Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 146

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 146

As the post-war world revolves on, the devil is doing what demons do and the struggles to overcome his influence go on…

Pentateuch (D. Joseph Winters) is unaware of how close he is to the Laboratory Schools and the basement hideaway of Martin Kamen and Willard Libby. If nothing else, the Dark Deceiver will transform this place into a Halloween favorite, if not the coldest place on the block.

He has summoned L. Dick Cannon to his new Chicago digs; he just won’t be getting the top-to-bottom house tour afforded to those who can stomach the Pet-Projecthellish undertones of Pentateuch. Cannon is his new pet project, the upright D. Joseph Winters perfecting the art of lies andL Dick Cannon-001 using this deluded human fanatic as a launching pad for more of his carnal crap.

“This is one grand house Mr. Winters,” Cannon gushes over an oversized fixer-upper.

“Yes it does have possibilities, just like you Mr. Cannon,” he is pushing this Church of Spiritual Engineering founder, as hard as he can without touching him, which usually does not end well. “I have arranged for a meeting with John Garfield. He has solid ties to Hollywood, but has been hounded by the House Committee  on Un-American Activities, of all things, is a ripe candidate for celebrity spokesman for your church and he is in Chicago trying to ditch the government’s efforts to defame his character.”

“Orson Wells would have been perfect,” L. Dick dreams aloud, “but he is just too much a smarty-pants for my liking. Let’s see if we can reel this one in!”

As the post-war world revolves on, the Devil is doing what demons do and the struggles to overcome his influence go on:

  • Constance Caraway and Fanny Renwick are drifting apart, in search of their individuality.
  • Ajax Aidan Bannion is (once again) flying headlong into a place he’s been before.
  • Pentateuch has lost sight of his real goal, now recruiting L. Dick Cannon, yet another earthbound accomplice.

To which there is but one conclusion:

  • You never know what you will find when you’re traveling down the primrose path???

Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 126 (end Ch. 12)

Literary Misunderstandings – WIF Bookshelf

Leave a comment

Widely Misunderstood

Pieces of Writing

Literary critics have invented a host of phrases and concepts to separate artists from their art. By far the best known is “death of the author,” which comes from a 1967 essay by Roland Barthes. Essentially, the notion is to imagine that the author cannot be asked for their intent, or how their own life experiences shaped their writing, so the theorist’s interpretation is at least as valid as the author’s intention–provided said interpretation is reasonably derived from the text.  

While that’s a worthwhile literary exercise, there can be a problem that comes from many people knowing pieces of writing through cultural osmosis instead of actually reading the text. Indeed, sometimes there are aspects of the text that simply aren’t as haunting as the passages in stories that become touchstones. So interpretations of stories can be demonstrably incorrect. As is the case with…

10. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

When the 1995 Disney adaption of this movie came out, many critics and audience members were united in decrying the supposed borderline desecration of the original story. They pointed to the 1939 or 1920 versions of the story as proper adaptations, which properly portrayed the unsavory nature of Quasimodo, the tragic fate of the gypsy Esmeralda, clergyman Claude Frollo, and so on… and all in the shadow of one of the most celebrated buildings in French history.

It was a criticism completely undermined by how Victor Hugo wrote the original 1831 version of the story. As Lindsay Ellis explains in her highly recommended video essay, in the original novel, Quasimodo is a mere bit part and certainly not a sympathetic figure. There’s no tragic romance with the gypsy Esmeralda, who it turns out was actually a Caucasian abandoned as a child. In brief, Hugo didn’t write his novel as a tragedy, so much as a tribute to the cathedral itself, which at the time of writing was less a French institution than a wreck that had been vandalized numerous times over the centuries and neglected.

That Hugo’s sympathies were with the building over the people who lived in and around it is much less surprising to anyone who knows that the original title was “Notre-Dame de Paris” and that he did not approve of the English title change. Perhaps that theme would resonate with misanthropic architecture students, but it certainly wouldn’t have been the crowd-pleaser many subsequent adaptations have been

9. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Washington Irving’s 1820 story, set in a Dutch community in 1790s New York (loosely based on real events), as we all know is about a schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane, who gets chased by a headless horseman across a bridge. When the horseman can’t catch him, he throws a pumpkin at Crane. Those who read an abridged version in class might remember that it was heavily implied that Brom Bones was pretending to be the Headless Hessian Horseman to scare off Crane so that he could marry Katrina Van Tassel without any competition from superstitious schoolteachers. Considering Ichabod disappears and Bones gets what he wants through pretty underhanded and aggressive means, it seems like this slice of Americana should be a pretty dark, spooky tale where the villain wins in the end, be he ghost or local tough guy in disguise.

Readers have that impression because many of them lost track of how odious a person Irving wrote Ichabod Crane to be. Like many schoolteachers of the time, Crane is described as having romantic interest purely for financial reasons (Irving explicitly describes him as looking at her father’s fortune with “green eyes”). He’s also explicitly a mooch and a glutton, only getting away with it because he knows a lot of local ghost lore. The story also ends with a postscript noting there was talk in Sleepy Hollow that Crane was seen again later, having moved to another community and becoming a judge. However, the locals rejected that because his supposed disappearance made for a better story. If anything, Irving went overboard in assuring audiences not to worry about ol’ Ichabod.

8. Jabberwocky

Lewis Caroll’s titular monster, which was first introduced to readers in Alice Through the Looking Glass, has been portrayed as a serious beast in such adaptations as the 1985 movie. Even those who know better than to portray such serious versions of the monsters from the poem assume that “slivey toves” and “more raths” from the opening verse mean “unidentifiable beasts,” such as in the version done for The Muppet Show.

Jabberwocky’s origin was in 1855, in a magazine called Misch-Masch, which had a circulation of Lewis Carroll’s immediate family. It was not only meant as a parody of folk poems, but he actually handily explained what all the words meant, so those terms aren’t so much nonsense as coded. For example, “slivy toves” are actually cheese-eating badgers. “Mome Raths” are turtles. Bryllyg is said to be the early afternoon, as it refers to the time of broiling dinner. All things considered, the opening verse is much closer to a slightly offbeat version of Wind in the Willowsthan it is a surreal menagerie of cryptids.

7. Harrison Bergeron

In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1961 short story, equality is perverted so that every exceptional person is limited to be no better than the worst performing person, either by restraints that weigh them down or by zapping them if they think too much. This idea has been embraced by right wing publications like National Review. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cited it in a ruling requiring tournament golfers to walk between shots.

What they don’t seem to notice is the portrayal of the eponymous character. As critics have more recently pointed out, Bergeron is a ridiculously overpowered human being who not only stands 7-feet tall at age 14, he is also literally capable of flying as he dances (once he removes his restraints that weigh hundreds of pounds). More revealingly, he proclaims himself “emperor,” which probably isn’t something Vonnegut would have a “heroic” character do.

He also makes this declaration and displays his powers on live television, which of course means that the Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers would have no trouble hunting him down and shooting him, as she does seemingly effortlessly in the story. Clearly, Bergeron is a parody of the Howard Roark and John Gault-type supermen that are so perfect and so, so underappreciated in Ayn Rand’s novels. Considering Vonnegut’s left-wing views throughout his writing career, it’s objectivism that’s in his sights at least as much as socialism.

6. The Satanic Verses

When it was published in 1988, author Salman Rushdie struck free publicity gold when his book was interpreted as blasphemous and banned in India while the Ayatollah demanded his head. He surely didn’t celebrate this, as he had to go into hiding from very real threats. Several translators of the book were attacked—one fatally. Considering that the book is a formidable 600 pages long, it’s not so surprising that many people didn’t read the entire story and were content to go off a vague sense of what the novel was about, or a heavily abridged version.

The Satanic Verses tells the intertwined stories of two Southeast Asian Muslims, one born wealthy and the other poor. The pair both survive a plane crash, and the rich one becomes cursed (one way is he smells bad) while the other becomes angelic. Still, the rich one survives the novel while the other commits suicide while wanted for murder (he is unambiguously responsible for several deaths). The offending portions of the book are a secondary narrative of a few dozen pages about the rise of the prophet Mahound, written in an approximation of Koranic verse.

The “Satanic Verses” of the title are an allusion to a claim by the prophet that, for some contradictory statements he made, it must have been Satan pretending to be Allah. In a manner that paralleled a scene that offended many in The Last Temptation of Christ, Rushdie styled his parody of the prophet as a very elaborate dream sequence to give him plausible deniability that he was portraying an in-universe, fictional version. The version many Muslims were given, however, only showed the dream sequence without the larger context, and so inevitably it misled many on the intent of the book.

5. Valley of the Dolls

These days, this 1966 novel is better known for selling forty million copies than it is for its contents. Its story of three women who try to enter show business but run into such pitfalls as creative compromise, sexual exploitation, and drug addiction(the “dolls” of the title are upper/downer pills) was so salacious for its time that it couldn’t help but become one of, literally, the bestselling books of all-time. No wonder it got a couple film adaptations: a much derided smash hit in 1968, and a TV movie in 1981.

An aspect of the literary juggernaut that, for decades, was held up as the impetus for its success was the titillation of guessing which characters were modeled on which specific real people. For example, was the character that had a pill addiction Judy Garland? Was the over-the-hill singer who stands in the protagonist’s way based on Ethel Merman? According to Jacqueline Susann, the answer to all these guesses was “no” and that all of the characters were invented to fit a theme instead of to reveal the truth behind a real entertainer’s persona. She eventually said of the misconception, “Let them think that, it sells more of my books.”

4. Dracula

Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic isn’t just one of the two most influential horror novels of the 19th century (alongside Frankenstein). For many outside Central or Eastern Europe, it was the popularity of Dracula that led them to learn of 15th century Romanian ruler Vladislav III, better known as Vlad the Impaler. Deposed early in life, Vlad fought against both the Ottoman Empire and fellow Romanians and eventually died in battle, but not before leaving behind battlefields laden with impaled prisoners of war as an attempt to demoralize his enemies. Such a person seems tailor-made to inspire a monster in human shape.

Which completely misunderstands Stoker’s real writing process. It’s not so much that he didn’t carefully study Vlad Tepisch’s life for inspiration for his iconic character, as there’s no evidence that he even knew the bygone monarch had existed. In 1890 (the year he began working on it) he noted that he read a book on Westphalia and came across the word Dracula, but he misinterpreted it as being the local word for “evil.” While Vlad is from approximately the same area of Europe as Dracula, Vlad was certainly not much associated with Transylvania, which would have been a key connection to invoking the memory of the historical figure. In short, Stoker seemed to have more lucked into the historical echoes than anything else.

3. The Great Gatsby

Nearly 80 years after its initial disappointing release in 1925, F. Scott’s Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age triumph sells roughly 500,000 copies a year. It’s resonated with readers enough to make its way to the silver screen in 1926, 1949, 1976, and 2013. Each release was greeted with a critical thrashing and to very mixed results at the box office.

But that’s not to say readers, who generally regard themselves as more astute than movie fans, don’t mistake Fitzgerald’s intention with Gatsby. As explained by Sarah Churchwell in The Guardian, most people misinterpret Gatsby as being a suave charmer. There are a few telling descriptions that undermine this: His pink suits (tacky even in the Roaring ’20s) and his bewilderment in the face of the high society that narrator Nick Carraway takes for granted. That’s why he overcompensates for his parties, doing such things as hire entire orchestras. Gatsby is a dreamer, pining for the fantasy version from his youth of his neighbor Daisy Buchanan, not a man with his feet on the ground in the present. Not that this dissonance is anything new: Fitzgerald wrote back in the day that, “Of all the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one has the slightest idea what the book was about.”

2. Don Quixote

It’s been just over 400 years since Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece was first published in English. Since then, the image of a nobleman putting a washing basin on his head, taking a nag for a noble steed and his trusty assistant Sancho Panza on a number of delusional, pointless quests in an attempt to restore chivalry to the land has only become more poignant. Don Quixote is both absurd and loveable, and many readers have mixed feelings about the ending where he regains his sanity enough to dictate in his will that his niece be disinherited if she marries a man who reads books of chivalry.

As recounted in the New York Times, the title character actually comes across as much less sympathetic when you really look at the text. While Quixote means well, Cervantes does not skimp on the details of the pain he causes. Not just to his assistant Sancho Panza (who gets beat up because Quixote doesn’t pay a hotel bill), but even mules that can’t drink from their water trough because Quixote insists the water is holy. It’s an aspect of the story that is understandably omitted from adaptations such as Man of La Mancha, which contributed to those interpretations being dismissed as “kitsch.”

1. Slaughterhouse Five

Well, when an author writes as many famous satirical, morally complex, and whimsical stories as Kurt Vonnegut did, it’s not surprising that he’d have multiple works end up on lists like this. So it is with his 1969 anti-war classic (that he self-deprecatingly called his “famous Dresden novel”) about a WWII veteran named Billy Pilgrim, whose subjective experience of his life jumps back and forward through time. Within the intro of the book, Vonnegut quotes an associate who asked authors writing anti-war books why they didn’t instead write an “anti-glacier book.” Meaning, of course, that the human tendency towards war is as implacable as glaciers.

A similar sentiment is expressed by the alien race called the Tralfamadorians, who consider their own atrocities and eventual destruction of the universe as utterly inevitable, because they can see the entirety of all the time they live, all at once. Hence many have viewed it as a pro-fatalism book as they wonder whether the events of the book are real or not.

The text makes explicit that the aliens don’t exist. Within the book, the aliens Billy Pilgrim meets, and the environment they place him in (specifically a zoo), are described as something he read in a novel by hack sci-fi author Kilgore Trout. Further, Pilgrim does not express anything to anyone else about the aliens until after a plane crash that leaves him unconscious (i.e., likely with brain damage and trauma). As Michael Carson of Wrath-BearingTree.com points out, when Pilgrim first discusses the lessons he supposedly learned about the inevitability of war and the atrocities that come from it, it’s with a war hawk named Rumfoord, who Vonnegut mocks. Pilgrim merely echoes Rumfoord and then says he learned all of what Rumfoord told him on Tralfamadore.

On the other hand, Vonnegut also makes it explicit that the Tralfamadorians believe they will eventually destroy the universe. Vonnegut’s message isn’t that war and atrocities are inevitable, but that to follow this fatalist philosophy (that could come from absurd aliens that are the result of head trauma) makes its adherents into puppets, and leads to disaster for everyone.


Literary Misunderstandings –

WIF Bookshelf

Film Locale Legends – WIF @ the Movies

Leave a comment

Movie Sets

That Took On

a Life of Their Own

Hollywood strives to make movies look as real as possible: after all, The Matrix wouldn’t have been nearly as convincing if it’d been filmed in some guy’s basement. To make that magic, sets are often elaborately and solidly built. So elaborately and solidly, in fact, that after filming is over, those sets keep being used, even when it’s no longer for the movies.

10. Pioneertown, CA

pioneer-town

Mane Street (Really. That’s not a typo) of Pioneertown was built in the 1940’s, as a location for Westerns like Cisco Kid and The Gene Autry Show. Although it was a movie set, all the buildings were real, not just false fronts, so after the Western craze went boots up, regular folks moved in. In 1972, the building that had been “The Cantina” in various shows and movies became an outlaw biker bar that served burritos. In 1982 the biker bar was reopened as Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, and is still there today, as is the rest of Pioneertown. In fact, if you’d like to own a part of Mane Street, like the Likker Barn, check the real estate listings…they’re often for sale.

9. Christmas Story House, OH

A-Christmas-Story-House

When filming on 1983’s Christmas Story ended, Ralphie’s house gave up the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, and went back to being a house. Like other ordinary houses, it was eventually renovated until it looked nothing like it had in the movie. In 2004, Brian Jones, whose job was making and selling replica Christmas Story leg lamps, bought it on eBay. Jones re-renovated the house back to its movie glory, going frame-by-frame to make sure it was exact. Today it’s open to visitors, and Jones also bought a house across the street and turned it into a museum. A Christmas Story museum, naturally.

8. Shakespeare in Love’s Rose Theatre, somewhere in England

Rose-Theatre

What do you do with a stage set after Gwyneth Paltrow is no longer prancing around on it? You give the whole thing to Judi Dench, apparently. Dench kept the Rose Theater set from 1998’s Shakespeare in Love in storage until 2009, when she donated it to the British Shakespeare Company. The Company announced plans to use the set as a stage in a Shakespeare center, but nothing’s been done with it yet: in 2010 the Chester Chronicle reported that the city’s attempt to bring the theater there had failed.

7. John Wayne’s Alamo Village, TX

alamo-village

Never one to skimp on details, John Wayne had a full-scale, working reproduction of the Alamo built for his 1960 film about, of course, the Alamo. The set was used as a location for other films until 1971, when it was sold back to the original owner of the land. John Wayne’s Alamo Village then became a tourist attraction, with a John Wayne Museum, trail rides, and gunfight reenactments, until the owner died and it closed to the public in 2009.

6. Spahn Movie Ranch, CA

spahn-movie-ranch

Westerns like Bonanza and The Lone Ranger were filmed at the Spahn Movie Ranch from the 1940’s-60’s. In 1968, the ranch’s elderly owner let Charles Manson and his “family” stay there as they prepared for Manson’s “revolution.” They were living on the ranch at the time of the Tate-La Bianca murders, and Manson was arrested there in 1969. The buildings burned down in 1970, no doubt as some kind of heavenly judgment, and today the land is part of the Santa Susana Pass State Park.

“Jaws” Confidential – WIF @ The Movies

Leave a comment

Surprising Facts

About the Movie

“Jaws”

Jaws is often called the original summer blockbuster, so before the next glut of CGI-laden superhero movies fills screens worldwide, why not read a few lesser known facts about the OG blockbuster that set the precedent that allows them to exist? Starting with…

10. Jaws was a PG Release

Jaws is a film that contains a scene of a man being brutally eaten alive by a shark while screaming (fun fact: the actor supposedly broke his leg during that scene so the screams of pain you hear are real), people having the limbs shorn off, and the most iconic jump scare in cinema history. On top of this, the film also involves scenes involving drinking, smoking, swearing, and at least one instance of a shark eating a chubby kid on a raft. Amazingly, censors of the time saw all this and thought to themselves, yeah, this seems suitable for kids.”

Because yeah, Jaws was a PG rated movie, meaning anyone could go watch this thing so long as they had parental supervision, even if they were still at risk of pooping their pants literally instead of metaphorically. Think about that the next time you go watch an Avengers movie and realize it’s a PG-13 because Sam Jackson says the F-word.

9. It Originally Starred Dwarf Stuntmen

The undeniable star of Jaws is the shark, a role that was variously played by a notoriously unreliable mechanical shark (which we’ll get to in a moment) and several real sharks filmed by the crew. The problem was that the shark, who we’ll just call Jaws even though he had a name (which we’ll also get to), is supposed to be a shark of exceptional size, which kind of created a problem when the crew went to film some real Great Whites and realized they’d look noticeably smaller than their robo-shark. An ingenious solution was found in the form of several midget stuntmen.

The idea was to dress these stuntmen up in the same diving suits as the regular cast and film them next to some average-sized Great Whites, creating a forced perspective that made the sharks look super-huge and buff. To complete the illusion, the production team even built a smaller version of the shark cage seen at the end of the movie that the stuntmen were supposed to float around in. This cage wasn’t built as sturdily as an actual shark cage and as a result, before one of the stuntmen could climb inside it, a Great White tore it to pieces. This led to a total rewrite to ensure…

8. Hooper Survived Because Footage of the Cage Being Destroyed was Too Good Not to Use

The footage of a shark tearing apart the shark cage at the climax of the movie was 100% real and was so good Spielberg insisted that it had to go into the movie. The problem was that the original script called for Hooper to be inside the cage at the time, and for him to be killed in the ensuing attack, just like in the book. Another problem was that after seeing a shark tear apart a shark-proof cage none of the stuntmen would get back into the water.

Not wanting to lose the footage, a hasty rewrite was made to show that Hooper survived by swimming to the bottom of the ocean and hiding from the shark. This change also allowed the editors to use footage of the shark attacking from below (where it’s most obvious nobody is in the cage), framing it as if it’s from Hooper’s point of view as he cowered from the shark in a steadily growing cloud of his own urine.

7. Spielberg Laughed When He First Heard the Theme

John Williams’ theme for Jaws is one of the most iconic in all of cinema. Countless articles and academic papers have been written exploring the deceptive depth of the theme and how it affects those who hear it on an almost primal level. Though considered an integral part of the film’s success today, Spielberg was apparently not all that impressed with the theme when he first heard it, he laughed out loud when Williams played it for him.

You see, Spielberg had assumed that the film’s score would be more akin to that of a swashbuckling pirate movie and thought Williams’ minimalist take on the theme was too Spartan. However, Spielberg deferred to Williams’ judgement for final decision, apparently quipping “okay, let’s give it a shot” when Williams insisted the theme would work. We’re assuming Spielberg has never since question Williams’ judgement after the success of Jaws.

6. The Shark Sank the First Time it was Put Into the Water

As noted previously, the robo-shark used for many of the close-ups in the movie was unreliable to an almost comical degree. This is no better summed up than by what the shark did the very first time it was lowered into the water: it sank like a depressed brick of lead with concrete shoes. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to anybody to check if the shark floated while making it.

Along with sinking, the shark often malfunctioned and would sometimes simply stop working for no reason at all. This not only caused the movie to fall 100 days behind schedule, but also meant that half the shots of the movie involving the shark didn’t have the shark in frame.

Curiously, it’s been noted that the fact Spielberg had to film around the fact the shark wasn’t there most of the time, instead having to suggest its presence, made the movie better. Which kind of makes sense. The reason Jaws is such a scary movie is because there’s a constant threat that the shark could appear at any moment and chow down on your butt. If the shark had been on screen for 50% of the movie like Spielberg had originally planned, its few sporadic appearances would have had less impact. So yeah, when you watch Jaws and find yourself feeling on edge throughout the entire film, that wouldn’t be the case if the shark had actually worked and you could have seen how crappy it actually looked most of the time.

5. The Shark’s Name was Bruce

 The shark in Jaws is always referred to as either, simply, “the shark” or else Jaws, which is weird since throughout filming his name was Bruce. The name is supposedly a name coined by the the production crew as a nod to Spielberg’s lawyer Bruce Raynor who, like the shark, was a bit temperamental.

Spielberg himself wasn’t personally a fan of the name since, unlike the mechanical shark, his lawyer sometimes actually worked. So instead, he came up with an altogether more apt nickname considering the numerous mechanical faults the shark suffered throughout production:  The Great White Turd.

4. Spielberg Spent $3,000 of His Own Money for “One More Scream”

Jaws, hands down, contains one of the single greatest jump scares in cinema history. We’re of course talking about when Hooper finds Ben Gardner’s boat, and a big rubber head comes flying out of a shark shaped hole in the hull. That scene wasn’t in the original cut of the movie and was only added after Spielberg watched the audience reaction to the reveal of the shark at the film’s climax (the bit immediately prior to the “we’re gonna need a bigger boat” line), and realized the reaction wasn’t as intense as he’d hoped.

So Spielberg went back to the studio and asked for $3,000 to film another scene with a bigger jump scare and promptly got told not to do one. To be fair to the production company the film was 100 days behind schedule and over budget, so they were within their right to say no, but luckily for us, Spielberg didn’t take no for an answer.

With the studio refusing to pony up the cash, Spielberg decided to film the scene in someone’s pool using his own money. To make the water look more like the kind of place you’d find a sunken boat, Spielberg had the pool filled with milk powder and then put a big tarp over the top to limit the amount of light that got through to the bottom. Admittedly greedy for “one more scream” the director then instructed the sound engineers to make the jump scare happen before the music reached it’s natural crescendo, to make everyone poop their pants the first time they saw it.

3. It Had one of the Widest Releases of Any Film Ever

Jaws was, as noted, one of the first, if not the first, major summer blockbusters. In fact, prior to the release of Jaws and then

Star Wars a few years later, the summer was considered a low period for cinema since it was believed nobody would waste a ball-sweltering summer’s day sitting in a cool, air conditioned cinema. Oh, how wrong they were.

Upon release, Jaws set numerous records for having such a wide release, opening in some 400 cinemas on its first day. But here’s the really crazy part: Jaws was such a massive phenomenon that the number of cinemas screening it across the US more than doubled over the course of two months. This was unheard of back then and rarely, if ever, happens today since most films make the bulk of their money in the opening weekend. It’s a testament then to the sheer inertia of Jaws that after two months at the cinema, demand was still so high 500 more theatres decided to screen it, too.

2. It Kinda Ruined Sharks (and Beaches) for Everyone

As noted in the previous entry, releasing a film during the summer season used to be considered box office suicide since it was believed everyone would be too busy having fun at the beach. Jaws changed all that and during the summer of 1975 beach attendance fell nationwide.

The drop in beach attendance was credited to both the success of the film, which saw millions of Americans flock to cinemas, as well as the fact it kind of made it scary to go into the water. Speaking of which, the film is still criticized today for painting an unnecessarily harsh and objectively incorrect picture of sharks, which hardly ever attack humans. However, the success of Jaws saw shark attacks not only being reported upon more often (creating the false impression that they were more common than they actually are) but also a more negative perception of the animal, which led to many of them being killed for no real reason. All of which kind of leaves a sour taste in our mouths, so let’s end on something a little lighter, specifically that…

1. Michael Caine Loved the 4th Movie

To date Jaws has made more money and has a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than all three of its sequels combined. The fourth film in particular has an impressive 0% rating on the website, and is largely considered to be the biggest cinematic turd since the one Jeff Goldblum finds in Jurassic Park.

According to critics the film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and is more painful to sit through than a prostate exam from a pirate with hand tremors. One person who disagress is Michael Caine, who has said of the film: I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”

Along with being paid a pretty penny for starring in the film, Caine has praised the fact that it features a realistic romance between two middle aged people (something that’s rarely seen in cinema) and enjoyed that he basically got a free trip to the Bahamas. In case you’re thinking that Caine is only positive about the film because he got a free vacation out of it, starring in the film caused him to miss the 1987 Oscars. And it’s important to note, he actually won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor that year, for the film Hannah and Her Sisters. In other words, Michael Caine had so much fun pretending to fight a giant, fake shark in a terrible Jaws sequel he didn’t mind not collecting the most prestigious award for acting in person.


“Jaws” Confidential

– WIF @ The Movies

Christopher Robin – (In Theaters Now) Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Leave a comment

The Real Story

of

Christopher Robin

Decades before we had child stars on TV, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne was thrust into the spotlight and became the most famous child of his lifetime. Even to this day, a version of him is still portrayed in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and movies are still being made about his life, including Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017, and the upcoming 2018 film starring Ewan McGregor called Christopher Robin.

But just how accurate are these films, and are they anything like the true life of Christopher Robin? While the well-loved origin story of Winnie the Pooh begins as a journey into the innocence of childhood, the true story becomes quite dark, and everyone involved in the creation of the books eventually regretted it.

Alan Alexander Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and the creator of Winnie the Pooh. Long before he wrote children’s stories, Milne was a comedy writer and editor at Punch magazine, as well as an acclaimed playwright. After serving in World War I, he found it difficult to continue writing comedy, and wanted to talk about the politics of war instead.

Milne lived with his wife, Daphne, and his son Christopher in London, but he decided that they needed a place to get away from the big city, so he purchase a summer home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which is also known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood. This, of course, served as inspiration for Pooh’s “Hundred Acre Wood.”

While he was taking time to write in the country, Milne came to the conclusion that after years of tragedy, people were ready to move on, and they were not ready to read about his thoughts on war. They desperately wanted to read happy stories, and comedy. He drew inspiration from his own source of happiness, which was his 6-year-old son, Christopher Robin.

The boy loved playing in the woods with his stuffed animal teddy bear, which he received as a baby. His mother named the bear “Edward,” but he decided to change its name to Winnie, after seeing a Canadian bear at the London zoo called Winnipeg. Over the years, Daphne continued to buy her son more stuffed animals from Harrods department store, including a donkey, kangaroo, tiger, and tiny piglet. As an only child, Christopher Robin often played by himself and with his nanny, and his mother helped to encourage him to play pretend with his collection of animal friends.

One day, Milne was inspired to write down a poem about Christopher Robin saying his prayers before going to bed. He titled it “Vespers,” and gave it to his wife as a gift. It was later published in Vanity Fair magazine. The public loved reading the sweet poem about the little boy, and they wanted more. Once word got out that this little character was actually the author’s son, suddenly every newspaper and radio show wanted an interview with Christopher Robin.

After working in the magazine industry for years, Milne knew that they needed to take advantage of this hype and sell more stories. He asked his friend and co-worker, E.H. Shephard, to draw the illustrations. So he set out working on writing about Christopher Robin. The stories were loosely based on his son’s imaginary adventures. He published a collection of poems called Now We Are Six, and he eventually switch from poetry to children’s fiction about Winnie the Pooh.

The public absolutely loved Christopher Robin. He received fan letters on a daily basis.. He was taken to public events, narrated stories, and performed in a play about Winnie the Pooh. Like most child stars, he actually loved the fame and attention he was getting. It made him feel special to know that everyone wanted to be his friend. Since he was enjoying it so much, his parents continued to push him into the spotlight, and enjoyed the benefits of being rich and famous.

Even if his parents were blinded by fame, his aunt and uncle did not approve, and they spoke up about how he was being robbed of a normal childhood. Once Milne realized this as well, he chose to stop publishing Winnie the Pooh stories. However, even though he stopped making new books, there was still a demand for reprints, and the hype never died down. Even when he tried to go back to writing for adults, critics would just compare Milne’s work to the children’s stories, claiming that his new characters in a play were just “Christopher Robin grown up.”

Milne wasn’t the only one whose work suffered after Pooh. The illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, was the political cartoonist for Punch Magazine. He saw his work with Milne as a side-gig, and a favor for a friend. After the books became so popular, it overshadowed the work he was doing with political cartoons. He was criticized for copying the styles of other illustrators, and the jokes were never good enough to stand the test of time. While Winnie the Pooh was arguably his best work, he resented that it was his legacy. Whenever anyone mentioned the books to him, he called Pooh “that silly old bear.”

In 1930, when Christopher Robin was 10-years-old, his parents decided that it was time to remove their son out of the public eye and try to give him an education. He was sent to boarding school, and his magical childhood came crashing down when all of the boys started to bully and tease him about Winnie the Pooh. Over time, he grew to hate the stories, and resented his father for exposing his real name and likeness all over the world.

He went to college at Cambridge, and he joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When he was discharged from the military, he started applying to jobs, but every single employer would recognize his name, and asked about Winnie the Pooh. Instead of hiring him based on his resume, everyone already felt that they knew him and judged him based on a fictional character. This made Christopher very angry, because he felt as though his father had robbed him of ever being known for his own accomplishments. Technically, the books made the family so rich Christopher Robin didn’t really have to work to earn a living, but he resented the legacy of Winnie the Pooh so much he refused to take any of the money that the books generated, and he wanted to work and support himself like a normal person.

When he was 27-years-old, Christopher Robin met his first cousin from his mother’s side, Lesley de Selincourt. They had never grown up together as children, because his mother, Daphne, was estranged from her family. They fell in love, and got married. We all know in modern times that that’s not a very good idea to marry your first cousin, and his mother strongly disapproved of their relationship. His father, on the other hand, just wanted him to be happy, and gave them his blessing.

After marrying Lesley, they opened up a bookstore together, and started a family. Unfortunately, their close familial DNA came back to bite them when Christopher and Lesley’s daughter Clare was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and kyphosis. She needed nurses to be with her 24 hours a day. This was the first time that Christopher reluctantly began accepting some money from the Pooh fortune, but he only took enough to give his daughter the best medical treatments possible. After his father died, Christopher Robin stopped visiting his mother, because their relationship was beyond repair. They never saw one another again. Even on her deathbed, she said that she did not want to see him.

Milne passed away in 1952, and Disney first bought the rights to use the Winnie the Pooh characters in the 1960s. They paid the Milne estate royalties twice each year. In 2001, they decided to make it official, and purchased the characters for a lump sum of $350 million. Since Christopher Robin refused to take any of the money for himself, all of it went to the Royal Literary Society, and The Garrick Club in London. Clare was given $44 million, which was used for her care in a treatment facility. While this sounds like a massive amount of money, Disney has made a huge return on investment. They make $2 billion every single year from Winnie the Pooh.

By the time he was in his 60s, Christopher Robin said that he could finally look at the Winnie the Pooh books without cringing. He began to make public appearances again, and donated his stuffed animals to the New York City Library, which is where they remain to this day. Christopher passed away in 1996.

There is a plaque in A.A. Milne’s honor in the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and children still travel there to see where the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin once played. While Winnie the Pooh may have caused some pain to the people who created him, the stories that were left behind have made children all over the world happy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Christopher Robin –

Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Christopher Robin – Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Leave a comment

The Real Story

of

Christopher Robin

Decades before we had child stars on TV, a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne was thrust into the spotlight and became the most famous child of his lifetime. Even to this day, a version of him is still portrayed in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon, and movies are still being made about his life, including Goodbye Christopher Robin in 2017, and the upcoming 2018 film starring Ewan McGregor called Christopher Robin.

But just how accurate are these films, and are they anything like the true life of Christopher Robin? While the well-loved origin story of Winnie the Pooh begins as a journey into the innocence of childhood, the true story becomes quite dark, and everyone involved in the creation of the books eventually regretted it.

Alan Alexander Milne was Christopher Robin’s father, and the creator of Winnie the Pooh. Long before he wrote children’s stories, Milne was a comedy writer and editor at Punch magazine, as well as an acclaimed playwright. After serving in World War I, he found it difficult to continue writing comedy, and wanted to talk about the politics of war instead.

Milne lived with his wife, Daphne, and his son Christopher in London, but he decided that they needed a place to get away from the big city, so he purchase a summer home near Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which is also known as the Five Hundred Acre Wood. This, of course, served as inspiration for Pooh’s “Hundred Acre Wood.”

While he was taking time to write in the country, Milne came to the conclusion that after years of tragedy, people were ready to move on, and they were not ready to read about his thoughts on war. They desperately wanted to read happy stories, and comedy. He drew inspiration from his own source of happiness, which was his 6-year-old son, Christopher Robin.

The boy loved playing in the woods with his stuffed animal teddy bear, which he received as a baby. His mother named the bear “Edward,” but he decided to change its name to Winnie, after seeing a Canadian bear at the London zoo called Winnipeg. Over the years, Daphne continued to buy her son more stuffed animals from Harrods department store, including a donkey, kangaroo, tiger, and tiny piglet. As an only child, Christopher Robin often played by himself and with his nanny, and his mother helped to encourage him to play pretend with his collection of animal friends.

One day, Milne was inspired to write down a poem about Christopher Robin saying his prayers before going to bed. He titled it “Vespers,” and gave it to his wife as a gift. It was later published in Vanity Fair magazine. The public loved reading the sweet poem about the little boy, and they wanted more. Once word got out that this little character was actually the author’s son, suddenly every newspaper and radio show wanted an interview with Christopher Robin.

After working in the magazine industry for years, Milne knew that they needed to take advantage of this hype and sell more stories. He asked his friend and co-worker, E.H. Shephard, to draw the illustrations. So he set out working on writing about Christopher Robin. The stories were loosely based on his son’s imaginary adventures. He published a collection of poems called Now We Are Six, and he eventually switch from poetry to children’s fiction about Winnie the Pooh.

The public absolutely loved Christopher Robin. He received fan letters on a daily basis.. He was taken to public events, narrated stories, and performed in a play about Winnie the Pooh. Like most child stars, he actually loved the fame and attention he was getting. It made him feel special to know that everyone wanted to be his friend. Since he was enjoying it so much, his parents continued to push him into the spotlight, and enjoyed the benefits of being rich and famous.

Even if his parents were blinded by fame, his aunt and uncle did not approve, and they spoke up about how he was being robbed of a normal childhood. Once Milne realized this as well, he chose to stop publishing Winnie the Pooh stories. However, even though he stopped making new books, there was still a demand for reprints, and the hype never died down. Even when he tried to go back to writing for adults, critics would just compare Milne’s work to the children’s stories, claiming that his new characters in a play were just “Christopher Robin grown up.”

Milne wasn’t the only one whose work suffered after Pooh. The illustrator, E.H. Shepherd, was the political cartoonist for Punch Magazine. He saw his work with Milne as a side-gig, and a favor for a friend. After the books became so popular, it overshadowed the work he was doing with political cartoons. He was criticized for copying the styles of other illustrators, and the jokes were never good enough to stand the test of time. While Winnie the Pooh was arguably his best work, he resented that it was his legacy. Whenever anyone mentioned the books to him, he called Pooh “that silly old bear.”

In 1930, when Christopher Robin was 10-years-old, his parents decided that it was time to remove their son out of the public eye and try to give him an education. He was sent to boarding school, and his magical childhood came crashing down when all of the boys started to bully and tease him about Winnie the Pooh. Over time, he grew to hate the stories, and resented his father for exposing his real name and likeness all over the world.

He went to college at Cambridge, and he joined the army at the beginning of World War II. When he was discharged from the military, he started applying to jobs, but every single employer would recognize his name, and asked about Winnie the Pooh. Instead of hiring him based on his resume, everyone already felt that they knew him and judged him based on a fictional character. This made Christopher very angry, because he felt as though his father had robbed him of ever being known for his own accomplishments. Technically, the books made the family so rich Christopher Robin didn’t really have to work to earn a living, but he resented the legacy of Winnie the Pooh so much he refused to take any of the money that the books generated, and he wanted to work and support himself like a normal person.

When he was 27-years-old, Christopher Robin met his first cousin from his mother’s side, Lesley de Selincourt. They had never grown up together as children, because his mother, Daphne, was estranged from her family. They fell in love, and got married. We all know in modern times that that’s not a very good idea to marry your first cousin, and his mother strongly disapproved of their relationship. His father, on the other hand, just wanted him to be happy, and gave them his blessing.

After marrying Lesley, they opened up a bookstore together, and started a family. Unfortunately, their close familial DNA came back to bite them when Christopher and Lesley’s daughter Clare was born severely handicapped with cerebral palsy and kyphosis. She needed nurses to be with her 24 hours a day. This was the first time that Christopher reluctantly began accepting some money from the Pooh fortune, but he only took enough to give his daughter the best medical treatments possible. After his father died, Christopher Robin stopped visiting his mother, because their relationship was beyond repair. They never saw one another again. Even on her deathbed, she said that she did not want to see him.

Milne passed away in 1952, and Disney first bought the rights to use the Winnie the Pooh characters in the 1960s. They paid the Milne estate royalties twice each year. In 2001, they decided to make it official, and purchased the characters for a lump sum of $350 million. Since Christopher Robin refused to take any of the money for himself, all of it went to the Royal Literary Society, and The Garrick Club in London. Clare was given $44 million, which was used for her care in a treatment facility. While this sounds like a massive amount of money, Disney has made a huge return on investment. They make $2 billion every single year from Winnie the Pooh.

By the time he was in his 60s, Christopher Robin said that he could finally look at the Winnie the Pooh books without cringing. He began to make public appearances again, and donated his stuffed animals to the New York City Library, which is where they remain to this day. Christopher passed away in 1996.

There is a plaque in A.A. Milne’s honor in the Five Hundred Acre Wood, and children still travel there to see where the real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin once played. While Winnie the Pooh may have caused some pain to the people who created him, the stories that were left behind have made children all over the world happy, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Christopher Robin –

Do Not Pooh-Pooh This

Dark Disney – WIF Edu-tainment

1 Comment

Dark Moments

from

Disney’s Past

Disney is known for being one of the most family-friendly companies you could imagine, and spends an incredible amount of money to maintain that illusion and appear as one of the most squeaky clean companies in the world. Disney is the company that bought Star Wars, and immediately banned the appearance of smoking in films – villain or otherwise – because of the children.

However, while today Disney tries their hardest to be the most non-offensive thing possible, this wasn’t always the case. In the past, Disney hasn’t always been entirely family-friendly, and their past is checkered with racism and other abuses. Disney himself may not have necessarily been a racist or a misogynist, but he was certainly not progressive for his time, and his attitudes were reflected in the culture of his company and the products they produced.

10. Walt Disney’s Song of the South Was Not Just a Product of It’s Time

If you haven’t heard of it before, Song of the South is a Disney movie made back in the 1940s that has caused such controversy that Disney has kept it in the vault for decades now and has no intention of ever allowing it to see the light of day again. The movie has caused trouble since it was first released because of its depiction of African American characters. The movie is set on a plantation in the south, and it seems that it is post Civil War, but it’s very ambiguous. There are still a lot of black people working on the plantation, and while they are not called slaves, they have very subservient attitudes and speak in a way that seems designed to make them look less intelligent – not only that, but they seem very happy about their lot, which is working for white people.

Disney only really likes to release movies from the vault when they can celebrate it, and show off an image of squeaky cleanness. Song of the South not only doesn’t allow that, but it creates unnecessary controversy and potentially lost customers and image. Of course, there will always be people who defend the actions of Walt Disney to make this movie back in the day, and say that he was just a product of his time. However, those who knew Walt at the time understood that he knew full well all the possible controversies he could create, but he wanted to go ahead and make it anyway. Some accounts even say Walt actually downplayed the racial stereotypes some from what he originally planned because he didn’t think it would go over well. This doesn’t necessarily paint him as racist, but it does show he cared more about telling a story than any kind of racial sensitivity.

9. Disney Underpaid His Employees, Causing Them to Go On Strike and Changing Animation Forever

In the early days of the Disney company, things were not really very well organized, and Walt was just trying to get as many good ideas as possible, and move things forward at a brisk pace. He had hired on a lot of animators to do creative work, and the company expanded faster than he really knew how to deal with. This led to a very serious issue where Walt’s disorganization and greed really got him in trouble. He underpaid most of his animators to begin with, and then would give raises in very arbitrary ways. People would randomly be given more pay with little reason or explanation, and no one really knew what you exactly had to do to earn more. After dealing with this for a bit, the animators started to get tired of having their creative talents abused, and went on strike.

Walt was not really interested in negotiating with them, and instead tried to beat it out and fight them on it. The animators formed a guild to protect themselves, and after several weeks of intense picketing and the like, Walt was forced by a lot of outside pressure to give in and pay people fairly. However, laws for dealing with employer retaliation were not very good back then, and Walt held a very serious grudge. He was pretty awful to be around if you had been part of the strike, and before long he was firing people when possible, and many just departed on their own. This actually led many to create their own studios, and many other talented artists to go into comics. The Looney Tunes and many comics and other animation were designed by animators who left Disney, and likely would have never had their designs properly see the light of day under Walt’s leadership. In the end, his hardline stance against fair pay actually indirectly helped change the world of animation for the better.

8. The Yippie Invasion of Disneyland in the 1970s Caused the Disney Company to Overreact

In August of 1970, a group of radical hippies known as yippies had a plan to invade Disneyland on the 6th of the month. They passed out hundreds of thousands of flyers and the rumors started flying around that 200,000 of the counterculture youth intended to invade the park. Disneyland reacted to this by asking the local police to show up, and they arrived that day in full riot gear expecting a huge crowd. Instead, only a couple hundred of the yippies actually showed up, but they still caused quite a bit of a problem.

At first they were just doing silly things like smoking marijuana while climbing on things, but they started to get restless and get into fights with some of the park guests. As the day wore on, they “took over” Tom Sawyer Island, by standing on Castle Rock and doing drugs. Near the end of the day they disrupted the Disney marching band, and raised a gigantic flag with a pot leaf on it next to the American flag. This caused things to spiral quickly out of control between the yippies and regular guests, causing Disney management to be so upset with the situation that they shut the park down early for the first in their history. As an overreaction to the entire situation, Disney instated a dress code for men that they kept for years – if you had long hair or otherwise looked like a hippie, you would be barred from entering the theme park. Disney may be the first major company to ever actually ban all hippies from their property.

7. The Original Pirates of the Caribbean Ride Had Real Human Skeletons

Pirates of the Caribbean is a successful movie franchise that has now long overstayed its welcome; however, it was all based on the popular ride at Disneyland that was originally designed back in the 1960s. Walt Disney was very pleased with the ride itself and loved what they had done with it. However, some of the designers were disappointed that despite how realistic the rest of the ride looked, the skeletons just didn’t look real enough to them. In order to solve this problem, they contacted the UCLA medical center and managed to get their hands on some real human skeletonsto decorate the ride.

As time has passed, the ride has been regularly renovated and Disney claims all human remains have been removed and given proper burials in their country of origin. The technology for fake skeletons is good enough now that they can make them as realistic as the real thing, so it really isn’t necessary or in good taste to have real human remains lying around anymore. However, some people are not convinced. People have gone through the ride looking at the skeletons in an attempt to armchair sleuth which ones might still be real, and some employees claim they are certain some of them are. If there are any real bones still lying around the ride, we may never really know the truth for sure.

6. In the Early Days, Walt Disney Didn’t Allow Women to Do Full Animating Work for the Company

A letter that has been passed around the internet shows a rejection in Snow White stationary, answering a young woman who had applied to Disney in the hopes of working in their creative department. This letter has been verified as the real deal, and shows just how behind the times Disney was, even for the era in which it was written. The form letter states that women are not allowed to do any of the creative work at Disney, and that all of that is done by “young men.” The letter further goes on to explain that women can work at Disney, but only doing inking and tracing.

As if to add insult to injury, the form letter explains that a young woman who wishes to apply for inking or tracing should bring samples of their work to show, but actually discourages her from applying, stating that so many women apply for the inking and tracing positions that she likely would not be selected anyway. While some would say this was only a product of the times, it’s really hard to defend this at any time. Even back then, while women may not have gotten the fair pay or respect they deserved, most people were well aware that women could do creative things just as well as men could.

5. Disney Would Like You to Forget About the Wizard of Bras

Disney loves being known for their squeaky clean image, so they really don’t want you to know about some of the things they tried in Disneyland in their early days. They would especially love it if you didn’t remember that they once had a shop in Disneyland that sold bras and corsets. Not only that, but it had 3D exhibits that showed women off in a way that was scantily clad for the time, and gave people a general history on undergarments. It also had a section of the shop called a corseteria where you bought all of the undergarments.

And in the middle of all this chaos was an animatronic sorcerer dubbed “the Wizard of Bras.” It should probably be no surprise that Disney did not keep this abomination around long and it was gone in about six months. However, it was not the only time Disney allowed an attempt at a sexy lingerie store on the Disneyland grounds. In the 1990s they allowed a store called “Jessica’s” to set up shop. This was a store dedicated to selling Jessica Rabbit-themed merchandise, especially underwear and night wear – it also folded after a short time, lasting just three years. Since then, Disneyland has not attempted any more sexy lingerie stores on the park grounds.

4. Disney Doesn’t Want You to Know How Long They’ve Been Covering Up the Alligator Problem

Last year there was a huge controversy after a 2-year-old boy died at Disney World following an alligator attack. Disney came under fire for not warning people properly of the alligators, and people cried out that Disney should have put up warning signs at the very least, since they had some idea that alligators could potentially make it to certain spots in the park. Disney caved and put up warning signs, and most people have forgotten about it. However, the truth is that Disney wouldn’t do the bare minimum to warn people because they didn’t want to break their illusion, when they know the problem is much worse than most people realize.

As of last year, Disney had removed 240 nuisance alligators – alligators four feet or longer with the potential to cause harm – from their Disney World resort properties. This is an average of 24 alligators per year, or two per month, and that’s just the ones they actually catch. Florida is basically a swamp and with so many waterways, it’s very easy for them to find their way into Disney World. If Disney were being responsible, they should have warned people much sooner of the dangers, and maybe even put up stronger fencing in certain areas. Unfortunately, their commitment to maintaining the sense of illusion for their customers sometimes overwhelms their common sense.

3. Walt Disney’s Involvement with the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals

In the late 1930s the fear of communism was starting to take hold in the average American, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities had been formed. This committee existed to check into the backgrounds of Americans suspected of having communist ties or sympathies, and has been denounced in history as a witch hunt that was often racist in nature when selecting what people to go after. It was in this political environment that in the mid 1940s, a bunch of famous movie stars and filmmakers, including Walt Disney, got together to make their own group called the Motion Picture Alliance For The Preservation Of American Ideals.

The group was basically the film guild version of the House Committee On Un-American Activities, and before long people from the film industry were, indeed, being inspected by the house committee. This led to a backlash where a counter group of others in the film industry created their own guild called the Council Of Hollywood Guilds And Unions to protect themselves against the attacks from the Motion Picture Alliance, often called the MPA for short.  The new guild accused the MPA of being racist and just looking to inflame tensions and cause trouble – an accusation that has stuck in most people’s minds to this day. It is hard to say whether Walt was really being racist here or if he was genuinely concerned about communism and overreacted, as many did at the time. However, he was deeply involved in the group, as he was their vice president when they formed.

2. Disneyland in Paris has had a Recent History of Mistreating and Underpaying Its Employees

Disneyland Paris is supposed to be the happiest place in Europe, as the Disney vision goes, and for many tourists it is indeed a very fun attraction. It’s known so well for fulfilling that promise to guests that it is the single most popular tourist attraction in Europe, despite all the rich history that is available to see on the continent. However, while it is great for the tourists, the employee experience is anything but, and over time that will degrade the guest experience as well. Back in 2010 the Independent did a piece on Disneyland Paris, and found some very alarming issues.

Two employees had recently committed suicide, and one of them killed himself in a rather disturbing way. He had been sick and missed work as a cook at Disney and was supposed to go back. Before killing himself, he scrawled on the wall in French “I don’t want to work for Mickey anymore.” The parent company, Euro Disney, has been criticized for huge staff and budget cuts, while continuing to take in an even bigger influx of guests. And to make matters worse, the staff members who are expected to do more with less every year have essentially no opportunities for advancement. Not only that, but most people are being paid only barely above minimum wage, and are expected to work six days a week and very long hours. For many who work for Disney, the fun is being part of the Disney family. However, for those working at Disneyland Paris, they are being treated as anything but.

1. Disney’s Fantasia has a Character Named Sunflower Who is a Breathtakingly Racist Stereotype

Most of you have probably heard of Fantasia, but many people are really only familiar with the segment where Mickey is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, unless they are a big Disney buff. And even those who have watched Fantasia in full may have missed Disney’s most blatant racism if they watched a more recent revision. A lesser known segment of Fantasia is called “Pastoral Symphony” and was a brief story where mythological creatures and others are preparing for a festival involving some of the Greek gods. The story starts out showing some female centaurs being beautified by cherubs to prepare them for the arrival of the male centaurs and it just goes downhill from there.

There is one female centaur who is not being prepared by the cherubs, and is instead acting like a servant to the other female centaurs – brushing their tails, etc. This female centaur is black, and is half donkey instead of half horse. She has incredibly exaggerated features, and dreadlocks that stick out at odd angles, as if the animators were doing their best to mock people of African descent. To make matters worse, this character is called Sunflower – a flower whose nicknames include “n**gerhead.” While sunflowers do have a lot of other nicknames, it seems a little too strange to just be a coincidence. Also, in a later scene, the Greek god of wine, Bacchus, shows up flanked by two black centaur servants, who are half zebra and half Amazon looking – their purpose is to fan him and keep him cool. In revisions of Fantasia, these racist elements have been removed, but you can see a brief clip of Sunflower brushing a pretty, white female centaur at the top of the entry.


Dark Disney –

WIF Edu-tainment