Disney, Hollywood & You: Praying for Creatives

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When did you last pray for our culture-creators in Hollywood? I ask that question after Neal Gabler about his new biography of Walt Disney, who for years has been associated with high quality, well-produced family entertainment.

In Gabler’s new biography titled, “Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination,” we’re told the story of a simple Midwestern boy whose passion for drawing, love of storytelling and desire to try new technologies resulted in the most successful entertainment company in all of history.

Virtually every aspect of American entertainment was touched by Disney’s innovations–he was an intuitive trend spotter.

He introduced art into animation requiring his animators to study at art schools.
He created full blown, well developed, nuanced personalities for each of his animated characters.
He created the first feature length animated motion picture.
He was the first to use technicolor and in Fantasia made advancements in sound and introduced classical music to animated film.
He pioneered theme songs like “when you wish upon a star” to accompany his films and was one of the first to merchandise toys, watches and every other imaginable product all based on his imaginary characters.
Disneyland and Disneyworld redefined the genre of theme parks.

His stories tapped into deeply held, time honored Judeo-Christian values like honesty, doing the right thing, building personal character in the midst of diversity, believing for miracles while working hard to achieve them.

Disney has become an icon for so many American values and is revered by people of faith for not violating their deeply held beliefs.

Yet a plain reading of Neil Gabler’s new biography reveals a sad saga of Walt Disney.

Walt Disney was a classic type-A, driven workaholic.
He was a perfectionist and control freak who was consumed by his projects.
A visionary, not a businessman, he was fiscally irresponsible and for over 30 years the company was on the verge of financial collapse because he would not curb his spending. He was self centered—reminding employees that they sold only one thing¢â‚¬¦WALT DISNEY

Disney had few friends and over time he was either betrayed by his co-workers or drove them away.

Disney-the family man was distanced from his parents much of his life. He was faithful to his wife but was hardly ever home. Walt once said, “I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I’ve ever known” and Lilly Disney described herself as a “mouse widow.” In later years on television the image of the kind gentle Uncle Walt was carefully nurtured, but few people, perhaps only his two daughters ever saw that side of Disney.

For most of his life he sought contentment but never found it.

Walt Disney wasn’t a religious man. After being baptized in a congregational church as an infant, Walt Disney never attended church and never talked about religion. God was conspicuously absent in his life and work. All his life he feared death as the great unknown. A chain smoker, he died of cancer in 1966.

If Walt Disney was miserable, a man whose Hollywood product and public image personified living a decent, morally acceptable life, imagine how empty life must be for people in Hollywood, who in addition to rejecting God are choosing to live immoral lives and produce culturally devolutionary products.

Next time you get angry at a rancid product coming out of Hollywood, remember to pray for the people making today’s entertainment.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in November 16, 2006 by | No Comments »

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