactly how many that is. A year ago, he distributed a biography of Disney to the members of his staff. “I said when I left Fox that this half of my career is going to be shaped more by Walt Disney than anything else,” he says.
His interest in Disney is symbolic of the shift in his attention and efforts toward culture and away from politics. He had a realization: “Culture is the lead. That’s the dog. The news is the tail.”
He pulls out a piece of early publicity on Disneyland, points to a paragraph, and reads aloud. “Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America and it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.” Beck, known to burst into tears at a moment’s notice, looks like he might do so right now. “That’s what we’re gonna do,” he declares. “That’s how I intend on impacting culture. To do that.”
Beck’s desire to “impact the culture in the way that people see good again” stems from his nostalgia for simpler times, when people acted on their sense of duty. He now believes that his duty is to create films, books, television series, and even clothing that reflect his conservative values. As Johnson puts it:
What Beck is offering is access to a lifestyle that revolves around the values he preaches.
Beck puts it this way: “We stand for stories of love and courage where the good guys win. We are a group of people who believe that the good guys actually win in the end.”
Fans of Walt Disney will recognize this philosophy. Walt himself said, “The important thing to teach a child is that good can always triumph over evil, and that is what our pictures do.”
Walt Disney stood for Judeo-Christian and American values that resonate with so many people — values like faith, optimism and freedom — and he wove these values throughout his animated and live-action films, as well as on television and even at Disneyland.
Glenn Beck has set his sights on affecting culture with the same types of values as the early Disney products. It makes perfect sense to me that he would look to Walt as an inspiration and almost as a sort of mentor. Any of us on the right who want to make a dent in the culture around us should follow Beck’s lead and look to the example of Walt Disney.