The Magic of Walt Disney
February 18, 2011
US History 10H
U.S. History 10H
The Magic of Walt Disney
Walt Disney is considered an icon of American pop culture and has made many contributions to the American entertainment industry. A self-made-man from the Midwest, he became an inspiration to all American children and adults. Hailing from the heart of America, he was very patriotic and contributed a great deal to our country in times of need. What was most likeable about Walt Disney was that he was relatable; he came to embody the American values of courage, determination, wholesomeness, innocence, imagination, and self-confidence. Although Walt Disney was influenced by the setting in which he grew up, he shaped the American pop culture and everyday life of virtually the entire twentieth century, and he supported our country in times of need; his legacy continues today.
Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois, but his family moved soon after his birth. Although Walt Disney shaped most of twentieth century pop culture, he himself was influenced by his small midwestern hometown: Marceline, Missouri. Walt Disney only lived there for a few years as a child, but it still had a major impact on his life and career. It was a traditional, Midwestern town which made Disney just an average guy, relatable to any other typical American. This ordinary town lacked magical and fantastical features, which could have contributed to his craving for magic and fantasy later in life. He grew up around animals on a farm; so many of his early animations consisted of animals and rural themes. He used a lot of “outhouse” and farm humor in his cartoons such as outhouse gags, goosing gags, bedpans, Johnny-pots, thinly disguised farts, and cow udders. Even though Disney grew up in a traditional American small-town, his childhood occurred during the onset of the decline of small-town America. Disney loved small-town America so much that he wanted to preserve and live by its values, such as self-determination and hard work, because they were fleeting so fast. Disney brought these values to everything he did in life and tried to encourage them in others.
Walt Disney’s first claim to fame was the animated character, Mickey Mouse. Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928, and from the very moment Mickey hit the public eye he appealed to all Americans. Mickey’s story of “rags to riches” touched the hearts of many Americans and gave them inspiration to follow their dreams. He was memorable and loveable in that he was the stereotypical hero, coming out victorious in many difficult situations. His courage, strength, will, ingenuity, and faith in himself allowed ordinary Americans to relate to him, and brought hope to them in troubling times. Mickey played many different roles, so many different people could relate to him. Mickey was know all over the world, - Michael Maus in Germany, Michel Souris in France, Miki Kuchi in Japan, Mikkel Mus in Denmark, and Miguel Ratunocito in Spain- and eventually became one of the most well known symbols in the entire world. Mickey Mouse helped bring the world a little closer together, and brought joy and courage to people in times of need.
The Great Depression was one of the bleakest periods in American history, but it became a bit more enjoyable with a little help from Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. The original purpose of this children’s club was to attract more young moviegoers with discounted ticket prices, and its first theater-based club meeting was on January 11, 1930 at the Fox Dome Theater in Ocean Park, California. It gave kids something fun to do during the depression. “By 1932, there were already over a million boys and girls belonging to the Mickey Mouse clubs all over America.” Local businesses benefitted from the club too: bakeries, ice cream shops,...
Cited: "Art: Profound Mouse." Time, 15 May 1933 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,745525-2,00.html (2 November 2010).
Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Random House, Inc., 2006.
Heide, Robert, and John Gilman. Mickey Mouse The Evolution, The Legend, The Phenomenon!. New York: Disney Enterprises, Inc., 2001.
Press, Petra. A Cultural History of the United States Through the Decades The 1930s. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc., 1999.
Schickel, Richard. The Disney Version The Life, Times, Art, and Commerce of Walt Disney. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.
Watts, Steven. The Magic Kingdom Walt Disney and the American Way of Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
[ 2 ]. Robert Heide and John Gilman. Mickey Mouse The Evolution, The Legend, The Phenomenon. (New York: Disney Enterprises Inc., 2001). 6.
[ 4 ]. “Art: Profound Mouse,” Time (1933). http://www.time/magazine/article/0,9171,745525-2,000.html (accessed November 2, 2010).
[ 6 ]. Petra Press. A Cultural History of the United States Through the Decades The 1930’s. (San Diego: Lucent Books, 1999). 94.
[ 24 ]. Neal Gabler. Walt Disney The Triumph of the American Imagination. (New York: Random House Inc., 2006). 632.
[ 36 ]. Richard Shickel. The Disney Version The Life, Times, Art, and Commerce of alt Disney. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968). 72.
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