Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A life in brief

My older son, Brandon, recently created a PowerPoint presentation on Walt Disney for a class (kids and their computer-based school projects these days!!!). Those of you who know me know what Disney fanatics Brandon and I are, and how we have come to hold the man Walt Disney in very high regard.

The most interesting part of Brandon's project to me was where he had to conclude with a 3- or 4- sentence summary of his subject's life. Wow. How do you boil down a life into a handful of sentences, particularly a life so rich and all-encompassing as Walt Disney's? I mean, this is a guy who rose from having very little, and overcame many obstacles and setbacks, to eventually entertain the world. He journeyed from creating a simple cartoon mouse to build a media empire that now includes animation and live action movie studios, television networks, and theme parks around the world. He pioneered many things we now take for granted, such as cartoons with sound, feature-length animation, and themed areas in amusement parks. To this day no one individual has received more Academy Awards.

When it came down to it, though, Walt was a storyteller. By his own admission he wasn't the best animator -- while he created Mickey and friends, other artists did the actual animation (though Walt did Mickey's voice for many years) -- nor was he a financial genius -- he let brother Roy handle most of the business affairs. But Walt had a passion for telling stories, and he loved to find new, creative ways to do that. (To this day, one of the many things that sets Disney theme parks apart from their competitors is that from the moment you enter the property, each area, building, attraction, sight, sound, even smell, is carefully crafted to tell a story.) He never looked down on his audience, and never waivered from his belief that the public deserved the best quality, whatever the product was.

Brandon was able to write those 3 or 4 sentences for his project -- obviously, I'm not as good at being brief. But it does make me think... if someone were assigned to write four sentences about my life, what would they say about me? What would they say about you?

No comments: