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Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Was Disney anti-Semitic?

Posted by Lissa on October 13, 2009

Sure, it SEEMS like a completely random question, but here’s what spurred it:

(Be warned that the first three videos I tried had been yanked down by Fox, so I don’t know how long that one will stay valid.  In a nutshell — Stewie and Brian end up in a Disney universe where everything is perfect and wonderful . . . until they beat the crap out of Mort Goldman for being a Jew.)

I thought that perhaps Walt Disney was, like Wagner, known for being an anti-Semite and everyone knew it but me.  However, from what I can see, it’s one of those persisting rumors without a lot of basis in truth.

Mind you, a lot of Hollywood studios that were Disney’s prime competition were run by Jews at the time; it can be hard to tell the difference between anti-Semitism and professional rivalry.  But as a point of fact it was his membership in The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals that earned him the reputation of an anti-Semite.

And that seems odd to me.  According to Our Lady of Wikipedia, other members included Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan and John Wayne; I don’t hear much talk of their anti-Semitism.

Although perhaps that too is one of those things that everyone knows but me.

P.S.  Go here for a response to that Family Guy clip from a guy who worked at Disney; he didn’t think Walt was anti-Semitic.

P.P.S.  I used to love-love-love Family Guy.  As they’ve gotten more anti-military and partisan, it’s been harder to watch.  (“The US Military – all the brown people you can rape” . . . f*** you, Seth Farland.  And you really think electing Gore in 2000 would lead to flying cars and health care that kept anyone from dying?  SRSLY?)  I persist because FG has moments of brilliance in its comedy.  That, and I need to watch things that irritate me like that at least some of the time; it’s the same reason that makes me drop by HuffPo on occasion.  Good to see what other people think, rather than just reading people I agree with all the time.

P.P.S.  During my search for today’s post I ran across this page.  Good god I love the people at Cracked — I was actually laughing so loud I scared the cat.  Money quote — “Lesson Learned: The late 1800s were a great time to be African-American and possibly on acid.”  (With a close runner-up in the Fantasia section.)

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7 Responses to “Was Disney anti-Semitic?”

  1. Brad K. said

    Lissa,

    I think it really doesn’t matter today. Michael Jackson is still dead, and so is Walt Disney; whatever they did in life has ended, and the legacy is generally much less worrisome. Even though Dr. Demento played Steven Banks singing “Disney on Ice” (and he’s coming back) http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/playlist.aspx?Show=88-13.

    If Walt Disney had been anti-Semitic, he was the best kind – tolerant, kept it to himself, and didn’t pass on his prejudice. Thus hatreds heal across the generations.

    I doubt that anti-Semitism, or other hatreds, could have been a large part of Mr. Disney’s life. Hatreds seldom lend themselves to helping others find joy. I noticed that Disneyland and Walt Disney World, when I visited in the 1970’s, didn’t have much cultural message or distinction, other than reliance on European and American lore and myth. Its a Small World (remember that polka tune?) carefully depicted many regional and national images and scenes. I got the impression that it was as complete a panorama as was possible at the time (and within budget, and would play well – Disney was a *really* good showman and businessman).

    If Disney leaned heavily on English, French, and German myth, I attribute that to his cultural heritage, and the rather biased face of “political correctness” of the era.

    A friend pointed out that there is no humor without pain. To make a joke or present comedy, someone has to get hurt, be humiliated, look or feel stupid. You can share joy all day long – gazing at a gorgeous sunset display, basking in the reflected glow of a parent’s love for family and friends – these neither diminish others, nor harden us to other’s problems. Family guy, this is crude humor. I don’t en’joy’ watching it.

  2. totwtytr said

    I was taken by surprise when I saw that “alternate universe” Family Guy. Much of it was funny, but this was just weird. I’ve never heard that Disney was an anti-Semite which would be more ironic since a guy named Eisner runs the place now.

    I agree with your comments about FG in general. When it was less political, it was funnier.

  3. Jeff said

    I never got back in to Family Guy after the hiatus. I watched a few episodes when it first came back, but, for me anyway, the magic was gone. I’ve seen occasional episodes since that were funny again, but I haven’t made any effort to catch up.

  4. kdawg said

    i think a lot of the rumors come from walt being a witness to some trials which hunted comunists in america. but there are some pro nazi images in a few of his company’s cartoons. i looked it up. mikey uses a nazi lighter, donald dressed in a nazi uniform. also there are apparently some things that walt was recorded as saying that were, shall we say, not so politically correct. anyway the thing about family guy is that they have been known to make an joke at the expense of the Jews as a whole. i think the main point is they are just trying to do anything for a laugh. they aren’t really too concerned with wheather the information they are passing along is absolutely correct. do you really believe that kate moss falls through cracks in the floor, or can’t bee seen from the side? it’s hard to distinguish someone’s feelings on one subject or another after they are dead. weather he was antisemitc or not he was a good business man and knew that a unsavory reputation could ruin the business which he work so hard to build. he would probably be carful not to say too much in the public eye so it is hard to say without having talked to someone that knew him. odds are he was just a sceeze ball and didn’t really care one way or another.

  5. Great post. The Family Guy writers don’t particularly like Walt Disney or Jews though.

  6. totwtytr said

    Looked it up on the internet Kdawg, so it must be so, right? You’re aware of course, that during WW II a lot of anti NAZI propaganda came out of Hollywood. Including eight Disney shorts featuring Donald Duck as Adolph Hitler. During which, of course, he wore a NAZI uniform.

    One of the even won an Academy Awad for best short animated. You can read more and see the cartoon here,

    http://www.nickscrusade.org/donald-duck-nazi-film/

    Oh, and apparently that Hitler Jungen Mickey was banned in Germany starting in 1930.

    I read it on the Internet, so it has to be true.

  7. Maurice said

    Wayne proved he was a supporter of Israel by appearing in Cast A Giant Shadow. He did it as a message, since he did not have a big part. Its funny though that when you go to A Small Small World at Disney Israel is not represented. Just a thought!

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