The Walt Disney Company’s startling but subtle admission in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acknowledging their woke policies have had a deleterious effect on its bottom line is the famed organization’s latest concession to its historic drift – but not its most stunning or obvious.
Published earlier this year, “The Official Walt Disney Quote Book” is a delightful project that was compiled by the staff of the Walt Disney Archives – a division first established by the organization in 1970, just four years after its founder’s death at the age of 65.
History makes clear that businesses and institutions inevitably drift from their founder’s ideals unless rigorous care and attention are given to stopping the slide. That Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth all started as Christian religious institutions is proof that it happens – and the secular “House of Mouse” is no different.
The collapse of Disney’s once solidly family-friendly empire brings to mind Ernest Hemingway’s formula for financial bankruptcy: “Gradually, then suddenly.”
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But perhaps the curators within the famed company have published something of a silent cry for help – heartfelt admonitions from its long-deceased founder that if heeded, might release the mouse currently ensnared in its trap of woke insanity.
Flipping through the hardcover volume, what’s stunning isn’t what Walt is quoted as saying (it’s common sense), but rather how blatantly representatives of his own company have ignored their founder’s advice over the years.
“One of the things I want to do is make a picture that shows the good side of teenagers,” Walt is quoted as saying. “I get so put out with all these pictures about delinquency… Children get bad ideas when they see such things.”
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Of course they do. We become the sum total of what we see and think about all day long. What goes down in the well will come up in the bucket. As my mother liked to quote, “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” It’s wisdom as old as Scripture: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Is it any wonder that violence, vulgarity and crassness are rampant when children are ingesting a diet of the same?
“A child is helpless in choosing what is to be engraved on his mind during the formative years,” Walt Disney is quoted as saying. “The awesome responsibility is assumed, for better or worse, by us adults. Today, we are shapers of the world of tomorrow. That is the plain truth. There is no way we can duck the responsibility; and there is no reason, except sloth and cowardice, why we should.”
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In another passage:
“What is written on that enormity of youthful minds will alter the course of the world.”
He was absolutely right. Walt saw his craft not just as a business but as something of a ministry. Young and impressionable eyes and minds are always watching, and only the reckless don’t care.
When is the last time you heard a Disney executive express this type of sentiment?
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“Deeds, rather than words, express my concept of the part religion should play in everyday life,” we read on page 282. “I have watched constantly that in our movie work the highest moral and spiritual standards are upheld, whether it deals with fable or with stories of living action.”
In other telling passages, Walt Disney is quoted as saying he avoids certain messages, and believes religion helps people “meet the storm and stress of life and keep you attuned to the Divine inspiration.”
In another he stresses the importance of mothers and fathers, noting, “If you can keep the family together – and that’s the backbone of our whole business, catering to families – that’s what we hope to do.”
And Walt was also unapologetically patriotic. He saw no reason to run down his own country. “Actually, if you could see close in my eyes, the American flag is waving in both of them and up my spine is growing the red, white, and blue stripe,” he bragged.
To be sure, Disney’s slide has not been sudden, nor has it been all at once. For years, parents have been faced with the dilemma of how (or if) to navigate the corrupt and collapsed culture of a one-time family-friendly brand. Maybe we can hope Walt’s own words will help bring the company back from its moral brink.
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