Culture

Manufacturing Disney Guilt By Association

Disney Guilty

No one in the entertainment industry bears the brunt of ire like Disney. For decades, Walt Disney the man and the company he founded have taken hits from critics, reporters, and historians. On far too many occasions Disney has come up against agents of disinformation trying to tarnish its founder, and the company at large finds itself the target of media hatred. From the antics of its former child stars – as if the studio could be responsible for their personal behavior – to the recent attempts to deface Walt Disney that seem to come from out of nowhere, members of the media try to attach any scandal they can to Disney, manufacturing a type of guilt by association.

Two recent stories in the UK’s Daily Mail signal this trend. In one article, a trio of would be child molesters work for Walt Disney World, while in the other, a Disney voice actor displays his anti-Israel hatred for the world to see. Disney has no direct involvement in either case, yet the authors of both pieces go out of their way to make the Disney connection in the headlines and in opening paragraphs.

Disney fired the Arabic voice of Donald Duck after he published an anti-Israel tweet:

Disney has dropped the voice of Donald Duck in the Middle East after he said Israel should be demolished.

Wael Mansour no longer works for the global corporation – whose founder Walt Disney was famously accused of being racist and anti-semitic – after he tweeted: ‘I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize’.

He insisted his message was ‘anti-Zionist‘, claiming Israelis were just a bunch of Polish / Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old‘.

Note the dig at Walt in the second paragraph there – more on that later. Mansour sent the initial tweet in August of 2013, and he announced his firing earlier this month, also via Twitter.

He told his 5,000 Twitter followers: ‘Disney decided I am no longer the official voice of Donald Duck in it’s middle-east dubbed cartoons because of an anti Zionism tweet. Proud!’

His total has since rocketed to 30,000 followers.

Wael Mansour's offending tweet

Wael Mansour’s offending tweet

Disney quickly distanced itself from Mansour, both in August and this month:

Speaking to Jewish newspaper The Algemeiner in August, a Disney spokesman said Mr Mansour was employed by a ‘third party in the past’ and ‘should not be painted as a Disney employee’.

The spokesman added: ‘Disney is a large, multinational corporation and we have policies guiding the correct behavior of all our employees.’

Speaking to MailOnline today a Disney spokesman confirmed that view, adding: ‘He’s not an employee of Disney and he never has been. He’s a contractor.’

Pressed on whether there was a reason for Mr Mansour to speak out now, she said: ‘If he does then that’s for him to share. I don’t have any information or background to share on that.

‘There’s nothing more to really say on the matter other than he’s a contractor who’s done work in that region for character voices, as we do the world over.’

The article concludes with an examination of what it calls “claims that [Walt Disney] was anti-Semitic, racist and misogynistic.” The author brings up the same old rumors that have attempted to chip away at Disney’s reputation for years, along with recent claims from Meryl Streep and Roy O. Disney’s granddaughter Abigail.

The bullet points listed at the beginning of the article also note that, “Walt Disney famously faced accusations of racism and anti-Semitism,” though the piece does mention briefly the studio’s anti-Nazi propaganda shorts (made at a time when Walt himself personally supervised much of the studio’s output), including “Der Fueher’s Face,” the 1943 Oscar winning short starring, interestingly enough, Donald Duck.

Author Dan Bloom only mentions the facts that counter the rumors of Walt’s antisemitism at the end of the article after teasing the rumors at the beginning of the piece, including the words, “divisive,” “mixed reputation,” and “dogged by allegations” in the caption of a photo of Walt, and rehashing those allegations over three paragraphs. It’s as if Bloom desperately wants to make a connection between the supposed antisemitism of Walt Disney and the current anti-Israel stance of Wael Mansour.

Lake County, Florida, sheriff Gary Borders fields questions about a sting operation that led to the arrest of 23 child predators.

Lake County, Florida, sheriff Gary Borders fields questions about a sting operation that led to the arrest of 23 child predators.

Another Daily Mail article from the same day describes a sting operation that took place in Lake County, Florida, about 26 miles from Orlando. In the bust, deputies arrested 23 child sex predators.

Three of those arrested just happen to work at Walt Disney World, and the Daily Mail goes out of its way to let readers know that fact. Author Simon Tomlinson mentions Disney World in the headline and in three of the first five paragraphs of the piece. The first photo in the article just happens to be the mugshots of two of the cast members, with a caption letting readers know that, you guessed it, the two men pictured are employees of Walt Disney World.

Three of those arrested – Robert Kingsolver, 49, Patrick Holgerson, 32, and Joel Torres, 32 – were Walt Disney World employees. The nature of their jobs was not known. Police released pictures of Mr Kingslover  [sic] and Mr Torres.

A spokesman for Disney World said they have been placed on unpaid leave after being charged with various sex crimes, including travelling to meet a minor, it was reported by The Orlando Sentinel.

The Orlando Sentinel piece which Tomlinson references (and which he quotes liberally, changing barely enough to not have plagiarized it) only mentions the connection between Walt Disney World and the sting operation in one paragraph, which includes the quote from the spokesperson.

Two Daily Mail articles in one day breathlessly report terrible acts at the hands of men who just happen to receive a paycheck from Disney, and both authors appear to go out of their way to tie Disney to the wrongdoing in both cases. Judge for yourself if these articles are part of a systemic hatred of Disney, but they seem to be indicative of the media’s fascination with any scandal that links to Disney even in an incidental way.