Could Walt Disney Survive in this World?

November 23, 2017, 9:10 AM

Hello all,

When this story broke about John Lasseter and how he is stepping down for now, I was a little surprised. I believe he should be held accountable if these accusations are true (they probably are), but it made me wonder if he ever could repair his reputation and esteem in the animation world. Robert's thought provoking piece on the front page made some great points, but I also believe that we need to allow our public figures to also be human. They are going to make mistakes (some of them horrific), but I do not believe they need to go away forwever.

With all of this, it made me think of Walt Disney. Ironically, Walt Disney appears to have been so adverse to sex that he sounds like the direct opposite of Harvey Weinstein.

However, would he be able to survive in this world? He was accused of being racist, anti union, antisemitic, republican (MAGA?), and a bunch of other accusations. Would he need to disappear? How much would we have lost if he were to sell off his share of the company? How much would be have gained without his leadership?

It was something interesting to think about. Many at the top, both politically and culturally, made some actions that are cringeworthy.

Would Walt need to go away?

Replies (11)

November 23, 2017, 9:16 AM

Here is an interesting blurb from the PBS documentary on Walt Disney a few years back:

November 23, 2017, 4:57 PM

I think all of that with regards to disney has been proven time and time again to be smoke without fire.

as for Republican, remember the parties have changed as their membership has changed... and there's also many types of republican - not every republican is a trump republican - I wouldn't read too much into that.

November 24, 2017, 4:54 AM

There is no way to know how Walt would be if he grew up in our generation and manged the company in today's world.

But there's definitely no question to me if he were resurrected and they put him in charge of today's Walt Disney Company he would have a very hard time. The company and the business landscape are totally different today and I honestly think he would have a lot problems trying to manage so many different things going on in so many different industries.

I have read all the biographies and studied Walt enough to feel proficient enough to confidently speak on the topic. Walt had a hard time running the company as he got older and the company kept getting bigger and bigger...honestly I think he hated doing it when the studio got so many employees. He had a big problem with unions and gossip, he even called every studio employee into the auditorium once and told them they were all acting like b*tches and needed to stop complaining lol.

Now if he had a like a John Lassater job or something where he was in charge of the Animators and Imagineers, and he was somehow proficient with today's technology, then he might do really well.

November 24, 2017, 9:10 AM

Yes, I know that it is a little hard to place Walt Disney in today's world as he died 51 years ago, but with the pace of news and social media, I wonder if some of his "secrets" would have been known more widely.

I bring up MAGA because Walt Disney was very pro America and tended to always look at the "Good Old Days". I would figure that he would likely be a liberal California Republican if around today.

I have read quite a bit on Walt Disney as well. There isn't really any solid proof of his antisemitism, but he was incredibly anti union. The PBS documentary did touch that Walt Disney seemed to have ignored most of the civil rights movement. I am still not sure if it was really his job to weigh in on it, but he had a chance to really make the difference and affect social change and he basically whiffed on it!

While I see that there has been many wrongs righted in this century, I feel that we cannot expect our leaders and "heroes" to be perfect. A human has both good and bad things attached to their name. We can still believe in the genius of a Walt Disney, but still reject some of his less savory thoughts and actions. I hope we can do this with Lasseter. What he did was horrible and we should reject it, but we should also feel comfortable to praise his movies and his push to make the Disney Company even better.

Edited: November 24, 2017, 10:51 AM

>>>But there's definitely no question to me if he were resurrected and they put him in charge of today's Walt Disney Company he would have a very hard time. The company and the business landscape are totally different today and I honestly think he would have a lot problems trying to manage so many different things going on in so many different industries.

Although I agree, its for different reasons. Walt was never the business brain.. That was Roy. Walt dreamed, and Roy tried to enable Walt so those dreams could be built (The relationship in "The Founder" between the McDonalds brothers reminds me of this)- EG, Walt wanted EPCOT City, Roy made sure there was a Magic Kingdom to ensure the Florida project would actually bring in guests (and revenue)

For Walt to succeed today, there would have to be a Roy right behind him.

November 29, 2017, 10:12 PM

I'm fascinated that you put republican (lower case r) as an "accusation" similar to being racist and antisemitic.

November 30, 2017, 7:52 AM

Walter Elias Disney - would run for President.... And win.... Just like the current Moron..... "M" in Caps also.....

November 30, 2017, 8:54 AM

We are all children of our environments.

80 years ago it was okay to be a racist. If you double that amount of time to 160 years, it was okay to own slaves.

The world is changing...sometimes for the better...but it is a bad idea to judge societal norms based on current norms. Since people living today would have grown up with the societal pressures of today and would have been like us.

But, I also think that it is an outstanding idea to confront those things that are not acceptable in the current society to show certain people for what they really are.

It was in 1887 that John Dalberg-Acton wrote, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,..."

I would venture that little has changed in the last 150 years in regards to the powerful.

Edited: November 30, 2017, 10:51 AM

The lower case/upper case was accidental.


But seriously, current CEOs need to worry about their own personal politics getting in the way of their brand. Papa John comes to mind. Chick Fil A, ete

Edited: November 30, 2017, 11:24 AM

@Anthony - Yes, CEOs need to be careful so as to not alienate their brands, but owners/majority shareholders can do whatever they want. The politically-charged statements/positions by John Schnatter (Papa John's) and Truit Cathy (Chick-fil-A) may not earn any PC points, but it's their brand/company and they can do with it what they want. If those people own a majority interest in their companies (unlike many CEOs), they have the freedom to express themselves at the risk of the value of their company.

Kudos to Jeff for a cogent synopsis, and I'd tend to agree. Environment has everything to do with a person's belief system and often guides the principles they carry for the rest of their lives. Walt would be a different man today than he was in the 60's, whether growing up in a different time or adapting to the changing environment, and the constant disparaging of historical figures because they conformed to societal norms of their time that may differ from what is acceptable today is the purest example of revisionist history.

November 30, 2017, 2:31 PM

No, I don't think Walt would run for President. IT would get in the way of him actually exploring what he wants to do.

I think he'd happily be a "Secretary without Portfolio" to a Roy Disney Presidency though.

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