On radio this morning, Glenn talked about a story that appeared in The Guardian over the weekend, which dissects Philip Glass’ soon to debut opera, “The Perfect American” (based on the book of the same name). The article, “Philip Glass opera shows Walt Disney’s fantasy in a new light,” explains that the opera will be adapted by the English National Opera and portray a darker side of Walt Disney (or, as the story refers to him, “the cartoon king”).
The book and, in turn, the opera paint Disney as a McCarthyite, misogynist, pedophile, and anti-Semite to name a few. And while it is clear in much of what is written about Disney that he is no saint, the accusations leveled against him in this work are simply unfounded.
Instead of debating the ridiculousness of these claims, Glenn referenced the widely respected Disney biography by Neal Gabler, “Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.” “I've read bad books on Walt Disney and good books on Walt Disney, and the fairest book – and everybody says this, including the family – the fairest book on him is by Neal Gabler,” Glenn said. “And believe me, the family does not look good in the Neal Gabler book. [Disney] doesn't look good.”
Disney is somewhat of an epic figure in today’s culture and, based on his achievements, deservedly so, but he was still a human being. Glenn appreciates Gabler’s biography because it addresses the realities of Disney’s life – the rocky relationship he had with his wife and the alcoholic tendencies that consumed the final days of his life. For someone who has created so much magic, Disney’s life was remarkably tragic. His parents died of asphyxiation in the house he and his brother bought for them, he had an unsteady relationship with his wife and children, and he died before his dreams ever fully materialized.
All of these things are very real and, to some degree, worth noting, but the claims of the “The Perfect American” are purely fiction. “These [claims] are fictional. There's no evidence of this, none whatsoever,” Glenn said. “And the reason why they are doing it is because the guy was conservative. The guy did believe in America. The guy they despise, these leftists go in through Main Street and they despise it. And if you look through anything that they said, The New York Times and everybody else, they tore Disneyland apart.”
Just because Glenn respects the work of Disney and his Imagineers doesn’t mean he supports every decision Disney or his company has made. “I think Disney, the way it is being run right now, is an abomination. I really do,” Glenn said. “So I'm not somebody who is on the Disney bandwagon because I believe in everything they are doing. I think they are selling out their dream in many ways. They've taken everything and just made it into a plush toy and all they are doing is selling you crap. But they still do great stuff.”
It is in recognizing that people, corporations, and businesses are inherently flawed that we must ask ourselves: are we going to stand for the truth, or are we going to let them take down another icon?
“We have nobody left,” Glenn said. “And if they are going to take that guy and destroy him and make him into an ugly American that didn't believe in anything and was a racist, and didn't like women, and didn't like blacks, you got nothing left. You got nothing left.”