Commentary… on Mike Barier errata…

Dave 0

There’s a new book out about Walt Disney called Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler.  I’ve just started reading this biography, and so far, it seems fine.  This "commentary" is about some "writer" named "Mike Barier."  Specifically, it’s about his approach to writing yet another biography of Walt Disney and he almost typical "I’m better than you" attitude.

Here’s an excerpt of what Barier wrote on a website:

"This is not an exhaustive compilation of the errors and ambiguities and other questionable statements I’ve found in Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, but only a listing of such things as lend themselves to a short-item treatment—some of them trivial in themselves, like misspellings, but troubling in their quantity. In addition, whole sections of the book are problematic."

This guy is coming out with his own book sometime soon, yet he found the time to spitefully and rudely comment on a fellow authors’ work.  Now, I do NOT have a problem with someone writing a book review, or giving editorials about someone else’s work.  The problem is this: NO author is right when it comes to "history" books!  In his posting, Barier practically says that Neal Gabler is an idiot.  And he does it repeatedly.  I do not know Neal Gabler.  I don’t know anything about him.  He’s just another guy who wrote a book.  But because this Barier guy has a competing book coming out, he feels the need to demean his competition.

So, why do I say that no author is right when it comes to history books?  Because there is usually  (unless you have a time machine, a video camera and an invisibility cloak) to correctly and accurately depict any historical event.  Barier thinks he has the "the truth" – and it’s clear that he thinks this, because he uses terms like "Gabler’s account of the production of that film…simply doesn’t match up very well with what I know."  What HE knows? What DOES he know?  WHO is he?  WHY is he the "expert?"  I have no doubt that both authors (in fact all authors who write about Walt Disney) have looked at the same research, talked to the same people, and read the same books.  Sure, one or the other may have talked to or seen a few different items, but by no means does that make one a better author than the other.  Stories of history – and especially about individuals like Disney – will always have people arguing about "truths."  Unfortunately, people who argue these points with the air of divinity are nothing but dolts and hacks themselves.

I’ve seen this before.  Being involved with Bodie State Historic Park, there are many, many books written about the old gold mining town and it’s inhabitants.  And sure enough, recent "authors" attempt to degrade or demean other author’s works.  And for the same reason – that air of divinity – of absolutely correctness.  Why?  Because they spent X number of years doing research.  Or they talked to this person or that person and got some personal history that other authors didn’t get.  Well guess what?  If all of these "authors" we so concerned with details, they would foot-note and site the hell out of every other sentence in their books.  But they don’t do that, do they?

After being a Tour Guide, speaking in public about various topics and generally loving history, I’ve learned (or at least do my best) to never argue with someone about what is "fact" when it comes to history.  Why?  Because what the hell do I know?!  I could have read something wrong.  Or interpreted a story differently.  Or just plain got things mixed up.  And ya know what?  If I "know" that I’m right, I’ll make sure the other person knows exactly where I got that "fact" from and leave it at that.

So, my commentary / rant basically comes down to this: Mike – grow up and quit tattling just because someone has a different interpretation than you do.  And to other "authors" who do this kind of thing, get a chalkboard for your home, lock yourself in a room and I want you to write 100 times "My book is better than everyone else’s because I did more research and am a better writer than they are."

And as a matter of FACT – this is all just my opinion…

(Oh, and as for the "quantity of misspellings" – that’s on purpose)