Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Vault of Walk, Vol. 2 by Jim Korkis

This will likely be short; I said everything I might want to say here seven years ago, covering Jim Korkis's first book of stories about Disney, The Revised Vault of Walt.

That's a pretty long post, about the Cult of Disney in general and how Korkis's book fits into it in particular. But I still agree with all of it - more than that, it's pretty much exactly what I would say about this book, which is explicitly Chapter Two to that same project. (Korkis has since done similar books yearly; the most recent one seems to be #7.)

So The Vault of Walt: Volume 2: More Unofficial Disney Stories Never Told has another two hundred pages worth of stories in which the saintly Walter Elias Disney dispenses uniquely wonderful wisdom, delivers perfect entertainment experiences at every turn, has his every last passing thought validated as visionary and marvelous, and is revealed as entirely the most wonderful human being to have ever lived in this or any other universe. (I may slightly exaggerate. Only slightly.)

Korkis, as before, is a good archivist and researcher. He's also done a fair bit of original interviews with people who actually were there when the stone was rolled away and WED's brilliance was revealed to the world. I still find that the structure of his essays is sometimes lumpy: there's a lot of detail, but it often flows in an order that makes my old editor's pencil twitch and want to move sections around wholesale.

He also relies a lot on what I am pretty sure are press releases as primary documents. I've been involved in the creation of press releases for events and releases, and can tell you that quotes "from" a prominent person are not necessarily "true" in the purest sense and that said person almost certainly saw and approved that quote but is very unlikely to have actually said it. (And I do mean "almost," there.)

Again, that's the whole point here: taking minor episodes in the history of a major entertainment conglomerate (Walt was in DeMolay as a young man! there were cheap live action movies called Toby Tyler and Blackbeard's Ghost! P.L. Travers was nearly as demanding and bullheaded as Disney, but this book isn't about her! there have been Mickey Mouse balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade! Captain EO did really exist; we did not all imagine it!) and appearing to give a warts-and-all treatment that actually shows that what eventually happened was wonderful and special and the best it could possibly be.

So this is a collection of amusing stories, mostly involving Walt himself, from Disney corporate history. It is not official, but it also is not critical: it's written for people who want behind-the-scenes stories that are bascially the same in tone as Disney's public statements. If that's you, Korkis has a shelf of the stuff, as do several others. I read these things periodically, and always wish there was some more criticism to them: but that's the nature of the form and the audience.

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