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The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales 2022

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Abigail E. Disney, Kathleen Hughes, and Aideen Kane
Directed by Abigail E. Disney and Kathleen Hughes
Streaming, 87 mins

College - General Adult
Activism; Capitalism; Labor Relations

Date Entered: 07/21/2023

Reviewed by Alan Witt, Business Librarian, SUNY Geneseo

The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales is an expert piece of storytelling and activism that takes on wealth inequality and the death of the American dream. The film uses Disney and Disney employees as a lens to examine the broader issue of corporate profits and the dwindling worker's share of the pie. Rather than taking a strict chronological approach, the film moves from story to story, exploring Abigail Disney’s work to raise awareness about income inequality and the struggles of several Disney employees to make ends meet for their families. The documentary combines live interviews, historical footage, current footage of strikes and worker actions, and animated sequences, weaving them seamlessly together by choosing the medium that best highlights the story being told at any given time. There is continuity between the various animated sequences (the same characters and backgrounds showing up in multiple segments) that helps to tie the film together and give it a strong narrative heft.

These elements of struggling workers, union activism, historical outlines of how business executives rigged the system in favor of the wealthy, and Abigail Disney's personal exploration of the implications of her inheritance, all weave together towards a single message: that the current economic state of income inequality is a deliberate, intentional policy choice, and that reversing that situation is a moral imperative. The film is unabashedly activist with a defined viewpoint on the current state of economic inequality, but its reliance on personal experiences as contrasted with talking points in the media makes that viewpoint ring true. The film acknowledges that Disney is a single case study even while it argues that it can be a bellwether for the industry.

The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales has potential for use in a multitude of disciplines, particularly Business and Finance (in terms of Disney as a case study), Labor Studies, Sociology, and History. The main drawback for classroom use is that the narrative weaves and compounds throughout the film, making it difficult to isolate elements for abbreviated viewing. As assigned viewing for homework, this would be an excellent addition to a collection, whether to inform, incite debate, or to compare theory to an ongoing real-life case study.

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