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Shiny Paper and Apple Skins-Part I

While half of this world is being forced to shout “Heil Hitler,” our answer is to say, “Saludos Amigos.” Walt Disney on a Hollywood Radio Program, December 12, 1942 (150)*

I thought I was done with Disneyfied versions, that I understood what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I read Disney’s words. But, I heard only empty cavern echoes in the desert. Gravely and chattery voices from Human Rights organizations carting water, not watercolors, calling to migrants and their ghosts.

“Hola, somos amigos.”

Spain, Portugal, England, the biological fathers, like those in the fairy tales, are long since departed. Even if I am not the wicked stepmother, I, like Cinderella or Snow White, still live in her house. The reflection in the mirror remained more troubling. Did she see, what I feared, the worst reflection of herself? Her perceived enemies all around her, suffering as discomfort, fear, pain and ignorance.

Snow White. Who was she really? The story began on a cold winter morn; a sweet baby was born to the proud king and queen. She would be a lovely girl growing up in the sheltered castle; the beautiful young woman labelled to embody the purity of character valued by the kingdom painted in the appropriate color skin. But, what if the evil queen was not a physical being? What if her reflection was a representation of the enemy within Snow White that she was not as “good” as her outer beauty made others assume? What if Snow White fled to escape that fear? What if she sought what else was outside of the high walls of the castle in hopes that helping would make the darkness inside her less?

Nelson Rockefeller, recently appointed as Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, (CIAA) recruited Walt Disney and Orson Welles to be Goodwill Ambassadors during World War II in Central and South America. His picks were not an accident. Film and filmmakers to rewrite a story. To rewrite a history cast in one dimension-- Heathens. Bad men. Latin lovers-- Even though film, visual arts, by definition is two dimensional. Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, Dopey, Sleepy, and Happy individual embodied opportunities for Snow White to realize the spells she attempted to cast with the best intentions that assigned intentions could be.

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story. Orson Welles, Script, “The Brass Ring” (158)*

It also depends on where you begin it. Snow White returned, beloved to her decadent wedding. Her subjects paid for these events in taxes no doubt, but the price the newly crowned princess could pay across a lifetime would be significantly more. Drunken on the dream what happens next was as much an afterthought as movie popcorn bubbles or airplane exhaust. Happily ever after, after all, needed no further attention. After observations of markets and landscapes on the trip, the colors of future Disney films changed from the European shades of the Disney classic Snow White. Yes, I imagine they did. But, not the content. Orson Welles failed as a Goodwill Ambassador. Yes, I would imagine he did.

Like Snow White, I signed papers across my life, identification, licenses, passports, academic. Certified to be married, body and soul, to the boundaries, the country, the mission. But what about the morning after, after the honeymoon? The spaces where warmth quickly receded. The spaces between. Other stories, histories, poked up from the mattress. Springs. Eventually even the softest mattress cannot hold back their sharpness. And the unwraveled apple skins, like shiny paper on Christmas morning, tumble crumpled out from under the bed. . .

*Reference: The Tango War by Mary Jo McConahay

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