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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Disney hasn’t found itself in so much trouble since 1941

The family-friendly, controversy-ridden Walt Disney Company has drawn into the limelight of the American Culture Wars, Edition 2022.

In April, Disney executives objected to a Florida law prohibiting instruction in sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by signing a bill revoking Disney’s autonomous status, a unique arrangement in which the company acted as an independent fiefdom within the state.

Traditionally, custodians of one of Hollywood’s most reliable cash machines have been careful to remove political minefields that may remind customers of the realm outside the Magic Kingdom. Better to wallow with Scrooge McDuck in the money bin than to be caught in the crosshairs of the heads of Fox News.

Only once has the Disney brand been so embroiled in a public relations bribery patch—in 1941, when the company’s original iteration was faced with an internal rebellion that pitted the founding visionaries against their pen-and-ink scribes Was.

The characters in Showdown were as colorful as those drawn at the studio’s animation cell: union activists, gangsters, communists and anti-communists, and not least, Walt Disney himself, who, except for his uncharacteristic personality, became a part of the political. Played the long game hardball and slow-burn payback.

Activists grumble as Disney stars

Still, Walt Disney inspired a certain kind of amazement around Hollywood.

Billy Wilkerson, editor of The Hollywood Reporter, declared Disney “the only real genius in this business” in the December 17, 1937 issue of the magazine.

Disney was hailed as the father of the first sound cartoon, “Steamboat Willie” (1928); the first Technicolor cartoon, “Flowers and Trees” (1932); and the first feature-length cartoon, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937).

“Snow White” began the extraordinary creative streak—”Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” in 1940, “Dumbo” the following year and 1942’s “Bambi”—on which the Disney mythos would be built forever.

In 1940, Disney diverted profits from “Snow White” to a state-of-the-art animation studio in Burbank, California, where the comfort of their employees, so they said, was a high priority.

An advertisement in the October 10, 1940 issue of The Hollywood Reporter read, “One of Walt Disney’s greatest desires has always been that their employees can work in ideal environments.” “The dean of the animated cartoon finds that a happy employee works best.”

But even by the standards of an exploitative Hollywood shop floor, Disney animators were overworked and paid less. Forced to hump at a drawing board for 10 hours a day, he had no desire to whistle while working. Instead, they wanted a strong union to negotiate on their behalf. Disney didn’t want any of this.

A Disney animator works on a cell for the movie ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
Earl Thiessen/Getty Images

The animators opted to be represented by the confrontational Screen Cartoonists Guild, rather than the pro-management “company union”, the American Society of Screen Cartoonists.

The Guild alleged, “Disney cartoonists make less than house painters.” “Girls are among the lowest paid in the entire cartoon field. They make anywhere from $16 to $20 per week, and very little, up to $22.50.” The guild demanded a 40-hour, five-day work week, severance pay, paid leave, and a minimum wage ranging from $18 a week to $250 for apprentices for cartoon directors.

To go face-to-face with Disney in talks, the Screen Cartoonists Guild selected Herbert Sorrell of the Motion Picture Painters, Local 644, a longtime thorn in the side of studio management.

Sorel was a broad-shouldered union man of the old school kind. A former heavyweight award fighter, he wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the police and strikebreakers on the picket line.

Sorel’s footwork in the boxing ring – not to mention the brass knuckles he picked up – came in handy. In the 1930s, organizing labor in Hollywood could be more dangerous than stunt work. Several studio heads had already cut well-known deals with overcrowded trade unions, notably the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, run by a Chicago-schooled gangster named Willie Bioff.

animators put down their pens

On May 28, 1941, the Screen Cartoonists Guild called for a strike, and hundreds of animators went to Disney.

Shamelessly infringing Disney’s copyright, the strikers turned Disney characters into pro-union spokesmen and paraded outside theaters playing Disney movies.

“No strings on me!” shouted Pinocchio in a placard. The slogans were as clever as the visuals: “Snow White and 700 Dwarfs,” “3 Years College, 2 Years Art School, 5 Years Animation Equals 1 Hamburger Stand” and “Are We Mice or Men?”

Disney was furious. He claimed that Sorrell had threatened to turn Burbank Studio into a “dust bowl” unless he agreed to the Strikers’ demands.

A man with glasses is holding a cigarette.
Disney preferred to negotiate with Willie Bioff, the leader of a mob-affiliated union that management was comfortable with.
Bateman / Getty Images

Behind the scenes, Disney offers SCG a deal brokered by gangster Willie Bioff.

Disney then advertised in the trade press saying that it had made generous offers to “your leaders”—which would be biof—and had accepted most of the strikers’ demands.

Disney said, “I am positively convinced that the communist movement, leadership and activities that have brought about this strike, and have persuaded you to reject this fair and equitable settlement.”

“Dear Walt,” replied Sorrell, “Willie Bioff is not our leader. Present your terms to our elected leaders, so that they can be presented to us and have no difficulty in settling our differences quickly.

Eventually, in the person of the National Labor Relations Board, the Fed intervened. On July 29, after 62 days of rage on both sides, Disney is settled — clenched in the teeth. Disney and the Screen Cartoonists Guild feuded intermittently until the end of the year, but Sorrell won on big points: better pay, job security and a “closed shop”, which the union as a condition of employment. membership is required.

Disney’s Revenge

However, for Disney, it wasn’t just a dispute between management and labor. It was Oedipal’s rebellion against his father in his own home.

In October 1947, Disney got revenge when he testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was investigating Hollywood for alleged communist sabotage in motion picture material and within the ranks of organized labor.

The man is sitting on the stairs for the two children.
While waiting to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Walt Disney draws for the daughter of the committee’s chief counsel and the son of a committee investigator.
Bateman / Getty Images

Disney was called in as a friendly witness, and he was friendly: while waiting to testify, he made good-natured illustrations of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse for the children of committee members.

At the Witness Table, Disney emphasized that today while “everyone in my studio is 100% American,” the percentage was not always that high. He named the name that had been trapped in his creeps since 1941. Disney said, “My boys, a delegation of my cast came to me and told me that Mr. Herbert Sorrell … is trying to take them over.” Sorrell and his accomplices accused Disney, “are communists,” although supposedly, “nobody has any way of proving those things.”

Prove it or not, Disney’s allegations were career-killer. Many activist cartoonists of 1941 fell victim to Hollywood’s infamous Blacklist era, when hundreds of workers on both sides of the screen were rendered persona non grata in the studio for their political likeness.

As a result, the Screen Cartoonists Guild softened its tone. In 1952, it voted strongly to associate with the anti-communist International Coalition of Theatrical and Stage Employees – the former organization of the Bioff. As for Sorel, he was surrounded by accusations of communist sympathies and was eventually barred from a leadership position in his own union.

Disney, you know. After appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he sent the company back to the 50-yard line of America’s culture wars. There the entertainment group stayed—until recently, when it wandered from Disney World into the quagmire of Florida politics.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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