Friday, June 15, 2012

The Work of the Rat

I came across a special on Walt Disney tonight when I was flipping through channels while dog sitting. It must've been made several years ago as some of the people they interviewed are dead now. At the end, it talked about The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco that Walt's daughter, Diane, created as a lasting tribute to her father. A few years back, Mom and I spent several hours there but unfortunately we were in the parking lot waiting for AAA because the Jeep's battery decided it couldn't go on living. We didn't get to tour the museum because we got there just before it was closing, and the price was too high to justify going in for only a half hour. One of these days I'll make it back there though as I'm very curious to see it.

While we were waiting for AAA, we met a very nice man who ended up driving me to the nearest auto parts store to buy another battery. He gave me his card when it was all fixed... he worked for Disney Studios. I remember his license plate was "WRK4RAT"... work for The Rat. :) I still have that card and think about him every time I think of Disney Studios now. I'm so glad there are still people in this world with a sense of chivalry and old world values, and it completely makes sense that he works for Disney.

Walt Disney really was an amazing man. He accomplished such an unfathomable amount in his lifetime – and so much of his work has touched and changed SO many others' lives in a positive way. How does one get to that level of greatness? 

In the documentary they talked about Mary Poppins and how Walt went in person to England, to the lady that wrote the original story, and charmed her into letting him make the movie. The author sounded like an earlier version of JK Rowling. I've thought many times about how influential that movie was in my thinking in different ways at different ages. When I was little, I saw it more from the two kids' point of view and I remember wishing my babysitters were more like Mary. Ironically, the best babysitter I ever had was, in fact, named Mary and she's the one that taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies. (Hmmm. I really owe her a letter! We still keep in touch!) I remember distinctly that the reason I started keeping my room clean was because of Mary Poppins' view on "a place for everything and everything in its place. Spit spot!" And when I made keeping things tidy more like a game, I never minded cleaning stuff up again. ("In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun... find the fun and snap! the job's a game.") It's probably the reason I've grown into such an organized person. At another level, the mixture of animation and live action was a relatively new concept in those days, and it only fueled my imagination for things that are not commonly seen in our dimension. As an adult, I could see the story that you miss as a kid... how Mary Poppins pulls a family together and teaches them all mindfulness in different ways. And that when the wind changes, you must move on. Every time I watch that movie I get something more from it. That's really the truth for many of the original Disney movies.

Of course they talked about the theme parks as well. Both parks are yet another one of those projects that when you look at them, you wonder how he could possibly accomplish all that in one lifetime. Technically, he didn't because Epcot and Disney World weren't finished until after he was gone, but the ideas were his and were well underway when he bowed out. I wish everyone that walked through the gates of Disneyland or Disney World could be hit with a spell that would give them the ability to perceive the principles behind those parks - all the thinking and planning that went into them, and Walt's intention to build places where families could enjoy life together. I know the media and Hollywood makes the 1950-60s out to be all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns when in truth it wasn't, but it would be so nice if people would go back to being respectful and courteous like what's portrayed, with high ideals and good manners, and goals and dreams. The only man I can think of that would fit a similar bill for Generation X (albeit in a less-gentle way) is Steve Jobs. Generation Y, well... we won't even go there.

When you look at those old films from that era, it seemed like such a lighter time. We haven't even realized how much darkness has crept into our world with money and corporations and lawyers. Talk about a spell from a villain! What's funny is we already know what will break the spell too because Walt told us a thousand times... true love breaks any negative spell. It doesn't have to be romantic love, just true.

I hope we all remember in time, Walt. You surely did your part by leaving us all the reminders you could think of. I wish I could thank you in person.


stephen Hayes said...

I grew up a big fan of Walt Disney, back in the fifties and sixties it was almost un-American not to. But as an adult I sometimes wish he hadn't been so successful at putting his stamp on stories like Snow White and Pinocchio. These lovely stories came from a rich tradition, but now we can only see them through Walt's vision. Still, put me down as a fan.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

You know something, I'm a huge fan of Disney movies but have never seen a picture of the man behind the dynasty until now! That's so strange.

And true love conquering all is the reason why "Cinderella" is my favorite of all the movies - a young & shy girl who wants to take care of everyone gathers her innermost strength & courage then overcomes one of the biggest trials in her life (on her own but with a little help from her friends of course because friendship is key in making dreams come true) in order to have the life she wants with the man she loves. And he doesn't give up on her either, he tracks her down because she touched his heart. It didn't matter who they were or where they came from, only that they were in love. Sigh. I think I'm watching that movie this weekend again. Thanks for this & I hope you get to tour the suudios sometime soon, it sounds really cool!

draagonfly said...

@Stephen: True that most of us remember fairy tales much older than Walt through his eyes, but just as life morphs and changes with time, I suppose so too do the tales. This is why people believe magic is just a myth and "the Gods" were not real (altho they were probably aliens more than Gods)... it's like the game Whisper Down The Lane. It changes a little each time you tell it until the current version no longer resembles the original seed it came from, but the information is all still there if you care to dig around for it. :)

@Jen: NEVER? Like EVER seen a pic? Wow! And the one I posted was a much younger version of him than most people think of. Google is your friend! LOL You know, I've been to Universal Studios but not Disney. What's up with THAT? I've lived here four years! I think I know what I'm doing as soon as I have some extra cash! LOL (Cinderella is also my fav. Why the hell is JM... I mean PC... taking so long to show up?! LOL)