In Praise of Walt Disney’s Nature Advocacy and What May Be Missing with 4 Questions
“How could this Earth of ours, which is only a speck in the heavens, have so much variety of life, so many curious and exciting creatures.” Walt Disney
There is no doubt that Walt Disney was an advocate of nature and conservation. Even at the beginning, he brought live deer into the studio so Bambi could be characterized correctly. He brought to life animals, birds and fish photographed in living color to capture every move and emotion. He helped us to walk with elephants, hunt with jungle cats, swarm with dolphins and wait patiently as penguins survived another blizzard. There is no doubt through his nature documentaries and feature films, we were educated, affiliated, bonded and even protective of our wildlife neighbors.
Perhaps more than anyone he highlighted the meaning of Anthropomorphism which attributes human characteristics, emotions, and behaviors to animals or other non-human things including objects, plants, and supernatural beings. Who hasn’t watched the Lion King and shared the emotions of youthful exuberance and curiosity, angry and jealous family tensions, unknown overwhelming dangers, and the redemption of the circle of life? My 5-year-old niece cried inconsolably, but so did I share a few tears of joy. The spark of sublimity was lit for lions for all time.
No doubt his cartoons of Mickey Mouse brought to life a walking talking mouse with his family, friends, adversaries, a nice home with everyday problems. He was cute with big round eyes, button nose, normal tail, an outlined plump body dressed in red shorts and wearing large yellow gumboots. As onlookers we could relate to everyday people problems but may not look as kindly at a real mouse occupying our own house.
But a mouse is not a human character who worries about shopping, driving or partying. The cartoon did not help to explain how a mouse lives and struggles in the real field … his burrows, food supply and food web, his numerous offspring, his lifespan and purpose in the environment. Only a basic understanding of ecology could validate his existence and worth to his true community.
Perhaps, too many Disney fairy tale characters are flawlessly pictured that may imply to children that a perfect face and body can live happily ever after. Perhaps, too many of the fire-bolting, muscular exaggerations of mighty superheroes may imply that supernatural powers are needed for success…the bigger the better.
The timeless power of nature in its collective multidimensional forms is the strongest of all forces that dominate our Earth’s life support without which we couldn’t survive.
The more you learn, the more you understand the good news that Nature follows ecological principles which means that its real power is not about might, disorganization or destruction, but about managing connections and restoring balance and unity.
Only interactions with humans disrupt these cycles. Could it be because they just don’t know enough synchronicity from the soil up to the clouds? Or how the missing link of a small honeybee could seriously limit the world’s food supply?
We need to hear this message loudly and clearly because ecological emergencies must be reduced all around the planet before natural cycles can’t redeem the imbalances or mediate the suffering of all living beings. Only a diversified communication mass media conglomerate like Disney can share the information creatively with facts and fantasy … combining science with creative art.
What may be missing is a character from an eco-fiction source. Imagine if water could talk about its survival or a tree celebrate its partnerships and succession?
Eco-fiction is a story that talks about the relationship between natural settings and human communities. The characters inhabit an ecosystem based on ecological principles that call attention to act responsibly to be good ethical stewards of the Earth. They share the reality of microorganisms, photosynthesis, food webs, carbon dominance, pollution, and changing weather patterns as first-person experiences. They share their joys, fears and hopes. They give warnings of dangers to ignore their messages.
A good eco-fiction asks 4 key questions:
- Can storytelling help to change societal norms and feelings about conservation and sustainability?
- Why is biological diversity so important to environmental sustainability?
- Why are cycles the language of nature from nitrogen to carbon to nutrients to pollutants to greenhouse gases and more?
- Why look at the environment as a work in process … not a given constant or photograph?
So, here is an eco-fiction idea for consideration called The Incredible Journey of a Water Sprite with Roots.
In a culture where fantastical superheroes and Mickey Mouse abound, maybe it’s time to meet a real superhero whose live is essential to sustain all life on Earth. His mission is to discover Earth’s Cyclical Truths with natural affinity as both a water element and plant that makes him a primary consumer in the ecosystem. He narrates his personal journey as he walks and talks through his many experiences with lifeforms essential to ecology and shares his amazement at several natural cycles. He falls in love twice … the impossible and the probable. It is only when he encounters humankind that he feels a loss of self; and learns consciously, and sometimes painfully, the truth for the need for preservation of balance in nature.
What is more important to Earth’s survival than fresh clean water?
What is more important than a fresh, clean water cycle?
Disney is a natural fit to produce a movie like this but there may be other production companies who may be interested in an eco-fiction movie to help educate the masses and preserve our fresh water supply?
“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” Sir David Attenborough
Please comment about your favorite Disney movie or documentary.
Questions and comments are always welcome.
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Excerpt… the water sprite returns to the pond now polluted…
Then I stop, unblinking and unthinking in shock. What I see is more frightening than the strangest invasion of any alien beings, I’m sure.
A new colony has appeared on the bottom sludge. A series of finger-like tubes are projecting out of the mud with long bluish grey worms twisting and turning their way to the top. Moving through and around the tube worms are other blood red worms, wriggling and waving back and forth with lapping tongues clearly seen in their open mouths picking up any food particles on the currents. Is that saliva dribbles I see floating by?