From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture

From Walt to Woodstock: How Disney Created the Counterculture

by Douglas Brode

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With his thumbprint on the most ubiquitous films of childhood, Walt Disney is widely considered to be the most conventional of all major American moviemakers. The adjective “Disneyfied” has become shorthand for a creative work that has abandoned any controversial or substantial content to find commercial success. But does Disney deserve that reputation? Douglas Brode overturns the idea of Disney as a middlebrow filmmaker by detailing how Disney movies played a key role in transforming children of the Eisenhower era into the radical youth of the Age of Aquarius. Using close readings of Disney projects, Brode shows that Disney’s films were frequently ahead of their time thematically. Long before the cultural tumult of the sixties, Disney films preached pacifism, introduced a generation to the notion of feminism, offered the screen’s first drug-trip imagery, encouraged young people to become runaways, insisted on the need for integration, advanced the notion of a sexual revolution, created the concept of multiculturalism, called for a return to nature, nourished the cult of the righteous outlaw, justified violent radicalism in defense of individual rights, argued in favor of communal living, and encouraged antiauthoritarian attitudes. Brode argues that Disney, more than any other influence in popular culture, should be considered the primary creator of the sixties counterculture—a reality that couldn’t be further from his “conventional” reputation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292768079
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 05/02/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

DOUGLAS BRODE is a playwright, screenwriter, and journalist who teaches cinema studies at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Disney's Version/Disney's Vision The World According to Waltix
1Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll: Disney and the Youth Culture1
2Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tacky: Disney and the Culture of Conformity27
3The Man Who Says "No": Disney and the Rebel Hero53
4Toward a New Politics: Disney and the Sixties Sensibility77
5My Sweet Lord: Romanticism and Religion in Disney103
6Gotta Get Back to the Garden: Disney and the Environmental Movement128
7"Hell, No! We Won't Go!": Disney and the Radicalization of Youth151
8Providence in the Fall of a Sparrow: Disney and the Denial of Death175
Conclusion: Popular Entertainment and Personal Art Why Should We Take Disney Seriously?201

What People are Saying About This

James MacKillop

"Brode’s thesis is both revolutionary and totally without precedent. He steals from no one. Significance? No other moviemaker or mogul—Louis B. Mayer, Irving Thalberg, Orson Welles, etc.—has had such a deep and lasting impact on American popular culture as has Disney."

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