Documentarian media often serves as a necessary intermediary between the public and the very real, though yet unvoiced, crises that plague our communities.
Abigail Disney’s The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales (2022) is one such documentary which brings to light an issue that we are all likely aware of to a certain extent—the ethical pitfalls of one of America’s corporate giants, The Walt Disney Company.
The film explores how The Walt Disney Company has exploited its working-class employees, leaving many (Disneyland employees specifically) suffering from crippling poverty and homelessness.
Though the documentary focuses on the California park, it still resonates for those familiar with its Florida counterpart. Many of our Rollins faculty have ties to the company, and, through the Disney College Program (DCP), students have also had the opportunity to experience the “magic” of Disney from an insider perspective — Disney has seemingly advertised the program as an opportunity for the burgeoning young adult’s self-exploration: “Magic Is Within You.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic spread in waves through Central Florida and the rest of the world in early spring 2020, The Walt Disney Company sent similar shock waves through the community; they announced the layoffs of thousands of their theme park and hotel employees. This announcement paved a road to further lay-offs as the pandemic continued to desolate public health and ravage the global economy.
The American Dream—produced and directed by Walt Disney’s very own grandniece, Abigail Disney—delves deeper into the company’s history and contemporary culture to explore how Disney’s exemplification of corporate exploitation weaves a broader narrative of the failure of Reagan-era trickle-down economic politics to address the concerns of what is becoming an exponentially increasing impoverished class of America. Ultimately, the failure of Disney to address their ongoing ethical crisis is symptomatic of a need for more transparency surrounding the financial affairs of these massive American conglomerates.
The documentary premieres at Enzian Theater in Maitland—which has major ties to Rollins and the Tiedtke family—Friday, Sept. 16, and it will continue to play until Thursday, Sept. 22nd.
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