By the 1950s, Disney, who turned out to be a genial middle-aged fellow with the complacently affluent demeanour of a small-town banker, a pillar of the local Rotary Club, had himself become increasingly visible. He would personally introduce promotional shorts for his latest cartoons or, joshed by an animated Mickey Mouse, host a weekly show that my generation used to watch on nine-inch, black-and-white, single-channelled TV screens which took a good minute to warm up. If the very first Disneyland theme park - in Anaheim, an otherwise obscure suburb of Los Angeles - was, in our collective imagination, the closest thing to an earthly paradise, then Disney himself was God.
Now, for many, he's the Devil. The theme-park culture is ubiquitous, the infantilism rotting the core of the American cinema can be directly traced to his influence and, in any event (except that a Disney movie is, precisely, no longer an event), the company's output is currently indistinguishable from that of most other Hollywood studios.
Disney's name will, of course, live on into the new century. It will survive, however, not as the name of an artist, of a once-living individual, but as that of a multinational corporation (curiously, the handwriting of the "Walt Disney" trademark would seem to have been designed by the same person as that of "Coca-Cola"). Walt Disney is, in fact, a fascinating case of a man who has been transformed, like one of his own fairy-tale creatures, into a logo.Reuse content