“Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men,” wrote the Disney company in 1938 in response to a female animator. It’s hard today not to treat Walt Disney worshipfully, as the Disney film “Saving Mr. Banks” might have done, but remembering the Disney legacy must include honest reflection on his mistakes, mainly his sexism and anti-semitism, so that we might strive to make artistic choices that encourage equal rights.
And on Sunday at The National Board of Review dinner, Meryl Streep did just that. While honoring the always-wonderful Emma Thompson for her exquisite portrayal of P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks,” the actress cited the animator Ward Kimball’s assertion that Walt Disney “didn’t trust women.” Streep continued, reading from the 1938 letter above and stating that Disney was a “gender bigot” who “supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group.” While we celebrate Thompson’s talent and the growing presence of women in film (and Disney animations!), Streep reminds us that remembering past prejudices is a necessary piece of our quest to make gender equality and religious freedom a reality.
Thanks to Variety
Image via Jo Blo
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