For the past month, I've been trading emails with a friend in a position to know pretty well about the reputation that Walt Disney was anti-semitic and a misogynist. It's been pretty well acknowledged within the film industry, but now it's got the biggest platform one can almost imagine.
In presenting Emma Thompson to the National Board of Review before Thompson received their Best Actress award for portraying P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, none other than Meryl Streep gave a nine-minute speech which included calling out Walt Disney. None of this is "proof." But it's certainly raised the issue from hidden behind closed doors to the public platform.
You can read the article about it here.
One can only imagine the reaction at the Disney table that night. One also wonders how awkward it might have been for Emma Thompson. Or not. But among the things Meryl Streep said that night was --
"Disney, who brought joy, arguably, to billions of people, was perhaps ... or had some racist proclivities. He formed and supported an anti-Semitic industry lobbying group. And he was certainly, on the evidence of his company's policies, a gender bigot."
That's hard to miss.
The question is whether Meryl Streep mentioned this to Thompson ahead of time, so as not to shock her friend. Or if she kept it to herself, so that her friend could legitimately swear ignorance.
By the way, in the article it quotes a poem that Streep wrote for Thompson. It leaves out the wonderful name of the poem: "An Ode to Emma , or What Emma is Owed."
And you can read the text of the full speech here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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