“Disney, the company, inside”

By: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

When narrator Sterlin K. Brown, in the documentary A Day at Disney (Fritz Mitchell, 2019), tells the viewer, “Bob Iger is the first executive of the Walt Disney Company, owner of Pixar,” he does not introduce a mere character, but tries to impersonate, pointing to it, Disney’s multiple and scattered image, historical and more influential than some may assume , the largest media conglomerate on the orb, followed by Warner, News Corporation and Viacom.

“A lot of what we do is inspire audiences, but it’s equally valuable and rewarding for us to inspire our people.” We appreciate Iger reminding her of her heterogeneous team at one of the creative work meetings. Meetings where some suggest an idea, others nod or dispute it and, if approved, then come true. Since its founding on October 16, 1923, the company, with its pros and cons, has known how to compete and survive to this day.

Is that “inspiring our people, ” supposed to be just allusing the American public? No, we know we don’t. But the main audience meter is more effective, if it starts to take effect in the country where the product comes from. Beyond cartoons, what has it meant for the awakening and development of Americans? What would have happened to the global audience without the disney-imposed levy for a long time? What’s behind resinging the animated classics to take them to 3D?

A day at Disney, whose poster is accompanied by the suggestive preview: “Meet the people who do the magic,” offers an in-house tour of the company’s history from its own creators or those present and more functional who still retain their jobs. It is not the first documentary about the legacy of the renowned producer, among others, of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Bambi, Alice in Wonderland and her long-time favorite Cinderella. Disney prevailed not only as the creator of the company, but from the position of producer, when the position had the final say as to what was put or left in the work. The producer gave the money and his figure represented a ubiquitous “lucky” mandate. While Disney was a cartoonist, screenwriter and an undeniable animator and visionary of the animation world, he was not even Mickey Mouse’s first cartoonist, although he gave his voice and best character to the character. Perhaps it is good to recognize that the mouse was an invention of both Disney and Ub Iwerks. The company’s first films were, in rigor, ruled by several performers. Snow White, for example, was directed by David Hand, William Cottrell, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce and Ben Sharpsteen. The management then became the exclusivity of two, if not a single man, such as the case of Wolfgang Reitherman, one of Disney’s Nine Elders.

Do not expect material that even alludes to the famous 1941 strike, where countless collaborators asked to be united under a union, achieve better wages, as enabled by the income of short films and feature films, as well as the right to appear in the credits of the works. That matter of the joke is a very black spot, though expendable to many in the history of the dream factory.

It is capital to consider how the ideas that many generations have of classic tales come from the sweetened imaginary and not always well-meaning of Disney’s “innovations.” By the way, when I interviewed the Cuban critic Justo Planas, author of the book The Latin American Cinema of Desenchantment (ICAIC Editions, 2018) and before Disney and the Magic Shoe. Analysis of Cinderella’s ideological discourse (Queen of the Sea Editors, 2018), I asked him what the viewer’s concerns might be about Walt Disney Animation Studios and he rightly replied to what needs to be reproduced:

“What I’m trying to prove with Disney is that its products have a very strong regulatory character. It’s something that’s been said a lot, but maybe in Cuba I needed a Cuban to mention it, because exposure to Disney on Cuban television is not small. When I say normative, I mean that sensitive viewer that children are, Disney tells him how to behave as a woman or with women, with people of other races and cultures. It tells them who’s ugly and who’s pretty. How to dress and how to drive, even how to dream. It is a very large industry and has several decades of existence, but as an attempt to demonstrate, Disney has not changed its perception of the world much.

“I’m not saying it should be censored, I want to make this clear. Children have the right to see and judge for themselves. If someone forbids your child from seeing Disney, they may feel excluded, for example, when friends talk about their latest movie. We simply need to be aware of what our children are consuming, and take care of talking to them, listening to their views, and sharing ours.”

When Eric Goldberg, one of today’s cartoonists and directors, expresses something as interesting as: “And while it’s true that they deal with very serious issues, after watching a Disney movie, you always come out delighted and think, yes, it was fabulous. I think I’ll see her again,” indeed, we see her again, so let’s know that they’ve changed as much as they want to the detriment of the original story. Eric Goldberg’s laugh after admitting, “I think I’ll see her again,” is honest and alarming at the same time.

From Mickey Mouse to Disneyland, through the studios and editorial process to prologating the lives of the characters, while still taking an interest in how they are determined, as in a Disney movie, audiences advance the documentary. Hence, when he seems to walk away from his superphoto lens, interviewing TV host Robin Roberts, how hard he is to rekindle that one. Roberts’ life story deserves it. It is the overcoming of breast cancer and a serious blood disorder that is his thing, although it is equated to the triumph of a Disney heroine.

For its nonconformity, the struggle to maintain its conquests and overcome as a study, conglomerate or companionship, a day at Disney deserves to be enjoyed following perhaps one, as a spectator, the biblical proverb: “meek as a dove and cautious as a snake”. Well, while “more sensitive, more reliable,” as an artist and technologist argues when referring to the robot she shares at one of the theme parks. But it is also true that thoughtful sensibility can be an extraordinary delight. Let’s not give up on her. Ω

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