Disney Family Is Mad At Meryl Streep For Pointing Out That Walt Disney Was A Bigot
Queen Forever And High Priestress Of The Universe Meryl Streep has pissed off some people. Some powerful people. You see, Meryl Streep is on Walt Disney family’s bad side about she told the audience at an awards gala that Walt Disney was a “gender bigot” who, at the very least, told a woman animator only men could do the job and also supported an anti-Semitic lobbying group.
Jesus, Meryl. Next you’re going to tell us that Tom Hanks runs a puppy mill in his basement.
Meryl was speaking at the National Board Of Review awards gala in New York where she presenting an award to Emma Thompson for her role in “Saving Mr. Banks.” In it, Emma plays P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, and Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney, who is imploring Travers to turn the books into a movie.
As the Los Angeles Times explains, before presenting Emma her award, Meryl recalled the real Walt Disney, who is not portrayed in the film. She called him a “gender bigot” and said “some of his associates reported that Walt Disney didn’t really like women.” Meryl then quoted from a letter from Walt Disney to a female animator, reading:
Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men.
That letter, which you can read here, goes on to say, “For this reason girls are not considered for the training school.”
Meryl also pointed out that Walt Disney supported an “anti-Semitic industry lobbying group.”
Was Meryl Streep correct? Deep fact-checking by New York magazine’s blog Vulture found it to be so. There are numerous examples cited by Vulture (not mentioned by Meryl) of racist depictions of Black people in Disney’s films, such as the jive-talking black crows in “Dumbo” who said things like “I’d be done see’n about everything when I see an elephant fly.” That’s not to mention his anti-Semitic depiction of the wolf in “The Three Little Pigs,” and his friendliness towards Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl. Long story short: Meryl Streep was not incorrect.
So why then has the Walt Disney Museum — a nonprofit museum founded by Disney’s daughter and grandson — responded this way to Meryl on Twitter:
Sorry, Disney family, but if Meryl Googled it, she would have come across article after article about his anti-Semitism, racism and sexism — including one from a former employee who is Black and began working for Walt Disney back in 1958. That guy is honest about Walt’s history and is otherwise defending him!
Look, I get it. Obviously, no one likes to be reminded of a beloved family member’s racism and bigotry. It feels like a personal attack on his character. That’s because it was a personal attack on his character — as well it should be. This is a man who was responsible for how Jews and Blacks (and women, and cartoon elephants, and everyone else) were depicted in his movies. That’s his responsibility. And sitting at the top of the company, he set standards for whether or not the company hired women. Walt Disney was certainly a man of his time in that regard, at least; it’s a pre-employment discrimination time when job listings in newspapers still read “help wanted: female” and “help wanted: male.” The family is only making it worst by attempting to minimize it or pretend it never existed altogether.
In other words, #TeamMeryl!
[Images via Getty]