Disney In Deutschland

disneydeutschland.jpg

For those of you who were disturbed by our post of Bimbo in Israel, here’s the flip side of the coin.

Currently playing in San Francisco is Disney In Deutschland, a new play by John J. Powers. It purports to recount a meeting between Uncle Walt and Der Fuehrer, face-to-face, with Leni Riefenstahl thrown in for good measure. It even goes so far to suggest Disneyland was Adolf’s idea! Calling Max Bialystock!

Luckily, our brave buddy Harry McCracken went, saw the play and posted his review here. It sounds awful.


  • http://escapistcartoons.blogspot.com/ Behonkiss

    I’ve been willing to believe the possibility of Disney’s anti-Semitism for years (Read the excellent industry history book Serious Business for some alleged recollections of it), but there’s a difference between holding a grudge against a race and wanting them outright slaughtered. Plus, would Disney really collaborate with Hitler when he was focused on being appealing to America?

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Disney liked Mussolini, not Hitler. Il Duce was a big fan of Snow White and Babbitt said that Walt was a fan of Mussolini too. An autographed photo of the dictator hung on his office wall. “He may be a fascist, but at least he makes the trains run on time.” The photo quietly disappeared once war broke out. I believe that Mussolini’s son Vittorio, who wanted to be a film producer, visited to tour Disney’s studio with Leni Riefenstahl in 1938.

    The friendship between Walt and the fascists may have been just business though. Roy Disney met with the Nazis in Berlin around that same time trying to get them to accept Snow White for distribution in Germany. Apparently Hitler arranged for a print to be screened for him privately and publicly stated that it was one of the best films ever made. The propaganda ministry, which had been blocking distribution of American films in Germany, made an exception for Snow White and allowed it to be screened there in early 1939. The lack of European distribution during the war was a huge blow to the studio on later films.

  • David

    I guess Der Fuehrer’s Face, Education For Death , and Victory Thru Air Power were just a cover up for Walt’s pro-Adolph leanings ?

  • precode

    Not necessarily defending the play (I haven’t seen it and likely won’t), but you’d have to be an imbecile to believe it as anything but pure fiction. Last year I saw a very similar play, MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIAS, which depicted Selznick, Fleming and Hecht locked in Selznick’s office for a week while they completely rewrote the script for GONE WITH THE WIND. Nobody for a second believed a word of it, just enjoyed it as a speculative entertainment. I think Harry isn’t giving the San Francisco audience enough credit for understanding that the play is utter fantasy and accepting it as such.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWKVmCX6SKY Hasdrubal

    O.K??? Which one of them dreamed up the giant geodesic testicle at EPCOT????

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • http://www.io.com/~o_m/omworld OM

    …Otay, so does Hitler wind up in the freezing tube instead of Walt at the end of the play, or what? :p

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com disneydave

    What a crock of shit. Wouldn’t waste my time or money…

  • http://www.ronimation.com Ron

    I see your point precode but I think Harry is saying that even if the audience accepts it as pure fiction, the play still makes no real point and takes itself too seriously. A play that succeeds at doing what this Hitler play attempts to do is Steve Martin’s: “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” which shows a mythical meeting between Einstein and Picasso right before each of them became famous. The play never claims to be anything but a “what if” scenario and is overtly self-conscious about it in the classic Steve Martin style. If you’re going to do a play about Hitler and Disney meeting it should at least have a sense of humor and/or a point.

  • http://www.harrymccracken.com Harry McCracken

    Precode–I respect the intelligence of the average San Francisco playgoer quite a bit, and don’t think that they were likely to believe that the play was nothing but fact. But the handouts we got suggested that it’s known that Disney and Hitler met, and drudged up the anti-Semitism charges from the Eliot and Moseley bios. A reasonable person who wasn’t otherwise familiar with Disney’s life might take these statements as being…well, true.

    To put it another way–if I go to a play on Broadway based on real events, I don’t unalloyed facts on stage. But I -do- expect background material in the Playbill to at least be within a country mile of accuracy.

    –Harry

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com disneydave

    Stephen…
    Who said the “He may be a fascist…” quote in your post? Who are you attributing that quote to and what’s your primary source?

  • http://www.animationarchive.org Stephen Worth

    Hi Disneydave,
    Babbitt explained to me that a lot of people back then had that attitude. It isn’t a direct quote.

  • Gerit

    It’s pretty old hat that, viscerally, Walt Disney evokes a hard-right Reaganesque aura. And that’s just not cool! N0, no, no. So there’s always a hack journalist or playwright to cater to those who revel in keeping the worst rumored attributes of the man alive. It’s very hip and cynical to conjure up a meeting between Hitler and Disney, as far as that goes. I understand the political catharsis that this yields for some people. Sure, it could be amusing to put those characters in a room and watch ‘em go -maybe. However, this play looks like it’s being handled pretty irresponsibly, as it passes hateful rumors off as truth. In turn, these errors are regurgitated as boilerplate fact into “progressive” urban culture.

    In other words, it’s a load of bullshit.

  • http://www.nancybeiman.com Nancy Beiman

    Selby Kelly also said something to me once that might explain a lot. When I asked her if Disney (the studio, not the man) was prejudiced against Jews, she said “Oh no, we had a lot of Jewish people on the picket line with us in 1941.�
    I also did not know until his memorial service that Art Babbitt was Jewish. It explained a lot.
    I interviewed Isidore Klein once and asked him whether Disney was Anti-Semitic. “I resent your even ASKING that question! Of course not! Klein said loudly.
    Disney was a man of his time, unconsciously prejudiced because that was in the air of the times; but he did not deliberately set out to insult audiences.
    Jack Hannah told me that his unit re-animated the section of THE THREE LITTLE PIGS that contained the Jewish peddler wolf. This was redone in 1942. Significant year. Most other studios would not have gone to the trouble.
    I’ve never found any of the little Jewish characters in films like THE DELIVERY BOY to be even mildly irritating–they are funny, and one of the films even features good Yiddish titles.
    Disney was a businessman, not a fascist. Lots of people liked Mussolini before the Axis formed. Check out the list sometime.

  • http://www.sadiethepilot.com Kellie

    . . . and he met Eisenstein too, was it in 1930? Despite the opinions shown in “Alice’s Egg Plant”. Publicity was important, and Foreign markets were important.

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com DisneyDave

    Thanks for clarifying that Stephen because the way the quote was used it seemed to me that the implication was Walt Disney had said it.

    Kellie – foreign markets were very important to the Disney Studio. As I write in my book, prior to the war the Studio’s films were distributed to 55 countries. By 1944 just over 80% of the Studio’s box office revenue was being generated by just three countries: USA, Canada and England.

    The remainder of the Studio’s box-office revenue was generated by Mexico and South America 6%; Australasia 6% and all other foreign sources 7%. Commenting on the war years, Roy Disney later said, “It was a bad decade for us; we really got into a tight bind around here.�

    The Company Annual Report for the year ending September 27, 1941 reported:

    “In our annual report to stockholders issued December 1940…we stated ‘the effect of the war in Europe upon the affairs of your company has been serious and the full measure thereof cannot be determined.’ It was evident that the loss of foreign markets necessitated a sharp lowering in production costs in order to assure a profit from the remaining markets…since the date of that report there has been a further deterioration in the foreign markets…”

    There was a rumor circulating at one time that Disney had met Hitler a the Olympic games held in Berlin. There is apparently nothing in Walt’s daytimer/travel record to indicate this. I gather Walt was in Europe at the time, but there is no record of him attending the 1936 Olympics, let alone meeting Hitler.

  • Paul

    “Serious Business” is an excellent industry history book? It’s rife with factual errors, often easily refuted with even minor effort. If Kanfer’s book is the basis for suppositions about how Walt felt about Jews, it’s a very weak basis.

  • JOHN J POWERS

    As the playwright whose play, DISNEY IN DEUTSCHLAND, is creating all this lunatic reaction, let me repeat that the details of the meeting are my ‘fiction’ based on remarks of Disney, Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl at the time, but that Disney and Hitler actually met is documented in the Nazi newspaper, Volkische Beobachter, in 1935, and other Nazi periodicals as well, welcoming Disney to Munich as”the great white hope against the Jews of Hollywood.” When an animator at Disney Studios ‘betrayed’ Walt and went over to Universal, Disney said, “Who cares? Let him go over to that Jew boy!”
    My play is not a revisionist view of Disney: for many, many years Hollywood studios have known about his attitude. Until his death in 1966 no Jews or blacks were allowed to be employed at any Disney facility: that is a matter of record. Suits against the Disney organization regarding discrimination are now legion. If anyone cares to, they can look it up. As for Leni Riefenstahl, only an utter fool would believe SHE was not anti-Jewish. If y’all are going to dismiss any serious research that has been done, as by Leonard Mosley in his scholarly DISNEY’S WORLD, and Neal Gabler in WALT DISNEY: THE TRIUMPH OF THE AMERICAN IMAGINATION, then I assume you subscribe to the dictum, ignorance is bliss.
    JOHN J POWERS

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com disneydave

    Poppycock.

    My understanding is you also relied heavily on Marc Eliot’s Hollywood’s Dark Prince for inspiration…and we all know how factual that book was. Both books you quoted as reference are rife with factual errors.

    Hmmm, let’s see, Art Babbitt, Dave Hand, Kay Kamen, Chester Feitel are just a few Jewish employees that come to mind who worked for Disney. Kamen begain his career in 1932 and was still there when he was killed in a plane crash in 1949. He made Disney millions through merchandise licenses. I’m sure there were dozens more employees of Jewish faith at Disney’s.

    And if Disney was so anti-Jewish, why did he allow one of his artists, Hank Porter, who worked in the Publicity Art Department, to create an illustration used by the Fight For Freedom Committee, in their defense of the heads of the other major studios, who were mainly of Jewish faith, during the Senate sub committee hearings into warmongering charges levelled against those studio heads by isolationist congressmen, in September 1941?

    It is also a matter of public record that Walt Disney refused Reifenstahl’s offer of a private viewing of her film Olympia.

    And if Disney was so anti-Jewish, why did B’nai B’rith bestow him with their Man of the Year Award? Do you really think they would give him that award if he was an anti-Semite?

    And I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything that is published in the Nazi press. (BTW, feel free to email me a copy of that newspaper story, or provide the date or issue number the article was in. I’d like to read it for myself)

    Hitler and Walt Disney getting together for a meeting????? What a silly, absurd idea.

  • wundermild

    Here is an excerpt from the German “Film-Kurier” of 1931 (7/28), citing an article from a regional Nazi party organ, “Die Diktatur”:

    “The Mickey Mouse Scandal!!!

    Blond, free-spirited German youth at the leading string of the merchant Jew. Youth, where is your self-confidence? Mickey Mouse is the grottiest, most miserable idol ever invented. Mickey Mouse is a stultifying cure of the Young-capitalism. Common sense should have told any decent girl and any honest boy, as it goes without saying, that the filthy and smutty varmint, the great transmitter of diseases, cannot be made into an animal idol. Is there nothing better we can do than spangle our clothes with filthy vermins because American merchant Jews want to earn money? Down with stupidification by the Jews! Away with the varmint! Down with Mickey Mouse, erect swastika!”
    (quoted from C. Laqua: Wie Micky unter die Nazis fiel. Rowohlt, Germany, 1992. 1490-ISBN 3 499 19104 0; translation by me)

    Hey, why not making a screenplay from the meeting of Osama Bin Laden, Kim Yong Il, Saddam Hussein and Ajatollah Khomeini, when they decided to destroy the free world?

  • Benjamin DS

    “Until his death in 1966 no Jews or blacks were allowed to be employed at any Disney facility: that is a matter of record.”

    As most readers of this blog know, fellow-reader Floyd Norman is black and worked for Mr. Disney. A matter of record? I’m not even a historian – as some of the previous posters are – and I can refute your claims.

  • Jorge Garrido

    John P Powers, you are an idiot.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Obviously Powers either did no resarch, cursory research, research from suspect and erroneous sources, or research that suited his concept.

    Art Babbitt, Dave Hand, Kay Kamen, Chester Feitel, Joe Grant, The Sherman Brothers, Floyd Norman all give the lie to Powers’ assertion that “Until his death in 1966 no Jews or blacks were allowed to be employed at any Disney facility: that is a matter of record.â€?

    What record is that? Citiation please? Would it not simply be easier to claim the work as a conceptual fiction and thus dissipate the criticism?

    As for Neal Gabler, these are the thoughts he shared with me about the premise of Powers’ work:

    “Artists are certainly entitled to take liberties with lives and they are also entitled to provide something less than hagiography of a subject, as my own biography does, but there is a difference between taking liberties and smearing an individual who cannot fight back.

    “Walt Disney’s cartoons were banned in Nazi Germany, and Mickey Mouse was specifically ridiculed in the German press. There is no evidence that Disney ever visited Adolf Hitler or praised him. When a mutual friend arranged for Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to visit the Disney studio in 1938, by Riefenstahl’s own account Disney kept his distance and later disavowed the meeting. He spent World War II making training films and even anti-Nazi propaganda to aid America’s war effort, often at a loss to his studio.

    “As for charges that Disney was an anti-Semite, charges that I investigated carefully in my book, there is absolutely no basis for saying that Disney personally harbored any anti-Semitic feelings. Herman Kamen, Harry Tytle and Joe Grant, to name but three Jews, were prominent figures in the company, and Disney donated generously to Jewish groups.

    “Disney was tarred by associating himself with the Motion Picture Alliance, an anti-Communist organization that did have alleged anti-Semites among its officers. Anti-Communist Disney was. Anti-Semitic he was not.

    “Walt Disney was not perfect, as my book makes clear. But to accuse him of being a Nazi sympathizer and Jew hater are heinous charges contrary to everything we know about him.”

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Amused by all the furor over Disney and the Fuhrer. Disney did not see Riefenstahl’s OLYMPIA because he knew that his reputation would have been tarnished, not because he didn’t like Riefenstahl’s work. And yes, yes, he did have a party for Leni when she came to Hollywood and knew full well that every other studio boycotted her and her work. I may be wrong regarding blacks being employed at Disney facilities (sorry for any offense) but I KNOW he did not hire Jews. Of course, Uncle Walt was ever the opportunist so he might have made some concessions to artists far better than himself (and MANY animators were). I address in my play the Nazi revulsion toward Mickey Mouse, but quoting a Nazu rag sheet associating the mouse with Jews is just plain silly, One comment about the possibility that the Disney organization suppressed informaiton about his anti-Jewish position seems the only truth I can discern in all these diatribes.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQj8OdE66ck Hasdrubal

    Mr. Powers is the author. We are just the audience. He outranks us.

    I myself, have uncovered irrefutable video evidence that Hitler could dance the pants off of Churchill, because he had a song and a dance in his heart!!!

    Here’s the link for all to see the evidence!!! Copy and paste it to your browser’s address window, or click on the word “Hasdrubal” above.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQj8OdE66ck

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Powers’s responses are as disingenuous as they are uninformed.

    Playing the bemused intellectual superior does not deflect the fact that a large body of very informed people here have caught him in lies, distortions, and his own lack of honest research.

    If he was as amusedly unconcerned with these “diatribes” as he maintains, why does Powers keep posting factually spurious and defensive responses?

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Good last question, Jeff. I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image. Disney and Hitler were both power-hungry monsters. Disney refused to unionize his workers on SNOW WHITE and so they went on strike (look it up, Jeff). He was giving ‘inkers,’ people who had to actually draw or paint on each frame, minimum wage. The strike finally ended but only if Disney would give them more wages. Incidentally, Disney (like Warhol, whom I respect more) refused to allow credits for his animators to be placed onscreen until DUMBO. The revised versions you see on DVD have restored the animators, giving them their dignity Disney had no time for. Also incidentally, a fellow animator named Ubi Iwerks even disputes that Disney invented Mickey; Disney”s only contribution was to provide the falsetto voice, hardly an artistic leap. He was a business man who knew the business, again not unlike Warhol. He knew what would sell, and (AGAIN) he had no time for Jews telling him what to do, especially the Zukors, Louis B. Mayer, Carl Laemmle at Universal, etc. These ‘Jew boys’ as he called them, need to be dealt with. Hitler did him a service.

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com disneydave

    Hey JJ, your repsonses are laughable…and you are horribly misinformed. I’m beginning to think maybe you had a bad experience at Disneyland when you were a kid.

    JJ, please feel free to refute any of the factual statements I made in my earlier post of June 20th. You won’t…because you can’t.

    By the way, if anyone is interested, I’m writing a play about a two bit San Francisco playwright who produces a spurious stageshow based on misinformation and untruths in hopes of making a fast buck.

    I’m calling the play “The Misguided Story of an Idiot Iconoclast Playwright in San Francisco Who Suffers Delusion Thoughts and Writes Silly Theatrical Numbers and Who is an Embarrasment to his Trade.”

    And JJ, I think you’ve had more than your 15 minutes of free publicity. Time’s up.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    “Disney and Hitler were both power-hungry monsters. Disney refused to unionize his workers on SNOW WHITE and so they went on strike (look it up, Jeff).”

    I have devoted most of my life to a serious study of Walt Disney’s life and work. And Powers? He appears to have read a couple of books and bought into apochrypha and misinformed intellectual posturing with no basis in fact.

    “Incidentally, Disney (like Warhol, whom I respect more) refused to allow credits for his animators to be placed onscreen until DUMBO. The revised versions you see on DVD have restored the animators, giving them their dignity Disney had no time for.”

    This statement is simply not true. The Disney features have always credited the Studio staff.

    “Also incidentally, a fellow animator named Ubi Iwerks even disputes that Disney invented Mickey; Disney’’s only contribution was to provide the falsetto voice, hardly an artistic leap.”

    Ub Iwerks (Ubbe Iwwerks) was not just a “fellow animator,” he was a longtime colleague and friend of Walt Disney from his days in Kansas City, an excellent draftsman, a prolific artist, a genius of technical development, and at one time a one-third partner in the Disney Bros. Studio.

    Mickey’s falsetto voice did not appear until “Karnival Kid,” Mickey’s eighth film, first released on May 23, 1929, produced shortly before Iwerks left Disney to form his own studio. Iwerks returned to Disney in 1940 and remained there until his death in 1971.

    The creation of Mickey Mouse was one of the great collaborations in the history of popular culture. Walt Disney and his wife returned on the train from New York (March 13-18, 1928) with a character concept and some design drawings (these are believed to be the drawings in the possession of The Walt Disney Family Foundation), Ub took the ideas and refined them into an “animateable” design.

    “He was a business man who knew the business, again not unlike Warhol. He knew what would sell, and (AGAIN) he had no time for Jews telling him what to do, especially the Zukors, Louis B. Mayer, Carl Laemmle at Universal, etc.”

    Even when Powers is presented with a long list of Jewish employees of Disney, and the assertion of Disney biographer Neal Gabler (whom Powers credits in an earlier post as “serious research”) that, “As for charges that Disney was an anti-Semite, charges that I investigated carefully in my book, there is absolutely no basis for saying that Disney personally harbored any anti-Semitic feelings,” the playwright continues to flail with his “anti-Semitic” rants.

    There is little dialogue that can be had on this subject if Powers refuses to accept the facts.

    Also, one of Walt’s closest friends through all his years in Hollywood was famed producer Samuel Goldwyn (born Schmuel Gelbfisz in Warsaw, Poland). Walt collaborated with Goldwyn on the development of a Hans Christian Andersen biopic in 1938, Walt shot the live-action sequences of “Song of the South” at Goldwyn’s Hollywood studio, and Walt and Lillian Disney frequently socialized with Sam and Frances Goldwyn.

    As for Powers statement that “These ‘Jew boys’ as he called them, need to be dealt with. Hitler did him a service,” well, what a shame that his intellectual posturing gives way to ugly racist smear couched in a tone cerebral superiority.

    Not only does Powers appear to lack any real research evidence of the subject he posits, he manifests a bile and hatred that make his overall motives suspect and his play even less interesting even as an intellectual excercise.

    If a writer or artist has an axe to grind and chooses to do so through the creation of art, so be it. But Powers has revealed that his intent was not to create stimulating dialogue through art, but rather to defame without any real intellectual merit: “I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image.”

    Mr. Powers will no doubt continue his efforts to besmirch Walt Disney–and he will continue to find that for every half-truth, innuendo, rumor, or outright falsehood that he puts forth, there is a body of genuine information based upon research and erudition far beyond his current state of scholarship and skill.

    Walt Disney was a complex, and in some cases impenetrable figure. He was as imperfect as any individual, but the stature of his impact on the culture of the world merits far more serious discourse than an uninformed and biased attack.

    One skill that Powers appear to have learned from the other subject of his play: “The Big Lie.”

    This is a propaganda technique, defined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography “Mein Kampf,” as a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”.

  • http://www.toonsatwar.blogspot.com disneydave

    Ahhhh…at last, Powers reveals his true motivation for writing his “play.” Glad at least that is out in the open, again as misinformed as he is.

    And Jeff…great response!

  • http://www.harrymccracken.com Harry McCracken

    I’m sitting here with my jaw in Tex Avery mode reading all this, and while others who know a lot more about Walt Disney than I do are responding to Mr. Powers beautifully, one note on the notion that Disney denied animators credit until DUMBO:

    “In February 1940, Pinocchio appeared in the local theater…When the picture started, and the credit titles appeared, I saw in the list of animators that my ex-assistant Norman Tate had made the grade after I left. To my consternation, my name was missing. It was almost a physical shock, like getting a karate kick in the crotch.”
    –Shamus Culhane in TALKING ANIMALS AND OTHER PEOPLE

    Um, that would tend to suggest that Walt Disney may have credited animators (if not, alas, Shamus) before DUMBO…

  • Jeff Kurtti

    The opening titles of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (after dozens of individual credits) bears this single card:

    “My sincere appreciation to the members of my staff whose loyalty and
    creative endeavor made possible this production” – (signed) Walt Disney

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Hey, Jeff, that was a spirited if uninformed reply. Glad you don’t refute the fact that the workers at Disney studios did strike because of incredibly low wages vis-a-vis SNOW WHITE. I’m sorry you have dedicated your ‘most of your life’ to Mr. Disney; no wonder you’re so upset when unlikable aspects of his character are revealed. To cite the blatantly racist SONG OF THE SOUTH is mind-boggling. Neal Gabler, in his Disney book, writes ‘Arthur Babbitt is later years claimed to have actually seen Walt Disney and Gunther Lessing at Bund meetings of Nazi sympathizers.’ Gabler then says that this was unlikely but not impossible. Gabler does insist that Disney was a political ‘naif,’ which doesn’t explain our Walt’s welcoming of Riefenstahl in 1938 and subsequent fierce denials that he knew who she was. In fact, ‘denial’ seems a major motivation for many of the comments I keep reading, and I love responding to them. And no, to whomever said it, my fifteen minutes are not up.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I’m delighted that Mr. Powers was able to find two important and critical points to criticize in my posting, while responding to none of my other corrections, clarifications, or opinions. While he claims it as “uniformed,” I’m sure a cursory reading will reveal that it is quite the opposite.

    I am delighted to have devoted my life to something as satisfying, constructive, and interesting as the study of a man and his work. I am saddened that Mr. Powers is not interested in a dialogur rather than diatribe.

    The Disney Studio strike is far more complex than Mr. Powers’s simplistic world view can grasp, and as far as the “racist Song of the South,” I doubt that Mr. Powers has ever seen it, and that he has the analytical ability to see beyond the superficial to place its view of post-bellum blacks in proper context.

    Obviously I was correct in my prediction that Mr. Powers will continue his efforts to besmirch Walt Disney–and he will continue to find that for every half-truth, innuendo, rumor, or outright falsehood that he puts forth, there is a body of genuine information based upon research and erudition far beyond his current state of scholarship and skill.

    The denial in this dialogue that is attributed to this writer all belongs to Mr. Powers. A denial of documented fact, a denial of his own shortcomings in scholarly research, a denial of his own agenda as a smear campaign based solely on his assertion that “I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image.�

    At the heart of it, Mr. Powers can write anything he pleases, and posit any fantasy meetings of any famous people, and for any reason he likes. My only real conflict with the play that Mr. Powers has written is his continued assertion that it is based in fact. It is not, and should not be presented as such.

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Gee, Jeff, thanks for saying I can write “anything I please.” Incidentally, as I have said more than once, my play is a fiction BASED on the fact that Disney and Hitler met. We do not have the minutes of the meeting. As I said before, when I recently attempted to visit the Disney Archives (where I had visited years ago, doing my research, and found the microfilm of Nazi papers welcoming Disney), this time I was told by the Archives Legal Department that they are closed to the public. I asked why and actually was told “too much has come out.” Call the Archives legal department yourself, Jeff, and get your facts straight. To say that SONG OF THE SOUTH was not racist is beyond absurd. Blacks at the time protested the film, as they did GONE WITH THE WIND, which you probably think is wonderfully sympathetic to ‘Negroes.’ Everybody has their agenda, Jeff; own up to yours.

  • JOHN J POWERS

    DaveL B’nai B’rith may well have given Disney an award, everybody makes mistakes. Henry Kissinger was given the Noble Peace Prize a few months after he proposed the massive invation of Cambodia. There are too many other historical mishaps to make your affirmation have any meaning. To say that you’re sure many other Jews worked at Disney Studios means very little; that’s an assertion, not a fact.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I think my agenda is fairly clear as stated, it seems the only person who has trouble owning up to facts is Mr. Powers.

    I have spent hundreds of hours in The Walt Disney Archives, and have little need to research what I have already researched and discovered.

    Mr. Powers seems to have retreated or softened his previous statement, “I may be wrong regarding blacks being employed at Disney facilities (sorry for any offense) but I KNOW he did not hire Jews,” has now become “To say that you’re sure many other Jews worked at Disney Studios means very little; that’s an assertion, not a fact.”

    The employment of Art Babbitt, Dave Hand, Kay Kamen, Chester Feitel, Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Joe Grant, and dozens of other self-identified Jews is a matter of common knowledge among anyone who has attempted even cursory research on the matter, their employment is documented in Company records, and beyond that, I have no idea what will make Mr. Powers move this data from the “assertion” column to the “fact” column.

    Again, Mr. Powers takes little effort to present alternate real facts to those corrections and assertions presented by myself and others, prefering to belittle my career, my citation of a film he finds offensive (and a not very subtle attempt to cast me as racist because of it–laughably ridiculous, as those who know my family can attest), and accuse me of a hidden agenda, when my agenda is rather clear based upon a careful reading and processing of my posts.

    As my good friend, Disney Archives manager Robert Tieman often tells me, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinions still.” Mr. Powers is so convinced that he is right, that he refuses to even consider moderately presented facts, rather, his replies become more personally insulting and less intellectually viable.

    Mr. Powers may insult me and ridicule me to his heart’s content, I am comfortable in my skin and have no problem standing behind my own convictions with factual data, but Mr. Powers will not refute any of the factual statements made in earlier posts, because he quite simply can’t, neither can he admit that his play is a work of fantasy, and while based on an interesting notion, seems to have nothing to accomplish intellectually other than to attempt to tar the reputation of a decidedly great American.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Okay, that’s it. I’m now completely convinced that John J Powers is not a real person, and is in fact the pseudonym of an esteemed animation luminary playing an extended practical joke. Let’s start offering odds: I’m betting 5-1 Michael Barrier, 10-1 John Kricfalusi and 100-1 John Canemaker. Any takers?

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Andrew…well, you’d lose. I is a real person!

  • precode

    But you’re not John Powers, the film critic and columnist, right?

  • Jorge Garrido

    >Andrew…well, you’d lose. I is a real person!

    That was a shockingly racist caricature of black stereotypes, you bigoted filth.

    I is kiddin’.

    Mr. Powers, your knowledge of Walt Disney and animation history in general seems so pedestrian that it’s funny.

    You brought up “Ubì [sic] Iwerks” as if he was some obscure animator the Evil Disney Corporation has disavowed and that none of us had ever heard of.

    Next you’ll say something along the lines of “Did you KNOW there was a cartoon called the Three Little Pigs with a Jew joke that Walt Disney tried to cover up!?!?!”

    Hey, guess what, dumbass, not only do we all know who Ub Iwerks is, at least 50% of the readers of this site know enough about animation history as to be able to list dates, personal correspondences, events, and business deals Walt Disney had with Iwerks, Grim Natwick, Hugh Harman, Rudy Ising, Friz Freleng, Charles Mintz, Winker, Lantz and others from 1929 that refute anything you say regarding the creation of Mickey Mouse! I’m not one of them, but most of the readers here are and could KILL you in an animation history debate. Don’t try it.

    Jerry Freakin’ Beck runs this site and could kick so much animation history knowledge off the top of his head that it’d make your head spin, and he could actually cite more reliable sources than Marc Eliot! It’d be like killing an ant with a sledgehammer. It’d be like a neanderthal watching a Dennis Miller routine.

    I still cannot believe you brought up Iwerks as if we wouldn’t have heard of him before, and as if the only animation history book we’ve ever read was “Illusion of Life.” (Good book, by the way. And don’t tell me I have to explain the reference, smart guy)

  • Christopher Peterson

    Of course, you know, the one of the first things the Disney story should teach us is that you can’t trust the word of a man named Powers.

    Hey, John J! You’re not a descendant of Pat Powers, are you, out to get vengeance after your great-grandpa was cast as the villian in the early Walt Disney / Ubu ‘Roy’ Iwerks saga? That’d be funny…

  • http://classicanimation.blogspot.com Thad Komorowski

    I have to say, John J Powers’ posts are quite amusingly uninformed.

  • Jerome Moore

    Dear Humorless Harbingers of Hubris
    You folks (and a few fanatics: Jorge should lay off the steroids) and Mr. Powers can protest the exact events of history ’till the twelfth of never; it remains that theaters present live performances which are, unless otherwise specifically stated, entertainment. Obviously you all seem to follow a more “Napoleonic” standard regarding art; absolute fact unless otherwise stated. What compels you to mistake an evening out at a play for an academically accredited course? Worse, what compelled you to decide to boot up your soapboxes and execute an attempt at a review of the play in the first place? Why you think that your self-appointed role as “Animation Overlords” automatically entitles you to recognition as a theater critic is beyond this humble reader. Your hamstringing of the artistic energies of the many people and organizations involved in the production in question has hurt living people. No matter what your allegiance to this or that deceased mass icon makes you jump to their grave’s defense, the ill-will you’ve projected alone makes your malformed editorial smack of ego-driven ranting,

    While your shellacking was as mean as it was unwarranted, at least it wasn’t a review that would pass any dramatic criticism course in which you would do well to attend. You never address most of the basics of this play’s performance. Blocking, dialogue and its interpretation, dialectic accuracy, scene/set integration, script structure, audio/video elements and prop utilization are a few that spring to mind. Perhaps that’s where you should be placing some of that research time you presently use to defend your attack on an example of artistic expression of which you seem to have but little comprehension.

    I won’t go on regarding the near-sadistic irresponsibility you’ve demonstrated by going outside the bounds of your purview. Regarding what you declare digital intellectual dominion upon, you fail to recognize the significance of the documented contemporary press upon Disney’s arrival in Germany in ’35, and Walt’s recorded attendance at several National Socialist rallies in the states. The fact that Walt (and his wife?) was (were) flown in a military aircraft on a secured flightplan for a period of 3 days while in Germany in 1935 slipped by you as well. Your snide quip about Buena Vista was another gem. True to their “Show Me” state roots, Walt and Roy saw the need for vertical and horizontal integration right from their studios’ inceptions.

    In closing, I want to thank you for supporting the arts and artists of San Francisco by demonstrating the kind of perceptive open-mindedness that has inspired so many fuehrers, media moguls, and maniacal book-burners throughout history. I suppose you won’t post this because I haven’t cited sources, but the fact that your misguided, megalomaniac spew does naught but harm is irrefutable. Your “victory” in virtual-ville over an actuality; a real artistic creation, which you perceived as unworthy demonstrates a pitiful naivete’ which borders on regressive. Such recklessness reminds me alarmingly of that purple-stained revision of the Battle of the Alamo Disney produced for the big screen way back when…

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    I’m sorry, but the quality of the play doesn’t quite matter here. It’s the intention of the play, which – due to what was seen – was perceived as smearing Walt Disney’s reputation, which was confirmed by Mr. JJ Powers himself. What matters here is not whether the play is fact or fiction, or based in fact or fiction – either can be fine – but how it is presented. Here, it’s based on fiction (even if there are records that might lead you to assume the meeting took place, there are none that are irrefutable), but it’s presented as fact through the surroundings such as the handouts, to slander a public figure.

    Also, I’ve never seen Mr. McCracken claim that he wrote any kind of professional review. When I “review” a play with friends, I’ll say whether I like it or not and why. Mr. McCracken reviewed the play not as a theatre critic, but as an animation historian. So not conforming to the theatre critic’s rules doesn’t make his writings any less valid.

    There’s a reason why “The Birth of a Nation” didn’t appear on the recent AFI Top 100. And it certainly isn’t its qualities as a film.

  • http://n.a. Jerome Moore

    Mr. De Schrijver,
    Accept my apology regarding any slanderous assertions seemingly condoned in my previous posting. My observations pertaining to this site’s enclave of crypt-keepers was, as you’ve adroitly disclaimed, innapropriate in light of the fact that dramatic license as accorded a living author of fiction must be suspended when the reputation of a deceased cultural icon is called into question! Sarcasm aside: standards are standards; why are your colleagues’ “reviews/critiques” not subject to the same requirements of thoroughness to which you hold Mr.Powers’ work? It seems that the libel/slander accusations could be levelled from both sides of this (silly) debate.
    Unlike quite a few of those who’ve written so many of the preceding entries, I have attended “Disney in Deutschland”. The play’s literature nowhere uses any text declaring the mise en scene to be taken from actual events. However, the historically documented activities, quotations, and prophessed political viewpoints of the characters are employed effectively to develop an intense, surprisingly humorous (oh my gosh!), and provocative exchange between them. By the play’s conclusion, the audience is left with the forgone collapse of Hitler’s reich, the accension of Disney to arbitor of post-war Western mass culture, and the undeniable similarities between the “cleansed” Germany of Nazi ideal, and the “spotless” fantasy-land America gobbled up from coast to coast as served by the Disney company up to this day. Perhaps anthropomorphism is a blessed logistical liberty, seeing as that’s ultimately what WWII Germany saw as the unforgivable sin represented within Disney’s products.
    The fundamental questions raised by this play are not rooted in the activity of re-condemning any of the characters presented, nor even their respective works while alive. Rather, as with any work which is heartfelt and thoughtfully well-written, a reflection is mandated of the play-goer to recognize the echoes of the past within the halls of the present. What cost comes with security, the assurance of an un-offending landscape, the simplification and typification inherant in any propaganda/mass media campaign, and the unending mystery life propogates wherein societal madness can influence what will eventually be described as “the happiest place on earth”?
    Again, the play never portrays Mr. Walt Disney as a friend, protoge’, or even associate of Adolph Hitler, and it is through the contrasting behaviors of the two figures that the adroit, affable, and animated (sorry) Walt D. is left in clear dominion of the future. Almost more importantly, the characters of both men are not so much “exposed” as they are believably underpinned through personal revelation of past trauma; so effectively that one gains a great feeling of understanding how ordinary people can through time and place, become villians or visionaries. It is a credit to Mr. Power’s perceptiveness that the basic behavior and speech patterns of Adolph (psychotic megalomaniac) are counterposed to the same character traits as evinced in a gifted, energetic and driven artist whose power of influence would outstrip Hitler’s within fifteen years following the end of WWII. What the play does lack is any of the self-rightious, demeaning judgements so prevalent in the messages written to protest the play.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    No one here ever made a claim to be reviewing the work, every post here took issue with the factual accuracy of the work, which the playwright presents as an historic event rather than speculative theatre.

    The readers and posters here have not claimed to be theatre critics or authorities. The playwright, however, has made claims to authority in areas where he is lacking expertise.

    I believe any of us would be open-minded to an informed speculation about the subject, but when the author admits that his intention is only hatchet job against Walt Disney, it removes his work from the protection of “a real artistic creation, which you perceived as unworthy.”

    The author states that his intent as a playwright is neither art or entertainment, or even information. It is Powers’s assertion that, “I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image” that is the foundation of the disagreement here.

    Art is one thing. Character assassination by any method necessary is quite another.

  • Jorge Garrido

    I’ll say this: I find it funny that Mr. Moore consideres us sadistic and mean for demolishing a fool’s claims that Walt Disney was a NAZI with such tenous evidence. How dare we defend someone’s memory, eh? How MEAN, we really should care more about Mr. Power`s delicater sensibilities and his wonderfully written, paced, and acted work of fiction.

    What is our “purview,” exactly? Who are you to put us into a box?

    In particular, Harry McCracken, Michael Barrier, and Jeff Kurtti dismantled Mr. Power`s assertion that his play was `based on real events.` If Mr. Powers would admit that he didn`t do any real research and admitted upfront that his play was 100% fiction (in the playbill, perhaps, next to the `story by` credit) and that Disney wasn`t a Nazi sympathizer, then I think we could all stop being so MEAN and lay off. And I promise to lay off the steroids, whatever that meant.

    >There’s a reason why “The Birth of a Nation� didn’t appear on the recent AFI Top 100. And it certainly isn’t its qualities as a film.

    Uh…Intolerance did…but you can decide for yourself which is the better film. And I think the thesis of Intolerance will clear up any doubts about Mr. Griffith`s racism. But that`s another argument.

  • Andrew Osmond

    So who thinks that Moore ISN’T a sock-puppet for Powers (or Barrier, or Canemaker, or whoever’s really behind all this amusing tomfoolery)? Bets start at 1000-1…

    In fairness to Moore/Powers, Mr McCracken’s original post might have been better described not as a ‘review’ but rather a ‘comment,’ less on the play’s dramatic content than on the way it was sold – as a piece of well-informed historical speculation rather than e.g. a playful ‘what-if?’ provocation.

    Presumably this (arguable) error of labelling Mr McCracken’s comments as a review has been sufficient to damage the fragile San Francisco artistic community and convict this website of crimes against humanity.

    For all I know, Disney in Deutschland may be a witty, beautifully-staged and acted piece of drama. Unfortunately, I know beyond doubt that its author is a nincompoop and fantasist, as proved by his messages to this site. (Let’s just run through it one more time, Mr Powers: it’s a matter of RECORD that no Jew was employed by Walt in his lifetime? No on second thoughts, don’t answer that; one should never feed the trolls without good cause.)

    As an aside, the recent announcement of a blockbuster ‘Tintin’ animated trilogy led me to muse on the posibilities for a ‘Herge in Deutschland’ play. Perhaps Mr Powers is planning it as a follow-up.

  • Benjamin De Schrijver

    Mr Moore:

    Why do you assume these people are my collegues? I do have a lot of respect for them, but I’m just a 20-year old kid standing on the sidelines, reading this discussion with interest. Re-read my two posts. I haven’t made any comments about my thoughts on the play, and I will not, as I simply haven’t seen it. I haven’t posted any judgements. Heck, I’d probably even be interested in seeing it, depending on the price, if I were living in San Fransisco instead of Belgium.

    Both my posts were based on what I felt were errors of logic in this argument. The first one being refuting Mr Powers claim of something I know is false, the second one being pointing out to you that the quality of the play is not what’s being discussed here.

  • http://n.a. Jerome Moore

    Mr. De Schrijver,
    Indeed, I overstepped…to you an apology for far too much blather so far from the point of this arena’s current bullfight. Yet the start of all of this was the “review” by McCracken …a word which absolutely enjoins the entirety of a production. You write with the clarity and reason of someone I’m sure I’d respect upon meeting. I hope you can respect my rather pathetic attempts to introduce a more considerate perspective; that is, does the play in fact slander W.D.? (the condemnation and incivility so crassly dispensed thusfar has at its root a fundamental misperception by Mr.McCracken re: assertions on a 7″ X 5″ playbill.
    It now appears that many of the above respondants completely accept the retarded agenda of documenting the unverifiable; I regret any frustration my previous submissions have caused you.
    Mr. Garrido,
    My allusion to your use of steroids was in reaction to your consistent aggressive verbage. To ameliorate your indignance at receiving a toned-down rebuttal to the flex-o-centric screed you yourself issue, you may from this point on consider me utterly afraid of you. Purview? Cartoonbrew; films. As those are this site’s specialties, surely you can understand my failure to recognize that you are, in fact, omnipotently positioned to judge anyone by your infallably justified standards. Sure thing.
    Mr. Osmond,
    Wow, what an incredible job of discrediting by association. I confess. I was responsible for set design and modelmaking on the play’s run at Next Stage Theatre. With that brilliant bit of dot connecting you no doubt feel completely justified in dismissing my observations. Now I think I owe more than an apology to Mr. De Schrijver, for without his notation of my repeated ignorance regarding why y’all are hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing (Jorge: chest-pounding, leg-hiking), I’d likely keep trying to introduce a degree of context, or meta-thematic appreciation. This forum’s far too monomaniac to adopt a more realistic perspective, especially in light of the apparent mass hypocrisy your scholars embrace as part of their discipline. Yes, on closer analysis, it’s allowable for H.M.’s “review” of a play which in no way states it is based on an actual occurance (in fact, the work is credited to Mr Powers in its conception as well as direction. Concieved. Do you folks understand what that word means?) to incite the mob’s lynching of Mr. Powers. Facists all stick to a similar m.o. Find a villian. Release the hounds. In this scene, as the dogpile increases its pressure, it is rewarded with the playwrite’s “confession” as to his “intention”. So, via dual-standard dismemberment (the play itself is disalowed, adherance to mutual requirements of representation is suspended, etc,), a response one could expect from an accused (I mean, the creator/author) after so much roughing up comes out. Wow, how deranged of Mr.Powers to respond strongly when he is denied an objective hearing, and the court demands he pay a fine to buy kerosene for the script burning/heretic BBQ. With the mantle of absolute rightiousness once more restored to the naked, discrediting inquisitors, the greater question of the play and its effect on the attendies, or even to poor, defenseless Walt Disney’s legacy is made moot. The Napoleonic system of justice seems all but knee-jerk compared to the complexities of illogic utilized by your court, especially since to a man, you are all in denial regarding the actual “big lie”: American “supremacy” to this day owes its most spectacularly pride-inducing achievments to the efforts of many Nazis whom our country voraciously grabbed out of Germany right before its surrender, expunged any possible crimes against humanity of which said Nazis may have been guilty, and promptly installed at the top of programs and organizations which were deeded to shape the cultural values and priorities of American society. Small wonder our nation worships the elitest brutality demonstrated in a Donald Trump delivered “you’re fired”.
    Fortunately, the people who attended the shows of “Disney in Deutschland” never experienced the invective thrust of Mr Powers’ assesment of Disney’s socio-political legacy because the play they saw wasn’t performed for a kangaroo court who don’t speak English, and use physically intimidative body language and yell over the dialogue so they won’t have to think about whether it contains any bearing on how Walt Disney is portrayed within it or perceived through it.
    Need more evidence of your hypocrisy? So there’s not one now nor has their ever been any connection/interaction between yourself and anyone else who enters their comments down this page? Denial, denial, denial.

  • andrew osmond

    If I can make sense of what Jerome is saying, it seems to be that Powers’ earlier comments were beaten out of him by our unkind words, and should be disregarded by the jury. There seem to be some fragile folk in San Francisco.
    For the record, as an occasional freelance journalist, I’d be ecstatic if real evidence emerged that Disney was a monster – a view that’s been mainstream in much of the British media since the publication of ‘Hollywood’s Dark Prince.’ It’s such a _shame_ that that fine book, along with Mosley’s, was swiftly discredited by pesky nuisance historians who bothered to check the sources. There’d be so much juicy stuff to write about if they hadn’t…
    The implication of Jerome’s post seems to be that Mr Powers is now mentally and emotionally incapable of speaking for himself. If so, I hope that Jerome can restrain Mr Powers from contacting Cartoon Brew again to commit more pitiable self-abuse through involuntary and injurious confessions; confessions such as ‘I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves… I wrote this play to seriously (sic) put a stop to this image.’ For heaven’s sake, Mr Powers, this is ART, not history!
    (Hint to Jerome: a straitjacket for Mr Powers may be the best solution.)
    On a less jesting note, in his comic-strip From Hell, Alan Moore fingered the late Queen Victoria as the force behind the 19th-century Jack the Ripper murders. (For those who haven’t read the strip, it’s not really a spoiler, just a plot detail.) No-one could accuse Moore of slander because he made clear his work was essentially fiction, albeit one that explored serious moral and social themes.
    If we discount Powers’ posts to this thread, everything seems to hinge on these famous hand-outs at the performance of Disney in Deutschland. McCracken claims that they present Disney’s anti-semitism as incontrovertible fact, and Disney’s meeting with Hitler as highly plausible. Jerome seems to imply this is a gross misrepresentation of what the hand-outs do say. If this argument goes on much longer, perhaps a kind soul could scan these hand-outs (or some relevant portions) somewhere so we could judge for ourselves?

  • http://n.a. Jerome Moore

    Mr.Osmond,
    Your last submission validates my assertions of increasing social cannibalism. “Did you honestly mean “for the record” when you said you’d be ecstatic to be able to confirm that Walt Disney was a monster? I fail to see the spiritual “warm fuzzy” in such a realization, regardless of the person so judged. You can’t be serious. If you are, seek help.
    Mr.Powers’ words are his own, and he doesn’t need me defending him. Yet the play itself warrants all due representation. At least I thought that was the subject of all this ridiculously assumptive “judgement” you enjoy serving out. My desciption of the manner used to negate the dramatic work of JJP was intended to illustrate that a person’s invective expressions are inevitable when they are shown no reciprocity regarding the standards used in their prosecution.
    Right, so I’m a wimpy soul for attempting to dismantle the unsound gallows your ilk have cobbled together upon which to hang a playwrite, and you are a fit authority for adjudicating what constitutes a fair lynching.
    Once again, credit on the flyer for “Disney in Deutschland” states that John Powers “conceived and directed” the play. As a self-described journalist, don’t you understand the meaning of “conceived”? Just how many times do I have to relate the depiction of W.Disney in this play? For your much needed information, there are two instances on stage where Disney directly rebuffs Hitler’s genocidal proscriptives regarding Jewish citizenry. Suddenly I find myself quite able to relate to Walt’s predicament.
    As I wait for more semi-sadistic smear to excrede from your folk’s tower of sanctimonious isolation, I remain grateful for the encouraging words regarding my pitiful lack of fortitude. Just the sort of motivation that helps this inveterate procrastinator prepare for “Disney in Deutschland”‘s next run, which is booked for 2 months from now. Maybe one of you oh so strong souls (or at least one of your illustrated friends) will show the grapes to attend.

  • Andrew Osmond

    I thought about writing a courteous, considered reply to Mr Moore, discussing the implications of the phrase ‘conceived by’ and stressing that I’d very much like to see the play, and will certainly go if it ever plays in London.
    I would also have expressed puzzlement at Moore’s insistence that Powers’ version of Disey is sympathetic, and that one of the key points of the play is that it contrasts and counterpoints Hitler and Disney. This seems to sit oddly with Powers’ own statement that ‘Disney and Hitler were both power-hungry monsters.’
    Then I looked back over the thread, comparing the tone and tenor of the comments posted by this web-site regulars with those posted by Mr Powers and Mr Moore, a charming, amiable duo who (unlike any of the Cartoon Brew people) can scarcely draw breath without accusing their critics of being bigots, lunatics, murderers and Nazis. And I decided that life’s too short to go on with this silly thread, arguing against two VERY silly people.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I’d be very interested in attending, and would appreciate an update on the upcoming performances.

    The three things I would find enlightening from Mr. Powers’s perspective are:

    1) On a philosophical level and from an artist’s perspective, why does he perceive Walt Disney as a monster on the scale of Hitler?

    2) Why is he “so tired of the Disney image everybody loves,” and what harm or damage does he feel this has created that it has become the core motive of his creative work?

    3) Why does he insist on portraying his play as fact-based, when all evidence points to the contrary?

    I look forward to finally seeing the work at the center of all this tumult. Please be sure and post the new performance schedule.

    (P.S. to Mr. Moore, your tone of accusation and hostility isn’t really conducive to an objective dialogue on this subject. I don’t think anyone here sees themselves in an ivory tower, or intends to present anything other than factual responses to Mr. Powers’s own statements. If the author makes declarations, he simply needs to be able to defend them, or absorb the correction or criticism. Thanks.)

  • Jeff Kurtti

    P.S. to Andrew Osmond–THE Andrew Osmond? Twitcher, Big Fish, High, Young British Slacker?

  • Andrew Osmond

    No, just Andrew Osmond the lowly hack!

  • http://n.a. Jerome Moore

    Mr.Kurtti,
    Oh, I’m the one making it difficult to admit reason into this thread? Something about blitzkreig journalism, and summary diversionary convictions irk me. The double standard of yours saying you just want an objective dialogue is laughable. Face it, in order to answer McCracken’s original call to arms over how people’s attitude toward Disney would be influenced by their attending “Disney in Deutschland, isn’t it the play which must be understood? Instead, all of you attack the playwrite over historical accuracy, even though none of you had any proof that Mr. Powers was in fact responsible for declaring his work factual in content. But you guys, through biased agenda, just kept slashing at issues closer to your own passions, i.e. Disney’s image and historical fact. Since you were set up by the authoritative review of McCracken to go for the kill and discredit the source of the threat to humanity’s love of Walt, you never bothered to adopt any real objectivity, such as you now sanctimoniously preach to me. When I stepped in to shine a light on the disfunctional mechanizations employed within the increasingly heated exchanges by all parties, I received responses which denied specifically that which had been the thrust of their entries. Or better yet, prose expressing precisely the illogic, non sequitor, or ad hominem problems I had at first observed, and now had vomited back at me in order to prove that I didn’ know what I was talking about. If you guys want to run JJP down, well, that’s what some people like to spend their time doing. Yet now, here at the fin de secle, you come on all “we just want to understand”… Man, take a serious look at the way you folks operate. You bait and switch; your definition of objectivity has a variable depth of principle which makes it all too easy to repeatedly refer to me as fragile or weak, then, affecting a composure certainly absent during your name calling phase, politely paint me as the hostile one. Slick. “If an author makes declarations, he simply needs to be able to defend them, or absorb the correction or criticism.” Not once did your side adopt that policy with regard to my repeated notations of hypocritical or unfair tactics and spurious subect fixation. You’re writing that quote to me now stands as all the proof you need of the disrespectful, superiorly ignorant position you and yours have displayed all along. Objective dialogues are hard to come by when you don’t practice what you preach. Maybe characters who are drawn, or are already dead, are less able to call you on your bipolar , immature, self-alienated social “skills”. At least you have denial to keep you in the right. The traits I have once more described as your stock in trade bespeak the blithely selective memories which come from living in ivory towers.
    From Tower Osmond early on :”Would it not simply be easier to claim the work as a conceptual fiction and thus dissipate the criticism?” When I repeatedly stated the credit for John Powers in the play’s bill as “conceived and directed by”, the guy seems to totally dismiss any significance. I have consistently attempted to communicate fairly simple principles of logical critical debate. I have repeatedly attempted to raise the level of inquiry to one that would address your seeming initial concern (has Walt been smeared?). At every turn, when I’d tender factual content of the play’s perfomance or attendant material content, none of you listened, even when my submission was in direct response to one of your group’s desired conditions. I tried conducive, and had it spindled, ignored, or recycled into abusive. You don’t fool me one bit, even if you’ve completely hoodwinked yourself.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Mr. Moore,

    Oddly, you have taken this forum and made it about you. It is not. (Although I like to hum the “Superman” theme when I read your statement,”When I stepped in to shine a light on the disfunctional mechanizations employed within the increasingly heated exchanges by all parties…” Yes, a world in need seeks the shining light of Mr. Moore, hero of psuedo-intellectual prattle!)

    Your writing is shrill and defensive, your arguments are facile efforts to divert the dissertation, your structure is byzantine, you are verbose beyond belief, it sounds like you swallowed a thesaurus, and your spelling is just awful.

    You probably should quit now and let the author speak for himself, since the tone and content of your posts are really doing no good for him, and you sound increasingly like the kind of frothing zealot you suspect (and accuse) us all of being.

    You see, your premise is flawed, and therefore inarguable: “…all of you attack the playwrite [sic] over historical accuracy, even though none of you had any proof that Mr. Powers was in fact responsible for declaring his work factual in content.” Actually, the playwright himself did so, over and over, in this forum.

    I again invite the AUTHOR to participate in an intellectual coversation. My three specific areas of curiosity about his work are delineated above.

  • Andrew Omsond

    And in the meantime, here’s another, rather amusing, alternate history of Disney:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHa_SQB8NB0&mode=related&search=
    (There was a longer sketch within the programme, with appearances by Dick van Dyke and a frozen Disney, but I can’t find it online.)

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Can we all quiet down now? My play’s run is over for the moment (a revised version is coming!). For his admirers, Disney is sitting on a throne in his animated heaven, his characters hopping happily about him, while Hitler stews and whines among his other uniformed loons in some sort of Nazi hell. For Disney’s detractors, the old man and Hitler are having a field day laughing at the absurdity of all of this.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Mr Powers, the irony is that several early posters to this thread were sympathetic to the premise of your play. Your own ‘lunatic reaction’ (to borrow your phrase) put a stop to that, especially your continued insistence that Walt Disney never employed Jews. Either you’re supremely bigoted (in the proper sense of the word) or you’re a common-or-garden troll. Either way, you’re wasting our time.

    “Some of the most influential people at the studio were Jewish”: quote from Disney artist and storyman Joe Grant – himself a Jew – in Gabler p455, bottom of the page, if you’re REALLY unaware that you’re talking nonsense on this subject.

    Mr Kurtti, unlike myself, thinks you’re still worth taking seriously, despite the outrageous insults that you’ve hurled in his direction on this thread. He’s taken the time to ask you some civil questions; perhaps you might give him some civil answers. I’ve copied his questions below.

    (from Mr Kurtii)
    1) On a philosophical level and from an artist’s perspective, why does he perceive Walt Disney as a monster on the scale of Hitler?

    2) Why is he “so tired of the Disney image everybody loves,� and what harm or damage does he feel this has created that it has become the core motive of his creative work?

    3) Why does he insist on portraying his play as fact-based, when all evidence points to the contrary?

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Mr. Powers:

    I’d be very interested in attending any stagings of the revised version of your work, and would appreciate an update on the upcoming performances.

    I also invite your reply to any or all of my questions.

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Just a note to Mr. Osmond referring to Mr Kurti”s questions. Mr Disney was a ‘monster’ in the way Henry Ford was, the latter happily distributing a virulently anti-Jewish tract in his factories entitled The Internatinal Jew. As far as I know, Disney did not kill millions of people, but I would not supply my absolute proof of this from evidence such as is presented by Osmond and company. As for why I am ‘tired of the Disney image,’ I tire of any inflated image of a simple man used to sell product. For the last time, I state that my play was a fact-based fiction, much like the new film about Queen Elizabeth, THE QUEEN, or any of hundreds of works written over the centuries which were fact based. Another example, perhaps more cogent, was Shakespeare’s RICHARD III. No serious historian would argue that Shakespeare based HIS monster on the real monarch, but the play has engrossed generation after generation. Should Mr Shakespeare be vilified? I do, I think, rest my case.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    My first question wasn’t about a relationship of ethics or philosophy between Henry Ford and Walt Disney. Disney was not, as has been discussed, a virulent Jew-hater and distributor of anti-Semitic tracts, as Ford was. (The Dearborn Independent was a weekly newspaper owned by Ford from 1919 to 1927. The paper reached a circulation of 900,000 by 1925, largely due to promotion by Ford Dealers due to a quota system. Lawsuits regarding the anti-Semitic material caused Ford to fold the paper, the last issue being published in December 1927.

    Anti-Jewish articles published by The Dearborn Independent were also released in the early 1920s as a set of four bound volumes, cumulatively titled “The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem.” Vincent Curcio writes of these publications “they were widely distributed and had great influence, particularly in Nazi Germany, where no less a personage than Adolf Hitler read and admired them. Hitler, fascinated with automobiles, hung Ford’s picture on the wall; Ford is the only American mentioned in Hitler’s book. Steven Watts writes that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany,” and modeling the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the model T. (Source: Wikipedia)

    Mr. Powers’s reply still does not address why he feels Walt Disney was a monster on the scale of Hitler.

    Mr. Powers’s reply to my second query indicates that he may have misunderstood my question. I’m not terribly curious why he is tired of the Disney image, I’m an admirer of Walt Disney and I’M tired of the superficial Disney image, especially the constant oversimplification of his identity and personal philosophy–often by employees of the company that bears his name.

    Rather, I wonder what harm or damage he feels either Walt Disney himself, or this “Disney Image,” largely created by others, has caused that has made it the core motive of his creative work, and (relative to my first question), whether he truly feels that such harm makes Disney a Hitler-scale monster.

    Mr. Powers now claims his play as a fact-based fiction, which is a good step, although many of the elements that the playwright cites as fact in the previous thread of posts (Walt Disney was a virulent anti-Semite, Disney did not hire blacks or Jews during Walt’s lifetime, Leonard Mosley and Marc Eliot are scholarly sources, Disney refused to allow credits for his animators to be placed onscreen until “Dumbo,â€? the Walt Disney Archives has microfilm) may call that label into question, since so much falsehood is proclaimed as truth.

    Again, I’d be very interested in attending any stagings of the revised version of Mr. Powers’s work, and would appreciate any updates on the upcoming performances.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Mr Powers, your play might be a Shakespearean masterpiece; it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a self-confessed propagandist attacking historical truth. Shakespeare had to write plays to satisfy Henry VII’s granddaughter, who could have had him beheaded in a trice. What’s your excuse?

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Your knowledge of Shakespeare and Elizabeth I is far too literal and unimaginative. Shakespeare had concerns involving the Tudors, and other historical realities, but also what someone like KING LEAR represented, beyond historical fact.

  • Andrew Osmond

    As bizarre posts go, that’s up there with your classic, ‘I KNOW that Disney did not hire Jews.’ How we got from Richard III (whom you originally brought up) to King Lear is beyond me. Richard III is a historical figure, who fought Elizabeth’s grandfather and whose reputation was smeared for generations after. Lear is a myth on a par with King Arthur, so talking about what he represented ‘beyond historical fact’ is bizarre.
    If your play was simply fiction and presented as such, no-one would have any problems with it. For all I care, you could write a farce called ‘Barnyard Frolics,’ about how Disney enjoyed unnatural relations with mice and ducks. This thread was sparked by pseudo-historical claims in the ‘Disney in Deutschland’ programme, and fed by your statements that you want to tell the world that Disney, the real Disney, was a power-hungry monster comparable to Hitler. That’s bull, as I can say even if I never see your play, which I suspect I’d enjoy enormously.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Is Mr. Powers saying that Hitler or Disney are mythic figures beyond historical fact, like Lear? Is he saying that his work is not a representation of an historical figure such as Richard III, but rather a myth such as Lear? I find all this confusing at best, and evasive at least.

    Either the work is a fiction/myth as Mr. Powers’s detractors have been trying to have the playwright admit, or it is an historically accurate representation of the key figures, in both characteristic and event, as the programme notes and the postings of Mr. Powers assert.

    As far as this thread goes, I have a friend who says, “It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. You won’t succeeed, and it annoys the pig.”

    I am looking forward to attending one or more of the upcoming performances, however–perhaps I can ask the playwright in person!

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Good Lord. I am sorry I brought up LEAR, but despite Osmond’s assertions even he was based on an actual king.

    “Shakespeare’s play is based on various accounts of the semi-legendary Leir, a King of the Britons, whose tale was first written down by the twelfth century historian Geoffrey of Monmouth.”
    (Wikipedia)

  • Jeff Kurtti

    “‘Historia regum Britanniae’ PURPORTS to be a Latin translation of a ‘very old book’ recounting the story of the rise and fall of the Britons. In composing his LEGENDARY history, Geoffrey utilized material from British LEGEND and FOLKLORE. He also borrowed from earlier Latin accounts of the Britons but treated all his sources with GREAT IMAGINITIVE FREEDOM. The Historia begins with the story of Brutus, grandson of Aeneas and founder of Britain; there follow accounts of many MYTHICAL monarchs (including King Lear). The climax of the work is Geoffrey’s INVENTION of a glorious reign of King Arthur and his description of Arthur’s tremendous victories over the invading Saxons and the hostile Roman Empire.”

    (Wikipedia, emphasis added.) Would Mr. Powers use any of the emphasized words to describe his work?

  • Jeff Kurtti

    BTW, scholars universally consider Geoffrey a “pseudo-historian” or author (as his work deals with fiction based on unsubstantaited historical legend) rather that a chronicler or true historian.

    Sounds like a title Mr. Powers might wear, and with pride.

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Seems like anyone Jeff Kurti and Andrew Osmond does not agree with or admire must be fraudulent. Scholars do not “universally consider” anything without in-depth analysis which none of those criticizing my play has offered. Besides, only one ‘source,’ the glorified McCracken, actually saw the play. 71 comments thus far? This is getting to be fun.

  • Andrew Osmond

    It’s splendid fun. So far you’ve shown yourself to be a loud-mouthed ignoramus about both animation history and Shakespeare’s literary sources. Is there no start to your talents?

  • Jeff Kurtti

    “Scholars do not ‘universally consider’ anything without in-depth analysis which none of those criticizing my play has offered.” I was speaking about Geoffrey of Monmouth, not Mr. Powers’s play. I’m afraid you’d be hard-pressed to find a scholar who would back up ol’ Geoffrey as an “ace reporter” rather than a fantasist, I’ll stand by the term “universally.”

    The in-depth analysis that has been offered here, by some fair scholars on the subjects, is about not Mr. Powers’s work itself, but about its characterization as a factual or factually-based work.

    I don’t believe I ever termed Mr. Powers or his work as fraudulent. Misrepresented, certainly, and even misguided, but it is Mr. Powers himself who continues to drag the discourse off track. Again I invite the playwright back on the subject.

    1) On a philosophical level and from an artist’s perspective, why does he perceive Walt Disney as a monster on the scale of Hitler?

    2) Why is he “so tired of the Disney image everybody loves,� and what harm or damage does he feel this has created that it has become the core motive of his creative work?

    3) Why does he insist on portraying his play as fact-based, when all evidence points to the contrary?

    As I said before, most likely “It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. You won’t succeeed, and it annoys the pig,â€? but the playwright seems so passionate and so convinced that he is “in the right,” I’d really like to hear some constructive dialogue.

    Again, I’m really looking forward to the upcoming stagings of the work. Will they again be in San Francisco? Please let me know so I can attend.

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Some of your commentators, especially those who did not see the original production, will be delighted to know that DISNEY IN DEUTSCHLAND (retitled DISNEY UND DEUTSCHLAND) has been re-written and is to re-appear at the Garage Theatre, 975 Howard Street, San Francisco for an entire month in February, 2008. Josef Goebbels is a new lead character! Mr Kurtti especially should be pleased, it seems.

  • http://marvanhogan.com Marvan Hogan

    Disney did more to mobilize opinion against the Axis than almost anyone else in Hollywood. His studios were totally dedicated to low or no-profit pro-US vs. Axis propaganda films while other studios were still churning out profitable claptrap.

    http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/001096.html

    http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/post/marvanhogan/vpost?id=2253035&trail=15#1

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I’ll be delighted to attend a performance!

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Where on earth did Marvan Hogan get his info? Disney not interested in profits! That’s the funniest comment I’ve heard so far. Apparently people like Hogan will be Disney disciples until death.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Hogan never said Disney wasn’t interested in profits. You know, for a campaigning playwright, you should learn to read sometime.

  • A Student

    Hello,
    It’s very interesting reading all these comments – I admit I don’t know much one way or the other about Disney’s dearest-held beliefs. However, I find it strange that so many people should be so concerned about whether or not a man who’s been dead for some 40 years was anti-Semitic or not. Many, many people had similar prejudices before, during, and after WWII, and obviously in hindsight now we can see that they were wrong. But they were products of their time, as are we all. We can wish they were more independent, enlightened thinkers, but the truth is many otherwise admirable people were racists or in some way bigoted (consider the framers of the Declaration of Independence, who owned slaves as well as excluded non-land-owning white men and all women from the rights they correctly believed were innate) because of the time, place, and accepted writings or propaganda of their upbringing. It is easy to damn them now, with progressive ideas and laws seeming natural to our psyches, but it was not always easy at that time to change your mind. Some people (like Senator Robert Byrd) are smart enough to renounce those views when they become unpopular, but the argument over whether or not Disney was anti-Semitic seems pointless to me in the face of the happiness his works and legacy have brought generations of people. Perhaps it does not seem pointless to you, but whatever his feelings or hiring policy for his company, they no longer exist and can no longer hurt anyone. Wouldn’t it be a more valuable use of time to focus on unfair laws and practices that are in effect now?
    Thank you for letting me state my opinion.

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    To ‘A Student’: your comments are compelling but not conclusive. Yes, anti-Semitism was commonplace in the 1930s in Western culture, but what does that mean? In Europe it has been commonplace for hundreds of years. Disney’s attitude had a subtle effect on the cartoons he produced, which you seem to believe are so comforting and benign. Racist elements appear in everything from THE THREE LITTLE PIGS (with its big-nosed wolf not unlike Nazi caricatures of Jews, its distribution protested by the American Jewish Congress), to FANTASIA, PINOCCHIO, SONG OF THE SOUTH, and SNOW WHITE. Anti-Islamic attitudes are prevalent today in America, so I suppose you would advocate a complacency towards that too since it is widespread. Learning from history is vital. Disney was not a naive producer of loveable cartoons. He was a businessman who knew how to exploit prevalent prejudices. According to your logic of protesting only things going on in 2007, we may as well forget the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Vietnam, and eventually forget atrocities of today. Such complacency is dangerous and the theme of my play is to suggest a relationship between fantasy and fascism. That theme survives today in many countries. You can’t just close the book on history as if it is not alive today.

  • Andrew Osmond

    And now a professional propagandist (*) preaches the importance of learning history, while also insisting that Disney never employed Jews, King Lear is a historical figure, etc. Mr Powers, why don’t you read page 455 of Gabler’s Disney book – a book you yourself call a ‘scholarly work’ – as I suggested some months ago? It won’t bite you, and you might learn something yourself.
    (*) ‘I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously [sic] put a stop to this image.’ John J Powers, June 21st.

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Mr Osmond: for your benefit, I just read p 455 of Gabler’s book. He is as unclear about Disney’s prejudices as many other writers.
    True, a certain Jew who worked for him insisted Disney wasn’t an anti-Semite, but why would he say that if it were not an issue?

  • Andrew Osmond

    Compare and contrast:

    “Joe Grant, who had been an artist, the head of the model department and the storyman responsible for Dumbo together with Dick Huemer, declared emphatically that Walt was not an anti-semite. ‘Some of the most influential people at the studio were Jewish,’ Grant recalled, thinking no doubt of himself, production manager Harry Tytle, and Kay Kamen, who once quipped that Disney’s New York office had more Jews than the book of Leviticus.”
    Gabler, p455

    ‘Until his (Walt Disney’s) death in 1966 no Jews or blacks were allowed to be employed at any Disney facility: that is a matter of record.’
    John J Powers, laying down his credentials as a serious historian in his first post to this thread, 20 June.

    Mr Powers, will you now admit your comment was a slanderous crock of shit? (Oh, and I love the way you write off a Disney artist of Grant’s stature as ‘a certain Jew.’)

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Mr. Osmond, you are a stitch! You just can’t help poking at Mr. Powers…

    At the risk of repetition, these are Neal Gabler’s thoughts about the premise of Mr. Powers’ work, shared early last summer, WAY back in the thread:

    “Artists are certainly entitled to take liberties with lives and they are also entitled to provide something less than hagiography of a subject, as my own biography does, but there is a difference between taking liberties and smearing an individual who cannot fight back.

    “Walt Disney’s cartoons were banned in Nazi Germany, and Mickey Mouse was specifically ridiculed in the German press. There is no evidence that Disney ever visited Adolf Hitler or praised him. When a mutual friend arranged for Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to visit the Disney studio in 1938, by Riefenstahl’s own account Disney kept his distance and later disavowed the meeting. He spent World War II making training films and even anti-Nazi propaganda to aid America’s war effort, often at a loss to his studio.

    “As for charges that Disney was an anti-Semite, charges that I investigated carefully in my book, there is absolutely no basis for saying that Disney personally harbored any anti-Semitic feelings. Herman Kamen, Harry Tytle and Joe Grant, to name but three Jews, were prominent figures in the company, and Disney donated generously to Jewish groups.

    “Disney was tarred by associating himself with the Motion Picture Alliance, an anti-Communist organization that did have alleged anti-Semites among its officers. Anti-Communist Disney was. Anti-Semitic he was not.

    “Walt Disney was not perfect, as my book makes clear. But to accuse him of being a Nazi sympathizer and Jew hater are heinous charges contrary to everything we know about him.�

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Mr Kurtti: Neal Gabler and Mr Osmond, and even you, are entitled to your viewpoints and opinions, but even Gabler admits he is not sure about certain things, and his assertion that Leni Riefenstahl did not meet Disney in 1938 has been refuted by every other biographer of any worth, and by Mis Riefenstahl herself!

  • Andrew Osmond

    And still Mr Powers’ buffoonery knows no end. (He really is one of the most priceless characters I’ve ever encountered online; Cartoon Brew should employ him as a mascot if his playwright career falthers.) Having preached about ‘serious research’ and ‘learning from history,’ his response when confronted with an actual history book is… er… to say it’s all ‘viewpoints and opinions’ and therfore no more valid than his Flat Earther assertions that Joe Grant, Harry Tytle, Art Babbitt, Dave Hand, Kay Kamen, Chester Feitel, Floyd Norman and all of Disney’s other Jewish employees are fictional creations of the pro-Walt cabal.

    On top of that, he STILL can’t read. In his book, Gabler does NOT deny that Disney met Riefestahl and indeed refers directly to Riefenstahl’s memoirs – p449 of Gabler’s book, with a footnote on p704. When Gabler says Disney ‘kept his distance,’ he’s referring to the point that Disney stopped short of screening her film Olympia, a claim Gabler takes from Riefenstahl’s own account!

    Which may be a cue for another round of Powers’ ‘Wah! But Walt meeting Riefenstahl PROVES he was a Nazi!’ routine. In which case, I can do no better than quote the blog of Michael Barrier, author of The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney.

    ‘Leni Riefenstahl did visit the Disney studio, I gather, but so did Sergei Eisenstein, and no one has ever suggested that Walt was a Communist. He was a curious guy, and he talked to a lot of interesting people whose opinions he didn’t share, from Charlie Chaplin to Benito Mussolini. Riefenstahl was an exceptional filmmaker (Olympiad, The Triumph of the Will), and I’m not surprised that Walt, an exceptional filmmaker himself, would have received her (if not “wined and dined” her) despite her Nazi taint. ‘
    http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Home%20Page/WhatsNewArchivesJune07.htm

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    This will be my last comment for a while since I now am in production mode for the new D in D. To quote Gabler himself, regarding Riefensahl’s visit to Hollywood: “…DISNEY KEPT HIS DISTANCE AND LATER DISAVOWED THE MEETING.” Why keep his distance and later pretend they never met? To suggest, as Barrier nd Osmond do, that Riefenstahl was like any other curiousity-seeker from Eisenstein to Chaplin (the latter having no interest in the animator, and directly assaulting Hitler with THE GREAT DICTATOR in 1940), is beyond the ridiculous. Riefenstahl was a long-term supporter and her Nazi affiliation hardly just a ‘taint.’ If she was just another of a line of Disney admirers (disciples?) Barrier and company imagine, why all the fuss? Disney knew that showing OLYMPIAD, as Riefenstahl had hoped, would reveal his own true allegiances. The War Department FORCED the Disney organization into an anti-fascist posture. I’ve researched all of these things as much as any of these commentators who affect an expertise in such knowledge. Come see DISNEY when it returns, or let it go.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    “I’ve researched all of these things as much as any of these commentators who affect an expertise in such knowledge.”

    It takes enormous self-control to leave a set-up like that alone…

  • Andrew Osmond

    Best of luck with the play, Mr Powers. Come back soon, we’re missing you already…

  • http://www.edmccray.com Ed McCray

    I’ve got to say that I’ve seen some funny comments on Walt over the years and have been part of many heated debates on if he were racist or not but Mr. Powers’ comments are THE funniest things I’ve EVER heard or read! I had never even heard of this play before but I find it a riot how Jeff Kurti CONTINUES to kick Powers’ ass with FACT after FACT proving that Walt was not racist or anti jew and Powers keeps coming back for me. Powers even admits his agenda is to destroy Walt’s image because he hates it. It has been my experience that people who hate things like Walt’s image actually hate themselves. They lived unhappy childhoods and look around and see all of the happy people with fond memories and are jealous that they can’t share in that so they try to destroy it for everyone else and future generations. What next? Will Mr. Powers next write a play that Jim Henson was in league with the Russians? That Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were front men for the Chi-coms? Or how about a play on Chuck Jones in cahoots with a serial rapist? People like Mr. Powers always seem to go after beloved historical figures because they can’t defend themselves. I’ve seen many recent assaults on America’s founding fathers in the last twenty years, but I’m sure Mr. Powers would agree with each and every one, and you see it with Regan and Pope John Paul II now. It seems that after beloved figures die they’re ripe for super mockery.

    I think Mr. Powers’ play must be a failure and he blames people like Mr. Kurtti. That’s why he’s here. It’s either that or he just wants attention because no one else is giving him any by seeing the play. (Why else rewrite it, unless it’s to correct the errors, which I greatly doubt given what he’s said the 2.0 version will include)

    And you know, I don’t believe anyone has mentioned the evidence why Song of the South is noth a racist film. (Mr. Powers, please share why you feel it is.)

    If you actually watch the film it is a FACT that Uncle Remus is THE smartest guy on the plantation of FREED blacks. Even the whites discuss his wisdom through stories. It is also a fact the the film is about the relationship between a little boy and a wise old man. There is even a shot where they hold hands soon after they meet and you see their friendship transcends age and race. The white people are never seen abusing any black people and the black people are concerned for the whites. This film takes place in a reconstruction south and like it or not many freed former slaves still chose to remain living on the plantation. Contrary to revisionist history the majority of slaves were NOT abused and, according to a book called “The Story of the Negro” which is written by a black author, black slaves were resented and envied by the poor whites because they were treated so well by their masters. Why would a BLACK author say that if it were untrue? And does Mr. Powers know that there were white slaves and black slave owners? Does he also know that James Baskett who played Uncle Remus won a well-deserved Oscar for that performance? It’s because of kooks in the woodwork like Mr. Powers that Disney is queesy about releasing Song of the South but I assure you that the simister reputation held by this film is merely the result of gossip and how Disney has chosen to treat the film like there is something wrong with it.

    I’ll further ask if Mr. Powers finds the Uncle Remus stories themselves racist since they were told by black americans for hundreds of years until Joel Chandler Harris wrote them down. Had he not done that these stories may have been lost forever. As a historical researcher cultural things like these stories are a great asset in understanding the various groups that were here before us. The same goes with films like Song of the South.

    Walt was a great man and the only way I could ever see comparing him with Hitler is that both men had profound impacts on the previous century. Hitler was a force of evil but Walt was a force of good. Walt touched so many aspects of life that we still benefit from today that he is easily in the top 10 most important people of the 20th century. I’ve seen his name on many lists of the most important people of the last thousand years as well. Like it or not, Mr. Powers, Walt Disney was not a monster, as you put it. He was a man who never set out to create anything but positive inventions and entertainment for all the world to enjoy. You obviously have little to no background in who Walt was or you’d have known of his numerous statements on why money was unimportant to him as anything more than to invest it into new ideas. The man was never in what he was in for the money, he only ever did what he did because he believed in it. The profit hungry Disney of today that cares so little about quality is a far cry from the Disney of Walt’s day. Walt always cared most about the quality, never the profits. You need to get your facts straight or you are no better than the profit hungry Disney of today except you hunger for pushing your agenda rather than money.

    Mr. Kurtti, my hat is tipped to you. Mr. Osmand has been doing a great job too. I hope what little I have offered only ads to your good fight to keep people like Mr. Powers who are pushing an empty agenda at bay. Mr. Powers, you are a hoot! I’ve not laughedthis hard in my laugh except for some of the kooks on the Art Bell show!

    Cheers!

  • http://jjpppjrhotmail.com JOHN J POWERS

    Apart from your poor spelling, Mr. McCray, and weird phrases (“…and Powers keeps coming back for me.”), you have established your credentials as yet another worthy disciple of the great and powerful Walter Disney. If only he had been Catholic, you and your colleagues surely would be calling for canonization. That means sainthood, Mr. McCray, which in any event you seem already to have bestowed on the great WD!

    Talk about fun! JOHN J. POWERS

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Neither a plaster saint nor a satanic villain, Walt Disney was quite simply a highly gifted and internationally-influential human being, one whose life and work brings out the best in those who seek it, or the worst in those who seek it.

    I feel Disney left the world better than he found it (unlike Hitler), and will ever celebrate the life and memory of Walt Disney.

    Happy new year to all!

  • http://www.edmccray.com Ed McCrayEd McCray

    Oh, Mr. Powers, you silly goose! Typos does not a kook make. Typos are the result of working double shifts to support your family. We can’t all be involved in the creation of slanerously libel material to perform on stage in the kook captiol of the world.

    Thanks for clearing up for me what canonization is. I would have thought it meant shooting Walt out of a canon!!!

    You still failed to address any of my questions for you. You just have a vendetta against Walt but will never explain yourself. I have asked you, Mr. Kurtti has asked you, and Mr. Osmond has asked you. We bring up legit points for you to refute but you resort to mocking or name calling. Either tell us specifically why you feel the way you do about Walt Disney or sit down and shut up. The floor is open to you and we will eagerly listen to anything you discuss. I challenge you to prove your point. If you can prove to me anything you say is true than I’d support it. I’m sure that goes for anyone else here too. But we know what’s in Walt’s papers and words, you seemed to have bought into some mythic hype that Walt is just some mean old SOB. Tell us why you feel that way. Please.

    Merry CHRISTmas, Mr. Powers! (Or do you have a problem with that too?

  • JOHN J POWERS

    TO everyone…as the menacing new year dawns…I only advise the Disneyphiles to go over everyone they malign or misrepresent, from Richard Schickel to Leonard Mosley, from Neil Gabler to Walter Babbitt (who insisted he saw WD at American Nazi meetings), from Roy Disney himself to Leni Riefenstahl (another WD disciple). History may be neglectful but you guys are getting ridiculous. JJP

    (And yes, I have a problem, Mr. McCray, with your crude attempt to turn Christ himself to your dubious advantage. So many people rolling in their graves, except of course Him.)

  • Jeff Kurtti

    I think you mean Art Babbitt. He said a lot of things about Walt that have proven to be false, or overstated. He and Walt hurt each other deeply during the strike, and neither ever quite recovered from a deep sense of personal betrayal, and each handled it in his own way. This is human nature and individual behavior, and does not indicate any overarching evil or grace in either party’s case.

    History may be neglectful, whatever that means, but broad brushes offer no detail.

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Some of you have expressed interest in when DISNEY will be re-performed. It will be at The Garage Theatre, 975 Howard Street between 5th and 6th Streets, Jan 31-Feb 24 at 8pm with extra matinees on Sundays, in what McCray calls the “kook capitol” of the world, which he again misspelled (SAN FRANCISCO!). It’s been retitled DISNEY & DEUTHSCHLAND and yes, Walt, Hitler, Leni Riefenstahl and Josef Goebbels have a go.

    Incidentally, we all have families and real lives, Mr McCray, but some of us will take the effort even just to do a spell check, for CHRIST’s sake!

    For all this, hope all have the best of new years.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    THE JEWISH CHRONICLE
    Disney was not an antisemite
    25/01/2008
    By Daniel Finkelstein

    It happened again the other day. It’s always happening. And I think it is time I said something.

    Here’s what goes on. I make a joke to a Jewish friend about that Iranian lecturer who thinks that Tom and Jerry is a Zionist conspiracy thought up by the Jewish Disney corporation. And they reply: “That’s ironic. Walt Disney was an antisemite.�

    It is remarkable how many Jews think this.

    Now Walt Disney is one of my heroes. I regard him was one of the great men of the 20th century. I know, I know. He wasn’t a brilliant scientist or a towering statesman. But the growth of the entertainment industry was one of the transforming forces of the century. And Disney was perhaps its foremost leader.

    He it was who pioneered the talking animated cartoon, the animated feature film and the nature documentary. He it was who first thought of the theme park, and first built one. He it was who developed programming for television that surpassed in quality anything that had been done before.

    Out of the imagination of this boy from Kansas came a wholesome vision of America, a passionate commitment to quality and a constant flow of brilliant ideas to keep us entertained. I love Walt Disney.

    So if I don’t point out this, who will? Walt Disney was not an antisemite. He wasn’t. It’s a myth and it needs to be squashed.

    Actually, I am not only propelled by my personal admiration for the film pioneer. There are two other reasons for tackling the myth. The first is that we should never accuse someone of antisemitism without compelling evidence that it is true. There’s too much real antisemitism around. We mustn’t debase the currency of th accusation. When we say someone is an antisemite, it has got to stick.

    The second reason is that the smear on Walt Disney caught on because it was spread by people who don’t like what he stands for — capitalism, wholesomeness, anti-communism, small-town America. And I like all those things.

    Now, it’s not difficult to understand why Disney was the subject of rumours about his attitude to Jews. For a long time his studio was the only important part of Hollywood that wasn’t owned and run by Jews. In his magnificent book, An Empire of their Own, the cultural historian Neal Gabler tells how, to use his words, “the Jews invented Hollywoodâ€?. Every major studio — Paramount, Columbia, MGM, Warner Brothers — was the creation of a Jewish immigrant. So Walt and his brother Roy naturally stood out.

    Yet this wouldn’t have been enough by itself to stir up rumours about Disney. It was the bitter strike that shut his studio down in the 1941 that did the trick. On the one hand, it created a cadre of embittered ex-employees willing to lend their name to almost any attack on Walt’s reputation.

    On the other hand, the strike, organised with the assistance of communists, was the spur that helped make Walt virulently anti-communist, and led him to allow his name to be attached to various anti-communist organisations. Some of the other people in these organisations were later accused of antisemitism. Walt was thought guilty by association.

    There is nothing stronger than that. Neal Gabler has now written a biography of Walt Disney (another fabulous book, incidentally) and searched through the record with great care. Gabler is not a man who pulls punches; he is known as a controversial media commentator and his biography is balanced and fair. He portrays Disney as a difficult man, given to rows with his associates. But he acquits Disney of the charge of antisemitism.

    First, Disney hired Jews, lots of Jews. Disney was not himself Jewish, of course, but the success of his business owed a great deal to a Jew. The bedrock of Disney was Walt’s merchandising partner, the Jewish Kay Kamen, the man who helped make Mickey Mouse into a cult and who once remarked that Disney had more Jews in it than the Book of Leviticus. This was not an accident, occurring against Walt’s wishes. When Harry Tytle joined the studio as a production manager and told Walt that he was half-Jewish, Disney replied: “It would be better if you were all Jewish.�

    Second, the supposed antisemite was a frequent contributor to Jewish charities — the Yeshiva College and the Jewish Home for the Aged among them. And in 1955, he was made Man of the Year by the Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith.

    Third, and most important, is what there isn’t. There just isn’t any serious evidence of antisemitism. And this is not a charge that can be waved about without proof. Jews can enjoy Walt Disney. He was an inspiration.

    Daniel Finkelstein is Associate Editor of The Times

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Daniel Finkelstein asserts that the strike against Disney was Communist driven: nonsense,. It was worker driven. The Beverly Hills Lodge of B’nai B’rith hardly can be seen as the last word on whether or not DIsney had anti-Jewish views. Seven out of nine biographers I have read have referred to Disney’s antiSemitism. Are they all just lunatic unAmericans, as Finkelstein would have you believe? Disney’s product was well-done which is not to say that he in any way could be taken as ‘heroic.’ Where do these people come from? Finkelstein acts like he’s living the American dream a la James Stewart in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but even director Frank Capra knew there was a shadow side to the American experience, not wholesome, not healthy, and aomewhat dangerous.,

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Everyone else is crazy, Mr. Powers is the sane one. He sure doesn’t like having his point of view contradicted with anything as scurrilous as fact.

    I was recently reviewing Walt’s desk diaries covering a nearly three-decade period. He and Lilly were frequent dinner companions (over more than a decade) with Samuel and Frances Goldwyn. Anti-Semites don’t typically make repeated and frequent social contact with Jews.

    Mr. Powers has only read nine biographies? I thought he had (by his own word) “…researched all of these things as much as any of these commentators who affect an expertise in such knowledge.â€? Apparently not…

  • Andrew Osmond

    Mr Powers wrote:

    ‘Daniel Finkelstein asserts that the strike against Disney was Communist driven: nonsense’

    As usual, it’s Mr Powers writing the nonsense. Finkelstein actually wrote: ‘the strike, organised with the assistance of communists, was the spur that helped make Walt virulently anti-communist, and led him to allow his name to be attached to various anti-communist organisations.’

    The context makes clear that Finkielstein is explaining how Disney’s anti-communist views came to be shaped, not why the strike happened. Finkelstein’s phrasing is questionable, but Dave Hilberman, one of the strike’s main figures, was indeed a card-carrying Communist (Barrier p172), while Herbert Sorrell was widely perceived as one (the evidence is inconclusive).

    Yes, as Barrier says, ‘there has never been any reason to believe that the (Disney) strike was called to serve Communist Party purposes’ – contra the ghastly right-wing rubbish pandered by Paul Johnson (who’s certifiably the worst Disney ‘historian’ in the universe, so you’ve got some way to go, Mr Powers). But Finkelstein never said anything otherwise.

    Running out of straw men yet, Mr Powers?

  • Jeff Kurtti

    In case anyone wants to go, the revised and retitled “Disney & Deutschland” is playing through February 24 at:

    The Garage
    975 Howard Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    Tickets: 800-838-3006
    http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/140699

    Mr. Powers’s synopsis still insists that this meeting between Disney and Hitler is “well-documented” (i.e., based in fact, see below), but is taking his descriptive out of the realm of reality and into that of a “Fellini-esque foray.” (I seem to remember a similar play, similarly described as “a gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.”)

    If only Mr. Powers was a researcher truly informed enough to deliver on the promise of an exploration of “the mind [of] one of the most influential entertainment figures of the 20th century.”

    “Synopsis:
    “Based on a well-documented meeting between famed animator Walt Disney and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1935, Disney & Deutschland is an avant-garde exploration of the relationship between fantasy and fascism.

    “Walt Disney arrives in Europe to receive an award. He also visits Adolf Hitler’s mountain retreat where he meets with Hitler, Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s filmmaker, and Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels. Munich newspapers hail Disney as “the great white hope against the Jews of Hollywood,” but what is Walt Disney’s real position on Jewish-dominated Hollywood, and what is America’s attraction to fascism, even in the present? A Fellini-esque foray, Disney & Deutschland explores the inner sanctum of the Führer and the mind one of the most influential entertainment figures of the 20th century.”

    Sounds like a jolly time. I have a meeting in SF on 02/13, so I think I’ll give it a whirl.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Love the fact that the play is described as “based on a WELL-DOCUMENTED meeting between famed animator Walt Disney and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.’ The primary (and indeed sole) document being, er, Mr Powers’ play itself.
    Serious question: Can’t a theatregoer sue when the publicity includes such barefaced lies? Even a recent article sympathetic to Powers in the Jewish News Weekly of Northern California
    http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/34383/format/html/displaystory.html
    has the decency to note, ‘No photos exist of Disney and der Fuhrer together, and no contemporary accounts confirm it.’ (The article also describes the play as a ‘speculative fantasy’).

  • JOHN J POWERS

    This is all very tiresome since 90 out of 100 comments come from people who have NOT seen the play much less read the script.

    Should I genuflect when I hear the word ‘Disney’?

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Genuflection and accuracy are not the same thing, good research and historical veracity are not hero worship.

    As usual, Mr. Powers chooses to ignore the core of the argument, which is not his little play, but rather the large idea that he posits within, his motivation for writing it (“I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image.â€?), and his portrayal of a “well-documented” event that did not happen.

    As Benjamin De Schrijver said ‘way back in June, “I’m sorry, but the quality of the play doesn’t quite matter here. It’s the intention of the play, which – due to what was seen – was perceived as smearing Walt Disney’s reputation, which was confirmed by Mr. JJ Powers himself. What matters here is not whether the play is fact or fiction, or based in fact or fiction – either can be fine – but how it is presented. Here, it’s based on fiction (even if there are records that might lead you to assume the meeting took place, there are none that are irrefutable), but it’s presented as fact through the surroundings such as the handouts, to slander a public figure.”

  • JOHN J POWERS

    I stand by my assertion that Walter Disney visited Munich and, since he was visiting virtually every head of state during his European tour, it would have been extremely unlike for him to have avoided the Fuhrer. I also stand by MANY assertions of Disney’s anti-Jewish attitude. Going to dinner with Samuel Goldwyn makes Disney NOT an anti-Semite? Why did the American Jewish Congress protest his films (particularly THE THREE LITTLE PIGS), just to be oddly vindictive? WHY did Disney hold a reception in honor of Leni Riefenstahl when she came to Hollywood, when every other studio OPENLY boycotted both her and her films? You can harp on the term ‘well documented’ all you want. To frustrate the disciples even more, in the progtam I say, “but indeed, this may have all been in the imagination of Goebbels (who now narrates the film).” Again, Disney turned his dislike of the Jewish monopoly in Hollywood into anti-Communist rhetoric with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, for which he loudly named names, most of whom were the same Jews he resented before the war. SEE my play, or ask me to send you a copy, but judge not especially when you do not know what you are judging. JOHN J POWERS

  • Andrew Osmond

    I and the other people on this thread would love to see your play, but are prevented by geography. (I’m based in London.)
    Your play may be excellent. The beginning of the write-up here is still a great big dirty whopping lie.

    And okay, this is a genuine question, not mudslinging:

    ‘… Walter Disney visited Munich and, since he was visiting virtually every head of state during his European tour, it would have been extremely unlike for him to have avoided the Fuhrer.’

    Source, please? The Barrier book mentions that Disney met Mussolini and the Pope in Italy, but that’s hardly every European head of state.

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Mr Osmond: Disney went to Europe to receive a special award from the League of Nations in Paris, where he was received by the French president as well. As they say, you can look it up.

  • Andrew Osmond

    Thank you for that. I knew about the League of Nations award, but can’t find any reference to Disney meeting the French president (presumably Albert Lebrun, given this was 1935).

    Assuming it’s true, that means Disney met the heads of state in France and Italy… and this equates to, er, ‘visiting virtually every head of state’ in Europe and thus proves Disney met Hitler too?

    Blimey. By that logic, Disney must have met Britain’s King George V as well, despite it completely slipping from the contemporary record. Who’d have thought it? Hey, Walt also went to Scotland, so he must have met the Loch Ness Monster. What a lark this history business is!

  • JOHN J POWERS

    Getting to England from France was far more difficult than it is today. No, I don’t think Walt visited the king of England, but he himself is quoted as having said that he and Lillian turned his visit to Paris for the League of Nations into “a tour of Europe.” According
    to your logic, Mr. Osmond, he would have avoided Germany, itself being lauded (with Goebbels at the propaganda helm) around the world for its economic revival. Of course, our Walt would have seen the evil in the Fuhrer, that same evil embraced by Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, Hal Roach, Houston Chamberlain, and many others. How perceptive Walt was! NOT. JJP

  • Andrew Osmond

    Sometimes I wonder why I bother. Disney DID go to England during his 1935 tour, as well as Scotland, France, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and – yes – Germany, where he stopped at Munich and Baden-Baden(Gabler 222-3, Barrier 113-4).

    Still waiting for how Disney’s meetings with Mussolini and (allegedly) the French president translates into ‘virtually every head of state’ or how on earth you get to a ‘well-documented’ meeting with Hitler.

    ‘Getting to England from France was far more difficult than it is today’; um, a bit. No channel tunnel in those days. But strangely enough, the primitive people of 1935 were capable of crossing a 30-mile stretch of water. (Heavens, some of them swam it!) It became hairy a few years later with German U-boats lurking in the water, but that’s by the way.

  • Jeff Kurtti

    Mr. Osmond, if you keep letting good research and factual accuracy get in the way of your goofy opinions and peculiar agendas, you’ll never be a playwright! ;-)

    As usual, Mr. Powers chooses to ignore the core of the argument, which is not his little play, but rather the large idea that he posits within, his motivation for writing it (“I continue writing because I am so tired of the Disney image everybody loves and because I wrote this play to seriously put a stop to this image.�), and his portrayal of a “well-documented� event that did not happen.

    Or have I mentioned that?

  • amid

    We’re closing down comments in this category. I think everybody has said an opportunity to speak their piece by now and it’s becoming repetitious for us to moderate the comments. Additionally, the playwright Mr. Powers, is clearly not interested in discussing facts or sharing his sources of information so it’s a waste of time to continually ask him.