On my love for Walt Disney
I do love him so. He is my religion on facebook. "Disney Parks and Resorts, where dreams come true."
If one source of Disney's magic was his ability to mediate between past and future, tradition and iconoclasm, the rural and the urban, the individual and the community, even between conservatism and liberalism, the most powerful source of his appeal as well as his greatest legacy may be of wish fulfillment and demonstrated on a grand scale to his fellow Americans, and ultimately to the entire world, how one could be empowered by fantasy - how one could learn, in effect, to live within one's own illusions and even to transform the world into those illusions. "When You Wish Upon a Star" was his anthem and guiding principle. He had remolded a world not only nearer to his heart's desire, but to yours and mine. In numerous ways Disney struck what may be the very fundament of entertainment: the promise of a perfect world that conforms to our wishes.
All of this is very similar to what Andy Warhol did with the factory. But Walt Disney's vision was purer, less based on the corruption and disintegration of people and more on what is beautiful about naivete... freezing childhood forever in time. I can't watch a Disney movie these days without feeling insanely joyful inside.
One of his greatest gifts was in finding the elemental and the essential of virtually every form in which he worked - its genetic code. Whether it was his fairy tales or his boy's adventures or his castle or Main Street or the Mark Twain Riverboat in Disneyland, each seemed to have been refined into the
fairy tale, the
boy's adventure, the
castle or Main Street or riverboat of our mind's eye. In an idealized world where wish fulfillment prevailed, Disney had consistently concretized the ideal and provided the pleasure of things made simple and pure the way one imagined they should be, or at least the way one imagined they should be from childhood. He has Platonic templates in his head.
Others, virtually everyone in entertainment, attempt to tap this same reserve, but Disney understood wish fulfillment from the inside, which may be why his own longings connected so powerfully to his audience's. His life would become an ongoing effort to devise what psychologists call a "parcosm," an invented universe, that he could control as he could not control reality. From Mickey Mouse through Snow White through Disneyland through EPCOT, he kept attempting to remake the world in the image of his own imagination, to certify his place as a force in that world and keep reality from encroaching upon it, to recapture a sense of childhood power that he either had never felt or had lost long ago.