Thursday, July 07, 2011

Walt Disney - The Triumph of The American Imagination

What's that? A long awaited entry for SiLK's Book Club? Yes, its that time. It's not that I haven't been reading books for leisure, because that's not the case at all, just haven't been reading a lot of books relevant to the interest of the site. Yes, I do think that Walt Disney's empire is relevant to the art/streetwear scene after their recent collabarations with The Hundreds and Undefeated, among others - and their art store - D Street, at Downtown Disney, features modern art and even various vinyl figures).

What I personally liked about Neal Gabler's meticulously researched biography (over 160 pages in notes and references alone) on Walt Disney is that appeals to all walks of life - obviously the Disney buffs or the people inspired by artists in general, but also the aspiring business men who can see how Walt ran his Company and multiple ventures, and how that changed over time, or the Malcom Gladwell fans out there that want to look at the surrounding factors that led to Disney's success - since this book his a goldmine for general fans of history as well - covering both World Wars, the Great Depression, even the Cold War.

I don't want to go to far in to detail on the book because, let's face it - Disney is a legend (9 out of 10 of you have already thought about your favorite Disney movie or character from reading the title alone), but after the jump, check one of my favorite quotes from the book, documenting Walt's legacy when all was said and done at his time of passing.

"He had changed the world. He had created a new art form and then produced several indisputable classics with in - films that, even when they had not found an audience or been profitable on first release, had, as Walt predicted, become profitable upon reissue. He had provided escape from the Depression, strength during war, and reassurance afterward, and he had shown generations of children how to accept responsibility while at the same time allowing them to vent vicariously their antagonisms toward the adult world they would soon enter. He had refined traditional values and sharpened American myths and archetypes, even if, as his detractors said, he may have also gutted them. And from another vantage point, he had reinforced American iconoclasm, communitarianism, and tolerance and helped mold a countercultural generation. He had advanced color films and then color television. He had remained the amusement park, and in doing so he had altered American consciousness, for better or works, so that his countrymen would prefer wish fulfillment to reality, the faux to the authentic. He had encouraged and polarized conservation, space exploration, atomic energy, urban planning, and a deeper historical awareness. He had built one of the most powerful empires in the entertainment world - one that would, despite his fears, long survive him. And because his films were so popular overseas, he had helped establish American popular culture as the dominant culture in the world. He had founded a school of the arts, and nearly fourty years after his death his name would adorn a concert hall in downtown Los Angeles financed largely with Disney family money. Yet all of these accumulated contributions paled before a larger one: he demonstrated how one could assert one's will on the world at the very time when everything seemed to be growing beyond control and beyond comprehension. In sum, Walt Disney had been not so much a master of fun or irreverence or innocence or even wholesomeness. He had been a master of order." (Neal Galber - page 632)