“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision.”
That’s one of my favorite lines from Ayn Rand, the iconoclastic writer of the past century. Rand is arguably the greatest defender of individualism to ever put words on a page. Controversial and brilliant, her ideals have influenced millions of freethinkers across the globe, including yours truly. You can really get into the weeds philosophically if you read her most famous novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her influence is wide. She essentially invented libertarianism, though she thoroughly disliked the political party bearing that name. Most political scientists and philosophers consider her a bastion of the hard-right, even though some of her recorded stances on social issues are much more in keeping with the modern left. Even if you haven’t found the time to read her books, you can still find some of her literary gems in the most unexpected places.
One of those places is actually Walt Disney World. The quote above is displayed front and center on the interior wall of the American Adventure, the host pavilion of the World Showcase at EPCOT. That’s right, Walt Disney World gives you a full-on shot of libertarianism right as you enter the prime real estate of the park. I find it altogether hilarious given the current political climate at Disney. The new crop of interns down in Orlando doesn’t typically exude Ayn Rand vibes. Most of them don’t even know who the hell she was.
What Ayn Rand did for political writing, Walt Disney did for animation.
I think in years past, her prime spot in EPCOT made sense. Walt Disney himself certainly embraced the ideals of American greatness: individualism, progress, responsibility, and capitalism (given today’s admission prices, the company still likes the capitalism part). In all seriousness, he was a true pioneer of his craft. He changed the world, one animated frame at a time. He died at the relatively young age of 65 from lung cancer before EPCOT was finished. He obviously didn’t sign off on giving Rand a prime spot on the wall, but he surely would have approved. What she did for political writing, he did for animation. They were kindred spirits, both unabashed visionaries. They changed the world for us all. They were good people.
Time changes things, not always for the better. The modern decline in the traditional Disney ethos has been evident for years. There are many examples illustrating the takeover of this great American company by leftist ideology. Let’s focus on the most recent one, the company’s recent opposition to Florida House Bill 1557, recently signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Critics unfairly refer to it as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The most controversial language in it, the part that has the Hollywoke elite up in arms, reads as follows: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” That’s it. That’s the controversy. (READ MORE: DeSantis Signs the Anti-Grooming Bill)
It truly baffles the mind how anyone could find fault in that statement. Who in the world thinks it is appropriate to discuss human sexuality with a child who can’t even tie his or her own shoelaces?! Well, the Walt Disney Company apparently does. They have been a vocal critic of the bill as of late, vowing to help repeal it. Some employees walked off the job last week in hopes of forcing company executives to take a stronger stance against the bill. What do you know, terrorism apparently works in the Magic Kingdom! CEO Bob Chapek responded with a groveling apology to his employees, stating in part that “You [employees] needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry.”
Cue the eye roll. For Christ’s sake, Bob, this bill isn’t about gay rights or a lack thereof in Florida. It’s about not sexualizing young children. Period. I think that Walt Disney must be rolling over in his grave. The company he founded was about making children (and their parents) happy and carefree. Yes, they certainly did tackle difficult topics regularly, but at an age-appropriate level. It was historically not a politically charged organization, and it certainly didn’t glorify insane leftist ideology as it does today. I’m suspicious that most people prefer the dancing mouse motif over the depressed, insecure Gen Z vibe that is taking over. Maybe I’m just a cranky elder millennial, but I have less and less tolerance for this type of sanctimonious stupidity. With age comes wisdom.
I still have hope that someone at Disney can turn this mess around. I still believe that the spirit of responsibility and individuality that Walt embraced can once again guide this great American company towards a strong future. As the illogicality of today’s woke liberals becomes more apparent to sane mortals, I hope that the CEOs of major corporations like Disney will stop pandering to them. I suppose I could be wrong. Maybe the terrorists at Disney will run Walt’s vision completely over the cliff. Maybe some continuously offended display coordinator down in Orlando will one day realize who Ayn Rand was and will demand that her quote be removed. If that ever happens, you can safely bet that I will never go back.