Just days after Meryl Streep’s brazen attempt to smear the name and legacy of Walt Disney with disinformation, the three time Oscar winner has backup from an unlikely source – Walt’s great niece, Abigail Disney.
That morning, Abigail, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney was Walt’s older brother and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, posted: “I hadn’t heard a word about this Meryl Streep/Walt Disney flap till this morning. Funny how no one mentioned it to me…. Like I was living in some kind of information bubble and nobody wanted to hurt my feelings or something. But if anyone is going to have mixed feelings about a cultural icon, wouldn’t it be a member of the family??? More than anyone else???
“And if you are going to have mixed feelings about a family member (and we all do) take it from me, you really need to be as honest as possible about those feelings, or else you are going to lead yourself into many a blind alley in life!! … Anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C’mon he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay ‘with your own kind’ at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the ‘King of the Jungle’ number wasn’t proof enough!! How much more information do you need? But damn, he was hella good at making films and his work has made billions of people happy. There’s no denying it. So there ya go. Mixed feelings up the wazoo.”
(Let’s face it, nothing lends credibility to your statement quite like the use of hella and wazoo.) But she wasn’t done.
Abigail posted again 10 hours later: “I feel I have to clarify. I LOVED what Meryl Streep said. I know he was a man of his times and I can forgive him, but Saving Mr Banks was a brazen attempt by the company to make a saint out of the man. A devil he was not. Nor an angel. That’s the point and if you read ALL her remarks you’ll know that’s exactly what she was getting at. She said exactly what I said about how in spite of it all, his vision was amazing and he brought joy to so many around the world. So I say Brava Meryl. I don’t believe in bashing for bashing’s sake but whenever we see a misplaced attempt at hagiography we need to speak our minds!”
Saving Mr. Banks is hardly a hagiography – it’s a fairly straightforward presentation where, as a character, Walt Disney almost plays second fiddle to P. L. Travers and the team working on Mary Poppins. Though the film does portray Walt as a man whose reputation precedes him, the two main characteristics we see in him are his powers of persuasion and his uncanny ability to tell a story. Any good biography of Walt (see Bob Thomas’ Walt Disney: An American Original or Michael Barrier’s The Animated Man) and even the halfway decent ones (see Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination) show us that both traits ring true. Just because we don’t see Walt commanding P.L. Travers to get in the kitchen and bake him a pie or see him punching out one of the Sherman Brothers doesn’t necessarily make the film a hagiography.
But the larger issue at hand is that Abigail Disney sees her great uncle through a Leftist ideological prism, one that demands that she denigrate Walt’s memory and the truth be damned. Abigail writes a blog for the Huffington Post, and her biography there reveals much about her ideological framework:
Her longtime passion for women’s issues and peacebuilding culminated in her first film, the acclaimed Pray the Devil Back to Hell, about the Liberian women who peacefully ended their country’s fourteen-year civil war. The film premiered in 2008 at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the honor of Best Documentary. Abigail is currently executive producer of the groundbreaking PBS mini-series Women, War & Peace, the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the role of women in peace and conflict…
Abigail co-founded the Daphne Foundation, which works with low-income communities in the five boroughs of New York City. She also founded Peace is Loud, which amplifies women’s voices for peacebuilding using the power of media. Abigail serves as a board member for a number of organizations, including the Global Fund for Women and the Peace Research Endowment.
Meryl Streep threw the red meat at Abigal Disney that she needed when she used the phrase “gender bigot” (I still don’t know what that means). Abigail Disney is a Leftist, and to the Left, Walt Disney represents those pesky conservative values, which automatically makes him a target for ridicule and disinformation.
Abigail has gone against the family on other occasions. She has criticized the Disney Studios for “dumb[ing] down and middle-ify[ing] and oversimplify[ing]” stories while ignoring “the untidy complexities of life, sometimes at great cost to the lived experiences of many others.” (Talk about biting the hand that feeds!) She also disavowed Disney’s investment in an Israeli West Bank-based cosmetic firm because, in her words, “I cannot in good conscience profit from what is technically the ‘plunder’ or ‘pillage’ of occupied natural resources and the company’s situating its factory in an Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank.” Instead, she donates her share of the company’s profits to groups “working to end this illegal exploitation.” (Who’s anti-Semitic now?)
Abigail Disney was born in 1960, which means she was six when Walt died. She didn’t see first hand anything to back up the claims she, Streep, and a whole cadre of other Leftists make about Walt. The evidence to suggest that Walt was not a racist, anti-Semite, or misogynist far outweighs what the Left tries to use against him. I quoted Floyd Norman extensively last week in response to Streep, and he deserves a quote again:
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.
The Walt Disney Family Museum invited Streep to visit to learn “the real truth” – they must not know that cousin Abigail could use a dose of the truth herself. In the case of Abigail Disney, we see once again that ideology trumps truth and disinformation is a powerful weapon. The Left – even family members – will stop at nothing to tear down the memory of a great, albeit imperfect, man in order to advance Leftism. Left in the wake are those family members, friends, and fans who witness the damage that disinformation does. It will continue to make messes of great men and women unless we put a stop to it.