Things looked rosy at the Disney Studio in 1938. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was boffo at the box office, and a new star was born. His name: Dopey.
Meanwhile, Disney’s original meal ticket, Mickey Mouse, was stumbling. The novelty of a funny, talking mouse had worn thin, and an older, jaded public was no longer showing up in droves for Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Dopey, on the other hand, was fresh, human and hilarious. He was instantly identifiable. Whereas Mickey needed his full name to distinguish himself from other Mickeys one might know, Dopey was simply Dopey—no surname needed (think “Madonna” and “Prince”).
So, naturally, when the plum title role for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” sequence in Disney’s upcoming “Fantasia” became available, Dopey was the obvious first choice for it in everyone’s minds: the public, the investors, even the animators themselves, who lobbied Walt Disney on Dopey’s behalf (Dopey, being Dopey, couldn’t speak for himself). But Uncle Walt was adamant. He over-ruled his board of directors and cast Mickey in the role, which not only resurrected the mouse’s career, but made him forever the iconic symbol of everything Disney.
In other words, with Disney, the one hand slaps while the other hand pats on the head.
But I wonder. In light of Disney’s recent peccadillos, the company may be advised to reconsider reinstating Dopey as their poster child. For your consideration: ABC TV, a network owned by Disney, cancelled “Roseanne” over a nasty slander-laden racist tweet by its star and namesake whilst the A&E network, also under the Disney umbrella, renewed its “Aftermath” bigot-fest, which weekly features its own cavalcade of canards directed against religions in general and Scientology in particular.
In other words, with Disney, the one hand slaps while the other hand pats on the head. One show is cancelled over a single tweet, but another show is renewed for a prolonged howl.
So The Walt Disney Company, which seeks to “deliver stories, characters and experiences that are welcomed into the hearts and homes of millions of families around the world,” according to its own promo, pretends to protect us from vengeful tweets, while it actually welcomes suspicion, hate, lies, falsity and dismay into “the hearts and homes of millions of families around the world.”
And that’s downright Dopey.