l . l
lN 1dL ÛloNL!
The Name "Donald Duck" is the
Trademark Property and the Cartoon Drawings are
the Copyrighted Material Qf Walt Disney Productions.
There is no connetion between LG. Editions, Inc. and
Walt Disney and these materials are use without
the authorization or consent of
Walt Disney Productions.
How t Read Donald Duck
ws originally published in Chile as' Par Ler al Pato Donald
by Edicione Univesitarias de Valprafso, in 1971.
Copyright © Ariel Dorfmn and I Armnd Mattelart 1971
Para Leer al Pato Donald, Buenos Aires, 1972
Come Leggere Paperino, Milan, 1972
Para Leer al Pato Donald, Havana, 1974
Para Ler 0 Pato Donald, Lisbon, 1975
Donald I'lmposteur, Paris, 1976
Konsten Att Lasa Kalle Anka, Stockholm, 1977
Walt Disney's "Dritte Welt", Berlin, 1977
Anders And i den Tredje Verden, Copenhagen, 1978
Hoes Lees ik Donald Duck, Nijmegen, 1978
Para LerD Pato Donald, Rio de Janeiro, 1978
with furher editions in
Greek (1979), Finnish (1980), Japanese (1983),
Serbo-Croat, Hungarian and Turkish.
How To Read Donald Duck
English Translation Copyright@ I.G. Editions, Inc. 1975, 1984, 1991
Preface, lntroduction, Bibliography & Appendix
Copyright@I.G. Editions, Inc. 1975,1984,1991
All Right Resred.
No part of this book may b reproduced or utilized in
any form or by any means, electronic or mehanical, including
photocopying or recording or by any information storae
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from
the Publisher, I.G. Editions, Inc.
For informtion please address
I nternational General, Post Office Box 350,
New York, N.Y. 10013, USA.
ISBN: 0-88477-037-0
Fourth Printing
(Corrected & Enlarged Edition)
Printed in Hungary 1991
Ariel Dorman & Armand Mattelar
David Kunzle
John Shelton Lawrence
To say that this book was burnt in Chile
should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Hundreds of books were destroyed, and
thousands more prohibited and censored.
It was written in the mi ddle of 1971, in the
middle of the Chilean revolutionary process.
Copper had been rescued, the land was being
returned to the peasntry, the whole Chilean
people were recovering the industries that during
the twentieth cntury had been the means of
enrichment for Mr. Rockefel l er, Grace,
Guggenheim, and Morgan. Because this proces
was intolerable to the United States government
and its multinational corporations, it had to b
stopped. They organized a plan, which at the
time was suspected, and since has ben con­
firmed by Mr. Kissinger, Ford and Colby to have
been di rected and financed by the Un ited States
intelligenc services. Their objective: to over­
throw the constitutional government of Chile. To
realize their objective, an "invisible blockade"
was imposed: credits were denied, spare parts
purchased for industrial machinery were not sent,
and later, the Chilean State bank accounts in the
U.S. were blocked, and an embargo preventing
the sale of Chilean copper throughout the world
was organized.
There were, however, two items which were
not blocked: planes, tanks, ships and technical
assistance for the Chilean armed forces; and
magazines, TV serials, advertising, and public
opinion plls for the Chilean mass media, which
continued, for the most part, to be in the hands
of the sm II group which was losing its privileges.
To maintain them, with those of the U.S., their
mdia prepared the climate for the bourgeois
i ns urrection which finally materialized some
years later on the 11 th of September 1973. Each
day, with expert U.S. advice, in each newspaper,
each weekly, each monthly magazine, each news
dispatch, each movie, and each comic book, their
arsnal of psychological warfare was fortified. In
the words of General Pinochet, the point was to
"conquer the minds," while in the words of
Donald Duck (in the magazine Disneylandia
published in December 1971, coinciding with the
first mas rallies of native fascism, the so-called
"march of the empty pots and pans") the point
was to "restore the king."
But the people did not want the restoration
of the king nor of the businessman. The popular
Chilean cultural offensive, which accompanied
the social and economic liberation, took multiple
forms: wal l p�i ntings, ppular papers, TV
programs, motion pictures, theater, songs, litera­
ture. In all areas of human activity, with dif-
fering degrees of intensity, the people expressed
their will. Perhaps the most important arm of
t hi s of fensive, was the work of the State
Publishing House IIQuimantu," a word meaning
"Sunshine of Knowledg" in the language of the
native Chilean Mapuche indians. In two and a
half years it published five million books; twice
the amount which had ben published in all of
Chile during the past sevent years. In addition,
i t transformed the content of some of the
'magazines it had inherited from before the
Popular Unity government, and created new
ones. It is in this multi-faceted context, with a
people on the mrch to cultural liberation - a
process which also meant criticizing the "mass"
cultural merchandise exported so profitably by
the U.S. to the Third World - that How to Read
Donald Duck was generated. We simply answered
a practical need; it was not an academic exercise.
For the mad dog warriors on that September
11th, there were no paintings on the walls. There
were only enormous "stains" which dirtied the
city and memry. They, using the fascist youth
brigades, whitewashed all the singing, many-
colored walls of the nation. They broke records,
murdered singrs, destroyed radios and printing
presses, emprisoned and executed journalists, so
that nothing would be left to remind anybdy of
anything about the struggle for national libera­
But it was not enough to clean these cultural
"stains" from the
street. The most imprtant
task was to eliminate all those who bore the
"stain" inside themelves, the fighters, workers,
peas ant s , employees, students, and patriotic
soldiers, to eliminate these creators of a new life,
to eliminate this new life which grew, and for
which we all created.
This book, conceived for the Chilean pople,
and our urgent needs, produced in the midst of
our struggle, is now being published far from
Chile in the uncleland of Disney, behind the
barbed wire network of ITT.
Mr. Disney, we are returning your Duck.
Feathers plucked and well-roasted. Look inside,
you can see the handwriting on the wall, our
hands still writing on the wall:
Donald, Go Home!
Dorfman and Mattelart
Jan uary 1975,
in exile
(1991 )
David Kunzle
"Enterainment is America's second biggest
net export (behind aerospace) .... Today
culture my b the countr's mst imprant
product, the real source of economic power
and its pliticl influence in the world."
(Time, 24 December 1990)
The names of the Presidents change; that of
Disney remains. Sixty-two years after the birh of
Micey Mouse, twenty-four years after the death of
his master, Disney's my be the most widely known
Norh Americn name in the world. He is, aruably,
the century's most .imporant figure in bourgeois
pplar culure. He has done mre than any sinle
person to disseminate around the world certain
myths upn which that culure has thrived. notably
that of an "innocence" suppsedly universal, beyond
place. byond timeand beyond criticism.
The myth of U.S. political "innocence" is at last
being dismantled. an the reality which it masks lies
in signiicant areas expsed to public view. But the
Great American Dream of cultural innocence still
hlds a global imagination in thrall. The first major
breach into the Disney par of this dream was made
by Richard Shicel's The Disney Versin: Te Life,
Tmes, Ar and Commerce of Walt Disney (1968).
But even this analYSiS, penetrating and caustic as it
is, in many respects remains prey to the illusion that
Di sney producti ons. even at their worst. are·
somehow redeemed by the fact that. made in
"innocent fun." they are sially harmless.
Disney is no mean conjuror, and it has taken the
eye of a Dorfman and Mattelart to expose the
magician'S sleight of hand to reveal the scowl of
capitalist ideology behind the laughing mask, the
iron fist beneath the Mouse's glove. The value of
their work lies in the light it throws not so much
upon a particular group of comi cs, or even a
paricular cultural entrepreneur, but on the way in
which capitalist and imperialist values are suppored
by its culure. And the ver simplicity of the comic
has enabled the authors to make simply visible a
ver complicated process.
While many cultural critics in the United States
bridle at the magician'S unctuous patter, and shrink
from his bland fakery, they fail to recognize just
what he is faking, and the extent to which it is not
just things, but people he manipulates. It is not
merely animatrnic robts that he mld$, but human
beings as well. Unfortunately t the army of media
crit i cs have focused over the past decades
principally on the "sex-and-violence" films, uhorror
comics" and the pecul i ar inaniti es of the TV
comedy t as the great bludgeons of the popular
sensibility. If imprtant sectors of the intelligentsia in
the U.S. have been lulled into silent complicity with
Disney, it can only be because they share his basic
values and see the broad public as enjoying the
same cul tural pri vi l eges; but this compli ci ty
becomes positively criminal when their common
i deol ogy i s i mposed upon non-capi tal i st,
underdeveloped countries, ignoring the grotesque
disparity between the Disney dream of wealth and
leisure, and the real needs in the Third World.
It is no accident that the first thoroughgoing
analysis of the Disney Ideolgy shuld come frm
one of the most economi cally and culturally
dependent colonies of the U.S. empire. How To
Read Donald Duck was born In the heat of the
struggle to free Chil frm that depnen; an I
has since become. with Is many Latin American
edit ions. a most potent I nstrument for the
interretain of buris meia In the Thir Word.
Until 1970. Chil was cf1 leely In pan to U.S.
crorate Interests; is forein deb was the sen
hihest pr cpia In t wr. An even under the
Popular Unity government (1970-1973), which
initiated the peaceful road to socialism, it prved
easier to nainalize cpr than to fre the mass
media from U.S. Influenc. The most ppular T
channel in Chile impred about haH its material
from the U.S. (including FBI, Mission Impssible,
Disneyland, etc.), and until June 1972,
percent of the films shown in the cinemas (Chile
had virually no natie film Inusr) cm frm the
U.S. The major chain of newspapers and
magazines, including EI Mercuro, was owned by
Agustin Edwards, a Vice-President of Pepi Cola,
who also cntrolled many of the largest I nustrial
corprations in Chile, while he was a resident in
Miami. With so much of the mass media sering
conservative interests. the government of the
Popular Uniy tried to reach the people through
cerain alterative media, such as the pster, the
mral and a new kin of cmi bok. 1
1 Cf. Herbr Sciller and Dallas Smythe "Chile: An End
to Cuhural Clnialism" Siety, March 1972, p. 35-39,
61. And David Kunzle "Art of the New Chile: Mural,
Poter and Cmic Book in a 'Revolutinary Proess' I in
A and Arittur in the Seri of Poliis, edied by
Henr Millon and Linda Nohlin, Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 1978.
2 EI Meruro (Santiago de Chile).13 August 1971. The
pssage belw is slightly abriged from that pubished on
pages 80-81 in the Chilean edition of How To Read
Donal Duc
IAmong the objecives pursued by the Popular Unity
government apear to b the creatin of a new mentalit
in the younger generation. In order to achieve this
purpose, typical ot all Marxist societies, the authorities
are interening In eucatin and the adverising media
and resorin to varius expedients.
·Persons respnsibl to the Gvernment maintain that
education shall be one of the means calculated to
achieve this purpse. A severe critique is thus being
i nstituted at this level agai nst teaching methods,
textbooks, and the attitude of broad sectors of the
natin's teacer who refuse to beme an instrumen of
aWe reister no surprise a the emphasis plaed upn
changing the mentality of school children, who in their
immaturity cannot detect the subtle ideol ogi cal
cntraband to whih they are bing subjec.
"here are however oher lines of acss bing forge
to the juvenile mind, not ably the magazines and
publications which the State publishing house has just
launched under literary mentors both Chilean and
forein t in eiher case o proven Marist miliancy.
"It should be stressed that not even the vehicles ot
The ubiquitous magazine an newspaper kiosks of
Chile were emblazoned with the garish covers of
U.S. and U.S.-style comics (including some no
longer known in the metropolitan count ry):
Superman, The Lone Raner, Red Ryder, Flash
Gordon, etc.-and, of coure. the various Disney
magazines. In few cuntries of the word did Disney
so completely dominate the so called " children's
cmi" mret, a ter whih in Chile (as In mc of
the Third Word) Includes magazines also read by
adults. But under the aegis of the Popular Unity
government publishing house Ouimantu, there
developed a f orceful resistance to the Disney
As pr of this cultural offenSive, How To Read
Dnal Duc bcame a bestseller on publication in
late 1971, an sbsequently in other Latin Amercan
editions; and, as a pracical alterative there was
created, in Cabro Chico (Little Kid, upon which
Dorfman and Mattelart also col l aborat ed), a
delightful children's comic designed to drive a
wede of new values into the U.S.-disnified cltural
climate of old. Bth ventures had to compete in a
market where the bourgeois media were long
entrenche and had established their own strictly
commercial crieria for the strggle, an bth were
too successful not to have aroused the hostility of
the bourgeois press. EI Mercurio, the leading
reacinar mass daily in Chile, uner the headline
"Waring to Parents" denouned them as par of a
governmnt "plt" to seize cntrol of eduction and
juvenile rereatin and amusement are exempt from this
process, which aims to diminish the popularity of
cnsecrated characters of world literature, and at the
same time replace them with new models cooked up by
the Popular Unity popaanda exprs.
aFor sometime now the pseudo-soiologists have been
clamoring, in their toruous jaron, against crain cmic
books with an international circulation, judged to be
disastrous in tha they represent vehicles of intellectual
clnizatin for those who are expsed to them ... Since
clumsy forms o prpaganda wul nt b aceptable to
prens and guardians, children are systematially given
crefully distille doses of prpaganda from an early age,
in order to channel them in l ater years in Marxist
I Juvenile lierature has also been explite so that the
parents themselves should be exposed to ideological
indoctrination, f or which purpose special adult
supplements are included. It is illustrative of Marxist
procedures that a State enterprise should sponsor
initiatives of this kind, with the cllaboration of foreign
"The proram of the Popular Unity demands that the
cmmunications media should be educational in spirit.
Now we are discvering that this "education" is no more
than the instrument for doctrinaire proselytization
imposed from the tenderest years in so insidious and
deceitful a form, that many peple have no idea of the
real purpes bing pursued by these publications."
It is now widely known, even in the U.S., that EI
Merurio was CIA fund�: -Approximately haH the CIA
funds (one million dollars) were f unnelled to the
oppsition press, notably the nation's leading daily, EI
Meruro. " (Tme, 30 Septembr 1974. p.29).
the media, "brainash" the youn, inject them with
"subtle ideolgical contraband," an "pisn" their
minds against Disney characters. The article
referred repeatedly to "mentors both Chilean and
foreign" (i.e. the authors of the presen wor, whose
names ar of German-Jewish and Belgian oriin) in
an apal to the crdest kin of xenophbia.
The Chilean bourgeois press resorted to the
grossest lies, distorions and scare campaigns In
order to unerine cnfience in the Poplar Unity
government, accusing the government of doing
what they aspired to do themselves: censor and
3 In autumn 1973, UNESCO vote by 32 to 2 to cndemn
the bok-burning in Chile. The U.S. (with Taiwan) voted
with the Junta.
"Hey, Hegel!
silence the voice of their opponents. And seeing
that, despite their machinatins, ppular suppr for
the govemmnt grew louder ever day, they called
upn the militar to interene by force of arms.
On September 11, 1973 the Chilean ared forces
executed, wi th U.S. ai d, t he bloodiest
counterrevolution in the history of the continent.
Tens of thousands of workers and government
supporters were kill ed. Al l art and l i terature
favorable to the Popular Unity was immediately
suppressed. Murals were destroyed. There were
publi c bonfires of books. posters and comics.3
Intellectuals of the Left were hunted down, jailed.
torured and killed. Among those persecuted. the
authors of this bok.
Look what a fat
little wor I've
Mx! I'va got a
nice morael toolt
i£l . HEEL!
iM1RA EL�'
SO C01;
T (e col"
iiE FElC''" MARXl ' T .
"Ho dreadful! 'e
kittens are n't .
prepared for this!"
"Go awayl Don't
you reali ze we
arn't scarecrows.1I
TE Mf "PO c -p
aUE � \NMNa A
"Get him,coade!
"Glp! Occasionally
I run up against
guy who are
immune to the
voice of
conscien ce" .
liThe farmer is
coming with a
shot -gun!
"H! Firearms are
th e ony thing
these bloody
birds are afraid
***æææ of". mmmm
'� . E��\
All these years How To Read Donald Duck has
been banned in Chile; even wi th the recent
demcrati opnin sinc Plnhet was voted out� i
is still not available In its hmeland. All these year
Disney comics have flurished wih the blessing of
the fascistoid gvemment, an free of cmptiin
from the trly Chilean, Popular Unity style cmis,
whose authors were drven into exile, and silence.
The "state of war" declared in 1973 by the Junta to
exist in Chile, was openly declared by the Disney
comic too. In an Issue of late 1973, the Allende
government, symbolized by murderous vultures
called Mar an Hegel (meanin prhaps, Enels),
is being driven of by naked force: IIHal Firearms are
the only things thes lusy birds are afraid of."
How To Read Dnald Duck, has, of cure, been
banned in Chile. To be found in pssession of a
cpy was to risk one's life. By Mcleansin" Chile of
ever trace of Marist or pplar ar an lierature,
the Junta protected the cultural envoys of their
imperial masters. They knew what kind of cuHure
best sered their interess, that Mickey an Dnald
helped keep them in pwer, held soialism at bay,
restored "virue and innocence" to a "corrupted"
How To Read Dnald Duc is an enraged, satiricl
and poli ti cally impassioned book. The authors'
passion also derives from a sense of personal
victimization, for they themselves, brought up on
Disney comics and films, were injected with the
4 If we cntinue to refer to Disney Proucion� afer the
death of Walt as "Disney" and "he", we do so in respnse
to the fac that his sprit, that of U.S. crprate cpialism.
cntinues to dominate the organization.
5 Neiher cmic bo nor syndiated newspaper strip is
mentioned in the cmpany's Annual Repor for 1973.
They presumably fall within the category Publications,
which cnstiutes 17% of the group • Ancillar Aiiies."
Tis group, o whih Charaer Mercandizing, and Musi
and Records (2700 each) are the major constituents,
showed an extraordinary increase in acivity (up 2800
over the previus year, up 22800 over the la four years,
the cntribution of Publiations bing proprinate), so
as to bring its share of the total crprate revenue of
$85 millin up to 10k.
Written sliciation wih Disney Prouctions regarding
income from comic books proved unavai ling. The
following daa has been culled frm the press:
The total mont hly circul ati on of Di sney comics
throughout the world was given in 1962 at 50 million,
covering 50 countri es and 15 di fferent l anguages
(NeWWHk,31 Deember 1962, p. 48-51). These have
now risen to 18: Arabi, Chinese, Danish, Dutc, English,
Finnish, Flemish, French, German,· Hebrew, Italian,
Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Serbo . Croatlan,
Spanish, Swedish, and Thai. The numbr of countries
served must have risen shal in the later fifties, to judge
b the figures pubishe in 1954 (7me, 27 Decmbr, p.
42): 30 million cpies of a "single tltle" (Walt Disney's
Cmics and Slores) were being bught in 28 cuntries
ever month.
In the United States, discounting special "one-shot-
pridials keye to current films, the following 14 cmi
bok tiles were bin published In 1973 under Disney's
Disney ideology which they now reject. But this
book is much more than that: it is not just Latin
American water off a duck's back. The system of
domination which the U.S. culture i mposes so
disastrusly abroad, also has deleterious effects at
home, not least amng those who wor for Disney,
that i s, those who produce his ideology. The
circumsances in which Disney pructs are made
ensure that his employees reprduce in their lives
and wor relations the same system of explitation
to which they, as well as the cnsumer, are subject.
To locate Disney crrecly in the capitalist system
would require a detailed analysis of the working
conditions at Disney Prouctions and Walt Disney
World. Such a study (which would, necessarily,
break through the wall of secrecy behind which
Disney 4 oprates), does not yet exist, but we may
begin to piece toether such information as may be
gleaned about the circumstances in which the
comics were created, and the people who created
them; their relatinship to their wor, and to Disney.
Over the last generation, Disney has not taken the
comics seriusly. He harly even admitted pblicly
of their exisence.5 He was far to cncerned with
the prmtion of films and the amusement parks,
his two mst profitable enterprises. The comics tag
along as an "ancillary activi ty" of interest only
insofar as a new comic tile (in 1973 Robin Hood)
can be used to help keep the name of a new film in
name: Aslokitens, 8eagle Bys, Chi and Dale, Dasy
ad Donal, Dnal Duc, HuB Dewey and Louie Junir
Woodchucks. Mickey Mouse, Moby Duck, Scamp,
Surof, Unce So e, Wal Disney Shwase, Wal
Disney's Comics and Stories, Walt Disney's Comics
Digest. I should be stressed that while the number of
Disne tiles has recently increased, their Inividual size
has diminished cnsiderably, as did, presumably. their
The Disney comics publishing franchi se, Western
Publishing, stopped producing Disney comics about
1980, as di d the Burbank headquarters. No Disney
cmic were bing publishe a all for several years, until
in 1984 the liense was pce up by Gladstone (Another
Rainbow Press, i n Phoenix, Ari zona). Gl adstone
pblishe eight diferent tiles, with circulation averaging
50,00-65,000 per tile, seven of the titles cntaining Carl
Barks reprints, and wih abut haH the material obtained
from abroad, notably the Gutenberghus group in
Copenhagen. Smel l ing money, and fearing loss of
cntrol, Disney reused to renew Gladstone's license, and
sinc 1989 are producing their own cmics again, with
tie-ins to TV serials. The most important of these TV
produins, from our pint o view, is that featuring Carl
Barks' creatin Uncle Scroe, who is presented now in a
saniized versin, a the -miser wih the hear of gold".
The number of diferent forein language cmics (which
cntinued to flurish in the absenc of a U.S. eition) now
sans at abut 25, including very recently, a pilot edition
to test .the ptentially huge Russian market. An imprant
innovation, introduced by Gladstone and retained by
Disney for the U.S. edition, is that personal credits of
authors and arists are printed on the inside covers of
each issue.
the limelight. Royalties from comics constitute a
small decl i ni ng fraction of the r evenue f rom
Publiatins, which constitute a small fradion of the
revenue frm Anillar Activities, which cnstitute a
small fraction of the total corrate revenue. While
Disney's share of the market in "educational" and
children's books In other formats has increased
dramatically, his cut of the total U.S. comics cake
has surely shrnk.
But in forein lans the Disney comics trade is still
a muse that rars. Many pars of the worl, without
acs to Disney's films or television shows, know
the Disney character from the cmics alne. Those
to por to by a ticet to the Cinema, can alays
get hold of a comic, i not by purchase, then by
borrwing it from a friend. In the U.S. mreover,
comic bok circulation figures are an inadequate
index of t he cultural influence of comi c book
characers. Since n new comedy caroon shors
have ben made of Mikey Mouse since 194, and
of Donald Duck since 1955 (the TV shows carry
rerns), it is only in the cmic that one finds oriinal
stores with the classic character devised over the
last two decades. It is thus the comic books and
strips which sustain old favorites in the public
cnsciousness (in the U.S. and abroad) and keep it
recptive to the massive mrhandizing operations
whih exploi the ppularity of those characters.
Disney, like the missionar Peace Corsman or·
"good-will amassador of his Public Relations men,
has learned the native l ingoes-he is fl uent in
eighteen of them at the mment. In Latin America
he speak Spanish an Poruguese; an he speaks
it from magazines which are Slightly different, in
other ways, frm those prucd elsewhere an at
home. There are, indeed, at least four different
Spanish lanuage eiions of the Disney cmi. The
differences between them do not affec the basic
cntent, an to deterine the precise significane ot
sc dif erenes would require an excessive amunt
of research; but the fac of their existene pints up
some structural peuliarities in this little corner of
Some statistic will reveal the charader and exent of
foreign pariipatin in the Disney cmic, as well as the
depth of Disney's penetration into the Latin American
continent. The Chi l ean edition, which also serves
neighbring Peru, Parauay an Argentina, used, arund
1972, for is four comics titles (one weekly, three bi­
weeklies) ttallin 800,000 cpies sld per month: 4,400
pges o Disney material, o which well over a third came
direc frm Disney studis, just over a thir from Disney's
U.S. franchise, Western Publishin Cmpany, less than a
quarer from "aly. and a small fraction from Brail and
Denmar. The Mexicn editin (whih uses only half as
many paes as the Chile grup) takes almost exclusively
from the U.S. On the other hand, Brazil. wih five tiles
totalling over two millin cpies sld per month, is fairly
dependent upn Italy (1,000 out of 5,000 pages) and
generates 1,100 pages of is own material. Another Latin
Amerian editin Is that of Clmbia Ialy is perhaps the
most self-sufficient cuntry of all, proucing itself over
half of its 5,600 annual pages. France's Journal de
Mickey, which sells around 340,000 copies weekly,
consists of about half Disney and hal f non-Disney
Disney's empire. For the Disney cmic, more thar
his other media, systematically relies on foreigr
labor in all stages of the production process. ThE
native contributes directly to his own colonization.
Like other multinational corrations, Disney's ha�
found it profitable to decentralize operations
allowing cnsierable organizational and prduction
leeway to its foreign subsidiaries or "franchises,"
which are usually locked into the giant popular
press conglomerates of their respective countries.
l ike Mondadori in Ital y or International Press
Corporation in Britain. The Chilean edition, like
other foreign editions, draws its material from
several outsie sources apar from the U.S. Clearly,
it is in the interests of the metrplis that the various
foreign subsidi aries shoul d render mutual
assistance to each other, exchanging stories they
have impred or produced themselves. Even when
foreign editors do not find it conveni ent to
commission stories lcally, they can select the type
of story, and combination of stories ("stor mix")
which they consider suited to paricular public taste
and paricular marketing conditions, in the country
or countries they are sering. They also edit (for
instance, delete scenes considered offensive or
inappropriate to the national sensibility), 7 have
dialogues mre or less accurately translated, mre
or less freely adapted, and add local color (in the
literal sense: the pages arrive at the foreign press
ready photographed onto bl ack and whi te
transparencies ("mats"), requiring the addition of
color as well as dialogue in the local idiom). Some
characters l i ke Rockerduck, a freespending
millionaire rival of Scrooge; Fethr Duck, a "beatnik"
type; and 0.0. Duck, a silly spy; are known only, or
chiefly from the foreign editins, and never caught
on at home. The Italians in paricular have proven
adept in the creation of indigenous characters.
Expressed preferences of foreign editors reveal
cerain broad differences in taste. Brazil and Italy
tend towards more physical violence, more blood
and guts; Chile, evidently tened (like Scandinavia,
There is a direc reverse flow back to the mother countr
in Disneyland, a comic for younger readers with more
stylish drawing stared abut 1971, produced entirely in
England, and distributed by Fawctt in the U.S. This, and
Dnald and Mikey, the other major Disney cmic sering
the non-U.S. English-speain world, sell around 200,000
cpies per week each in the Unied Kingdom.
7 A collection of such edi torial changes might reveal
sme of the finer and perhaps more surprising nuancs
of cultural preference. The social sensi bi l ity of the
Swedes, for instance, was offended by the inclusion of
some realistic scenes of pvery in which the duclings
tr to buy gifts for the por ("Christmas for Shacktown"
1952). By cutting such scenes, the ediors rendered the
stor almost incmprehensible.
A countr wih a totally different culural tradition, such
as Taiwan, cannot use Disney comics in their original
form at all, and changes the very essence of favorite
characers. Thus Donald becomes a respnsible, model
parent, admired and obeyed by his little nephews.
Germany and Holland), to· more quiet adventures,
aimed (apparently) at a youner age grup.
The counterrevolution of 1973 provoked In the
Chi l ean edition aberrations like the bl atant antl­
Marism reprouced In this Inrucin, whic was
an embarrassment to Disney HQ. Local fl avor
ent ers al so t hrough t he necessity of finding
euivalens for pns. this Is wen Il lustte on page
54, where we have not followed the principle of
usi ng the Engl ish original when available, but
translated frm the Spanish of the Chilean ediin
used by the authors.8 In the original English the
ducklings offer to teah their hs"suare dncin"
which piks up the II-mtlY of -square ness" In the
primiive Anean h culure; the Chilean Spanish
intrduces a pun on "aadrarse", whih means bth
to square (oneself) and to stand at atention (as
sldiers before suprors). If this were a pst-1973
comic, one woul d be t empted to see it as a
conscious mi l it ari zation of the anodyne but
untranslatable original ; whether an unonscious
mi l itaristic choice Is at play here, among other
possible non-militaristic, unhierarchical puns, we
leave mot.
The tremendous and increasing popul arity of
Disney abroad is not matched, proprionately, in
the hme maret, where sales drped, to a degre
probably exceeding that of other comic classics,
ever since the peak reached In the early '50s.
Competition from tel evision is usual ly cited as a
major cause of the slump in the comics market;
listial dif iuHies of disriution are anther; an
a thir facor, affectig Diney in parilar, may b
sought in the whol e cultural shift of the last two
decades, which has transformed the taste of so
many of the younger chilrn as well as teenagers
in the U.S., and which Disney media appear In
many respects to have I gnored. If the Di sney
formul a has been successful ly presered in the
fi l ms and amusement parks even wit hi n t his
chaning climae, it Is by virue of an Inreasingly
heavy cloak of technial gimmir which has been
t hrown over the ol d content. Thus the comics,
bund today to the same production technology
(coloring, printin, etc.) as when they stare thiry­
five years ag, have ben unable to keep up with
the new enterainment triks.
The factors whih sent the cmics trade into Its
cmmerial decline In the U.S. have nt weighe to
anything like the same exten in the less develped
nati ons of t he worl d. The "cul tural l ag," an
expression of dminane of the metroplian cener
over is clnize aras, I a familiar phenmenn;
even in the U.S., Disney cmics sell prprionaely
bter In the Miwest an South.
8 The justifiation for this woul sem to b aparent, but
was criicized by some reviewers of the bok. See the
otherise most favorable review by Robr Byd, "Uncle
Scrooge, Imperial ist", The Comics Journal, Comics
Librr n. 1 38, Oobr 1 990, p. 54.
Fuelin the foreign maret from within the U.S. has
in recent years rn Into some difluHies. The less
prfitable dmestic maret, whih Disney does not
directly control and which now relies heavily on
reprns, miht cneialy b alle to wind dwn
a Hogether. A the dmestic mret shrinks, Disney
pushes harer aa, in th familiar mehanism of
i mperi al ist capit ali sm. As the foreign market
expans, he is uner Inreasin pressure to keep i
dependent upn supply from the U.S. (despite or
beaus' of the fac tha the clonies show, as we
have seen, si gns of independent productive
capaciy). But Disney was faced with a reriment
problem. a old wrhrses of the prfession, like
Car Bars, retire. an other becm disillusind
with the lw pay and restrive cnitions.
Disney has respnded to the need to revitalize
domsi prucin on bhal of the forein mret
in a characteristic way: by tightening the rein on
worer and product, to ensure that they adhere
rigidly to established criteria. Where Disney can
exeris direc cntrol, the cntrolls b total.
Prospective freelaners for Disney in the 1970s
received frm the Publiations Division a sheaf of
Cm Bo k Ar Spcifiions, deSigned in the firt
instance for the Comic Book Overseas Program.
(Western Publ ishi ng, whi ch was not pri mari ly
behlen to the forin mret, an whih was also
trying to attrac new talent. aHhugh perhaps less
strenuousl y, operat ed by unwritten and l ess
inlexile rles). Instead of inviin the invenin of
new charaters and new lcales, the Comic Bok
Ar Specifications do exactly the opposite: they
insis that only the esablishe characters b used
and mreover, that there be ano upar mbiliy.
The subsiiar fiures shuld never becm stars in
our stories, they are just ext ras." This severe
injuntin seems callated to repres exactly what
in the past gave a cerain growth potential and
flexibility to the Ducburg cast, whereby a minor
charder was upraded ino a major one, and might
even aspire to a comic bok of his own. Nor do
these established characters have any room to
manoeuvre even within the hierarchical structu re
where they are I mmutabl y fixed; for they are
restriced to "a set pater of behavir which mst
be complied with." The authoritarian tone of this
instruction to the story writer seems expressly
designed to crsh any kind of ceative maniplatin
on his or her par. He Is also discouraged from
localizing the action in any way, for Duckburg is
expl icitl y stat ed to be not i n t he U.S., but
"everywhere and nowhere: Al l taint of specifi C
geographical loatin must b expuned, as must
all taint of dialec In the lanuage.
Not onl y sex. but l ove is prohi bi ted (t he
relaionship bteen Mikey and Minnie, or Dnald
an Daisy, is "latonic"-ut not a platonic fon of
love). The gn las outlaw all flreans b "antiue
cannns and blunerusses;" (other) flreans may,
under cerain cirumstances, be waved as a threat,
but never used. There are to be n "diry, realisiC
business tricks," no "social differences,"
"pol i ti cal i deas." Above all , race and raci al
stereotypin I s ablished: "Natives should never be
depiced as negroes, Malayans, or singled out as
blnin to any pariular human race, and under
no cirmstanes shul they b characterized as
dumb, ugly, ineror or criminal."
As is evident frm the analysis in this bok, and as
is obvius to anyone at all familiar with the comics,
none of these rles (with the exception of the sexual
prohibition) have been observed in the past, in
either Duck or Mouse stories. Indeed, they have
ben floutet, time and again espcially by Bars,
whose strggles with the censor make absurdist
Duckburg is Identi fi abl e as a typical smal l
Califorian or Mieser town, within easy reach of
forest and deser (like Hemet, California, where Carl
Bars, the creator of the best Donal Duck stories
li ved); the comics are full of Americanisms, in
custom and language. Detective Mickey carries a
revolver when on assinmnt, and often gets shot
at. Uncle Scrooge is ofen guilty of blatantly diry
business tricks, and although defi ned by the
Specifications as "not a bad man", he constantly
behaves in the most reprehensible manner (for
which he is properly reprehended by the younger
ducks). The stories are replete with the "social
differences" btween rich and penniless (Scrooge
and Donald), between virtuous Ducks and
unshaven thieves; plitical ideas frequently cme to
the fore; and, of course, nati ves are often
characterized as dumb, ugly, inferir and criminal.
The Specificatins seem to represent a fantasy on
the studios' par, a fantasy of control, of a purity
which was never reall y present. The public is
supposed to think of the comics, as of Disney In
general, in this way; yet the past success of the
comics with the publi, and their unique character
vis-a-vis other cmics, has undubitably depended
on the prominene given to cerain capitalist socio­
pliial realities, like finanial gred, diry bsiness
triks, an the denigratin of foreign peoples.
Yet today, when the Studis one more resume
cnrol of U.S. prouction, the Spcificatins are still
as restrictive as ever, and the cntrac with arists is
(in the view of an ex-Gladstone senior editor)
"rightening," including the demand, for instance,
that all rights to the wor be sold everhere an in
prpetuity-Ita waiver of all human rights." Arists
are required to surrender not only their original
arwork (which Gladstone permitted them to keep
and sell independently), but all sketches, notes,
The contradiction here is nakedly exposed i n the
versi on of the Speci f i cations dist ributed by the
Scndinavian Disney publishers: .... no soial differences
(po r kis, arrgant manager, humble serant) ... Donald
Duk, in relation to Uncle Scroge, is . . . underpaid . . .
grossly exploited in unpleasant jbs . . . 1
Thomas Andrae, ''The Expurgated Barks," The
referene materials of all kinds, and "all other ideas
or concepts, tangible or intanglble"-as one of
Gladstone's veteran arist-authors put it, "like they
own even our unspken thoughts in advane."
Sine a large proprion of the comics stories were
alays larely producd and published outside the
Studis, their cntent has never, in fact, been under
as tight control as the other Disney media. They
have clearly benefitted from this. I would arue that
some of the best "nn-Disney Disney" stories, those
by the creator of Uncle Scrooge, Carl Bars, reveal
more than a simplistiC, wholly reactionary Disney
ideology. There are elements of satire in Barks'
wor which one seeks in vain in any other corner of
the worl of Disney, just as Bars has elements of
social realism which one seeks In vain in any other
corner of the world of comics. One of the most
intelligent students of Bars, Dave Wagner, goes so
far as to say that "Bars is the only exception to the
uniform reactionar tendenCies of the (post-war)
Disney empire."11 But the relationship of Barks to
the Disney comics as a whole is a problematical
one; H he is responsible for the best of the Duck
stories, he is not responsible for all of them, any
more than he is responsible for the non-Duck
stories; an even those of his stories selected for
the foreign editions are sometimes subjected to
subtle but significant changes of content. It could be
proven that Disney's bite is worse than his Barks.
The handful of U.S. critics who have addressed
themselves to the Disney comic have Singled out
the work of Barks as the superior artist. But the
picture which emerges from the U.S. perspective
(whether that of a liberal, such as Mike Barrier, or a
Marist, such as Wagner) is that Barks, while in the
main clearly conserative in his pliical philosophy,
also reveals himself at times as a liberal, and
represents with clarity and considerable wit, the
contradictions and perhaps, even some of the
anguish, frm which U.S. society is suffering. Bars
is thus elevated to the ranks of elite bourgeois
writing and ar, and it is at this level, rather than that
of the mass media hack, that criticism in the U.S.
addresses itself. At his best, Barks represents a
self-conscious guiHy burgeois ideology, from which
the mask of innocence occasionally drops (this is
especially true of his later works, when he deals
increasedly with cerain social realities, such as
foreign war, and pllution, etc).
From his exile within the "belly of the monster"
Dorman himself, since the first publication of this
book, has taken a more generous view of t he
comics he excoriated, at least those by Bars whom
he too recognizes as an unrivalled satirist, and
Car Bas Ubrar III, Uncle Scroge 2, p. 517-524. On p.
52 we find specificati ons issued i n 1954 by Dell Cmics,
Western Publishing's distributor.
11 Private communication 4 July 1974. For Wagner's
article on Barks, see "Donal d Duck: An Interview".
Radical Ameria, VII, 1,1973, pp. 1-19.
whom he even cmpares to Lewis Carroll . 1 2
Over the last twenty years Barks has become
something of a cult figure which has generated a
small lierar inustr, while his oriinal cmic bo ks
and the lithographs and paintings done sine his
retirment in 1 967 have ben eagerly sugh aer
and bught at hih pres, much In cntrast wih his
. earlier obscurity and relaive pvery. His working
condi tions u nder Di sney make hi m l ook l i ke a
Donald Duck vi s-a-vis Uncle Scrooge as Uncle
"A man wh never seemed to have time or mney
for a vacat ion, whose l ife was conti nuous and
seemingly mnotonus labor, paid piece-rate at a
level which never peritted him to save, who never
had and never sought an adventure, who never
traveled abrad an litle in the United States (onl
to the Caliomia and Oregn forests) , who lived in
other words, something of the life of the 'average'
U. S. worker (a l ife presumabl y shared by t he
parents of many of his readers)-hi s man wrote
ceaselessl abut a word of cnstant leisure, where
·work' was def i ned as consumpti on, the exot ic
exploit, and fierce competition too avoid work, to
whih end weaHh flowed freely frm all quarers of
the globe. "
When thi s passage was read to Barks i n an
interiew transcribd In Barier's Car Bars an the
Ar of the Comi Bok, 13 Bars' respnse was, with
a laugh, "oo tre to b funny", an cnluded, in a
typical self-deprecation loyal to the capitalist myth
that tre talent will alays
rewarded, " I just didn'
have the abiliy, s I was where I was".
An where is Bars nw? Criis of all stripes, all
over the worl, are agreed as to his imprane; but
t he pol it ical and i deol ogi cal nat ure of t hi s
significance, despie the extraordinar sucess of
How To Read Dnald Duck, has yet to penetrate
the forresses of Bars specialty scholarship in the
U. S. It is ironially-t logially-in the U. S. that
the severest l imits are put on Bars I nterretatin;
and it is in Latin American less lgically-that
Dorman and Mattel ar' s theories have met with
least criical oppsiin an suppressin (there have
been thi ry-three printings in Spani sh, i ncluding
pirate ediions; the bo k has been translated into
f i fteen different l anguages worl dwi de) . A bi g
German publ isher has produced I n a ppular ar
paperack series an analysi s, based on Dorman
and Mattelar, of Bars' stories, taken in historial
12 "Get Rih, Young Man. or Uncle Scroge Through the
Loking Glass,· in the Vlae Voie, 28 December 1 982;
see als an interiew wih Dorman, Salmaundi no. 82-
83 Spr i ng- Summar 1 989. A notabl e i ntel l ect ual
imprimatur of Barks may be found I n a review by Robin
Johnson of the Carl Bats Libra and the Barrier bok on
Carl Barks i n the New Yor Review of Books, 26 June
1 986, p. 22-24.
13 New York: Lilien, 1 986, p. 8.
1 8
sequene 1 946-67, as tied to major mments in the
U.S. strgle for hegemny in the Third World: the
Korean War, the Cold War, the quest for oi l, the
spac race, the Cuban revolutin, the Vietnam War,
etc. 14 Yet Bars chief bigraper and bibliographer,
Mike Barrier, can still claim tha "the
st sores [of
Bars] resi efors to drw lessns for present-day
Amerian siety frm them . . . The stire is directed
not at some scial injusie, bt human nature."1 5
Di sney sti l l weighs heavi l y, al as , over that
necessar an valuable enerrise. the pblication
in thiry volumes of the entire oeuvre of Car Bars,
just now cllete. 16 Its useful b larely defensive
and eul ogi st i c cri t i cal apparat us has been
imprious to the Dormn-Mattelar apprach, the
resonane of which in s many quarers is nt even
admitted. Worse, the publ i shers. worki ng under
l i cense f rom Di sney, had to yi el d to Di sney­
mandat ed tampering of Barks' origi nal text and
imges by deplltiizing them. In our illustration on
page 57, for i nst ance , t he phrase "workers'
paradise" i s replacd by "McDuck Enterrises" and
"revolution" by .,akeover an "war" . 1 7
Dorman and Mattelar's book studies t he Disney
prducions an their efects on the wrld. It cannt
be a ciniene that much of what they obsere i n
the relationships between the Disney characters
can als b foun, and mayb, even explained, in
the oranizatin of wor within the Disney inustr.
The system at Disney Proucions seems to be
designed to prevent the arist frm feelin any prde,
or gainin any recgnition, other than crrate, for
his work. One the cntract is signed, the arist's
i dea becomes Di sney' s i dea. He is its owner,
therefore its creator, for al l purpses. I t says so,
bl ack and whi te, in t he contract : "al l art work
prepared for our cmics magaines i s consiered
wor done for hire, an we are the creator thereof
for al purseS (stress ade) . There culd hardly
be a clearr satement of the manner in which the
capital ist engrosses the labor of his workers. I n
return for a small fee or wage, he takes frm them
bth the prfit an the glor.
Walt Disney, the man who never by his own
admission leamed to draw, and never even tried to
put pencil to paper after aroun 1926, who culd nt
even sin his nam as i apeared on his proucts,
acuired the reptation of bein (in the words of a
j ustly famous and otherwi se most percepti ve
political caroonist) .he most significant figure i n
14 David Kunzle, Carl Bars, Daober und Donal Duc,
We/erbeun aus Entenperptie, Frankfur am Mai n:
Fischer Tashenbuh Verlag, 1 990.
15 Mike Barrier. Carl Bars and the Ar of the Comic
Bok, p. 61 .
The Carl Barks Library of Walt Disney Comics,
Phenix, Arizona: Another Rainbw Press, 1 983-1 990.
17 See Car Bars Librat, V, Unle $rooe 3, pp. 5n,
591 , and 592.
graphic art si nce Leonardo"
The man who
ruthlessl y pillaged and distorted the children' s
literature of the world, is hailed (in the citation for
the President's Medal of Freedom, awarded to
Disney in 1 964) as the "creator of an American
folkl ore. " Throughout hi s career , Di sney
systematically supressed or diminished the credit
due to his ariss an writers. Even when obliged by
Union regulatins to list them in the titles, Disney
made sure his was the only name to receive real
prominence. When a top animator was individually
awarded an Oscar for a short, it was Disney who
steped forar to receive i.
While t he world applauds Disney, it is left in
ignorance of thse whs wor is the cornerstone of
his empire: of the Immensely industrious, prolific
and inventive Ub Iwerks, whose technical and
aristi innvatins rn from the muli-plane camera
to the characer of Micey himseH; of War Kimball,
whose genius was admitted by Disney himseH an
who somehow surived Disney's stated policy of
ridding the studios of "anyone showing signs of
And of course. Carl Barks, creator of
Uncle Scrooge and many other favorite "Disney"
characters. of over 500 of the bst "Disney" comics
stories, of 7,000 pages of " Disney· aror paid at
an average of $5 a page ($1 1 .50 for the script, $34
for the ar) , 20 not one signed with his name, and
sellin at their peak over three million copies; while
his employers, tring carefully to keep him ignorant
of the true extent of this astonishing commercial
success, presered him from individual fame and
frm his numrous fans who enquired in vain afer
his name.
Disney thought of himself as a "pollinator" of
people. He was indisptably a fine stor editor. He
knew how to corinate labr; abve all, he knew
hw to maret ideas. In capitalist ecnomics, bth
labor and ideas become his propery. From the
humble inker to the full-fledged animator, from the
por student woring as a Disneyland trash-picker
to the highly skilled "animatronics" technician, all
surender their labor to the great impresario.
Like the natives an the nephews in the comics,
Disney workers must surrender to the millionaire
Uncle Scrooge McDisney their treasures-the
surplus val ue of their physical and mental
resurces. To judge frm the anecotes abunding
from the last years of his life, which testify to a
patholgicl parimny, Uncle Walt was identifying
David Low."eonardo da Di sney." in the New Reublic.
5 Januar y 1 942, pp. 1 6- 1 8; r epri nt ed i n the s ame
magaine, 22 November 1 954.
Cited i n Walt Disney, compi led by the edi tors of
Wisdom [Beverly Hills. CAli XXXI I . Decembr 1 959.
2 Barrier, Carl Bas. p. 85.
Cited in Schikel, p. 297.
Cf. Bill Davidson. uThe Fantastic Walt Di sney" in the
Saturay Evening Post, 7 November 1 964, p. 67·74.
Diane Dai sy Miller. The Stor of Walt Disney, New
York, 1 956, p. 1 39f.
1 9
in small as well as big ways less and less with the
unmaterialistic Mickey (always used as the personal
and corporate symbol) . and more and more with
Barks' miser, McDuck.
Literature, too, has been obl i ged to pour i ts
treasures into the great Disney mneybin. Disney
was, as Gilber Seldes put it many years ago, the
"rapacious strip-miner" in the "goldmine of legend
and myth." He ensured that the famous fairy tales
became his: his Peter Pan, not Barrie' s, his
Pinocchio, not Colldi's. Authors no longer living. on
whose wors copyright has elapsed, are of course
totally at the mercy of such a predator; but livi ng
authors also, cnfronted by a Disney contrac, find
that the law is of little avail. Even those favorable to
Disney have expressed shock at the manner i n
which he rides roughshod over t he writers of
material he plans t o turn into a film. The writer of at
least one book original has publicly denounced
Disney's brutality. 21 The rape is both aristic and
financial , psychologi cal and materi al. A typical
contract with an author excludes him or her from
any cut in the gross. from royalties, from any share
in the "merchandizing bnanza" opened up by the
successful Disney film. Disney sews up all the rights
for all prses. and usually for a paltr sum.
In contrast. to defend the properies he amassed,
Disney has always employed what hi s daughter
termed a "regular corps of attorneys"2
business it is to pursue and punish any person or
oranization. however small, which dares to borrow
a character, a technique, an i dea patented by
Di sney. The man who expropriated so much from
others will not countenance any kind of petty theft
against himself. The law has successfully protected
Disney against such pilfering, but in recent years, it
has had a more heinous crime to deal with: theft
compunded by sacrlege. OutSiders who transpse
Disney characters, Disney footage or Disney comic
books into unflatering contexts, are pursued by the
ful l ri gor of the l aw. The publ i sher of an
"underground" poster satirizing Disney puritanism
by showing his cartoon characters engaged i n
various kinds of sexual enterprise ,24 was sued,
successfully. for tens of thusands of dollars worh
of damages; and an "underground" comic book
artist who dared to show Mickey Mouse taki ng
drgs, is being prosecuted i n similar fashion.
A recent roundup of the ravages of Disney's legal
ary of 6 lawyers quaerens quem devoret makes
24 Reproduced i n Davi d Kunzl e, Posters of Protest
(catal ogue for an exhi bi ti on hel d at the Univers ity of
California. Santa Barbara. Ar Galleri es. February 1 970),
fig. 1 1 6. Even the publ i sher of a Japanese magazi ne
car r yi ng a t ran s l at ed ext r act of t h i s work and a
reproducion of the pster. has been threatened by the
l ong arm of Di sney l aw. Ironically. cheap pirated copi es of
the pster abund; I even picked one up i n a bokstore i n
Mexico City. Its popularity i n Lati n America i s furt her
attested by t he del ight i t aroused when exhibited as part
of the U.S. Posters of Protest show, i n the Palace of Fine
Ars, Santiago de Chile (September 1 972) .
grim readi ng. Just three examples: forcing a Soviet
arti st to remove from a Beverly Hi l l s Gal l ery a
painting in homage to U. S. pplar culture. shwin
Mickey Mouse handin a Cambll's Soup can to a
Russian (would I have been alrigh H Mickey had
been handi ng hi m a copy of the new Russi an
edition of Mikey Mouse comic?) ; preventing fie­
and six-year old chilren from ptin Disney cmi
characters on their nurer schol walls; threatenin
to sue a Canadian town gvemement whih waned
to erec a statue to a bear cub supposed to have
i nspi red A. A. Mi l ne's Wi nnie the Pooh. I n three
years , Di sney has f i l ed 1 . 700 copyright
i nf ri ngements suits In U. S. courts; t his I s not
cunting the innumerable suits settled out of cour.
Well , they need the mney: Disney only netted $.4
bi l l i on gross i n 1 98�t with a net income of $520
million. This is Scro er a is finest; nt a penny
may be stol en f rom t he Great Money Bi n of
Character Merchandising. Disney even contracts
with local i nvestigative and law firms to identify and
pursue local offender, who, acording to Disney
lawers, are social pests akin to drg dealer, and
"par of organized crminal carels. "5
Fil m is a cllecive prcess, essentially teamor.
A good animated caroon reuires the cnjuncin
of many t al ents . Di sney' s l ongstandi ng publ ic
relations image of his studio as one great, happy.
democratic family, is n mre than a smke screen
to conceal the rigidly hierarchical structure, with
ver pory pai Inker an colrers (mstly women)
at the bttom of the sale, an top animator (male.
of course) earni ng five ti mes as much as thei r
assistants. I n one instance where a top animator
objected, on behalf of his assistant, to this gross
wage differential, he was fired forhith.
Peopl e were a commodity over whi ch Di sney
needed absolute control . If a good arist left the
st udio for anot her job, he was consi dered by
Disney, i f not actual ly as a thief who had rbbed
him, t hen as an accomplice to theft ; and he was
never foriven. Disney was the authoriarian father
figure, quick to punish youthful rebellin. In pst-war
years, however, as he grew in fame, wealh, pwer,
an distane. he was no longer regarded by even
the most innoen employee as a father figure, but
as an uncl e-the rich uncl e. Always "Wal t" to
everyone, he had everone "walt" i n.26 ''There's only
one S.O. B. in the studio," he said, "an that's me. "
For his worers to express slidariy against him
was a subversion of his legiimate authority. When
mmbers of the Disney studio acted to join an AFL­
CIO affi liaed union, he fired them an accused them
of bei ng Communist or Communist sympathisers.
Later, i n the McCarhy priod, he coperated wih
the FBI and HUAC (House Unamerican Activities
Committee) in the prosecution of an ex-employee
for "Communism . ..
25 Gail Diane Cx, " Don't Mess with the Mouse," National
Law Jurnal, 1 1 , no. 47. 31 July 1 989, pp. 25-27.
Ever si nce 1 935. when the League of Nations
recogni zed Mickey Mouse as an "I nternational
Symbol of Good Wi l l " , Di sney has been an
outspken pliicl fire, an one who has alays
been able to cunt upn govemment help. When
t he Second Worl d War cut off t he extremely
l ucrati ve European market , which contributed a
good half of t he corporat e i ncome, t he U. S.
government helped hi m turn t o Lati n America.
Washi ngton hastened the sol uti on of the strike
whih was crplin hi sudio, an at a time when
Disney was literally on the verge of bankruptcy,
began to commi ssion propaganda fi l ms. which
became hi s mainsay for the duration of the war.
Nel son Rockefel l er, t hen Coordi nator of Lati n
American Affair, arranged for Disney to go as a
"good-wi l l ambassador" to the hemi sphere. and
make a film i n order to win over hears and minds
vul nerable to Nazi propaganda. The fi l m, called
Saludos Am/gos, quie apar frm its function as a
commerci al for Disney, was a diplomatic lesson
sered upn Lati n Ameria, and one which is still
considered valid today. The live-action travelogue
footage of "ambassador" Disney and hi s artists
tourng the cntinen, Is interprsed with animated
secions on "life" in Brazi l , Argenti na, Peru and
Chi l e, whi ch defi ne Lat i n Ameri ca as t he U. S.
wi shes to see i t , and as t he l ocal peopl es are
supposed to see i t t hemsel ves. They are
symblized by cmic parrts. mr sambas, lUXUr
beaches and goofy gauchos. and (to show that
even the primitives can be mdem) a little Chilean
plane which braves the terrrs of the Andes i n order
to del i ver a si ngl e touri st's greet i ng card. The
reduction of Lati n America to a seri es of picture
postcards was taken furher in a l ater fi l m, The
Three Cabaleros, and also permeates the comic
bok stories set in that par of the world.
During the DepreSSion, Disney favories such as
Mi ckey Mouse and the Three Littl e Pigs were
gratefully received by critics as fitting symbols of
courageous opimism in the face of great difficulties.
Disney alays poh-pohed the idea that his wor
contained any pariular kin of political message,
and prudly pinted (as proof of his innocene) to
the diversity of plitical ideologies sympathetic to
hi m. Mickey, noted the proud parent , was "one
matter upon which the Chi nese and Japanese
agree. " "Mr. Mussolini . Mr. King Geore and Mr.
President Roosevelt" all loved the Mouse; and if
Hitler disapproved (Nazi propaganda cnsidered all
ki nds of mice, even Di sney' s. to be di rty
creatures)-'Well ," sclded Wal, "Mickey i s going
to save Mr. A. Hitler from drowning or something
one day. Jus wait an see if he doesn't. Then won't
Mr . A. Hit l er be ashamedl "27 Come the war,
however, Disney was usi n the Mouse not to save
Hiler, bt to damn him. Mickey became a favorite
I . e. "al l e i n". The pun i s that of a studio hand, cited i n
"Father Goose", Tme, 27 Decembr 1 954, p. 42.
Cited by Schicel, p. 1 32.
armed forces mascot; fittingly, the climacic event of
the European war, t he Normandy l andi ngs, were
cde-named Micey Mouse.
Amng Disney's numerous warime propaganda
films, the most conroversial and in mny ways the
most i mporant was Victor Through Air Power ..
Underaken on Di sney' s own i nit i ative, thi s was
designed to suppr Major Alexander Seversky's
theor of the Meffectiveness" ( i . e. damage-to-cost
rat i o) of st rategic bombi ng, i ncl udi ng t hat of
ppulatin center. It would be unai r to proje back
onto Di sney ou r own gui lt over Dresden and
Hirshima, b i i s nteworhy that even at the time
a film cri was shked by Disney's "gay dreams of
hlcaust."28 An i is cnsistent that the maker of
such a film should later give active and fi nancial
suppor to some noted proponents of massive
strategic and terror bombing of Vietnam, such as
Goldwat er and Reagan. Di sney' s support for
Goldwater in 196 was mre than the public gesture
of a wealhy cnserative; he went s far as to wear
a Goldater bton while bing invested by Johnson
with the Presient's Medal of Freedom. In the 1 959
presienial campain, he was arroant enugh to
bully his employees to give money to the Ni xon
campaign fund, whether they were Republicans or
Disney knew how to adapt to changi ng cultural
climates. His post-war Mouse went "straight;". l i ke
the U.S. , he bcame plieman to the world. As a
cmic he was supplanted by the Duck. Donald Duck
represented a new kind of comedy, suited to a new
age: a symbol not of courage and wit, as Mickey
had been to t he '30s, but an exampl e of heroi c
failure, the guy whse constant effors towards gold
and glory are doomed to eternal defeat. Such a
character was appropriate to the age of capitalism
at its apgee, an age presented (by the media) as
one of opprunity an plenty, with fabulous wealth
awarded to t he f ort unat e and t he rut hle ss
cmpetitor, like Unle Scrooge, and dangled as a
bait before the eyes of the unfortunate and the
losers in the game.
The ascendancy of t he Duck f ami l y di d not
however mean that Mickey had lost hi s magic. From
darest Africa Tim magazine repred the stor of
a distri officer in the Belgian Congo, coming upon
a group of terrifi ed natives screami ng "Mikimus. "
They were fleeing frm a local witchdoctor, whse
'usual voo had lst its do, an in the emreny, he
had invoked, by making a few passes with needle
an thread. the familiar spirit of that infi nitely greater
magician who has cast his spel l upon the enti re
worldWaH Disney." 2 The natives are here cast,
by Time, in the same degraded role assigned to
them by the comis themslves.
Bac hom, meanwhile, the white magic of Disney
seemed to be t hreatened by t he vi rul ent bl ack
Schickel, p. 233.
2 Tme, 27 December 1 954
p. 42.
30 Cf . Frederic Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent,
magi c of a ve ry di f f er ent ki nd of comi c. The
excesses of the &Chorror comic" brought a major par
of the comic bok inustr into disrepute, and under
the fierce scrtiny of moralists, educator and child
psychologists all over the U. S. and Europe, who
saw it as an arena for the horrors of sexual vice,
sadism an extreme physical violence of all kinds.30
Di sney , of course , emerged not j ust moral l y
unscathed, but psitively victorious. He became a
model for the harml ess comic demanded by the
new Comics Code Aut hori ty. He was now Mr.
Clean, Mr. Decency, Mr. Inncent Middle America,
in an otherise rapidl y degenerati ng culture. He
was champi oned by t he most react i onary
educat i onal off i ci al s, such as Cal i forni a State
Superi nt endant of Publ ic I nst ruct i on, Dr . Max
Raffery, as "he greatest educator of this centur­
greater than John Dewey or James Conant or al l
the rest of us put toether."31 Di sney meanwhi l e (for
all his honorar degrees from Harard, Yal e, etc. )
cont i nued, as he had al ways done , to express
publ ic contempt for the concepts of "Education, "
&C l ntel l ect , " "Art , " and the very i dea that he was
" eaching" anyboy anything.
The pblic Disney myth has been fabricated not
only f rom t he man' s works but al so f rom
aut obi ographi cal dat a and personal
pronouncements. Di sney never separated hi mself
f rom his work ; and t here are certai n format ive
cirumstanes of his life upn which he himself l iked
to enl arge, and whi ch through bi ographi es and
i nteriews, have contributed to the publ ic image of
both Disney and Di sney Productions. Thi s publ ic
i mage was also the man's seH-image; and bth fed
i nt o and upon a domi nant Nort h Ameri can sel f­
i mage. A major par of hi s vast audi ence interpret
thei r l ives as he i nterreted hi s. His i nnocence i s
thei r i nnocence, and vi ce-versa; hi s rejecti on of
reality i s theirs; hi s yearning for purity i s theirs too.
Their aspirations are the same as hi s; they, like he,
stared out in life por, and worked hard in order to
become rich; and if he became rich and they didn't,
wel l , maybe luck just wasn't on thei r side.
Walter El ias Disney was brn in Chicago in 1 901 .
When he was four, his father, who had been unabl e
to make a decent living in that city as a carenter
and small bui lding contractor, moved to a farm near
Marceline, Mi ssour. Later, Walt was to idealize life
there, and remember it as a kind of Eden ( alhough
he had to help i n the work) , as a necessary refuge
from t he evil world, for he agreed with hi s father that
"after boys reached a certai n age t hey are best
removed from the corruptive i nfluences of the big
city and subjected to the wholesome atmosphere of
the countr. "32
But after four years of unsuccessful farming, El ias
Disney sold his propery, and the fami ly returned to
1 954.
31 Schickel, p. 298.
32 Cited in Schickel , p.35.
the city-this time, Kansas City. There, in adiion
to his sholing, the eight year ol WaH was forced
by his father Ino brtally hard, unpaid wor3 as a
newspaper delivery by. getting up at 3:30 every
mring an walking for hours In dar, snwbun
streets. The memr haunted him all his IHe. Hi s
father was al so I n the habit of givi ng him, for no
goo reasn, beatins wih a leather srap. to which
WaH submited '0 humr him and keep him happy."
This phrase I n HseH sug ess a cnscius atem,
on the par of the adul, to avoid confronting the
opressive realiy of his chilho d.
WaH's mther, meanhile, Is cnsiuously absen
from his memries, as Is his youner siser. All his
three elder brthers ran aay frm hme, and i is a
remarable fac that afer he bame famus, Wal
Disney had nthin to d wih eiher of his parents,
or, i nee, any of his family excep Roy. His brother
Roy, eight year oler than hlmseH an throughut
his career his finanial manager, was from the ver
begi nni ng a ki nd of parent substitute, an uncle
f ather-fi gure. The el i mi nati on of true parents,
especi al ly the mother, from the comics, and the
incidenc i n the film of mthers dead at the star,
or dyin in the curse of events, or cs as wiked
stepmothers (Bambi, Snow White and especially
Dum) ,3 must have hel great prsonal meaning
for Disney. The theme has of curse long been a
consant of world folk-lierature, but the manner in
which it is hanle by Disney may tell us a great
deal abut 20th centur burgeois cuHure. Peuliar
to ' Disney cmics, surely. is the fac that the mther
is not even, technially, missing; she is simply non­
existent as a cncpt. I is pssible that Disney trly
hated his childhod. and feared and resented his
parents. bt culd never admit It. seeking thrugh
his wors to escape frm the bitter social realities
assciated with his upringing. H he hated being a
chi ld, one can al so understand why he always
insisted that his films an amusement pars were
desined i n the first place for adults. not children,
why he was please at the statistis whih shwed
that for ever one chil visior to Disneyland, there
were four aduls. and why he always cflained at
geting the awards for Bs Chilren's Film.
As Dorman an MaHelar show, the chil in the
Disney cmiC Is really a mask for adult anxieties; he
33 I . e. his father added the money he earned to the
household budget. Newr deliver is one of the few
l egal ly sanctioned forms of chi ld labr sti l l survivi ng
today. Most parents nowadays (presumably) l et thei r
children keep the money they earn, and read the j as
a useful form of early ideoloial traini ng, i n whih the
child leams the value and nessi of main a minute
personal ·profit- out of the l abor which enriches the
millionaire nespapr pblisher.
34 Acrdi ng to Richard Schickel, Dumb is lithe most
over statement of a theme that is impliit in almos all the
Disney features-the absence of a mother" (p. 225).
35 Schike', p. 4. Cf. "op Management's Roster Lists
Very Few Jews, Very Few Catholics. No Blacks. No
Women." cited by D. Keith Mono "A Rea' Mickey Mouse
is an aduH seH-image. Most critis are agreed that
Disney shows litle or n understanding of the "real
chil," or real childho psychly an prblems.
Di sney has al so. necessari l y, el i mi nated the
biologi cal l i nk between the parent and chi l d­
sexuality. The runcy tOUCh, the baryar humr of
his early fi lms, has long si nce been sanitized.
Disney was the only man in Hollyoo to whom you
coul not tell a diry jke. His sense of humor, i I
existed at all (an many wrHer on the man have
expressed dubs on this sre) was always of a
maredly 1athrom" or anal kind. Coy analiy is the
Disney substiute for sexualiy; this is notorous in
the films. and obserable in the comics also. The
worl of Disney, insie an outsie the cmics, is a
mal e one. The Di sney organi zat i on excl udes
womn from psiins of imrance. Disney freely
admited "Girs bred me. They still d. "5 He had
very few i ntimate relat ionships with women; his
daughter's biography contains no hint that there
was any real intimacy even within the family circle.
Wal t' s account .of hi s courtShi p of hi s wi fe
establ i shes it as a purel y commerci al
transacin.3 Wal had hire Lillian Bouns as an
inker bcuse she wol wor for less money than
anyone else; he marrie her (when his brother Roy
married, an mved out) because he needed a new
rom-mate, an a co k.
But just as Disney avoide the reali of sex and
chilren, so he avoie that of nature. The man who
made the world's most publ icized nature fi l ms,
whse wor expresses a yearin to retur to the
puri ty of natural , rusti c l i vi ng, avoi ded t he
countryside. He hardly ever left Los Angeles. His
own garen at hme was fille with railroad tracks
and stock ( thi s was hi s bi g hobby) . He was
interested in nature only i n order to tame i, contrl
i t, cleanse i. Disneyland and Wal Disney World are
monuments to hi s desi re for total control of his
envi ronment , and at the end of hi s l ife he was
planning to turn vast areas of Califoria's loveliest
"unspiled" mountains, at Mineral Ki ng, into a 35
mil lion dollar playground. He had no sense of the
special nn-human characer of animals, or of the
wi lderness ; hi s concern wi th nat ure was to
anthrpmrhize it.
Disney like to claim that his genius, his creativity
Oratin- Plyby, Decembr 1973, p. 328.
36 His daughter's words (Mi l l er, Ope cit. , p. 98) bear
repeati ng: "Father [was] a low-pressure swai n with a
relaed selling teniue. Ta's the way he descibed it
to me .. . [he wa] a unahe sentimentalist .. . [bt] to
hear him talk au marring Mther, you'd think he was
ater a lifetime's suply of her sister's fried chiken: His
popsal cme in this form: 'hih do you think we ought
to pay for firs, the cr or the ring?" They buht the ring.
and on the cheap, beause it was probably "hot· (stolen).
Acrdin to Lo magazine (1 5 July 1 955, p. 29), "Lillian
Bounds was paid so little, she smetimes din't bther to
csh her paychec. This endeared her greatly to Roy . "
[who) urged Wa to use his charm to persuade the lady to
csh even fewer cheks."
"sprouted from mother earth. "37 Nature was the
surce of his genius, hi s genius was the soure of
his wealth, and hi s wealth grew l ike a product of
nature, like cm. What made his glden comfiel
grow? Dllars. "Dollars." sai Disney, i n a remark
wort hy of Uncl e Scrooge McDuck, "are l i ke
fertlizer-hey make things grow. "
As Drman an Matelar obsere. it is Disney's
amition to rener the past like the present, an the
present l i ke the past. and project both onto t he
future. Disney has patented"sewn up all the rihts
on"-omr as well as toay. For, in the jaron
of the media, "he has made tomrrow cme tre
toay," and "enables one to actually exprienc the
future. I His future has now taken shape in Walt
Disney Word i n Orland, Florida; an amusement
par whih cvers an area of one virin lan twie
the si ze of Manhattan. whi ch i n i ts f i rst year
attracted 1 0. 7 milli on visitors (about the number
wh visi Washington, D.C. annually) . With its own
laws, it is a sate wihin a state. It boasts of the fifth
largest submarine fleet in the world. Distinguished
burgeoi s architects, town planners, critics and land
37 Tme, 27 December 1 954, p. 42.
3 Newsweek, 31 December 1 962, pp. 48-51 .
39 Peter Blake, in an aricle for the Arhietural Form,
June 1 972 (stress adde).
specul ators have hai l ed Walt Disney World as the
solution to the prblems of our cities, a prototype for
living in the future. EPCOT (Experimental Prototype
Community of Tomorrow) , was i ntended as, in the
words of a wel l - known cri t i c39 "a working
community, a vast, l iving, ever-chaning labrator
of u rban desi gn . . . (whi ch) underst andabl y . . .
evades a go d many problems-husi ng, schol s,
emloymnt, politis an so on . . . . They are in the
fun business." O course.
The Disney pars have brought the fantasies of
the '1uture" and the '1un" of the comics one step
nearer to capi tali st "real ity. " "I n Disneyl and (the
happiest place on earh) ," says Public Rel ations,
"you can encounter ' wi l d' ani mal s and nat i ve
'savages' who often di splay their hosti l ity to your
i nvasion of their jungle privacy . . . From stockades in
Adventurelan, you can actually shoot at I ndians."
Meanwhi l e, out there i n the real real world. t he
"savages" are fighting back.
David Kunzle
Los Angeles, Febrar 1 991
Th e rea d e r of this book may feel di s­
concerted, not so much becaus one of hi s i dol s
turns out to have feet of cl ay, but rather because
the ki nd of l anguage we use here i s i ntended to
break with the fal se sol emni ty whi ch general l y
cl oaks scienti fi c i nvesti gati on. I n order to attai n
knowl edge, which is a form of pwer, we cannot
conti nue to endorse, with bl i nded vi si on and
sti l ted jargon, the i ni ti ati on ri tual s with whi ch
our spi ri tual hi gh pri ests seek to l egi ti mi ze and
protect thei r excl usive pri vi l eges of thought and
e x pressi on. Even when denounci ng prevai l i ng
fal l aci es, i nvestigators tend to fal l wi th thei r
l anguag i nto the same ki nd of mysti fi cati on
which they hope to destroy. Thi s fear of
breaki ng the confi nes of l anguage, of the future
as a consci ous force of the i magi nati on, of a
cl ose and l asti ng contact with the reader, thi s
dread of appeari ng i nsi gni fi cant and naked bfore
on e' s par t i c u l a r l i mi ted publ i c, btrays an
aversi on for l i fe and for real i ty a s a whole. We
do not want to be l i ke the sci enti st who takes
hi s umbrel l a with hi m to go study the rai n.
We are not about to deny scienti fic rati onal ­
i s m. Nor do we aspire to some cl umsy popul ari­
zati on. What we do hope to achi eve is a more
di rect and practi cal means of communi cati on,
and to reconci l e pl easure with knowl edge.
The best cri ti cal endeavor i ncorporates, apart
from i ts anal ysi s of real i ty, a degree of method­
ol ogi cal sel f-cri ti ci sm. The probl em here i s not
one of rel ati ve compl exi ty or s i mpl i city, but one
of bri ngi ng the terms of cri ti ci sm i tsel f under
scruti ny.
Readers wi l l j udge thi s experi ment for them
s e l v e s , pr e fe r a bl y i n an acti ve, producti ve
manner. I t resul ts from a j oi nt effor; that of
two resea rchers who unti l now have observed the
preordai ned l i mi ts of thei r respecti ve di sci pl i nes,
the humanistic and socia l sci ences, and who
f ou n d t h e ms e l ve s 0 bl i ged to change thei r
methods of i nterpretati on and communi cati on.
Sme, from the bi as of thei r i ndi vi dual i sm, may
rake th i s book over sentence by sentenc, carvi ng
i t up, assi gni ng thi s part to that person, i n the
hopes of may b restori ng that soci al di vi si on of
i ntel l ecual l abor whi ch l eaves them so com­
fortabl y settl ed i n thei r armchai r or uni vers i ty
chai r. Thi s work i s not to be subjected to a
I etter-by-l etter breakdown by some hysteri cal
computer, but to be consi dered a j oi nt effort of
concepti on a nd wri ti ng.
Furthermore, it is par of a n effor to achi eve
a wi der, more massi ve di stri buti on of the basi c
i deas conta i ned i n thi s bok. Unfortunatel y,
these i deas are not al ways easi l y accessi bl e to al l
the readers we woul d I i ke to reach, given the
· lucati onal l evel of our people. This is espci al l y
I e case si nce the criticism contained i n the bok
l nnot fol l ow the same popul ar channel s whi ch
iP bourgeoisie controls to prop
ate its own
. ll ues .
We are grateful to the students of CE R EN
:entro de Estudios de l a Real i dad Nacional ,
f � nter for the Study of Chi lean Society, at the
; l thol i c University) , and to the seminar on
' )ubl i terature and Ways to Combat i t" (Depar­
� ent of Spanish, University of Chi l e) for the
constant i ndi vi dual and col l ecti ve contri buti ons
to our work.
Ariel Dorfman, member of the Juveni l e and
Educati onal Publ i cations Divisi on of Qui mant(*,
was able to parti ci pate in the devel opment of
th is book thanks to the assi gnment offered to
hi m by the Department of Spani sh at the
Uni versi ty of Chi l e. Armand Mattel art, head of
Qui mantu's I nvestigati on and EvaJ uati on of the
Mass Media Secti on, and Research Professor of
CEREN, parti ci pated in the book thanks to a
si mi l ar dispensati on.
4 Septem br 1 971 ,
Fi rst anniversary of the tri umph of the
Popul ar Uni ty Government
"My dog has become a famous l i feguard
and my nephews wi l l be bri gadi er- general s.
To what greater honor can one aspi re?"
Donal d Duck ( D 422* )
"Baby frogs wi l l be big frogs someday I
whi ch bri ng h igh pri ces on the market . . .
I ' m goi ng to fi x some speci al frog fooc and
s pe e d up the g r owth of thos l i ttl e
hoppers ! "
Donal d Duck ( D 451 , CS 5/60)
I t woul d be wrong to assume that Wal t Di sney
is merel y a busi ness man . We are al l fami l i ar wi th
the massi ve merchandis i ng of h i s characters i n
·We us the fol l owi ng abbreviati ons : 0 = Disney­
landia, F = Fantsias, TR = Tio Rico ( Srooge McDuck) ,
T8 = Tribiin ( Goofy) . Thes magazi nes are publ i shed
in Chi l e by Empresa Edi tori al Zi g-Zag ( now Pi nst ) , with
an average of two to four l arge- and medi um-si zed
stor i es per i ssue. We obtai ned al l avai l able back i ssues
a n d pur chased cu rrent issue duri ng the months
fol l owing March 1 971 . Our sampl e i s thus i nevi tably
somewhat random:
Disneylandia: 1 85, 1 92, 21 0, 281 , 292, 294, 297,
303, 329, 342, 347, 357, 364, 367, 370, 376, 377, 379,
381 , 382, 383, 393, 400, 401 , 421 , 422, 423, 424, 431 ,
32, 433, 434, 436, 437, 439, 440, 441 , 443, 444, 445
446, 447, 448, 449, 451 , 452, 453, 454, 455, 457.
Tio Rico : 40, 48, 53, 57, 61 , 96, 99, 1 06, 1 08, 1 09,
fi l ms , watches, umbrel l as, records, soaps, rocki ng
chai rs, neckti es, l amps, etc. There are Di sney
stri ps in fi ve thousand newpapers, transl ated
i nto more t han thi rty l anguages, spread over a
hundred countri es. Accordi ng to the magazi ne' s
own publ i ci ty puffs, i n Chi l e a l one, Di sney
comi cs reach and del i ght each week over a
mi l l i on readers. The former Zi g- Zag Company,
now bi zarrel y convered i nto Pi n sel Publ i shi ng
Enterpr i se (Juven i l e Pu bl i cati ons Company Ltd. ) ,
suppl i es them to a major part of the Lat i n
Ameri can conti nent. From thei r nati onal base of
operat i ons, where there is so much screami ng
about the trampl i ng underfoot ( the su ppress i on,
i nti mi dati on, restri cti on, repress i on, curbi ng, etc. )
1 '1 0, 1 1 1 , 1 1 3, 1 1 5, 1 1 6, 1 1 7, 1 1 9, 1 20, 1 28.
Fantasias: 57, 60, 68, 82, 1 40, 1 55, 1 6, 1 65, 1 68,
1 69, 1 70, 1 73, 1 74, 1 75, 1 76, 1 77, 1 78.
Tribilin : 62, 65, 78, 87
92, 93, 96, 99, 1 00, 1 01 ,
1 03, 1 04, 1 0, 1 07.
(Transl ator 's Note: Stories f or whi ch I have been
abl e to l octe the U. S. ori gi nal s are coded thus: CS =
( Walt Disney's) Comics and Stories ; DA = Duck Album;
DO = Donald Duck ; GG = Gyro Gear/oose; HDL =
Huey, Dewey and Louie, Junior Woodchucks ; and US =
Uncle Srooge.
The f igures fol lowi ng represent the ori gi nal date of
issue; thus 7/67 means July 1 967. Somet i mes, howeer,
when there is no mnthly date, the issue number
appears fol l owed by the year. )
� t he l i berty of the press, this consorti um, con­
; di ed by fi nanciers and "phi l anthropists" of the
(�vi ous Chri sti an Democrat regi me ( 1 964- 70),
1 ' j ust permi tted i tself the l uxury of converti ng
· veral of i ts publ i cati ons from biweekl i es to
, 'ekl y magazi nes.
Apar from his stock exchang rati ng, Di sney
I s ben exal ted as the i nvi ol able common
d t u r a l heri tage of contemporary man; his
l aracters have been i ncorporated i nto ever
l me, they hang on every wal l , they decorate
' l j ects of every ki nd; they constitute a l i ttl e l ess
l ; Hl a soci al envi ronment i nviti ng us al l to joi n
; I � great universal Di sney fami l y, whi ch extends
· yond a l l fronti ers and i deol ogies, transcends
I ferences between peopl es and nati ons, and
; rt i cul ari ti es of custom and l anguae. Di sney i s
. ( � great supranati onal bri dge across whi ch al l
! man bei ngs may communi cate with each other.
qd a mi dst so much sweetness and l i ght, the
qi stered trademark becomes i nvisi bl e.
Di sney is part - an i mmortal part, it woul d
I � m - of our common cl l ecti ve vi si on. I t has
· > � n observed that i n more than one country
. ckey Mouse is more popul ar than the nati onal
' 1 0 of the day.
I n Central Ameri ca, AI D (the U. S. Agency for
i ernati onal Devel opment) - sponsored fi l ms
nmoti ng contracepti on feature the characters
; lm "Magi cian of Fantasy. " In Chi l e, after the
!l thquake of Jul y 1 971 , the chi l dren of San
' r nardo sent Di sneyl and Gomics and sweets to
: pi r stri cken fel l ow chi l dren of San Antoni o.
q d t h e yea r bef ore, a Chi l ean women's
. t gazi ne proposed givi ng Di sney the Nobel Peace
! ze.
We need not be surprised, then, that any
nuendo about the worl d of Di sney shoul d b
l erpreted as an affront to moral ity and ci vi ­
/ a t i on at l arge. Even to whi spr anythi ng
i ai nst Wal t is to undermi ne the happy and i n-
I cent pal ace of chi l dhood, for whi ch he is bth
; ardi an and gui de.
No sooner had the fi rst chi l dren's magazi ne
' e n i s s ue d by the Chi l ean Popul ar Uni ty
nvernment publ i shi ng house Oui mantt, than
' e reacti onary j ournals sprang to the defense of
• "At the ti me of hi death ( 1 96) , a small , i nformal
I t worldwide group was promoting - with the cover
-, i stance of his publ icity department - hi s nomi nati on
, the Nobel Peac prize" (from Ri chard Schickel , The
: sney Version, New York, 1 968, p. 303) . San Bernardo
a wrking�las suburb of greater Sntiago; San
"tonio a port in the central lone. (Trans. )
Di sney:
"The voi ce of a newscaster struck deep
i nto the mi crophone of a radi o stati on i n
the capi tal . To the amazement of hi s l i sten­
ers he announced that Wal t Di sney i s to be
banned in Chi l e. The government propa­
ganda experts have come to the concl usion
that Chi l ean chi l dren shoul d not thi nk,
feel , l ove or suffer through ani mal s.
"S, i n pl ace of Scrooge McDuck,
Donal d and nephews, i nstead of Goofy and
Mi ckey Mouse, we chi l dren and grownups
wi l l have to get used to readi ng about our
own soci ety, which, to j udge from the way
it is pai nted by the wri ters and panegyri sts
of our age, i s rough, bitter, cruel and hate­
ful . It was Di sney's magi c to b abl e to
stress the happy si de of l i fe, and there are
al ways, in human society, characters who
resembl e thos of Di sney comi cs.
"Srooge McDuck i s the mi ser l y
mi l l i onai re of any country i n the worl d,
hoardi ng hi s money and sufferi ng a heart
attack every ti me someone tri es to pi nch a
cent off hi m, but i n spite of it al l , capabl e
of reveal i ng human traits whi ch redeem
hi m i n his nephews' eyes.
HDonal d i s the eternal enemy of
work and l i ves dependent upon hi s
powerful uncl e. Goofy i s the i nnocent and
gui l el ess common man, the eternal vi cti m
of his own cl umsi ness, whi ch hurts no one
and i s al ways good for a l augh.
"Bi g Bad Wol f and Li ttl e Wol f are
ma s t e r l y mea n s of t e a chi ng chi l dren
p l easantly, not hateful l y, the di fferenc
between good and evi l . For Bi g Bad Wol f
hi msel f, when he gts a chance to gobbl e
up the Three Li ttl e Pi gs, suffers pangs of
consci ence and is unable to do hi s wi cked
"And fi nal l y, Mi ckey Mouse i s Di s­
ney in a nutshel l . What human bi ng over
the l ast forty years, at the mere presence
of Mi ckey, has not fel t hi s heart swel l wi th
emoti on? Di d we not see hi m once as the
"Sorcerer's Apprentice" in an unforgettabl e
cartoon which was the del i ght of chi l dren
and grownups, whi ch preserved every si ngl e
note of the masterl y musi c of Prokovi ev [ a
reference no doubt to the music of Paul
Dukasl . And what of Fantasia, that pro­
di gi ous feat of ci nemati c art, wi th musi ­
ci ans, orchestras, decorati ons, fl owers , and
every ani mate bi ng movi ng to the baton
of Leopl d Stokowski ? And one scene, of
the utmost spl endor and real i sm, even
showed el ephants executi ng the most el e­
gant performance of "The Dance of the
Dragonfl i es" [a reference no doubt to the
"Dance of the hours"] .
"How can one assert that chi l dren
do not l earn from tal ki ng ani mal s? Have
they not ben observed ti me and agai n
engagi ng i n tender di al ogues wi th thei r pet
dogs and cats, whi l e the l atter adapt to
thei r masters and show wi th a purr or a
titch of the ears thei r understandi ng of
the orders they are given? Are not fabl es
ful l of val uabl e l essons in the way ani mal s
can teach us how to bhave under the most
di ffi cul t ci rcumstances?
"There is one, for i nstance, by Tomas
de I ri arte whi ch serves as a warni ng
a ga i ns t t he da n ge r o f i mposi ng too
st ri ngnt pri nci pl es upon those who work
for the publ ic. The mass does not al ways
bl i ndl y accept what is offered to them. "*
Thi s pronouncement parrots some of the i deas
prevai l i ng i n the medi a about chi l dhood and
chi l dren's l i terature. Above al l , there i s the i m­
pl i cati on that pol i ti cs t:annot enter i nto areas of
"pure entertai nment, " especi al l y those desi gned
for chi l dren of tender years. Chi l dren's games
have thei r own rul es and l aws, they move,
supposedl y, in an autonomous and asoci al sphere
l i ke the Di sney characters, with a psychol ogy
pec u I i ar to creatures at a "privi l eged" ag.
I nasmuch as the sweet and doci l e chi l d can be
shel tered effecti vel y from the evi l s of existence,
from the petty rancrs , the hatreds, and the
po l i ti cal or i deol ogi cal contami nati on of hi s
el ders, any attempt to pl i ti ci ze the sacred
domai ne of chi l dhood threatens to i ntroduce per­
ve r s i t y where there once rei gned happi ness,
i nnocence and fantasy. Si nce ani mal s are al sn
exempt from the vi cissi tudes of hi story and
pol i ti cs, they are conveni ent symbol s of a worl d
beyond soci o-economi c real i ti es, and the ani mal
characters can represent ordi nary human types,
common to al l dasses, cuntri es and epochs.
*L Sgunda ( Santiago) , 20 Jul y 1 971 , p. 3. This
daily blongs to the Mercurio group, which is controlled
by Augustin Edwards, the major " press and i ndustri al
monopol ist i n Chil e. The writer of the article quoted
worked as Publ i c Relations officer for the American
coppr companies Braden and Kennecot. ( cf. A. Matte­
lart "Estructura del poder i nformativo y deendencia"
D i s n e y thus establ i shes a mora l background
which draws the chi l d down the proper ethi cal
and aestheti c path. I t i s cruel and unnecessary to
tear i t away from i ts magi c garden, for i t is rul ed
by the Laws of Mother Nature; chi l dren are j ust
l i ke that and the makers of comi c books, in thei r
i nfi ni te wisdom, understand thei r bhavi or and
thei r bi ol ogi cal l y-determi ned need for harmony.
Thus, to attack Di sney i s to reject the un­
questi oned stereotype of the chi l d, sancti fi ed as
the l aw in the name of the i mmutabl e human con­
di ti on.
There are automagic
· ·
anti bodi es i n Di sney.
They tend to neutral i ze cri ti ci sm because they
are the sa me val ues al ready i nsti l l ed i nto peopl e,
i n the tastes, refl exes and atti tudes whi ch i nform
everyday experi ence at al l l evel s. Di sney manages
to subject these val ue to the extremest degree of
commerci al expl oitati on. The potenti al assai l er i s
thus condemned i n advance by what i s known as
"pu bl i c opi n ion, " that i s, the thi nki ng of peopl e
wh o ha\ e al ready been condi ti oned by the
Di s ney message and have based thei r soci al and
fami l y l i fe upon i t.
The publ i cati on of this book wi l l of course
provoke a rash of hosti l e comment aga inst the
authors. To faci l itate our adversari es' task, and i n
order to l end uni formity to thei r cri teri a, we
offer the fol l owi ng model , whi ch has ben drawn
up wi th due consi derati on for the phi l osophy of
the j ournal s to whi ch the gen tl emen of the press
are so attached:
1 . The authors of thi s book ar e to be defi ned
as fol l ows: i ndecent and i mmoral ( whi l e Di sney 's
worl d i s pure) ; hyper-compl i cated and hyper­
sophisti cated ( whi l e Wal t is si mpl e, open and
si ncre) ; members of a si n i ster el i te ( whi l e Di sney
is the most popul ar man i n the worl d) ; pol i ti cal
agi tators (whi l e Di sney is non-parti san, above
pol i ti cs ) ; cal cul ati ng and embi ttered ( whi l e Wal t
D. i s spontaneous, emoti onal , l oves to l augh and
make l aughter ) ; subverters of youth and do­
mest i c peace ( whi l e W. O. teaches respect for
parents, l ove of one's fel l ows and protecti on of
in "Los Medios de Comuniccion de Mass: La I deologia
de la Prensa Liberal en Chi l e" Cuadernos de la Realidad
Naional ( CEREN, Santiago) , 3, Marzo de 1 970) .
• • A word-play on the adverti si ng s logan for a
was h i n g mchine, which cleans "automagicamente"
(automatical l y and magical l y) - Trans.
I he weak) ; unpatriotic and antagonisti c to the
nati onal spi ri t (whi l e Mr Di sney, bi ng i nter­
nati onal , represents the bst and dearest of our
na t i ve tradi ti ons) ; and final l y, cul tivators of
" Ma r x i s m- f i cti on, " a theory i mported from
abroad by "wi cked forei gners"* (whi l e Unca
Wal t is aai nst exploi tation and promotes the
cl assl ess societ of the future) .
2. Next, the authors of this book are to b
accused of the very l owet of cri mes : of dari ng
to raise doubts about the chi l d's i magi nati on,
t hat i s, 0 horrod, to quetion te right of
chi l dren to have a l i terature of thei r own, whi ch
mterprets them so wel l , and is created on thei r
behal f.
There can b no doubt that chi I dren's l i tera­
ture i s a genre l i ke any other, monopol i zed by
speci al i zed su bsectors withi n the cul ture i ndustry.
Some dedicate themselves to the adventure stor,
some to mystery, oters to the erotic novel , etc.
But at l east the l atter are di rected towards an
amorphous publ i c, whi ch buys at random. I n the
case of the chi l dren's genre, however, there is a
vi rtual l y bi ol ogi cal l y capti ve, predetermi ned
audi ence.
Chi l dren' s comi cs are devised by adults, whos
work i s determi ned and j usti fi ed by thei r i dea
of what a chi l d i s or s houl d be. Often, they even
ci te "scientific" sources or anci ent traditi ons ( "i t
i s popul ar wisdom, dati ng from ti me i mmemo­
r i al ") i n order to expl ai n the nature of te
publ i c' s needs. I n real i ty, however, thee adults
are not about to tel l stories which woul d jeo­
pardi ze the future they are pl anni ng for thei r
chi l dren.
So the comi cs show te chi l d as a mi ni ature
adul t, enjoyi ng an i deal i zed, gi l ded i nfancy
whi ch is real l y nothi ng but the adul t projecion
of some magi c era beyond the reach of the harsh
di scord of dai l y l i fe. It is a plan for sl vati on
whi ch presupposs a pri mal stage within every
e x i ste n ce, sheltered from contradicti ons and
permi ti ng i magi nati ve escape. �uveni l e l iteratur,
e m' bodyi n g purity, spontaneity, and natural
vi rtue, whi l e l acki ng in sex and violenc, re­
presents earthly paradise. It guarantes man's
* Actual words of Little Wolf (0 21 0)
own redempti on as an adul t: as l ong as there are
chi l dren, he wi l l have the pretext and means for
sel f-grati fi cati on with the spectacle of his own
dreams . In his chi l dren's readi ng, man stages and
perfrms over and over agai n the supposedly un­
probl emti cal scene of his i nner refuge. Regal i ng
hi mself wi th ' hi s own l egend, he fal l s i nto tautol ­
ogy; he admi res hi msel f i n the mi rror, thi nki ng
it to be a wi ndow. But the chi l d pl ayi ng down
there i n the garden is the puri fi ed adult l ooki ng
back at hi melf.
S it is the adul t who produces the comics,
and the chi l d who consumes them. The rol e
of the apprent chi l d actor, who re igns over this
uncontami nated worl d, is at onc that of au­
di ence and dummy for his father's ventri l oqui sm.
The father deni es hi s progeny a voice of hi s own,
and as i n any authoritarian society, he establ i shes
hi msel f as the oter' s sole i nterpreter and spokes­
man. Al l the l i ttl e fel l ow can do is to let hi s
father represent hi m.
But wa i t a mi n u te, gentl emen I Perhaps
chi l dren real l y ar l i ke that?
I ndeed, the adul ts set out to prove tha thi s
l i terature i s essenti al to the chi l d, sati sfyi ng
hi s eager demands. But this is a cl osed ci rcui t :
chil dren have been conditi oned by the maazi nes
and the culture whi ch spawned them. They tend
to refl ect i n thei r dai l y l i ves the character isti c
they are supposd to possess, i n order to wi n
affecti on, aceptanc, and rewards; i n order to
grow u p properl y and i ntegrate i nto society. The
Di s ney wor l d is sustai ned by rewards and
punishments; it hides an i ron hand with the
vel vet glove. Consi dered, by defini ti on, unfit to
chos from the alternatives aai l able to adul ts,
the youngsters i ntuit "natural " bhavi or, happi l y
accepti ng that thei r i magi nati on b channel led
i nto i ncntestabl e ethical and aesthetic i deal s.
Juveni l e l i terature is justified by the chi l dren i t
has generated through a vici ous ci rcl e.
Thus" adults create for themsel ves a chi l dhood
emboyi ng thei r own angel ical aspirati ons, whi ch
offer onsol ati on, hope and a guarantee of a
"better," but unchangi ng, future. Thi s "new
real i ty," this autonomous real m of magi c, is art­
ful l y isol ated from the real i ty of the everyday.
Adult val ues are projeced onto the chi l d, as i f
chi l dhod was a speci al domai ne where these
val ue coul d be protected uncritical l y. In Disney,
the to strata -adul t and chi l d- are not to b
considered as antagonistic; tey fuse in a si ngl e
e mbr ace, and histor bcme bi ology. The
i denti ty of parent and chi l d i nhi bi ts the emer-
gence of true generati onal confl i cts. The pure
chi l d wi l l repl ace the corrupt father, preservi ng
the l atter's val ues. The future (the chi l d ) re­
affi rms the presen t (the adul t) , whi ch, in turn,
transmi ts the past. The apparent i ndepndence
which the father benevol entl y bstows upon thi s
l i ttl e terri tory of his creati on, i s the very means
of asuri ng hi s supremacy.
But there i s more : thi s l ovel y, si mpl e, smooth,
transl ucent, chaste and pai fi c regi on, whi ch has
been promoted as Sal vati on, is unconsci ousl y
i nfi l trated by a mul t i pl i city of adul t confl i cts and
contradicti ons. Thi s transparent worl d is desi gned
both to conceal and reveal latent traces of real
and pai nful tensi ons. The parent suffers thi s spl i t
consci ousness without bi ng aware of hi s i nner
t u r mo i I . N os t a I g i cal l y, he appropri ates the
"natural di sposi ti on" of the chi l d i n order to
conceal the gui l t ari si ng from hi s own fal l from
grace; i t is te pri ce of redempti on for hi s own
condi ti on. By the standards of h is angel i c model ,
he must j udge hi msel f gui l ty; as much as he
needs thi s l and of enchantment and sal vati on, he
coul d never i magi ne it wi th the necessary puri ty.
He coul d never turn i nto h is own chi l d. But thi s
sal vati on onl y offers hi m an i mperfect escape; i t
can never be so pure as to bl ock off al l hi s real
l i fe probl em.
I n j uveni l e l i terat ure, the adu l t, corroded by
the tri vi a of everyday l i fe bl i ndl y defends hi s
i mage of youth and i nnocence. Because of thi s, i t
i s perhaps the bst ( and l east expected) pl ace to
study the disguises and truths of contemporary
man. For the adul t, i n protecti ng h is dream­
i mage of youth, hi des the fear that to penetrate
it would destroy his d reams and reveal the real i ty
it conceal s.
Thus, the imagination of te child is con­
ceived as the past and future utopia of the
adult But set up as an i nner real m of fantsy,
this mdel of hi s Ori gi n and hi s I deal Future
Sci ety l ends i tsel f to the free a ssi mi l ati on of al l
his woes. It enabl es the adul t to parake of h i s
own demons, provi ded they have been coated i n
the syrup of paradi se, and that they travel there
with the passport of i n nocence.
Mass cul ture has granted to cntemporary
man, i n his constant need to visual i ze the real i ty
about hi m, the means of feed i ng on his own
probl ems wi thout hav i ng to encounter ai l the
di fficul ti es of form and content presented by the
modern art and l i teratu re of the el i te. Man i s
offered knowl edge wi thout commi tment, a sel f­
col oni zati on of his own i magi nati on. By do­
mi nati ng the ch i l d, the father domi nates hi msel f.
The relati onshi p i s a sado-masoch i sti c one, not
unl i ke that establ i shed between Donal d and hi s
n e phe ws . Si mi l arl y, readers fi nd themsel ves
caught btween thei r desi re and thei r real i ty, and
i n thei r attempt to escape to a purer real m, they
onl y travel furher back i nto thei r own traumas.
Mass cul tu re has opened up a whole rang of
new i ssues . Whi l e i t certai nl y has had a l evel l i ng
effect and has exposed a wi der audi ence to a
broader range of themes, it has si mu I taneousl y
generated a cul tural el i te whi ch has cut i tsel f off
more and more from the masses. Contrary to the
democrati c potenti al of mass cu l tu re, thi s el i te
has pl u nged mass cul ture i n to a suffocati ng com­
pl exi ty of sol ut i ons, approaches and techni ques,
each of whi ch i s comphrensi bl e onl y to a narrow
c i rcl e of readers. The creat i on of ch i l dren' s
cul ture is par of this speci al i zati on process.
Ch i l d fantasy, al though created by adul ts,
bcomes the excl usi ve reserve of ch i l dren. The
s e l f - e x i l ed f ather, once havi ng created thi s
speci al i zed i magi nary worl d, then revel s i n it
through the keyhol e. The father must be absent,
and wi thout di rect j uri sdi cti on, j ust as the chi l d
i s wi thout di rect obl i gati ons. Coerci on mel ts
away i n the magi c pal ace of sweet harmony and
repose - the pal ace ra i sed and admi ni stered at a
d i stance by the father, whose physi cal absence is
desi gned to avoi d di rect confrontati on wi th hi s
progeny. Thi s absence i s the prerequi si te of hi s
omn i presence, his total i nvasi on. Physi cal pre­
se n ce wo u l d be superfl uous, even counter­
producti ve, si n ce the whol e magazi ne i s al ready
h is proj ecti on. He shows up i nstead as a favori te
uncl e handi ng out free magazi nes. Juveni l e l i tera­
tu re i s a father su rrogate. The model of paternal
a u t h o r i t y i s at every poi nt i mmanent, the
i mpl i ci t basi s of i ts structure and very exi stence.
The natu ral creati v i ty of the chi l d, whi ch no one
i n h i s ri ght mi nd can deny, i s channel l ed through
the apparent absenc of the father i nto an adul t­
authori tari an vis i on of the rea l worl d. Paternal i sm
in absntia i s the i ndi spensabl e vehicl e for the
defense and i nvis i bl e control of the ostensi bl y
autonomous chi l dhood model . The comi c, l i ke
tel evis i on, i n all verti cal l y structured soci eti es,
rel y upn distanc as a means of authori tar i an
rei nforcement.
The authori tari an rel ati onshi p btween the
real l i fe parent and ch i l d is repeated and rei n­
forced wi th i n the fantasy worl d itsel f, and is the
basi s for al l relati ons in the enti re worl d of the
comi cs. Later, we shal l show how the rel ati on­
sh i p of ch i 1 d-readers to the mao�7i np thpv rnn-
. LÛP'º*


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, ume i s general l y based on and echoed i n the
.vay the characters experi ence thei r own fantasy
vorl d withi n the comi c. Chi l dren wi l l not only
i denti fy wi th Donal d Duck bcause Donal d's
. . I tuati on rel ates to thei r own l i fe, but al so be­
: ause the way they read or the way they are
' xposed to i t, i mi tates and prefi gures the way
i ) onal d Duck l i ves out hi s own probl ems. Ficti on
rei nforces, i n a ci rcul ar fashi on, the manner i n
whi ch the adul t desi res the comic be recei ved and
Now that we have peeked i nto the parent­
chi l d rel ati onshi p, l et us be i ni ti ated i nto the
Di sney worl d, begi nni ng with the great fami l y of
ducks and mice.
Dai sy:
Donal d:
II I f you teach me to skate th i s
afternoon, I wi l l give you some­
thi ng you have always wanted. "
"You mean . . . "
Daisy: IIYes . . . My 1 872 coi n. "
Nephews : "Wow! That would compl ete
ou r coi n co l l e ct i o n , Unca
Donal d. "
( 0 433}
There is one bsi c product which is never
stocked in the Disney store: parents. Di sney' s is
a universe of uncl es and grand-uncl es, nephews
and cousi ns; the mal e-femal e rel ati onshi p is that
of etrnal fi anc. Scrooge McDuck is Donal d's
uncle, Grandma Duck is Donald's aunt (but not
Scrooge's wife) , and Donal d is the uncl e of
H uey, Dewey, and Louie. Cousi n Gl adstone
Gander is a "distant nephew" of Srooge; he has
a nephew of his own cal led Shamrock, who has
to female cousi ns ( DA 649, 1 955) . Then there
are the mre distant ancestors l i ke grand-uncl e
Swashbuckl e Duck, and Asa Duck, the great­
great-reat u nde of Grandma Duck; and (most
distant of al l ) Don de Pato, wo was associ ated
with the Sanish Armada ( DO 9/65) . The vari ous
cousi ns i ncl ude Gus Goose, Grandma Duck's i dl e
farmhand, Moby Duck te sai l or, and an exoti c
or i entl branch with a Shei k and Mazuma lOuck,
"the ri chest bi rd i n South Afduckstan, " wi th
nephews. The geneal ogy is ti pped deci si vel y i n
favor of the mascul i ne , sctor. The l adies are
s pinsters, with the sale excepti on of Grandma
Duck who i s apparentl y wi dowed wi thout her
husban havi ng di ed, si nce he appears j ust once
( 0 424) under the sugesti ve ti tl e "Hi story Repeats
I tsel f. " There are al so the cow Cl arabel l e (with a
short-l i ved cousi n, F 57) , the hen Cl ara Cl uck,
the witch Magica de Spel l , and natural l y Mi nni e
and Daisy, who, bei ng the gi rl friends of the
most i mportant characters are accompani ed by
ni eces of tei r own ( Dai sy's are cal l ed Apri l ,
May, and Jun; she al so has a n uncle of her own,
Uncl e Dourduck, and Aunts Drusi l l a and Ti zzy) .
Si nc these women are not very suscpti bl e to
men or matri moni al bonds, the mascul i ne sector
i s necesar i ly and perpetual l y composed of bache­
l or accompanied by nephews, who come and go.
Mi ckey has Morty and Ferdy, Goofy has Gi l bert
(and an u ncl e "Tribi l i o, " F 1 76) , and Gyro Gear­
l oose has Newton; even the Beagl e Boys have
uncles, aunt and nephews cal l ed the Beagl e Brats
(whose femal e cusi ns, the Beagl e Babes, make
the occasi onal appearance ) . I t is predi ctabl e that
any future demographi c i ncrease wi l l have to b
the resul t of extra-sexual factors.
Even more remarkable is the dupl i cation -
and tri pl i cati on - i n the baby department. There
a re four sets of tri plets in this worl d: the
nephews of Donal d and th Beagl e Boys, the
nieces of Daisy, and the i nevi table three piglets.
The quanti ty of ti ns i s greater sti l l . Mickey's
nephew are an example, . bt . te . majority pro­
l i ferate wi thout attributi on to any uncl e : the
chi pmunks Chi p and Dale, the mi ce Gus and Jaq.
Thi s is al l the more significant in that ' there are
i nnumerable other examples outsi de of Disney:
Porky and Petunia and nephew; Wooy Wo­
pecker and nephews; and the l i ttl e pai r of mi ce
confronti ng the cat Tom.
The exception - Scamp and Bi g Bad Wol f -
wi l l be consi dered separatel y.
I n this bl eak worl d of fami l y clans and
sol i tar pai rs, subject t the archai c prohi bition
of marri age within the tri be, and where each and
every one has his own mortgaged house bt
never a home, the l ast vesti ge of parenthood,
mal e or female, has been el i mi nated.
The advocates of Di sney manae a hasty
rati onal i zati on of these features i nto proof of i n­
nocence, chasti ty and proper restrai nt. Wi thout
resorti ng pol emi cal l y to a thesis on i nfant sexual
,�ducati on al ready outmoded i n the ni neteent
centur, and mre suited to monasti c cave dwel ­
i ers than ci vi l i zed peopl e (admi re our mercuri al *
qyle ), it is evi dent that the absenc of fath�r and
mother i s not a matter of chance. One i s forced
t o the paradoxical concl usi on that in order to
, :onceal normal sexual i ty from ci ldren, it is
I ) ecessary to construct an aberrant worl d - one
"Nhi ch, morover (as we shal l see l ater) , suggesti ve
nf sexual games and i nnuendo. One may wrack
; > ne's brai ns tryi ng to fi gure out the educati onal
,J al ue of so many uncl es and cousi ns; persumabl y
1 hey hel p eradicate the wicked tai nt of infant
� exual i ty. But there are other reasons.
The much vaunted and very i nvi ti ng fantasy
fJorl d of 0 i sney systemati cal ly cuts the earthl y
oots of his characters. Thei r carm supposedl y
l es i n thei r fami l i arity, thei r resembl ance to
Hdi nary, common or garden vari ety of peopl e
vho cross our path every day. But, i n Di sney,
� haracters onl y functi on by vi rtue of a sup­
l ressi on of real and concrete factors ; that i s,
hei r personal h istory, thei r bi rth and death, and
hei r whol e devel opment i n btween, as they
i rOW and change. Si nce they are not engendered
ly any bi ol ogi cal at, Di sney · caracters may
• "Mercurial " - aki n to the style of EI Merurio,
l oted for i ts pompous moralism. (Trans. )
a s pi re to i mmo r ta l i t y : whatever appareAt,
momentary sufferi ngs are i nfl i cted on them i n
the course of thei r adventures, they have been
l i berated, at l east, from the curse of the body.
By el i mi nati ng a character's effecti ve past, and
at the same ti me denyi ng hi m the opportuni ty of
sel f-xami nati on i n rspect to hi s present pre­
dicament, Disney deni es hi m the onl y perspective
from which he can IOQk at hi msel f, other than
from the worl d i n which he has always ben sub­
mergd. The fture cnnot serve hi m ei ther :
real i ty i s u ncangi ng.
The gnerati on gap is not onl y obl iterated
betwen the chi l d, who reads the comic, and the
parent, who buys it, but al so withi n the comi c
i tsel f by a procss of substi tuti on i n whi ch the
uncles can always b replaced by the nephews.
Si nce there is no father, constant repl acement
and di spl acement of the uncl e i s pai nl ess. Si nce
he i s not ge n e t i c a l l y r esponsi bl e for the
youngster, it is not treasonabl e to overr ul e hi m.
I t i s as i f the uncl e were never rearl y ki ng, an
appropri ate term si nce we are deal i ng wi th fai ry
tal es, but onl y regent, watchi ng over the throne
unti l i ts l egi ti mate hei r, the young Pri nce Charm­
i ng, eventual l y comes to assume i t.
But the physi cal absnce of the father does
not mean the absence of paternal power . Far
from i t, the rel ati ons btween 0 i sney characters
are much more verical and authori tari an than
those of the most tranni cal real l i fe home,
where a harsh disci pl i ne can sti l l be softened by
shari ng, love, mother, si bl i ngs, sol i dari ty, and
mutual ai d. Moreover, i n the real l i fe home, the
maturi ng chi l d i s al ways exposed to new al terna­
ti ves and standards of behavior, as he responds to
pressures from outsi de the fami l y. But si nce
power in Di sney is wi el ded not by a father, but
by an uncl e, i t becomes arbi trary.
Patri archy in our soci ety is defended, by the
patri archs, as a matter of biol ogi cal predeter­
mi nati on (undoubtedl y susta i ned by a soci al
structure whi ch i nsti tuti onal i zes t he educat i on of
the chi l d as pri mari l y a fami l y responsi bi l i ty ) .
Uncl e-authori ty , on the other hand, not havi ng
been conferred by the father ( the uncl e's broth­
ers and si sters , who must in theory have gi ven
bi rth to the nephews, s i mpl y do not exi st ) , i s of
purel y de facto ori gi n , rather than a natural
r i g ht . I t i s a contractual rel ati onshi p mas­
queradi ng as a natural rel ati onsh i p, a tyranny
which does not even assume the responsi bi l i ty of
breedi ng. And one cannot rebel agai nst i t i n the
name of nature; one cannot say to an uncl e " you
are a bad father. "
Withi n this fami l y peri meter, no one l oves
anyone el se, there i s never an expressi on of af­
fecti on or l oyal fy towards another human bei ng.
I n any moment of sufferi ng, a person i s al one;
there i s no dis i nterested or fri endl y hel pi ng hand.
One encounters, at best, a sense of pi ty, deri ved
from a vi ew of the other as some cri ppl e or beg­
gar, some old down-and-ut deservi ng of our
chari ty. Let us take the most extreme exampl e :
the famous l ove between Mi ckey and Pl uto. AI·
though Mi ckey certai nl y shows a chari tabl e ki nd
of affecti on for his do, the l atter i s al ways
under the obl i gati on to demonstrate hi s useful ness
and heroi sm. I n one episode (0 381 ) , havi ng
bhaved very badly a nd havi ng been l ocked up i n
the cel l ar as puni shme nt, Pl uto redeems hi msel f
by catchi ng a thief ( there i s al ways one around) .
The pol i ce give Mi ckey a hundred-dol l ar reward,
and offer another hundred to buy the dog i tsel f,
but Mi ckey refuses to sel l : "0. K. Pl uto, you cost
me around fi fty dol l ars i n damages thi s after­
noon , but thi s reward l eaves me wi th a good
profi t. " Commerci al rel ati ons are common ci n
here, even i n so "maternal " a bond as tha t
btween Mi ckey and his bl oodhound.
Wi th Scrooge McOuck, it i s of course worse.
I n one episode, the nephews, exhausted after si x
mnths scouri ng the Gobi desert on Scrooge' s
behal f; are upbrai ded for havi ng taken s l ong,
and are pai d one dol l ar for thei r pai ns. They fl ee
thankful l y , i n fear of yet more forced l abor. I t
never occurs to them to object, to stay put and
to demand better treatment.
But McDuck obl i ges them to depart once
mor, si ck as they are, i n sarch of a ci n
wei ghi ng several tons, for whi ch the avari ci ous
mi l l i onai re i s evi dentl y prpared to pay a few
cents (TR 1 06, US 1 0/69) . It turns out that the
gi ganti c coi n is a forgery and Scrooge has to buy
the autenti c on�. Donal d smi l es i n re l i ef; "Now
that you have te true Hunka Jlka, Uncl e
Scrooge, we can al l take a rest. " The tyrant re­
pl i es: " Not unti l you retu rn that counterfei t
hunk of ju nk and bri ng back my penni es ! " The
ducks are depicted i n the l ast pictu re l i ke sl aves
i n anci ent Egypt, pushi ng the rock to i ts desti ny
at the other end of the gl obe, I nstead of comi ng
to the real i zati on tat he ought to open hi s
mouth to say no, Donal d reaches the very op­
posi te concl usi on : "Me and my big mouth ! " Not
even a compl ai nt is permi tted agai nst thi s un·
ques t i oned su premacy. What are the conse­
quences of Dai sy's Aunt Ti zzy di scover i ng a year
l ater that Dai sy h ad dared to attend a dance she
d isapproved of? " I ' m goi ng . . . and I am cutti ng
you out of my wi l l , Dai sy ! Goodbye ! " ( 0 383,
DO 7/67 ) .
The re i s no room for l ove i n th i s wor l d. The
youngsters admi re a di stant uncl e ( Unca Zak
McWak) who i nvented a "spray to ki l l appl e­
worms . " ( 0 455, DO 5/68) , "The whol e wor l d i s
thankful to hi m for that . . . He' s famous . . . and
r i ch," the nephews excl a i m. Donal d sens i bl y re­
pl i es "Bah ' Brains, fame, and fortune aren ' t
everyting. " "Oh, no? What's l eft?" ask Huey,
Dewey a nd Louie i n un i son. And Donal d i s at a
l oss for words : "er . . . um . . . l et' s see now . , .
uh-h . . . "
So the ch i l d' s "nat ura l di sposi t i on" evi dent l y
serves Di sney onl y i nsofar as i t l ends i nnocence
to the adul t worl d, and se rves the myth of chi l d­
hood. Meanwhi l e, it has been str i pped of the tr ue
qual i ti es of ch i l dren : thei r unbounded, open ( and
therefo re man i pul abl e) trustful ness, thei r creati ve
s pontanei ty ( as Pi aget has shown) , t hei r i n­
credi bl e capaci ty for unrese rved, uncondi t i onal
1 0 v e, and t hei r i magi nati on whi ch overfl ows
around a nd through a nd wi thi n the objects whi ch
su rround them. Beneath al l the charm of the
sweet l i ttl e creatures of D i sney, on the other
hand, l u rks the l aw of the j ungl e : envy, ruthl ess­
ness, cruel ty, terror, bl ackmai l , expl oi tati on of
the wea k. Lacki ng veh i cl es for thei r nat ural af­
fect i on, ch i l dren l earn through Di sney fear and
h atred.
I t i s not Di sney' s cr i t i cs , bu t Di sney hi msel f
who i s to be accused of di srupt i ng the home; i t
i s Di sney who i s the worst enemy of fami l y
h armony.
Every Di sney character stands ei ther on one
s i de or the other of t he power demarcati on l i ne.
Al l those bel ow are bound to obedi ence, sub­
mi ssi on, di sci pl i ne, hu mi l i ty. Those above are
free to empl oy const ant coerci on : threats, moral
a n d ph y s i c a l r e p r e ss i o n , a n d e c on o mi c
domi nat i on ( i . e . cont rol over the means o f sub­
si stence) . The rel ati onshi p of powerfu l to power­
l ess i s al so expressed i n a l ess aggressi ve , more
pater nal i sti c way , though gi fts to the vassal s. I t
i s a wo ri d 0 f per manen t prof i t a nd bonus. I t i s
onl y natural that t he Duckburg Women' s Cl ubs
ar e al ways engaged i n go.od works : the di s­
p·ossessed eager l y accept whatever char i ty can be
h ad for the begi ng.
The world of Disney is a nineteenth century
orphanage. Wi t h t hi s di fference : there is no out­
si dp, and the orphans have nowher e to fl ee to. I n
s pi te of al l ttei r gl obal travel l i ng, and thei r crazy
a n d feveri sh mobi l i ty , the characters remai n
t rapped with i n, and doomed to return, to the
same power structure. The el asti city of physi cal
s pae concal s the true ri gi dity of the rel ati on­
shi ps withi n whi ch the characters are i mpri soned.
The mere fact of bei ng older · or ri cher or more
beauti ful in this worl d crfers authori ty. The l ess
f ortunate regard thei r subjecti on as natural . They
spend all day complai ni ng about the sl avemaster,
but they woul d rather oby his craziest order
than chal l eng hi m.
Thi s orphanae is fu rther condi ti oned by the
genesi s of its i nmates : not havi ng ben born,
they cannot grow up. That is to say, they can
never leave the i nstitution through i ndi vi dual ,
b i o l og i ca l evo l u t i on . Th i s a l s o faci l itates
unl i mi ted man ipul ation and contro
of the ppu­
l ati on; the additi on - and, if necessary, sub­
tracti on - of characters. Newcomers, whether a
si ngle figure or a pai r of distant cousi ns, do not
hae to be the creati on of an existing character.
It i s enough for the story writer to think him up,
t o i n ve nt h i m. The uncl e-nephew strucure
per mi ts the wri ter, who stands outsi de the
magazi ne, to establ i sh his mi nd as the only
creative force, and the fount of al l energy (j ust
l i ke the brai nwaves and l ight bul bs i ssui ng from
every duck's head) . Rejecti ng bdi es as sources
of exi stenc, Disney i nfl i cts upon hi s heroes the
punishment that Ori genes i nfl icted upon hi msel f.
He emascul ates them, and depri ves them of thei r
true organs of rl ation to the uni verse : per­
cepti on and generati on. By means of thi s un­
consi ous stratagem, the omics systemati cal l y
and artful l y reduce real peopl e t abstracti ons.
Di sney i s l eft i n unrestricted control over hi s
worl d of eunuch heroes, who are i ncapabl e of
physi cal generati on and who are forced to i mi ­
tate thei r creator and spi ri tual father. Once agai n,
the adu l t i nvade the comi c, this ti me under the
ma ntl e of benevolent arti sti c geni us. (We have
nothi ng agai nst arti sti c geni us, by the way ) .
There can be no rebel l ion agai nst the estab­
l i shed order; the emascul ated sl ave is con­
demned to subjecti on to others , as he is con-
demned to Di sney.
Careful now. Thi s worl d is i nfl exi bl e, but may
not show it. The hierarchical structure may not
readi l y betray itsel f. But, soul d the system of
i mpl i ci t authori tari anis m exceed i tsel f or should
i ts arbitrary character, based on the strength of
wi l l on one si de and passi vi ty on the other,
become expl i ci t and bl atant, rebel l i on bcome
mandatory. No matter that there b a ki ng, as
l ong as he governs whi l e hidi ng hi s steel hand i n
a velvet glove. Soul d the metal show through,
h is overthrow bcomes a necssi ty. For the
smooth preserati on of orde, power shoul d not
be exaggerated beyond crtai n tacitl y agreed
l i mits. If thee l i mi ts are tansgressed reveal i ng
the arbi trary characer of te arrangment, the
bal anc ha ben disturbed, and must b re­
stored. Invariably, tose wo step in are the
youngsters. They at, howeer, neither to turn
tyranny i nto spontanei ty and freedom, nor to
br i ng thei r creative imagi nati on to bar on
power, but in order to perptuate the same order
of ault domi nati on. When the grownup mis­
behaves, the chi l d take over hi s scptre. As l ong
as the system works, no doubts are raised about
i t. But once i t has fai l ed, te chi l d rebl s de­
manding restorati on of the btrayed val ues and
the old hierarchy of domi nati on. Wi th thei r pru­
dent takeover, thei r mature cri ti ci sm, the young­
sters uphol d the same val ue system. Once agai n,
real differencs btween father and ci l d are
passed over: the future is te same as te pre­
sent, and the present the same as the past.
Si nce the chi l d i denti fies wi th his counterpart
in the magazi ne, he cntri butes to hi s own
coloni zati on. The rebel l i on of the l i ttl e fol k i n
the cmi cs i s sensd as a model for the chi l d's
own real rebl l i on agai nst i njusti ce; but by
rebel l i ng in the name of adul t val ue, the readers
are i n fact i nternal i zing them.
As we shal l se, the obsssi ve prsi stence of
the l ittl e creatures - astute, bright, omptent,
di l i gent and responsi ble - agai nst the oversi zed
an i mal s - dul l , i ncmpetent, thoughtless, l yi ng
and weak - l eads to a frequent, if onl y tem­
porary, inverion. For example; Li ttl e Wol f i s
al ways l ocki ng up his father Bi g Bad Wol f, the
ch i pmu nks outwit the bear and the fox, the mi ce
Gus and Jaq defeat the cat and the i nevi tabl e
thi ef, the l i ttl e bear Bongo braves the terri bl e
"Quijada" (Jawbne) , and the foal Gi l bert b­
comes his uncl e Goofy's teacher. Even the smart
Mi ckey gets cri ti ci zed by his nephews. These are
but · a few examples among many.
Thus, the onl y possi ble way of changi ng status
i s by havi ng the representati ve of the adul ts
( domi nator) be transformed i nto the representa­
ti ve of the chi l dren (domi nated) . Thi s happens
whenever an adult commits te sme er rors he
cri ti cizes i n chi l dren when they disturb the adul t
order. Si mi l arl y, the onl y change permi tted to
the chi l d (domi nated) is to turn hi msel f i nto an
adul t (domi nator) . Once havi ng created the myth
of chi l dish perfection, the adul t then uses it as a
substi tute for his own " vi rtue" and "knowledge. "
But i t i s only hi msel f he i s admi ri ng.
Let us consi der a typical example ( F 1 69) :
t he dual i ty in Donal d Duck hi msel f (he is
i l l ustratd as having a dupl i cate head three ti me.
duri ng the course of the episode). Donald has
renege on a promise to take his nephews on
hol i day. Wen they remi nd hi m, he tries to sl ap
them, and ends up deeivi ng tem. But justice
i ntrenes when Donald mistalenly starts bati ng
up "Little Bean, " a baby el ephant, instead of his
nephews. The judge condemns Donal d to "serve
his sentnc in the opn ai r, " in the custody of
his nephews, who are grantd the full authori ty
of te l aw to this effect. This is a prfect
example of how the represntative of chi ldi sh
submi ssi on is a subtitute fr the representati ve
of paternal power. But, how di d this substi tuti on
come about? Wasn't it Donal d who fi rst broke
the l aw by ceati ng on hi s nephew, and they
who responded wi th great restrai nt'! Fi rst, they
demanded Donal d keep h is promi se, then they
si l entl y watched a si tuati on devel op in which he
del uded hi msel f. Wi thout h avi ng to l ie, they onl y
bgan acti vel y to hoax h i m when al l prvious
tacti cs had fai l ed. Donal d's error was fi rst to
mi stake a ch i l d's toy rubber el ephant for a real
one, then treat the real one as if i t was a toy.
Life for hi m i s ful l of del usi ons, caused by h i s
ethi cal error, h is i ncpaci ty for moral judgment,
and h is devi ati on from paternal standards. As he
forfei ts author i ty and power, he also loses hi s
sensory objecti vity (mi staki ng a rubber el ephant
for a real one, and vi ce-versa) . Wi thout ever
recogni zing hi s errors, he i s replaced by hi s
nephews who, for thei r part, correct the proble�
and behave i n exempl ary adult fashi on. By
teachi ng thei r uncl e a l esson, they rei nforce the
ol d code. They do not attempt to i nval i date thei r
subordi nate status, but onl y demand that it be
justly admi nistered. The exi sti ng standards are
equated to truth, goodness , authori ty and power .
Donal d is a dual figure here b�cause he retai ns
the obl i gati ons of the adul t on the one hand,
whi le behavi ng l i ke a chi l d on the other. Thi s
extreme case where he i s puni shed by a judge
(general l y it is a uni versal moral dest i ny) i n­
di cates his commi tment to recover hi s ori ginal ,
si ngle face, l est a generational struggle be un­
l eashed whi ch woul d refl ect real change i n the
exi sti ng Duckburg val ues.
The nephew, moreover , hol d the key for
entry i nto the adul t worl d, and they make good
use of it : the Junior Woodchuck ( Boy Sout)
Handbook . . It is a Gol den Treasury of on­
ventional wi sdom. It has an answer to every
si tuati on, every peri od, every date, every acti on,
every technical prblem. Just fol l ow the i n­
s t r uct i ons on the cn, to get out of any
d i fficul ty. I t represents the acumulati on of
cnventi ons permi tti ng the chi l d t Cntrol the
future and trap i t, so that it wi l l not vary from
the pat, so that al l wi l l repeat itsel f. Al l coures
of acti on have ben pretesed and approved by
authori ty of the manual , which i s the tri bunal of
history, the eternal l aw, sponsored and sancti fi ed
by those who wi l l i nherit the worl d. Th�re can
be no surpri ses here, for it has shaped the world
i n advance and forever. I t's al l wri tten down
there, i n that ri gid catechi sm, just put it i nto
praci ce and carry on readi ng. Even the adverfary
is posessed of objecti ve and j ust standards. The
Ha n d book is one of the rare one-hundred­
percent-perfect gi mmi cks in the compex worl d
of Di sney : out of fory-fi ve i nstancs i n whi ch i t
i s used, i t never fai l s onc, beati ng i n i nfal l i bi l i ty
even the al most perfect Mi ckey.
But i s there noth ing which escapes thi s i n­
cessant transposi ti on between adul t and chi l d,
and vi c-versa? Is there no way of steppi ng asi de
from thi s struggle for verti cal subrdi nati on and
the obsessi ve propagati on of the system?
I ndeed there i s. There i s hori zontal movement,
and i t i s always present. I t oprates among
creatures of the same status and power l evel ,
who, among themsel ves, cannot b permanentl y
domi nated or domi nators. Al l that is l ef to them
- si nce sol i dari ty among equal s i s prohi bited - i s
to compet. Beat the other guy to i t. Why beat
h i m? To r ise above hi m, momentari l y, enter the
domi nators club, and avanc a rung ( l i ke a
Di sneyl and Cl ub orporal or srgeant) on the
l adder of mercanti l e val ue. Here the only per­
mi tted hori zontal becomes the fi nishi ngl i ne of
the race.
There is one sector of Disney society whi ch is
beyond the reach of cri ti cism, and is never
ousted by l esser creatures : the femal e. As i n the
ma l e se ct or , the l i neage also tends to b
avuncu l ar (for exampl e, Dai sy, her nieces and
Aunt Ti zzy, D 383, DO 7/67) , except tat the
woman has no chance of switchi ng roles i n the
domi nator-domi nated rel ati onshi p. I ndeed, she is
never chal l enged because she pl ays her rol e to
perfecti on, whether it be humbl e servant or con­
stantl y courted beauty queen; i n either case, sub-
ID, T LO K ou FR
ordi nate to the mal e. Her onl y power is the tra­
di ti onal one of seductress, which she exercises in
the form of coquetry. She is deni ed any fu rther
role which mi ght transcend her passive, domesti c
natu re. There are women who contravene the
"femi ni ne coe, " but they are all ied with the
powers of darkness. The wi tch, Magica de Spel l i s
a typical antagoni st, but not even she abandons
as pirati ons proper to her "femi ni ne" nature.
Women are l ef with onl y two al ternati ves (whi ch
are not real l y al ternati ves at al l ) : to be Snow
Whi te or the Wi tch, the l i ttl e gi rl housekeeper or
the wicked stepmther. Her brew is of tw
ki nds: the homel y stew and the dreadful magi c
poi son . And si nc she i s al ways cook i ng for the
mal e, her ai m in l i fe is to catch hi m by one brew
or the other.
I f you are no witch, don' t worry ma' am: you
can al ways keep busy wi th I I femi ni ne" occup­
ti ons; dressmaker, secretary, i nteri or decorator,
nurse, fl ori st, cosmeti cian, or ai r hostess. And i f
wor k i s not your style, you can al ways bcome
president of the l ocal chari ty cl ub. I n al l events,
you can al ways fal l back upon eternal coquetry
- thi s is your common denomi nator, even wi th
Grandma Duck (see D 347) and Madame Mi m.
I n his graph ic vi sual i zati on of thi s bunch of
coquettes Di sney resors constantl y to the Hol l y­
wo 0 d a ctress stereotype. Al though they are
someti mes heavi l y sati r i zed, they remai n a si ngl e
archetype with thei r physi cal exi stence l i mited to
the escape- hatch of amorous struggl e ( Disney
re inforces the stereotype i n his famous fi l ms for
l i the young" as for exampl e, the fai r i es i n Pinoc­
chiD and Peter Pan) . Di sney's moral stand as to
the nature of thi s struggl e is cl earl y stated, for
example, in the scene where Dai sy embodies i n­
f a nt i l e , Dor i s Day-styl e qual i ties agai nst the
I tal i anate vampi ress Si l via.
Man is afrai d of th i s ki nd of woman (who
woul dn' t be? ) . He ptp. rnal l y and frui ti f!ssl y cour ts
her, takes her out, competes for her , wants to
rescue her, showers her wi th gi fts. Just as the
troubadours of courl y l ove were not permi ted
carnal contact wi th the women of the i r l ords, so
these eunuchs l i ve i n an eternal forepl ay wi th
thei r i mpossi bl e vi rgi ns. Si nce they can never
fu l I y possess them, they are i n constant fear of
l osi ng them. I t i s the compul si on of eternal frus­
tr ati on , of pl easu re postponed for btter do­
mi nati on. Woman's onl y retreat i n a worl d where
physi cal adventure, cri ti ci sm and even mother­
hood has been deni ed her, i s i nto her own ster i l e
se xual i ty. She cnnot even enj oy the humbl e
domesti c pl easures permi tted to real - l i fe women,
a s ensl aved as they are - l ooki ng after a home
and chi l dren . She i s perpetual l y and usel essl y
wai t i ng around, or ru nni ng after some mascul i ne
i dol , dazzl ed by the hope of f i ndi ng at l ast .a true
man . Her onl y raison d'etre is to bcome a
sexual object, i nfi ni tel y sol i ci ted and postponed.
She i s frozen on the thresh hol d of sati sfacti on
and represi on among i mpote nt peopl e . She i s
deni ed pl easu re , l ove, chi l dren, communi cati on.
She l i ves i n a centr i peta l , i ntroverted, egol atrous
worl d; a parody of t he i sl and-i ndi vi dua l . Her con·
di ti on is sol i tude, whi ch she can never recogni ze
as such. The moment she questi ons her rol e, she
wi l l be struck from the cast of characters .
How hypocri ti cal it i s for Dis ney comi cs to
announce : "We refuse to accept averti sements
for products harmfu l to the moral and mater i al
heal th of chi l dren, such as ci garettes , al cohol i c
beverages, or gambl i ng . . . Our i ntenti on has
al ways been to serve as a veh i cl e of heal thy re­
creat i on and entertai nment, ami dst a l l the pro­
bl ems besetti ng us. " Al l protestati ons to the con­
trary , Di sney does present a n i mpl i ci t model of
se xual educati on. By suppressi ng true sexual con­
t a ct , co i tus, possess i on and orgasm, Di sney
betrays how demoni cal and terr i bl e he conce i ves
· Edi torial i n EI Mercurio (Santiago) , 28 Septembr
971 .
them to be. He has created another aberrat i on :
an asexual sexuated worl d. The sexual i nnuendo
i s more evi dent i n the drawi ng, than i n the di a­
l ogue i tsel f .
I n t h i s ca r e f u l l y pr es e r v ed reservati on,
coquettes - mal e and femal e, young and ol d -
try i mptentl y to conceal the apparatus of sexual
seduci on under the uni form of the Sal vati on
Army . Di sney a n d the other l i bi di nous defende rs
of chi l dhood, cl amor on the al ters of youthful
i n n oce n ce , cr y i ng out agai nst scandal , i m­
mral i ty , prnography, prosti tuti on, i ndecency,
and i nci tati on to "precoci ous sensua l i ty", when
another youth magazi ne dares to l aunch a poster
wi th a back v i ew of a romanti c and ethere a'i
coupl e, nude. Li sten to the ser mon of Wal t 's
creol e i mi tators :
"I t must be recogni zed t hat i n Chi l e we have
reached i ncredi bl e e xtremes i n the matter of
eroti c propaganda, perversi on and vi ce. I t . i s
m an i fest i n those groups preachi ng i n­
di v i dual moral escapi sm, and a break wi th
al l moral standards.
"We hear much tal k of the new man and
the new soci ety, but t hese conce pts are
often accompani ed by fi I thy atti tudes, i n­
decent exhi bi ti oni sm, and i ndul gence i n
se xual perversi on.
"One does not have to be a Puri tan to
pronounce strong censure upon this moral
l i centi ousness, si nce i t i s wel l known that
no hea l thy peopl e and n o l ast i ng h i stori cal
wor k can be based u pon the moral di sorder
whi ch t hreatens our youth wi th mortal
pi son. What i deal s and what sacr i fi ces can
be asked of young peopl e i n i t i ated i nto the
vi ce of drugs and corrupted by aber r ant
practi ces or precoci ous sensu al i ty ? And i f
youth becomes i ncapabl e of accepti ng any
i deal or sacr i f i ce, how can one ex pect the
country to r esol ve i ts pro bl ems of devel op­
ment and l i ber at i on, al l of whi ch pre·
su ppose great effort, and even a dose of
hero i sm?
l i l t i s unfor t unate, i ndeed, t hat i mmora l i t y
i s bei ng fostere d by gover n ment - control l ed
publ i cat i ons . A f ew days ago a scandal ous
street pster an nounced the appear ance of
a youth magazi ne publ i shed on t he off i ci al
presses . . . _ Wi thou t stout- hear ted yout h
there i s no rea l youth, but onl y pr emat ure
and corru pt ma tu ri ty . And wi t hout youth,
the cou ntry has no f utur e. " *
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"Gul "
The Abomi nable Snow Man
(TR 1 1 3, US 6-8/56)
Di sney rel ies upon the aceptabi l ity of hi s
worl d as natural, that is to say, as at once
normal , ordinary and true to the nature of the
chi l d. His depicti on of women and ci l dren is
pr ed i cat ed upon i ts supposed objectivity,
al though, as we h�e seen, he relentlessl y twists
the nature of every creature he approaches.
It is not by chanO that the Di sney worl d i s
popul at ed wi th ani mal s. Nature appears to
prade and determi ne the whole compex of
social relations, whil e the ani mal -I i ke traits pro­
v ide the characters with a facade of i nnocenc. I t
i s, of course, true that chi l dren tend to idntify
with the playful , i nsti ncive nature of ani mal s. As
they grow oler, tey bgi n to understand that
the mature ani mal shares Sme of hi s on phys­
ical evol uti onary traits. They were once, in some
wa, l ike ti animal , ging on al l fours, unabl e
to speak, etc. Thus the ani mal i s considered as
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being the only l ivi ng being i n te universe i n­
feri or to the chi l d, * one which the ci l d has
overtaken and is able to mani pul ate. The ani mal
worl d is one of the areas where the creative
i magi nati on of the chi l d can freel y roam; and i t
is i ndisputable that many ani mal fBms have great
pedaogi c val ue, which educate a chi l d's sensi ­
bi l i ty and senss.
The us of animals i s not i n i tsel f ei ther goo
or bad; it i s the use to which they are put, i t is
the kind of bi ng they i ncarnate that shoul d b
scruti ni zed. Disney uss ani mal s to trap chi l dren,
not to l i berate them. The l anguage he empl oys i s
nothing l ess than a form of mani pul ati on. He
i nvites chi l dren i nto a worl d whi ch appars to
ofer freedom of movement and creation, i nto
whi ch they enter fearl essly, i denti fyi ng with
creatures as affectionate, trustful , and i'r­
respnsible as themsel ves, of whom no btrayal is
to b expected, and with whom they can safely
pl ay and mi ngle. Then, once the l i ttl e reaers are
caught withi n the paes of t� comi c, the doors
c l ose beh i nd t he m. The a ni mal s bome
transformed, under tie same zoologi cal form and
the same smi l i ng mask, i nto monstrous human
bi ng.
But this perversion of the true nature of
ani mal s and the suprfici al use of thei r pysical
appearance (a devi ce al so used to di stort the
n a t u r e of women and chi l dren) is not al l .
Di s n e y ' s obs e s s i on wi th "nature" and hi s
compul si on to exonerate a worl d he conceives as
profoundl y perverse and gui lty, leads hi m to ex­
t raord i nary exaggerations.
Al l the characters yearn for a return to
n a t u re. Some l i ve in the fi el ds and woods
( Gr a nd ma D u ck , the chi pmunks, the l i tle
wol ves ) , but the majori ty l i ve in cities, from
whi ch they set of on i ncssant jaunts to nature:
I sl and, desert, sa, forst, mountai n, l ake, ski es,
and stratosphere, coveri ng al l cnti nents (Asi a,
Ameri ca, Afri ca, and Oceani a) , and very oc­
casi onal l y some non-urban crner of Europ.
Whi l e a substanti al propori on of the episodes
take place i n the city or in cl osed envi ronments,
t hey onl y serve to emphasi ze the absurd and
catasrophic character of urban l i fe. There are
" to ries devoted to smog, traffi c jams, noi se
pol l uti on, and soci al tensi ons ( i ncl udi ng some
very funny fi ghts btwen nei ghbors) ' as wel l as
to the omni presenc of bureaucracy and pl i c­
men. The ci ty i s actual l y portrayed as an i nferno,
where man l oses control over hi s own personal
l i fe. I n one episode after another, the characters
become embroi l ed with objects. On one occasi on,
Donal d gts stuck on a rol l er skate duri ng a
chopping expedi ti on ( DO 9/66) . He embarks
\ I pon a crazy sol i tary col i ision course through the
ci ty, experi enci ng al l te miseries of cntem­
porary l i vi ng: trash barrel s, jammed thorough­
f a r es , r oa d rep a i r s , l oose dogs, terrori zed
mai l men, crowded parks (where, i nci dental l y, a
mother scl ds her offspri ng: "Si t qui etl y,
Junior, so you won't scare the pigons ' ' ') , pl i ce,
t raffi c controls , obstructi ons of al l ki nds ( in
knocki ng over the tbl es of an outdoor cafe,
Donal d wonders hel plessl y "i f my charge card
wi l l s t i l l be honored there ' ' ' ) , car crashes,
teemi ng shops, del i very trucks, and drai ns: chaos
Thi s is not a uni que epi sode, there are other
snares which trap popl e in that great urban
whirl i gig of misforune: cndi es ( 0 1 85) , a l ost
ticket ( 0 393) , or Scamp's uncontrol l abl e motor­
cyc I e (0 439) . I n this ki nd of suffrenture
(sufferi ng coated wi th adventure), Frankenstei n,
the legendary robot who escapd from hi s i n­
ventor, rears his ugl y head. The ci ty-as-monster
reaches i ts nerve-wracki ng pak when Donal d, i n
order to get sme sleep at night i n the face of
h e avy t r affi c and the hooti ng, roari ng and
screami ng of brakes, cl oses off the road i n front
of his hous (0 1 65). He i s fi ned by the pl i ce.
He protests : " I don't have any wri tten authori ­
zati on, but I do have the right to some peaceful
sleep." "You're wrong! " i nterrupts the pol ice­
man. So Donal d embarks on a crazy hunt for the
necessar authori zati on: from the pol i ce stati on
to the home of the pol i ce chi ef, and then to the
town hal l to speak to the mayor, who, however,
can onl y si gn "orders approved by the ci ty
counci l . " (note the h ierarchi cal i nfl exi bi l i ty of
t his bureaucrati c worl d ful l of prohi bi ti ons and
procrasti nati ons) . Donal d has to br i ng to the
counci l a peti ti on si gned by al l the resi dents of
h i s bl ock . He s et s out t o e x pl or e h i s
nei ghborhood j ungl e. Never does he fi nd anyone
to suppor hi m, to hel p hi m, to understand that
hi s struggle for peace i s a communal one. He is
dri ven off wi th ki cks, blows, and pi stol shots : he
i s made to pay for scratchi ng a car (fi fty dol l ars) ,
has to go to Mi ami for a si ngl e si gn ature, "and
havi ng fai nted when he hears that the nei ghbor
he was seeki ng has j ust returned home to Duck­
burg, he is revi ved by the hotel manager : "Si r, I
must i nform you that the rate for sleepi ng on
the crpet i s thi rty dol l ars a ni ght. " Another
nei ghbor won't si gn unti l he has consul ted his
attorney (another twent dol l ars out of Donal d's
pocket) . He is bitten by a dog whi l e a dear l i ttl e
'F I . . . HEM . . . MAkE TE FR FR YOU.
ol d l ady i s si gni ng. He has to buy spectacl es for
the next person who si gns ( three hundred dol l ar s,
because the prson chose to have them wi th
pure gol d frames) , and f i nal l y, he has to pu rsue
h i m to a waterfal l where he performs acrobat i c
feats. He fal l s i nto the water, and the i nk on hi s
peti ti on i s washed out. He reconstructs the l i st
( "some sl eep at ni ght is worth al l the pai ns I
have suffered") , onl y to be i nformed that the
ci ty counci l cannot pronounce on the matter for
twenty years. I n desperati on, Donal d buys an­
other house. But even here he i s out of l uck : the
counci l has deci ded, in vi ew of hi s di ffi cul ti es, to
move the roa from his ol d street - to hi s new
one. Moral : don't try to change anythi ng ' Put up
with what you have, or chances are you wi l l end
up wi th worse.
We shal l return l ater to thi s type of comi c,
whi ch demostrates the usel essness of persi sti ng i n
the face of deti ny, and Di sney's brand of soci al
cri ti cism. But i t was necessary to stress the ni ght­
mari sh and degraded character of the ci ty, for
this moti vates, i n part, the retur n to nature. The
metropol i s is concei ved as a mechani cal dor­
mi tory or safe deposi t box. A base of operati ons
from wh i ch one has to escape. An uncontrol l abl e
technol ogi cal · disaster, whi ch i f endured, woul d
make exis tence absurd.
On the other hand, the "peace and qui et of
the countrysi de" is such that onl y wi l l ful i nter­
ference can di sturb i t. For exampl e, Gus Goose,
in order to persuade the rusti c Grandma Duck to
spend a few days in the ci ty, has arti fi ci al l y to
i nduce successi ve pl agues of mosqu i toes , mi ce
and bees ; a fi re; and a cw trampl i ng over her
garden. She i s gl ad for what has happened, for
the day of pl agues has prepared her to "put up
with the i nconveni ences of modern ci ty l i fe. "
Urban man can onl y reach the countrys i de
once he has l eft behi nd hi m al l the curses of
technology : shi ps are wrecked, ai rpl anes crash,
rockets are stol en. One has to pass through Pur­
gatory in order to attai n Paradi se. Any contem­
porary gadget one bri ngs to the countrys i de wi l l
only cause pro bl ems, and wreak i ts revenge by
compl i cati ng and contami nat i ng one's l i fe . I n an
episode ti tl ed "The I nfernal Bucket" ( note the
rel i gious associ ati on) , Donal d has his vacati on
ru i ned by thi s si mpl e object. Another ti me ( 0
433) , when the duckl i ng scouts try to change the
course of nature by aski ng Gyr o Gearl oose to
i nvent someth i ng to stop a rai nstorm, the onl y
l i ttl e cl ear i ng i n the forest which remai ns dry
soon becomes crowded, l i ke a repfi ca of a ci ty,
bri ngi ng al l the corres pondi ng urban confl i cts. "I
th i nk that one shoul dn't force nature, " says pne.
Adds the other : " I n the l ong run, i t j ust doesn' t
pay. "
Superfi ci al l y consi dered, what we have here i s
si mpl y escapism, the common mass cul t ure safety
val ve necessary for a soci ety in need of re­
creati on and fantasy to mai ntai n i ts mental and
physi cal heal th. I t i s the Sunday afternoon wal k
i n the Park, the weekend i n the countr y, a nd the
nostal gi a for the past annual vacat i on. Not sur­
pr i s i ngl y, those who consi der the ch i l d as l i vi ng a
perpetual hol i day, al so seek a spat i al equ i val ent
to thi s carefree exi stence : the peace of the
countrysi de.
Thi s thesi s might appear exhausti ve, were i t
not for the fact that the pl aces where a re heroes
venture are far from bei ng abandoned and un­
i nhabi ted. I f the adventu res took pl ace i n pu re
uncontami n ated nature, the rel ati onshi p woul d
be onl y between man a nd i norgani c matter . Were
there no nati ve, there woul d be no human re­
l ati ons other than those whi ch we anal yzed i n
the previ ous chapter . But thi s is not the case. A
s i mpl e stati sti c: out of the total of one hundred
magazi nes we studi ed, very nearl y hal f - 47
percent - showed the heroes confronti ng bei ngs
from other conti nents and races . If one i ncl udes
comi cs deal i ng wi th creatures from other pl anets,
the proporti on r i ses wel l over 50 percent . Our
sampl e i ncl udes stori es cover i ng the remotest
corners of the gl obe. *
*To start wi th our American hemisphere : Peru (I nca­
Bl i nca in TB 1 04, the Andes i n 0 457) ; Ecuador ( 0
434) ; Mexi co ( Aztecl and, Azatl �n and Southern I x ti ki i n
o 432, 0 455 and TB 1 07 respect ively ) ; an i sl and off
Mex ico (0 451 ) ; Brazi l ( F 1 55) ; the Ch i l ean and
Bol i vi an pl ateau x ( Antofagasta i s menti oned i n TB 1 06) ;
and the Car i bban ( TB 87) .
North America : I ndians in the Uni ted States ( 0 430
and TB 62) ; savages of t he Grand Canyon ( 0 437) ;
Canadi an I ndians ( 0 379 and TR 1 1 7 ) ; Eski moes of t he
Arcti c (TR 1 1 0) , I ndians in ol d Cal i f orn ia (0 357 ) .
Africa and the Near East : Egypt ( Sph inxonia i n 0
422 and TR 1 09) ; some corner of the black conti nent
(0 431 , 0 382, 0 364, F 1 70, F 1 06) ; Arab countr ies
( Ar i d i a, archi pelago of Fri gi- F ri gi , the other three
namel ess - TR 1 1 1 and 1 23, two episodes 0 453 and F
1 55) .
Asia: Faroff i stan ( Hong Kong? 0 455) ; F ranistan ( a
b i zzarre mi xture of Afghanistan and Tibet ) ; Outer
Congot i a ( Mongol i a? 0 433) ; Unsteadystan ( Vi etnam,
TR 9l .
Oceania: islands i nhi bi ted by svages ( 0 376, F 68,
TR 1 0, 0 377) ; uni nhabi ted is la nds (0 439, 0 21 0, TB
9, TR 1 1 9) : t o which one may add a mul t i tude of
i sl ands visi ted by Mickey and Goofy, but of leser
i nterest and therefore omi tted f rom t hi l ist.
In these l ands, far from the Duckburg metro­
pol i s, casual l anding grounds for adventurers
greedy for treasur and anxious t break thei r
habitual boredom with a pure and heal thy form
of recreati on, there await i nhabitants with most
unusual characeristics.
No glob-troter culd fai l t thri l l to these
countries and the idea of taki ng home with hi m
a real l i ve svag. S here, on behal f of al l you
eager tri ppers, is our brocure to tel l you exactly
what is on the bi l l of fare (extracted from "How
to Travel and Get . Ri ch", as you might fi nd it i n
Reader's Digest as cndensd from the Nationa/
Gegraphic) :
1 . I DENTITY. Pri mi tive. Two groups: one
qui te barbari c (Stone �qe) , habi tat Africa,
Pol ynesi a, outlyi ng parts of Brazi l , Ecuador or
U.S. A. ; the other group much more evolved but
degnerati ng, i f not actual l y in course of ex­
ti ncti on. Someti mes, te latter group is the re­
posi tory of an ancient civi l i zati on with many
monument and local dishes. Neither of thee
two groups ha reached the age of technology.
2. OW E L LI NGS. The fi rst group has no
urban cnters at al l , some huts at the most.
The second group has towns, but in a rui ned or
usel ess state. You are advised to bri ng lot of
fi l m, becaus everythi ng, absol utely everyti ng, i s
jam-packed with fol klor and the exotica.
3. RACE. Al l races, except the white. Color
fi l m i s i ndi spnsabl e, beause the nati ves come i n
al l shades, from the darkest bl ack to yel low vi a
Translator'S Note : Te following l ist, culled from
Michal Barrier's Barks bibliogrphy wil l further i l l u­
minate the procupation of the Duck with peple of
the Third World ( I ndins l iving in the U.S. are not
included). Note that this list cvrs only one writer's
Duk stories, and exclude all Micke Mou. adnturs,
which are also often st i n forign lands There my be
some duplication with te Ci lean edition l ist.
Cns and AIBa: Alaska (Point Marrow, DO 1 /45;
Mi ne i n, DO 1 2/4; US 9-1 1 /5S; US 9/6). Canada:
Norh Wet ( Ki kmiquik I ndins DO 2/60) ; Eskimoe
CS S/63; Lbrador DO 7-8/52; Peweh Pygmy
I ndians US 6-S/57 ; Gold mi ne i n, US 9-1 1 /61 .
Cental America: C 5/61 ; Azteland DO 9/65;
Yucatan ( Mayan ruins, US S/63) ; Hondrica DO
3-4/5; Wet Indis DO 7/47; Caribbn I slands CS
4/60; Cub 4/6.
Sout Amerca : War in, US 3-/59; Emerald in, US
9-1 1 /60; Amazon j ungle DO 7-/7, US 1 2-2/61 ;
British Guiana DO 9-1 0/52; Ande ( l ncn ruinl DO
4/49; I ncan mine US 6-8/59) ; Cilibreria DO 1 /51 ;
Cura de Coo I ndians ("Tutor Corps" in, US 9-1 1 /62) ;
Vol ca noia (Donald .111 warlane t, DO 5/47) ;
Br utopi US 3-5/57 (Beare cmmunists in, CS
1 1 /63; Spie from, US 5/65).
cafe-au-I ai t, ochre and that lovel y l i ght orange
pecul i ar to the Redski ns .
4. STATU R E. Bri ng cl ose-up and wi de-angle
l enses . The nati ves are gneral ly enormous, gigan­
tic, gross, tough, pure raw matter, and pure muscl e;
but someti mes, they can b mere pygmies. Pl ease
don't step on them; they are harml ess.
5. CLOTH I NG. Loi ncl oths, unl ess they dress
l i ke thei r most di stant ancestor of royal bl ood.
Our friend Di sney, creater of the "Li vi ng Desert, "
woul d no doubt have coi ned the fel i citous term
"Li vi ng Musum. "
6. SEXUAL CUSTOMS. By some strange
freak of nature, these countries have onl y males.
We were unable to find any trace of the fe­
male. Even in Pol ynei a, the famous tamun�
dance is resered to the strongr sex. We di d dis­
cover, however, in Franestan, a princss, but
were unabl e to see her bcause no male i s
al l owed near her. I t i s not yet sufficiently under·
s t ood how these savages reproduce. We do,
however, hope to come up with an answer in our
ne xt issue, si nc the I nternati onal Monetary
Fund is fi nanci ng an i nvesti gati on of the Thi rd
Worl d demographic explosi on, with a view to
determi ning the natur of whatever (exceedi ngly
efficient) contraceptive device i s in use.
7. MOR AL QUAL I TI ES. They are l i ke
chi l dren. Fri endl y, carefree, nai ve, trustful
and happy. They throw temper tantrums when
they are upset. But it i s ever so easy to pl acate
them and even, how shal l we say, deceive them.
Africa: CS 4/62; Gold mi ne i n, US 1 /66; Egypt DO
9/43, US 3-5/59; Pygm Arab US 6-8/61 ; Re Sea
Vil lag (King Slomon's mine US 9-1 1 /57) ; Bantu US
9-1 1 /6; Cong (Kahong US 3-5/6) ; Oasis of
Noiss DO 9/5; Koko Co (Wigs i n, US 9/6) ; Foola
Zoola DO 8/49; Sot Africa US 9-1 1 /56, US 3-5/59.
Asia: Arbi US 2/65; Persia (Ancint city of I ta
Faka DO 5/50; Oil i n, US 3-/62) ; Baghad US 7/6;
Sgbad (Cpital of Fatctsan US 10/67); I ndia (Jum­
bsan US 1 2/6; Maaajah of 8ackdore CS 4/49,
Maharajah of Swingingore US 3-5/55, Rajah of Foot­
sore, Maharjah of Howduyustn CS 3/52) ; Hi malaas
( Unicorn in, DO 210; Moneles paradise of Tralla L
US 6-8/5; Abominabl Snowma in Hindu Kush
mountins, US 6-15).
Sut.st Asia: Farbakishan ("Brain Corps" in, . GG
1 1 -2/2) ; Siamboia (Civil War in, CS 6/65) ; Gung Ho
river (�ncient city of Tangkor Wat, US 1 2-2/5) ;
Unsteadysan (Civil War in, US 7/6) ; South Misrystan
US 7/67.
Others: Ausrlia (Aborigns) DO 5/47, CS
9-1 1 /55, US 3/6; South Sea Island US 3/63, CS
1 2/6, CS 916; Hawaiian Islands 1 2-1 154; Jungle of
Facel ess People US 3/6; Aeolian Mountains GG
The prudent tourist wi l l bri ng a few tri nkets
which he can readi l y exchange for quanti ti es of
nati ve jewel ry. The savages are extraordi nari l y re­
ceptive; they accept any ki nd of gift, whether it
b som artifact of ci vi l i zati on, or money, and
they wi l l even, i n the l ast reso r, accept the
return of thei r own treasures, as l ong as it is i n
the form of a gi ft. They are disi nterested and
ver generous. Cl ergy who are ti red of deal i ng
with spoi l ed juveniie del i nquents, cn rel ax with
some good old-fashioned mi ssi onary work among
pri mi ti ves untouched by Cri sti ani ty. Yet they
a re wi I I i n g to give up everythi ng materi al .
EVERYHI NG. EVERYHI NG. So they are an
i nexhausti ble font of ri ches and treasures which
they cannot use. They are supersti ti ous and im-
agi native. Without pretensi ons to erudi ti on, w
may desri b them as te typi cal noble sva
r efer red to by Christopher Col umbus, Jean­
Jacque Rouseau, Marco Polo, Ri card Ni xon,
Wi l l i am Shakepeare and Queen Vi ctori a.
S. AMUSE ME NTS. The pri miti ves si ng,
dance, and someti mes for a change, have
revol uti ons. They tend to us any mechani cal ob­
ject you mi ght bri ng with you ( tel ephone, watch,
guns) as a toy.
9. LANGUAGE. No ned for an i nterpreter
or phrase book. Al mos al l of them speak
fl uent Duckburi sh. And i f you have a smal l
chi l d with you, don't worry, he wi l l get on fi ne
wi th thos other l i ttl e nati ves whose l anguage
tends to the babyi sh ki nd, with a preference for
guttural s.
1 0. ECONOM I C BASE. Subsi stenc economy.
Seep, fi sh, and frui t. Someti mes, they sel l
thi ngs. When the ocasi on ari ses tey manu­
facture objects for te turist tade: don't buy
them, for you can get them, and more, for free,
by tri cking them. Tey show an extraordi nary at­
tchment to the earth, wich renders them
even more natural. Abundance rei gns. They do
not need to produce. They are model consumers.
Perhaps thei r happi ness is due to the fact that
they don't work.
1 1 . POLI TI CAL STRUCTURE. The tourist
wi l l fi nd thi very much to his taste. I n the
pal eol ithic, brbaric group of poples, there is a
natural democracy. Al l are equal , except the ki ng
who i s more equal than the others. This renders
civi l l i brti es nugatory: executive, legisl ati ve and
j udical powers are fusd int one. Nor is tere
any necessi ty for voti ng or newspapers. Every­
thing i s shared, as i n a Disneyl and cl ub, i f we
may b permitted the cmpari son; and the ki ng
does not have any real authori ty or ri ghts,
byond h is ti tl e, any more tan a general i n a
Disneyl and cl u b, if we may be permitted another
comparison. I t i s thi s democrac whi ch di sti n­
qui shes the pal eol ithic group from the second
g r oup, with its ancient, degnerate cul tures,
where the ki ng hol ds unl i mi ted power, but al so
l ives u nder the constant fear of overthrow. For­
tunatel y, however, his nati ve subjects suffer from
a rather curious weaknes: always wanti ng to re­
i nsti tute the mnarchy.
1 2. R ELI GI ON. None, becaus they l i ve i n a
Pardis Lost, or a true Garden of Eden before
the Fal l .
1 3. NATI ONAL EMBLEM. The mol l usk, of
the i nvertebrate fami l y.
as it i s not l ost or bl ack.
I mmacul ate white.
The sheep, as l ong
have not had the great good fortune to
hae been there, may fi nd thi s prhaps the most
i mportant and most di fficul t aspect of al l , but it
represents the very esenc of the nobl e savage
and the reason why he has ben l eft by pre­
ference in a relati vel y backward state, free from
t he confl i ct btti ng contmporary soci ety.
Bei ng in cl os communion with the natural en­
vi ronment, te svage is able to radi ate natural
goodnes, and absl ute ethi cal puri ty. Unknown
to hi msel f, he cnstitutes a source of prmanent
or constantl y renewable sancti ty. Just a there
exist reserves of I ndians and of wi l derness, why
shoul d there not b reserves of moral ity and i n­
nocnce? Smehow, thi s moral i ty and i nnocnce
wi l l suceed, without changi ng the technol ogi zed
soc i et i es, i n saving humanity. They are re­
demption i tself.
1 7. FUNERAL R I TES. They never di e.
Our obrvant reader wi l l have noti ced the
si mi l ari ti es btween the nobl e savag and
thos other svages cl l ed ci l dren. Have we at
I ast encountred the true chi l d i n Disney's
comics, in the guise of the i nnocnt barbari an? I s
t here a paral l el btween the soci al ly under­
devel oped peoples who l i ve in these vast i sl ands
and pl ateaux of i gnoranc, and the chi l dren who
are underdevel oped because of thei r young age?
Do tey not both share magi cal practices, i n­
nocence, naivete, that natural di spsi ti on of a
l ost, chastened, benevol ent humani ty? Are not
both equal l y defensless bfore adul t force and
gui l e?
The comi cs, el aborated by and for the nar­
ci ssi sti c parent, adopt a vi ew of the chi l d­
r eader which is the same as thei r view of the
I nferi or Thi rd Worl d adul t. I f thi s be so, our
nobl e savage di ffers from te other ci l dren i n
that he i s not a carbon cpy aggregate of
paternal , ault val ues. Lacli ng In the i ntel l ignce,
cunni ng, disci pl i ne, encclopedi c knowledge, and
t echnol ogi cal ski l l s posessed by the l ittl e ci ty
fol k (and the chi pmunks, Li tl e Wol f, Bong, and
ot h e r de n i ze n s of Duckburg' s metropol i tan
wi l derness) , the pri mi ti ve assumes the qual i ti es of
c hi l d hood as concei ved by the comics ( i n­
nocence, i gnorance, etc. ) wi thout havi ng access
to the gateways and l adders l eadi ng to the adul t
worl d.
Here the goi ng bcomes heavy, the fog de­
scends. In the whi rl of thi s fancy dress bal l ,
percepti on i s bl urred as to who i s who; when and
where the ch i l d is adul t, and the adult, a chi l d.
I f we accept that the savage i s the true chi ld,
then what do the l i ttl e fol k of Duckburg
represent? What are the di fferences and si mi ­
l ari ti es between them?
The city ki ds are onl y chi l dren i n appearance.
The-y possess the physi cal shape and stature of
chi l dren, thei r i niti al dependency, thei r supposed
good fa ith, thei r school room obl i gati ons, and
someti mes, thei r toys. But as we have seen, they
real l y represent the force which j udges and cor­
rects adul t errors wi th adul t rati onal es. I n thi rty­
ei ght out of the fory-two episodes in whi ch
Donal d quarrel s with hi s nephews, it is the l atter
who are in the ri ght. Onl y i n four, on the other
hand (e. g. i n the "Tri cksters Tri cked") i s i t the
l i ttl e ones who transgress the l aws of adul t be·
havi or, and are proprl y puni shed for havi ng
acted l i ke chi l dren. Li ttl e Wol f, i n thi rty epi ­
sodes , can do no wrong, i n view of the fact' that
hi s father i s big and bad, bl ack and ugl y : he
al ways teaches his father a l esson whenever the
l atter fal l s i nsti nctivel y i nto the path of weakness
and cri me. Thi s physical father, the onl y true
mal e parent i n the comi cs, cnfi rms our thesis
once more : he i s the vagabond whose power, not
bei ng l egiti mated by Disney's "proper" adul t
* This pattern i s repeated in Disney fi l ms with
j uvenile actors (e. g. those starring Hayley Mi l l s) .
* * For an i nterpretation free of the formal ism of
Vladi mi r Propp's strucural analysis (Morholoie du
Conte, Seui l , Paris, 1 970) , see, among others, the di s­
coveries of Marc Soriano, . Les Conts d Perrault:
culture savnte et tradit/ns populaire, Gal l imard, Paris,
1 968, and "Table Ronde sur les contes de Perraul t"
Annales ( Paris) ' mai-j uin 1 970.
val ues, wi l l al ways be mocked. Equal l y si gnifi cant
i s the name of Scamp's natural father : Tramp.
But, the true father of Scamp is hi s human
owner. I n eighten out of twenty adventures, we
fi nd the chi pmu nks Chi p and Dal e maki ng fun of
the bl unders and frauds of al l the adul ts ( Donal d,
Bi g Bad Wol f, Brer Bear, Brer Fox, and Brer
As) . In the other two, where they mi sbhave,
they get a drubbi ng. Gus and Jaq, Bongo, Peter
Pan : one hundred percent in the right. Goofy is
the etenal and foremost target of adu It l essons i n
chi l di sh mouths: he is a lways wrong, because he
l acks adul t i ntl l ectual maturi ty. But it i s i n
Mi ckey Mous, Disney's premi er creati on, that
chi l di sh and mature trai ts are best reconci l ed. I t
i s this perfect mi n i ature adul t - thi s chi l d­
det ective, this pal adi n of law and decency,
ordered i n h is judgements and di sordered i n hi s
personal habits ( remembr Ji mi ny Cri cket, the
awkward keeper of Pi noch i o's consci ence) -
who exempl i fi es the synthesi s and symbi osi s
which Disney hoped, unconsci ousl y, to transmi t.
But as other characters appeared the synthesis
spl i t apart, gi vi ng ri se to the ci rcul ar pattern of
'substi tuti on of the chi l d taking over from the
adul t.
Disney di d not i nvent this sructure: it is
rooted i n the so-al l ed popul ar tal es and l egends,
i n which researchers have detected a cntral
cycl i cal symmetry between father and son. The
youngest i n the fami l y, for i nstance, or the l i ttle
wi zard or woodcutter, is subject to paternal
authori ty, but possesses powers of reta l i ati on and
regul ati on, whi ch are i nvari abl y l i nked to hi s
abi l i ty to generat ideas, that i s, hi s cunni ng. See
Perrault, Andersen, Gri mm.
Now that we have seen the adul t rol e of the
chi l d, we are i n a better posi ti on to understand
the presence of the savages wi thi n this worl d.
Thei r permanent role i s to fi l l the gap l eft by
the smal l chi l d-shaped urbans, j ust as the l atter
are requi red to fi l l the gap l eft by the adul t­
s h aped urbans when they cease to act res­
ponsi bl y.
So there are two type of chi l dren. Whi l e the
city-fol k are i ntel l i gent, cal cu l ati ng, crafty, and
super i or ; the Thi rd Worl dl i ngs are candi d, fool i sh,
i r r a t i on a l , di s org a n i zed a nd gul l i bl e ( l i ke
Cowboys and I ndi ans) . The fi rst are spi ri t, and
move i n the sphere of i deas; the second are
body, i nert matter, mass. The former represent the
future, the l atter the past.
Now we understand why the urban ki ds are
constantl y on the move, overthrowi ng the grown-
ups every ti me they show si gns of i nfanti l e re­
l apse. The repl acement is l egi ti mate and neces­
sary, bcause this ensures that there be no real
ch a n ge . Eve ry thi ng conti nues as before. I t
doesn' t matter i f one part be i n the ri ght and the
other i n
the wrong, as l ong a the rul es stay the
same. Thi s can onl y happen i n the sel f-onti ned
l and of Duckburg.
The i ron unity of these ci ty people, chi l dren
and adults al i ke wi th respect to the i deal s of ci vi ­
l i zati on ; te maturi ty and techni cal ski l l wi th
wh ich each ti me they cnfront the worl d of
n�ture is proof anew of te pre-emi nence of
adul t val ue i n Duckburg. The chi l d-savages have
no chance to criti ci ze, and thus repl ace the
monol i thi c bloc of strangers from the ci ty. The
former can only accept the generosi ty of the
l atter and give them the weal th of thei r l ands.
These prehumans are desti ned to remai n i n thei r
i sl ands, arrested i n an eternal state of pre
i nfancy, ch i l dren who are not l i ke the nephew­
ducks, a pretext for the projecti on of adul t
val ue$. Thei r n atural vi rtue, whi ch i s uni form and
fi xed, represents the begi nni ng and end of ti me,
the pre- Fal l and post-j udgement Paradi se, the
font of goodness, pati ence, joy and i nnocence.
The exi stence of the nobl e svage consti tuts a
guarantee that there wi l l al ways be chi l dren, and
that the nephew wi l l have someone to repl ace
them as they grow up (even i f the new chi l dren
have to be born by non-sexual means ) .
I n thei r assi mi l ati on of "superi or" val ues, the
urban youngsters automati cal l y l ose many of the
qual i ti es whi ch adults most admi re in chi l dren.
I ntel l i gence and cunni ng threaten the tradi ti onal
i mage of the i mmu ne and trusti ng chi l d who
transforms adul t n ightmares i nto puri fi ed and
perfumed dreams. The chHdren' s tri cks, al though
they are di smi ssed as pran ks, a l so darken the
i mage of origi nal perfecti on, of a worl d (and
ul ti matl y a sal vati on) beyond the tai nt of sex
and money. The father wants the ch i l d to be his
own refl ecti on, to be made in hi s own i mage.
Whi l e he tri es to achieve i mmortal i ty through
offspri ng who never cntradi ct hi m ( and are
monopol i zed by h i m, j ust as Di sney monopol i zes
hi s "monos") *, he si mu l taneousl y want them to
"monos" = monkeys, or cartoon characters (Trans. )
be creatures who correspond to hi s ideal i zed
i mage of open and submi ss i ve chi l dhood; whi ch
he th e n can i mmobi l i ze and freeze i nto a
photograph on the mantl epi ece. The adul t wants
a chi l d who when he/she grows up, wi l l fa i thful l y
reproduce a nd depend upon the past.
Thus the chi l d-reader has two al ternati ves
before hi m/her, two model s of behavi or : ei ther
fol l ow the duckl i ng and si mi l ar wi l y creatures,
choos i ng adul t cunni ng to defeat the com­
peti ti on, cmi ng out on top, geti ng rewards,
goi ng up; or el se, fol l ow the chi l d nobl e savage,
who j ust stays put and never wi ns anythi ng. The
onl y way out of chi l dhood is one previ ousl y
ked out by the adul t, and camoufl aged wi th
i n nocnce and i nsti nct. I t's the onl y way to go,
Thi s divi s i on i s not grounded i n mysti ci sm or
metaphysi cs. The yearn i ng for puri ty does not
ari se from any need for a sal vati on one mi ght
ter m rel i gi ous. I t i s as i f the father di d not wish
to conti nue domi nati ng h is own fl esh, hi s own
hei r s . Sens i ng that hi s son i s none but hi msel f,
the father percei ves hi msel f si mul taneousl y as
domi nator and domi nated, in a mani festati on of
hi s own unrel enti ng i nternal repressi on. I n hi s
attempt to break the i nfernal ci rcle, to fl ee from
hi ms el f, he searches for another bei ng to do­
mi nate - someone wi th whom he can enjoy a
gui l t-free pol ari zati on of feel i ng, and a cl ear
defi ni ti on of who i s the domi nated and who is
the domi nator. , Whi l e the son safel y grows up
and adopt h is father's val ues, he conti n ues to
repress the other ch i l d who never changes and
never protests : the noble savage. I n order to
escape fro� the sado-masochisti c confl i ct wi th
hi s own son and h i s own bei ng, he establ i shes a
purel y sad i sti c rel ati onsh i p wi th that other bei ng,
the "harml ess ," "i nnocent" "nobl e" savage. He
bequeathes to hi s son a sati sfactori l y i mmutabl e
worl d: hi s own val ues and wel l -behaved savages
who wi l l accept them wi thout compl ai ni ng.
But i t i s ti me, l est our own anal ysi s fal l vi cti m
to ci rcul ari ty, to l ook beyond the confi nes of the
fami l y structu re. Does there not l urk perhaps
somethi ng el se behi nd th i s father- nobl e savage
re l ati onshi p?
Donal d (tal ki ng to a witch doctor in Africa) :
"I se you're an up to date nation '
Have you go telephones?"
Wi tch doctor : "Have w gottee tel ephones I
. . . Al l col ors, al l shaps . . . onl y
troubl e is onl y one has wi res. I t's a
hot I i ne to the worl d loan bank. "
(TR 1 06, US 9
Where i s Aztecl and? Where i s I nca-Bl i nca?
Where i s Unsteadystan?
There cn b no doubt tat Aztcl and i s
Mexi co, embraci ng as i t does al l the proto­
types of the picture-pstcard Mexico: mul es,
s i estas , volcanoes, cactuss, hug sombreros,
poncos, srenades, machi smo, and I ndi ans from
ancient civi l izations. The cuntry is defined pri ­
mari ly in terms of tis grotesque fol klorism.
Petrified in an archetypi cl embryo, expl oited for
al l the superfici al and stereotyped prejudi ces
wh i ch s u r r ou n d i t, "Aztecl and," under its
psudo-i magi nary name bcme that much easi er
to Disnify. Thi s is Mexico reconi zable by its
cmmonpl ace exotic i dentity l abls, not the real
Mexico wi th al l i ts problems.
Walt took vi rgin territories of the U.S. and
bui l t upn them his Disneyl and palaces, his
magic ki ngdoms. His view of the worl d at l arge i s
framed by the same perspective; i t is a worl d
al ready coloni zed, with phantom inhabitants who
have to conform to Di sney's notions of i t. Each
foreign country is used as a ki nd of model withi n
the procss of i nvasi on by Disney-nature. And
even if some fori gn country l i ke Cuba or
Vietam soul d dare to enter i nto open confl ict
wi th the United States, the Di sney Comi cs
brand-mark is i mmedi ately stamped upon i t, i n
order to make te revol uti onary strugle appear
banal . Whi l e te Mari nes make revol utionaries
run the gauntlet of bul lets, Di sney makes them
run a gauntl et of magzine. There are two forms
of ki l l i ng: by machi ne guns and sacchari ne.
Di sney di d not, of coure, i nvent the
i nhabitant of thee l ands; he merely forced them
i nto the proper mold. Casti ng them as stars i n
hi s hit-parade, he made them i nto decal s and
puppets for his fantas pal acs, good and i n­
offensi ve savages unto eternity.
According to Disney, underdevelopd popl es
are l i ke chi l dren, to b treated as such, and i f
they don't acept this defi nition of themselve,
they should have their pant taken down and b
given a good spanking. Tat' l l teach them! When
something is sid about the chi l d/noble savage, it
is real l y the Thi rd World one is thinking about.
The hegmony which we have detected betwen
POWER . . . WAiC H,
the chil d-adul ts who arri ve with thei r ci vi l i iati on
and technol ogy, and the chi l d-nobl e savages who
accept this al i en authority and surrender thei r
ri ches, stands reveal ed as an exact repl i ca of the
rel ati ons between metropol i s and satel l i te, be­
tween empi re and col ony, btween master and
sl ave. Thus we fi nd the metropol i tans not only
searchi ng for treasures, but also sel l i ng the native
cmics ( l i ke those of Di sney) , to teach them the
rol e asi gned to them by the domi nant ur ban
press . Under the suggesti ve ti tl e "Better Gui l e
Than Force," Donal d departs for a Paci fi c atol l
i n order to try to suri ve for a month, and
r et u r ns l oaded wi th dol l ars, l i ke a mdern
busi ness tycoon. The entrepreneur can do btter
than the mi ssi onary or te army. The worl d of
the Di sney comi c is sel f-publ i ci zi ng, ensuri ng a
process of enthusi asti c buyi ng and sel l i ng even
wi thi n i ts very pages.
Enough of general i ti es. Exampl es and proofs.
Among al l the chi l d-nobl e savages, none is
more exaggerated in hi s i nfanti l i sm than Gu, the
Abomi nable Snow Man ( TR 1 1 3, US 6-8/56,
"The Lost Crown of Genghi s Khan") : a brai nl ess
feebl e-mi nde Mongol i an type ( l i vi ng by a strang�
coi nci dence, i n the Hi mal ayan Hi ndu Kush moun­
tai ns among yel l ow peopl es ) . He i s treated l i ke a
chi l d. He is an "abominable housekeper, " l i vi ng
i n a messy cave, "the worst of taste, " l ittered
wi th IIcheap tri nkets and waste. " Hats etc. , l yi ng
around which he has no us for. Vul gar, uncivi ­
l i zed, he speaks i n a babble of i narti cul ate baby­
noises : "Gu." But he i s also witl ess, havi ng stol en
the gol den jewel l ed crown of Genghis Khan
(which bel ongs to Scrooge by vi rtue of certai n
secret operati ons of his agents ) , wi thout having
any i dea of its val ue. He has tosed the crown i n
* For the theme of physical superdevelopment . with
the connottion of sexual threat, se El dri dge Cleaver,
Soul on Ice, 1 96.
a corner l i ke a coal bucket, and prefers Uncl e
Scrooge's watch: val ue, one dol l ar ( U I t i s hi s
favori te ty") . Never mi nd, for "hi s stupi di ty
makes it easy for us to get away ! " Uncl e Srooge
does i ndeed manage, magical l y, to exchange the
cheap arti fact of ci vi l i zation whi ch ges ti ck­
tock, for the crown. Obstacl es are overcome once
Gu ( i nnocnt chi l d-monstruous ani mal - under­
devel oped Thi rd Worl dl i ng ) real i zes that they onl y
want to take somethi ng that i s of no use to hi m
and that i n exchange he wi l l be gi ven a fantasti�
and mysterious p iece of technol ogy (a watch )
whi ch he can use as a pl aythi ng. What is ex­
tracted is gol d, a raw materi al ; he who sur­
�enders it is mental l y underdevel oped and phys­
Ical l y overdevel oped. The gi ganti c physi que of
Gu, and of al l the other margi nal savages, is the
model of a physi cal strength suited onl y for
physi cal l abor. *
Such an epi sode refl ects the barter rel ati on­
shi p establ i shed wi th the nati ves by the f i rst con­
q u i s t a dor s a n d col oni zers ( i n Afri ca, Asi a,
Ameri ca and Oceani a) : some tri n ket, the product
of technol ogi cal superi ori ty ( European or North
Ameri can) i s exchanged for gol d (spi ces, i vory,
tea, etc. ) . The nati ve is rel i eved of somethi ng he
woul d never have thought of usi ng for h i msel f
or as a means of exchange. Thi s i s an extreme
and al most anecdoti c exampl e. The cmmon
stuff of other types of comi c book ( e.g. i n the
i nternati onal l y famous Tintin in Tibet by the
Bel g ian Herg�) l eaves the abomi nable creature i n
hi s besti al condi ti on, and thus unabl e to enter
i nto any ki nd of economy .
But th is parti cul ar vi cti m of i nfanti l e re­
gressi on stands at the borderl i ne of Di sney's
nobl e savage cl i che. Beyond it l i es the foetus­
savage, whi ch for reasons of sexual prudery
Di sney cannot use.
Lest the reader feel that we are spi nni ng too
fi ne a thread in establ ishi ng a paral l el between
someone who carries of gold in exchange for a
mechan ical tr i nket, and i mperial i sm extracti ng
raw materi al from a mono-productive countr, or
between typical domi nator and domi nated, let
us now adduce a mr� e)plici.t example of
Di sney's strategy in respect to the cuntries he .
cari catures as "backward" (needless to say, he
never hi nts at the causes of thei r backwardnes).
The fol l owing di alogue ( tken from the same
comi c which provi ded the quotati on at the bgi n­
ni ng of tis capter) i s a typical exampl e of
Di sney's colonial attitude, i n thi s cse di rected
agai nst the Afri can i ndependence movements.
Donal d has parachuted i nto a country in the
Afr i can j ungl e. "Where am I ," he cries. A witch
docor (with spectacles perched over his giganti c
pri mi tive mask) repl i es : "I n te new nati on of
Kooko Coco, fly boy. This i s our capital city. " I t
consi sts of three straw huts and some movi ng
h ay s t a cks. When Donal d enqui res after this
strange phenomenon, the witch doctor expl ai ns :
"Wi gsl This be hairy idea our ambassador bri ng
back f rom Uni ted Nati ons. " When a pig pursui ng
Donal d l ands a nd has the wi gs removed di scl osi ng
t h e wher ea bouts of the enemy ducks, the
, set YOU'RE A UP
1lNf ?
foll owi ng dial ogue ensues:
Pi g: "Hear yel hear yel I ' l l pay you kooks
some hairy prices for your wigs I Sell me all you
have! "
Native: "Wheel Ri ch trader buyee our ol d
head hangers ' "
Another native: "He payee me si x tradi ng
stamp for my beehive hairdo! "
Thi rd native (overjoyed) : "He payee me to
Chicao streetcar tokens for my Beati e job."
To effect his escape, the pig deci des to scatter
a few ci ns as a deoy. The nati ves are happy to
stop, crouch and cravenl y gather up te money.
El sewhere, wen the Beagle Boys dress up as
Pol ynesi an natives to deceive Donald, they mi mi c
the same ki nd of bhavior: "You save our l i ves
. . . We be your servants for ever." And as they
prostrate themselves, Donal d oberves : "They are
natives too. But a l ittle mor civi l i zed. "
Another example (Special Numbr D 423) :
Donal d leaves for "Outer Congol i a, " bcause
Scrooge's busi ness there has ben doi ng badl y.
The reason i s that "the Ki ng ordered his subjects
not to give Christmas prsents thi s year. He
wants everyone to hand over ti s money to
h i m. " Donal d comment: "What sel fi shness ' "
And so to work. Donal d makes hi msel f ki ng,
be i ng taken for a great magi ci an who fl ies
through the sk ies. The ol d monarch i s dethroned
beca u se "he is not a wise man l i ke you
[ Donald] . He does not permi t us to buy pre­
sent." Donal d accepts the crown, i ntendi ng to
decamp as soon as the stock is sol d out : "My fi rst
command as ki ng is . . . buy presents for your
fami l i es and don't give your ki ng a rnt l " The
ol d ki ng had wanted the money to l eave the
country and eat what he fancied, instead of the
fi sh heads which were tradi ti onal l y hi s sol e di et.
R epe nt a nt , he promi ses that gi ven another
chance, he wi l l govern better, "and I wi l l fi nd a
way somehow to avoi d eati ng that l ghastl y stew. "
Donal d ( to the peopl e) : I I And I assure you
that I l eave the throne in good hands. Your ol d
ki ng is a good ki ng . . . and wiser than before. "
The people: "Hurrayl Long Li ve the Ki ng! "
The ki ng has l earned that he must al l y hi msel f
wi th forei gners i f he wishes t o stay i n power, and
that he cannot even i mpos taxes on the peopl e,
because th i s weal th must pass whol l y out of the
co u n try to Duckburg through the agent of
Mc Du c k . F urthermore, the strangers fi nd a
sol uti on to the probl em of the k i ng's boredom.
To al l evi ate his sense of al i enati on wi thi n hi s
own country, and his consequent desi re to travel
to the metropol is , they arrang for the massi ve
i mporati on of consumer goods : "Don't wor ry
about that food, " says Donal d, " I wi l l send you
some sauces which wi l l make even fi sh heads
pal atable. " Te ki ng stamps gl eeful l y up and
The same formul a is repeated over and over
agai n. Srooge exchanges wi th the Cnadi an
I ndians gates of rustl ess steel for gates of pure
gol d (TR 1 1 7) . Moby Duck and Donal d ( 0 453) ,
captured by the Ari di ans (Arabs ) , start to bl ow
so a p bu bbl e s , wi th whi ch the nat i ves are
enchanted. "Ha, ha. They break when you catch
them. Hee, hee. " A i -Sen-Gol i , the ci ef says
"i t's real magi c. My peopl e are l aughi ng l i ke
ch i l dren. They cannot i magi ne how i t works. "
"It's onl y a secret passed from generati on to
generati on, " says Moby, "I wi l l reveal it i f you
give us our freedom. " ( Ci vi l i zati on i s presented as
somethi ng i ncomprehensi bl e, to b admi ni stered
by forei gners) . The chi ef, i n amazement, excl ai ms
"Freedom? That's not al l I 'l l gi ve you. Gol d,
Jewels. My treasure is yours, i f you reveal the
secret. " The Arabs consent to thei r own de­
spol i ati on. ' 'e have jewel s, but they are of no
use to us. They don't make you l augh I i ke magi c
bubbles. " Whi l e Donal d sneers "poor si mpl eton, "
Moby hands over the Fl i p F l op detergent. "You
are r i ght, my fri end. Whenever you want a l i ttl e
pl easure, j ust pour out some magi c powder and
reci te the magi c words. " The story ends on the
note that it i s not necessary for Donal d to
e x cavate the Pyrami ds ( or earth) personal l y,
because, as Donal d says, "What do we need a
pyrami d for, havi ng AI i - Ben- Gol i ? "
Each ti me th i s si tuati on recu rs, the nati ves'
j oy i ncreases. A each object of thei r own
manufacture i s taken away from them, thei r
s a t i s f a c t i o n g r ows . As each arti fact from
ci vi l i zati on i s gi ven to them, and i nter preted by
them as a manifestati on of magi c r at her then
technology, they are fi l l ed wi th del i ght. Even our
fi ercest enemi es coul d hardly j usti fy the i nequ ity
of such an exchange; how can a fistfu l of jewel s
be regarded as equi val ent to a box of soap, or a
gol den crown equal to a cheap watch? Some wi l l
object that this k i nd of barter i s al l i magi nary,
but i t i s unforunate that these l aws of the
i magi nati on ar e ti l ted uni l ateral l y i n favor of
those who come from outsi de, and those who
wri te and publ i sh the magazi nes.
But how can thi s fl agrant despol i ati on pass
unpercei ved, or i n other words, how can thi s
i nequi ty b disg�i sed as equi ty? Why i s i t that
i mperi al i st pl under and cl onial subjecti on, to
cal l them by thei r proper names, do not appear as
"We have jewels, but they are of no use to
us. "
There they are i n thei r dsert tents, thei r
caves, thei r onc fl ouri shi ng cities, thei r l onel y i s­
l ands, thei r forbi dden forresses, and they can
never leave them. Congaled i n thei r past-histori c,
thei r neds defi ned i n functi on of thi s past, these
underdevel oped peoples are deni ed the ri ght to
bui l d thei r own future. Thei r crowns, thei r raw
materi al s, thei r soi l , their energy, thei r jade
el ephant, thei r fruit, but abve al l , thei r gold,
can never be turned to any use. F or them the
progress whi ch cmes fom abroad i n the form
of multi pl i city of tchnol ogi cal arti facts, is a
mere toy. It wi l l never penetrate the crystal l i zed
defense of the noble savage, who is forbi dden to
bcome ci vi l i zed. He wil l nev�r b abl e to joi n
the Cl u b of the Producers, because he does not
even understand that tese objects have ben
producd. He sees them as magic el ements,
arisi ng fro the forei gner's mi nd, from his word,
his magi c wand.
Si nce the nobl e savag� is deni ed the prospect
of future devel opment, pl under never appears as
such, for i t onl y el i mi nates that whi ch is tri fl i ng,
superfl uous, and dispensabl e. Unbri dled capi tal ist
de s pol i ati on is programmed with smi l es and
coquetry. Poor nati ve. How na'ive they are. And
si nc they cannot use thei r gol d, it i s better to
remve i t. I t can be usd el sewhere.
Scrooge McDuck gets hold of a twenty-four
carat mon i n which "the gol d i s so pure that i t
can b mol ded l i ke butter. " (TR 48, US
1 2-2/59) . But te l egiti mate owner appear, a
Venusi an cal l ed Muchkal e, who is prepared to
sel l it to Srooge for a fistful of earh. "Manl
That's the biggest barain I ever heard of in al l
history ," cri es the mi ser as he closes the deal .
But Muchkal e, who i s a "good native, " magi cal l y
transforms ' the fistful of earth i nto a pl anet, with
conti nents, oceans, trees, and a whol e
envi ronment of nature, "Yessi r l I was qui te i m­
poveri shed here, with onl y atoms of gold to
work with! " he says. Exi led from hi s state of
pri mi tive i nnocenc, l ongi ng for some rai n and
vol canoes, Muchkale rejects his gol d in order to
return to the land of hi s ori gi n and content
hi mself with l ife at subi stence level . "Skunk
Cabbge! [his favori te di sh on Venus] I l i ve agai n
, . , ' Now I ,have a world of my own, wi th food and
drink and life! " Far from robbi ng hi m, Scrooge
has done Muchkal e a favor by removi ng al l that
corrupt metal and faci l i tati ng hi s return to pri m­
i ti ve i nnocence. ' "He got the di rt he wanted,
and I got this fabul ous twenty-four carat moon.
Fi ve hundred mi l es thick' Of sold gold! But dog­
goned i f I don't thi nk he got the best of the
bargai n ! " Poor, but happy, the Venusi an is l eft
devoti ng hi msel f to the cel ebrati on of the si mpl e
l i fe. I t's the ol d aphorism, the poor have no
worr ies, i t is the ri ch who have al l the probl ems.
So let's have no qual ms about pl under i ng the
poor and underdevel oped.
Conquest has ben purged. Foreigners do no
harm, they are bui l di ng the future, on the basi s
of a societ which cannot and wi l l not l eave the
But there is another way of i nfanti l i zi ng
others and exonerati ng one's own l arcenous b­
havi or. I mperi al i sm l i kes to promote an i mage of
itsel f as bei ng the i mparti al j udge of the i nterests
of the people , and their l i brati ng angel .
The onl y thi ng which cannot b taken from
the noble savage is hi s subsi stence l i vi ng, bcause
l osi ng this woul d detroy hi s natural eonomy,
forci ng hi m to abandon Paradise for Ma,mmon
and a producti on ecnomy.
Donal d travel s to the "Pl ateau of Abandon"
to l ook for a si l ver goat, whi ch his Probl em
Sol vi ng Agenc has contracted to fi nd for a ri ch
customer. He fi nds the goat, but breaks it whi l e
tryi ng to r i de i t, and then di scovers that thi s
ani mal - and nothi ng else - stands btween l i fe
and death by starvati on (forbi dden word) for the
pri mi ti ve peopl e who l i ve near the pl ateau. What
had brought thi s to pass? Some time ago, an
earthquake cut of the people and thei r fl ocks
from thei r anci ent pasturel ands. "We woul d have
di ed of hunger in thi s ptch o� earth if a
generous whi te man had not arri ved here i n that
mysteri ous bi rd over . there [ Le. an ai rcraft] . . .
and made a white goat with the metal from ou r
mi ne. " It is thi s mechani cal goat which l eads the
fl ocks of sheep through the dangerous ravi ne to
pasture i n the outl yi ng pl a i ns, and without i t, the
sheep get l ost. The natives admi re the way
Donal d & Co. deci de to venture back through
peri l ous preci pi ces "wh i ch onl y you and the
sheep have the courage to cross. Our peopl e have
never had a head for hei ght. " Onc through the
ravi ne, Donal d and nephews mend the goat and
bri ng the shep safel y back to thei r owners.
Enter at this poi nt the vi l l ai ns: the ri ch Mr
Leech a nd h i s spoi l ed son who had contracted
and sent Donal d off in sarch of the goat. "You
si gned the cntract and must hand over the
goods." But the evi l pary is defeated and the
ducks reveal themsel ves as di si nterested friends of
the nati ves. Trusti ng the ducks as they di d thei r
Duckburg predecesor, the nati ves enter i nto an
al l i ance with the good forei gners agai nst the bad
forei gners. The mral Mani chaei sm seres to
affi rm foreign soverei gnty in its authori tari an and
paternal i st rol e. Bi g Sti ck and Chari ty. * The
good forei gners, u nder thei r ethi cal cl oak, wi n
with the native's confi dence, the ri ght to deci de
the proper di stri buti on of weal th in the l and.
The vi l l ains; course, vul gar, repul si ve, out-and-out
thieves, are there purel y and si mpl y to reveal the
ducks as defenders of justi ce, l aw, and food for
the hungry, and to serve as a whitewash for any
furher acti on. Defendi ng the only thi ng that the
nobl e savage can us (their food) , the l ack of
which woul d
result i n thei r death (or rebl l i on,
ei ther of whi ch woul d vi ol ate thei r i mage of
i nfanti l e i nnocenc) , the bi g ci ty fol k establ i sh
themsel ves as the spokesman of these submerged
·Original : Garrote y Caritas. Caritas i s an i nter­
nat i onal oranization under the auspices of a sector of
the North American .and European Cathol i c Church
(Trans. )
and voicel ess peoples.
The , ethi cal di vi si on btween the two cl asses
of pr e daors, the woul d-be robbers worki ng
openl y, and the actual ones worki ng ' surrepti ­
ti ousl y, i s constantl y repeated. I n one epi sode
( TB 62) , Mi ckey and company search for a s i l ver
mi ne and unmask two crooks. The crooks, di s­
guised as Spanish conqui stadors, who had ori ­
gi nal l y stol en the mi neral , are trrori zi ng the
I ndians, and are now maki ng great profi ts from
touri sts by sel l i ng them "I ndi an ornament." The
constant characeri sti c of the nati ves - i rrati onal
fear and panic when faced with any phenomenon
which d isrupts thei r natural rhythm of l i fe -
serves to emphasi ze thei r cowardi ce ( rather l i ke
chi l dren afrai d of the dark) , and to justi fy the
necessi ty that some superi or bi ng come to thei r
rescue and bri ng dayl i ght. As reward for
catchi ng the crooks, the heroes are gi ven ranks
withi n the tri be: Mi nni e, pri ncess; Mi ckey and
Goofy, wa�ri ors ; and Pl uto gets a feather. And,
of course, Duckburg gts the "I ndi an orna­
me n t s . " The I ndi ans have been gi ven the
"freedom to sel l thei r goods on the forei gn
market. " I t i s onl y di rect and open robbery
without offeri ng a share i n the profi ts, which i s
to be con de mn ed. Mi ckey's i mperi al i st de­
spol i ati on is a foi l for that of the Spani ards and
those who, i n the past, undeni abl y robbed and
ensl aved the nati ve more openl y.
Th i n gs a r e di f f er ent nowadays. To rob
wi thout payment is robbery undi sgui sed. Taki ng
wi th payment is no robbry, but a favor. Thus
the condi ti ons for the sal e of the ornaments and
thei r i mportati on i nto Duckburg are never i n
question, for they a re based on the supposi ti on
of equal i ty between the two negoti ati ng parners.
An i sol ated tr i be of I ndi ans fi nd themsel ves i n
a si mi l ar s ituati on ( D 430, DO 3/66, II Ambush at
Thunder Mou ntai n") ' They "have decl ared war
on al l Ducks" on the basi s of a Previ ous hi stori ­
cal experi ence. Buck Duck, fi fty years before
(and nothi ng has changed si nce then) gypped
them doubl y : fi rst steal i ng the nati ves ' l and, and
then, sel l i ng i t back to them i n a usel ess cn­
di ti on. S i t i s a matter of convi nci ng them that
not al l ducks ( wh ite men) are evi l , that the
frauds of the past can be made good. Any
history book - even Hol l ywood, even tel evi si on
- admi ts that the nati ve were vi ol ated. The
history of fraud and expl oi tation of the past i s
publ i c knowl edge and cannot be buri ed any
l onger, and so i t appears over and done wi th. But
the present i s another matter.
In order to assure the redempti ve pwers of
present-day i mperial ism, it is only necessary to
measure it agai nst ol d-styl e col oni al ism and rob­
bry. Exampl e: Enter a pai r of crooks deter­
mi ned to cheat the natives of thei r natural gas
resourses. They are unmasked by the ducks, who
are henceforh regarded as friends.
"Let's bury the hatchet, let's col l aborate, the
races can get al ong together. " What a fi ne mes­
sage! It coul dn't have been sai d btter by the
Bank of Ameri ca, who, in sponsori ng the mi ni­
city of Disneyl and in Cal i forni a, cal ls it a worl d
of peace where al l peopl es can get al ong to­
But what happens to the l ands?
A big gas company wi l l do all the work, and
pay your tri be wel l for i t. " This i s the most
shamel ess i mprial ist pol i ti cs. Faci ng the relative­
ly crude crooks of the past and present (handi­
cappd, moreover, by thei r pri mitive techniques) ,
stands the sophisticated Great Uncle Company,
which wi l l reol ve al l probl ems equitably. The
guy who comes in from the outsi de i s not neces­
sari l y a bad ' un, onl y if he fai l s to pay the "fair
and proper pri ce." The Company, by contrast, i s
bnevol ence i ncarnate.
Th i s fo rm of expl oitation is not al l . A
Wi gwam Motel ' and a souveni r shop are "opened,
and excursions are arrangd. The I ndi ans are i m­
mobi l i zed agai nst thei r national background and
served up for tourist consumpti on.
The l ast two examples suggest certain dif­
ferences from the clasi c pol i tics of bare faced
col oni al i sm. The benevol ent col l aboration figur­
i ng in the Di sney comics suggests a form of neo­
col onial i sm which rejecs the naked pi l l age of the
past, and per mi ts the native a mi ni mal parti ci­
pati on in h is own exploitation.
Perhaps the clearest manifestation of thi s phe­
nomenon i s a comi c ( 0 432, DO 9/65, "Treasure
of Aztecl and") wri tten at the height of the AI-
l i ance for Progress program about'the I ndi ans' of
Aztecl and who at the time of the Conquest had
hi dden thei r treasure i n the jungle. Now they are
saved by the Ducks from the new conquistadors,
the Beagle Boys. "This i s absurd I Conquistadors
don't exist any morel " The pil l age of te past
was a cri me. A the past is �ri mrnal ized, and the
present purifi ed, i ts real traces are effaced from
memory. There i s no need to keep te treasure
hidden: the Duckburgers (who have al ready de­
monsrated thei r ki ndness of heart by charitably
cring for a stray l amb) wi l l be able to defend
t he Mexicans. Geography becomes a pictu re
postcard, and i� sl d as such. The days of yore
cannot advance or change, , bcause thi s woul d
d a mage the tourist trade. "Vi si t Aztecl and.
Entranc: One Dol l ar. " The vacati ons of te bi g
ci ty popl e are transformed i nto a modern
vehicle of supremacy, and we shal l see later how
the natural and physical vi rtues of the noble
savage are preserved i ntact. A hol i day i n these
pl aces is l i ke a l oan, or a blank check on puri­
fication and regeneration trough ommunion
with nature.
Al l these exampl es are based upon cmmon
i nterati onal stereotypes. Who can deny that the
Peruvian (in I nca-Bt i nea, TB 1 04) i s somnol ent,
sel l s pottery, sits on his haunche, eats hot
peppers, has a thousand-year-ol d culture - al l the
di sl ocated prejudices procl ai med by the touri st
posters tlemsel ves? Disney does not i nvent these
cari catures, he only expl oits them to the utmost.
By forci ng al l poples of the worl d into a visi on
of the domi nant (nati onal and i nternational )
cl ases, he gives this vision oherenc and justi­
fi es the social system on which i t is basd. These
cl i ches are al so usd by the mass cul ture media
to di l ute the real ities cmmon to tese peopl e.
The onl y means that the Mexi can has of knowi ng
Peru i s through cricature, which al so i mpl i es
that Peru is i ncapable of bei ng anythi ng el se, and
i s unable to rise above thi s prototypical si tuation,
i mprisoned as it is made to seem, wi thi n its own
exoticism. For Mexican and Peruvi an al i ke, these
stereotpe of Latin American peoples become a
channel of distored self-knowledg, a form of
sel f-consumpti on, and fi nal l y, sel f-mockery. By
sel ecti ng the most superfi ci al and , si ngul ar trai ts
of each p'eople in order to differenti ate them,
and usi ng fol kl ore as a means to "di vi de and
conquer" nations ocupyi ng the same dependent
positi on, the comi c, l i ke al l mass medi a, expl oi ts
t he pri n c i ple of sensati onal i sm. That i s, i t
concals real i ty by means of novel ty, whi ch not
• See the Introdudion b Davi Kunzle.
i nci dental l y, also srves to promote sal es. Our
Lati n Ameri can countries bcome trash cans
bei ng cnstantl y repai nted for the voyeuri sti c
a nd or g i asti c pl easures of the metropol i tan
nati ons. Every day, thi s very mi nute, televi si on,
radi o, mgazi nes, newspapers, cartoons, news­
casts, fil ms, cl othi ng, and recrds, from the
dignjfied gab of hitory textboks to the tri vi a of
dai l y conversati on, al l conti but to weakeni ng
the i ntrnati onal sl i dari ty of te oppressed. We
Lati n Ameri can are separated from each other by
the vi sion we have acqui red of each other via the
comi cs and the other mass cul ture medi a. Thi s
vi si on i s noti ng l ess than our own reduced and
distored i mage.
Thi s great tacit pol overfl owi ng with the
ri ches of stereotpe i s based upon common
cl i che, so that no one needs to go di rectl y to
sources of i nformati on gathered from real i ty
itsel f. Each of us carr i es withi n a Boy Scout
Ha nd book pack e d wi th t he commonpl ace
wisdom of Everyman.
Contradi cti ons fl ouri sh, however, and thi s i s
fortunate. When they become so bl atant as to
consti tute, i n spite of metropol i tan press, news,
it i s i mpossi bl e to mai ntai n the same ol d un­
ruffl ed storyl i ne. The open confl ict can no l onger
be conceal ed by the same formul as as the situa­
tion which, al though i nherentl y confl i cti ve, is not
yet expl osi ve enough to b cns i dered news­
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The diseases of the system are mani fest on
many l evel s. The arti st who shatters the habi ts of
vi si on i mposed by the mass medi a, wh.o attacks
the spectator and undermi nes hi s stabi l i ty, is
dismi ssed as a mere eccentri c, who happens to
cast col ors or words i n the wi nd. The geni us i s
i sol ated from real l ife, and al l hi s attempts to
reconci l e real i ty with i ts aestheti c representati on,
are neutral i zed. He i s cari catu red i n Gbofy, who ·
wi ns the fi rst pri ze in the "pop" art cntest, by
sl i di ng crazi l y through a parki ng l ot overturni ng
pa i nt cns and creati ng caos (TB 99, DD
1 1 /67 ) . Amidst the ari sti c trash that he has
ge n e r ate d, Goofy cries : "Me [the wi nner1 !
Gawrsh l I wasn't even tryi ng! " Ad art l oses i ts
offensi ve character: "Thi s sure i s easy work. At
l ast I can earn money and have fun at the same
ti me, and no one gets mad at me. " The publ i c
ha s no reason to b di sconcerted by these
"masterpieces": they bear no rel ati on to thei r
l i ves, only the weak and stupi d devote themsel ves
to tbat . ki nd of sport. The same thi ng happens
�i t h t he "h i p p i es ," "l ove-i ns, " and pace
marches. In one epi sode (TR 40, US 1 2/63) a
gang of i rate peopl e ( observe the way they are
l umped together) march fanatical l y by, onl y to
be decoyed by Donal d towards hi s l emonade
stand, with te shout ' 'There's a thi rsty-l ooki ng
group. Hey peopl e, throw down your bnners
and have free l emonades ! " Stti ng peace asi de,
they descend upn Donal d l i ke a herd of buffa-
l oes, snatching his money, and sl urpi ng noi si l y.
Moral : see what hypocri tes these ri oters are; they
sel l thei r i deal s for a gl ass of l emonade.
I n contrast, there stands another group al so
dri nki ng l emonade, but i n orderl y fashi on - l ittl e
cadets, disci pl i ned, obedient, dean, goodl ooki ng,
and trul y paci fi c; no di rty, anarchi c "rebel s" they.
This strategy, by which protest i s converted
i nto i mposture, i s cl l ed dilution: banal i ze an
unusual phenomenon of the soci al bdy and
symptom of a cancer, i n such a way that i t
appears as an i solated i ncident removed from i ts
soci al context, so tat it then can b auto­
m atical l y rejected by "publ i c opi ni on" as a
passi ng i tch. Just give yoursel f a scratch, and b
done with i t. Di sney di d not, of course, get thi s
l i ttl e l i gt bul b a ll on h is own. I t i s part of the
metabol i sm of the system, which reacts to the
facts of a si tuati on by trying to absrb and el i ­
mi nate them. I t i s par of a strategy, consci ously
or unconsciousl y orchestrated.
For example , the adopti on by the fashi on
i ndustry of the pri mi tive dynami te of the hi ppie
i s de s i g n ed to neutral i ze its pwer of de-'
nunciati on. Or, the attempts of adverti si ng, i n
the U.S., to l i quify the concept of the women's
l i berati on mvements. " Li berate" yourself by
buyi ng a new mi xer or dishwasher. This is the
real revol uti on : new styles, low prices. Ai rpl ane
hi jacki ng (TR 1 1 3) i s empti ed of i ts soci al ­
pol i ti cal signifi cance and i s presented as the work
of crazy bandi ts, "From what we read i n the
papers, hijacking has become very fashionabl e. "
Thus, the media mi ni mi ze the matter and i ts
i mpl i cati ons, and reassure the publ i c that nothi ng
is real l y goi ng on.
But al l these phenomena are merel y poten-
ti al l y subversi ve, mere straws i n the wi nd. Shoul d
there emerge any phenomenon truly fl outi ng the
D i s ney I a ws of creati on which govern the
exemplary and submi ssive behavior of the noble
s avage, thi s cannot rmain concal ed. I t is
brought out garnished, pretti fi ed, and rei nter­
preted for the reader, who bei ng young, must be
protected. Thi s second strategy is cal l ed r­
cuperation : the uti l i zati on of a potenti al l y
dangerous phen�menon of the social body i n
such a way that i t serves to justify the conti nued
need of the soci al system and i ts val ues, and very
often j usifies the vi olence and repressi on which
are par of that system.
Such is the case of the Vi etnam War, where
protest was ma ni pul ated to j usti fy the vi tal i ty
and val ues of the system whi ch produced the
war, not to end the i njusti ce and viol ence of the
war itsel f. The "endi ng". of the war was only a
probl em of "publ ic opinion . "
The real m of Di sney is not one of fantasy, for
i t does react to worl d events. Its vi si on of Ti bet
is not i denti cal to i ts visi on of I ndochi na. Fifteen
years ag the Cari bbean was a sea of pi rates.
Di sney has had to adjust to the fact of Cuba and
the i nvasi on of the Domi nican Republ i c. The
buccaneer now cries "Vi va the Revol ution, " and
has to be defeated. I t wi l l be Chi l e' s tu rn yet.
Sarchi ng for a jade el ephant, Scrooge and hi s
fami l y arrive i n Unsteadystan, "where every thug
wants to b rul er," and "where there i s al ways
someone shooti ng at someone el se. " (TR 99, US
7/66, "Treasu re of Marco Pol o") . A state
of ci vi l
war is immediatel y tured i nto an i ncmpre­
hensi ble game of someone-or-other agai nst
someone-or-other, a stupid fratri ci de l acki ng i n
any ethical di rection or socio-economi c raison
d'etre. The war i n Vi etnam bcomes a mere
i nterchange of unconnected and sensel ess bul l ets,
and a truce becomes a si esta. "Wahn Beeg Rhat,
yes, Duckburg, no! " cries a gueri l l a i n support of
an ambitious (communist) di ctator, as he dyna­
mi tes the Duckburg embassy. Noti ci ng that his
watch i s not worki ng properl y, the Vi etcong ( no
l es s ) mutters "Shows you can' t trust these
watc hes from the 'worker's paradi se. ' " The
strugl e for power is purel y personal , the eccen­
tr i city of ambi tion: "Hai l to Wahn Seeg Rhat,
dicttor of al l the happy peopl e, " goes the cry
and sto voce "happy or not. " Defendi ng hi s
conquest, the di ctator gives orders to ki l l . "Shoot
hi m, don't l et hi m spoi l my revolution. " The
savi or i n thi s cati c si tuati on i s Pri nc Char
Mi ng, al so known [ i n the Spani sh versi on] as
Yho Soy [ "1 am" - the Engl i sh is Soy Sheen] ,
names expressi ve of hi s magi cal egocentri ci ty. He
comes to reunify the cuntry and "paci f" the

people. He is desti ned to tri umph, because the
sol di ers refuse to obey the orders of a l eader
who has l ost hi s chari sma, who i s not "Char
Mi ng. " S one guerr i l l a wonders why they "keep
these �i l l y revol uti ons goi ng forever. " Another
denouncs them, demandi ng a return to the
Ki ng, "I i ke in the good ol d days. "
I n order to dose the ci rcuit and the al l i ance
betwe e n D u ck b u r g and Pri nce Char Mi ng,
Scrooge McDuck presents to Unsteadystan the
treasure and the jade el ephant whi ch once had
belonged to the peopl e of that country. One of
the nephews oberves : "They wi l l be of use to
Be Nlce F� USDYSA�
' he poor. " Ad final l y, Scroo, in hi s haste to
l et out of this parody of ' Vi etnam, promises
' When I retum to Ouckbrg, I wi l l do even more
for you. I wi l l return the mi l l ion dol l ar tai l of
! he jade elephant. "
But we can bt tat Soog wi l l forgt hi s
promi ses as soon as he gts bck. · A proof we
f i nd i n another comic bok ( 0 45) the
fol l owing dialogue which takes pl ace in Duck­
Nephew: "They got the asiatic flu as wel l . "
Donal d: "I 've al ways said that nothi ng god
coul d come out of Ai a."
TO WRKi . . .
IN T�E /K 1
SPT US ON 1 "1
A si mi l ar reduction of a histrical situai on
takes place i n the Republic of San Bananador,
obviously in the Caribbean or Cntral America
(0 36, C 4/6, "Cptain Bl ight's Mystery
Shi p") . Waiting in a port, Donald makes fun of
the chi l dren playing at bing shanghaied: Thee
things just don't happn any mor; shanghai-i ng,
weevly beans, wal king the plank, pirate-invested
seas - thee are al l th ing of te past. But it
tums out that there are placs whre such
horror stil l surive, and the nephew's game is
·soon i nterrupted by a man tryi ng to escap from
a shi p carying a dangerous cargo and cm­
manded by a captai n who is a l i vi ng menace.
Terror reigns on board. When the man is forcibly
brought bak to the ship, he i nvokes the name of
l i brty ("I 'm a fre manl Let me go! ") , wi l e hi s
k i dna pper s treat hi m as a save. Although
Donal d, typical l y, makes l i ght of the i ncident
("probably only a l ittle rhubarb abut wages," or
"actrs making a fi l m" ) , he and his nephew are
al so captured. Life on bard is a nightmare; the
food is wevly beans, even the rats are prevented
from leaving the ship, and there is forced l abr,
with sl ave, sl ave, and mor sl ave. All is subject
to the unjust, arbitrary and crazy rule of Captai n
Bl ight and h i s bearded foll owers.
Surel y these must b pirates from olden days.
Abol utely not. They are revoluti onaries (Cuban,
no less) fighti ng agailst the government of San
Bananador, and pursued by the navy for tryi ng
to s upply rebels with a shi pment of arms.
' 'They'l i b scouting with planes! Douse al l
l ightsl We' l l give ' em the sl i p i n the dark!" And
the radio oprator, fist raised on high, shouts:
"Viva the Revolution' " The only hope, accordi ng
to Donald, is "the good old navy, symbol of l aw
and orer." The rebel opposition is tus auto­
mat i cal l y cast i n the r ol e of t yr ann y,
di ctatorship, total itari anism. The sl ave society
reigning on bard shi p is the repl ica of the
society which they propose to i nstal l i n place of
the l egiti mately established regi me. Apparentl y,
i n modern times it is the champions of ppul ar
i nsurency who wi l l bring back human slavery.
The political drift of Disney is bl atant in these
few comics where he is i mpelled to reveal hi s i n­
tenti ons openl y. It is also inescapable in the bul k
of them, where he uses ani mal symbol i sm, i n­
fanti l ism, and "noble savagr" to cover over the
netork of intrests arising from a cncrete and
histori cal l y determi ned social system: U.S. i m­
pri al ism.
The problem is not only Disney's equati on of
the chi l d with the noble savage, and the noble
savage with the underdevel oped peples. I t i s al so
- and here is the crux of the matter - that what
is sai d, referred to, reveal ed and di sgui sed abut
all of tem, has, i n fact, only one true object:
the worki ng cl as.
The imaginative world of the child has
becme te
oltical ut
ia of a scial clas. I n
the Di sney comics, one never meets a member of
the woring or proletari an cl ases, and nothi ng is
the product of an i ndustri al procss. But thi s
does not mea n that the worker is absent. On the
contrary: he is present under two masks, that of
the noble savage and that of the cri mi nal -I umpn.
Both groups serve to destroy the worker as a
cl as rea l ity. and preserve certai n myths whi ch
the bourgeoi si e have from the very bgi nni ng
been fabricati ng and addi ng to i n . order to con­
ceal and domesticate the enemy, i mpede hi s sol i ­
dari ty, and make hi m function smoothl y wi thi n
the system and cooperate i n his own i deol ogi cal
ens l avement.
In order to rational i ze thei r domi nance and
j usti fy their privi l eged posi ti on, the bourgeoi si e
divi ded the worl d of the domi nated as fol l ows:
fi r st, the pasant sector, whi ch i s harml ess,
n a t ur a l , t r uthf u l , i ngen u o us, spontaneous,
i nfanti l e, and static; second, the urban sector,
which is threateni ng, teemi ng, di rty, suspi ci ous,
cal cul ati ng, embittered, vi cious, and essenti al l y
mobi l e. The peasant acqui res i n thi s process of
mythi fi cati on the excl usi ve propery of bi ng
"popul ar, " and bcomes i nstal l ed as a fol k­
guardian of everythi ng produced and preserved
by the peopl e. Far from the i nfl uence of the
steami ng urban centers, he is puri fi ed through a
cycl i cal return to the pri mi ti ve vi rtues of the
earth. The myth of the peopl e as nobl e savage -
the peopl e as a chi l d who must be protected for
i ts ow good - arose i n order to j usti fy the
domi nati on of a cl as. The peasants were the
onl y ones capable of becomi ng i ncontroverti bl e
vehicles for the permanent val i dity of bourgeois
i deal s. Juven He l iterature fed on these " popul ar"
myt hs a n d served as a constant al l egori cal
testi mo ny to what the peopl e were supposed to
Each great urban civi l i zati on (Al exandri a for
Theocritus, Rome for Vi rgi l , the modern era for
Sannazaro, Montemayor, Shakespeare, Cervantes,
d' Urfe) created its pastoral myth : an extra-soci al
Eden cha ste and pur. Together wi th thi s
eVangel ical bucol ism, there emerged a pi cturesque
l i te r a tu r e teemi ng wi th ruffi ans, vagabonds,
gambl ers, gl uttons, etc. , who reveal the true
n at ur e of u r ba n ma n; mobi l e, degenerate,
i rredeemable. The worl d was di vided between the
l ay heaven of the shepherds, and the terrestri al
i nferno of the unempl oyed. At the same ti me, a
utopi a n l i terature fl ouri shed ( Thomas More,
Tommaso Campanel l a) , projecti ng i nto the future
on the basi s of an opti mi sm fostered by techno­
l ogy , a n d a pes s i mi sm resul ti ng from the
breakdown of medieval uni ty, the ecstati c real m
of soci al perfecti on. The ri si ng bourgeoi si e, whi ch
gave the necessary momentum to the voyags of
d i s cove ry , fou n d i nnumerabl e popl es who
t h e o r e t i c a l l y c o r r e s p o n d e d t o t h e i r
pastoral -utopi an schemata; thei r i deal of uni versal
Chri sti an reason procl ai med by Erasmi an human­
i s m. Th us t he di v i s i on be twen posi ti ve­
p o pu I a r -rusti c and negative- popul ar-prol etari an
was overwhel mi ngl y rei nforced. The new con­
ti nents vre col oni zed i n the name of thi s
di vi si on; to prove that removed from ori gi nal si n
and mercanti l i st tai nt, these conti nents mi ght b
t he s i te for t he i de a l history which the
bourgoi si e had once i magi ned for themsel ves at
home. An i dea l history which was rui ned and
threatened by the cnstant opposi ti on of the
i dl e, fi l thy, teemi ng, promi scuous, and extor­
ti onary prol etari ans.
I n spite of the fai l u re in Lati n America, in
spite of the fai l ure in Afri ca, Oceani a and in
Asi a, the myth never l ost its vital i ty. On the con­
trary, it served as a constant spur in the only
country whi ch was abl e to devel op it sti l l further.
By openi ng the fronti er further and furher, the
Uni ted States el aborated the myth and eventual l y
gave bi rh to a "Way of Li fe, " and i deol ogy
shared by the i nfernal Di sney. A man, who in
tryi ng to open and cl ose the fronti er of the
chi l d's i magi nati on, basd hi msel f preci sel y on
those now-anti quated myths which gave ri se to
his own country.
The histori cal nostal gia of the bourgeoi si e, so
much the product of i ts objective contradicti ons
- i ts confl i cts with the prol etari at, the di f­
ficul ti es ar i si ng from the i ndustri al revol uti on, as
the myth was al ways bel ied and al ways renewed
- this nostal gi a took upon itself a twofol d di s­
gui se, one geographical : the l ost paradi se whi ch it
coul d not enjoy, and the other biologi cal : the
chi l d who woul d serve to l egi ti mi ze its plans for
human emanci pati on. There was no other pl ace
to fl ee, unl ess it was to that other nature, tech­
nol ogy.
The yearni ng of a McLuhan, the prophet of
the technological era, to use mass communi ca­
tions as a means of returning to the "pl anetar
vi l l age" (model l ed upon the "pri mi tive tri bl
communism" of the underdeveloped worl d), i s
nothing but a utopia of the future which revive
a nostal gia of the past. Al though the burgeoisie
we r e una bl e, during the centuries of thei r
existenc, to real i ze thei r i magi nary historical
desi gn, they kept it nice and warm i n ever one
of thei r expdi ti ons and justificati ons. Di sney
characters are afraid of technology and i ts social
i mpl i cati ons; they never ful l y accept it; they
prefer the past. McLuhan is mor farsighted: he
understands that to i nterpret tchnology as a
return to the values of the pan is the solution
which i mprial ism must ofer i n the next stage of
its strategy.
But our next stage is to ask a question which
Me Luhan never poses: if the prol etariat is
el i mi nated, who is producing al l that gol d, al l
those riches?
"I f I were abl e to produce money with my
bl ack magi c, I woul dn't be in the mi ddl e of
the desert l ooki ng for gol d, woul d I ?"
Magi ca de Spel l (TR 1 1 1 )
What are these adventurers escapi ng from thei r
cl austrophobic ci ti es real l y afer? What i s the
t r ue motive of thei r fl i ght from the urban
center? Bl untl y stated: in more than seventy-fi ve
percent of our sampl i ng they are l ooki ng for
gol d, in the remai ni ng twenty-five percent they
are competi ng for fortune - i n the form of
money or fame - i n the city.
Why shoul d gol d, cri ticized ever si nCe the
bgi nni ng of a moneta ry economy as a cn­
tami nati on of human rel ati ons and the corrup­
ti on of human nature, mi ngl e here with the i n­
nocence of the nobl e savae (chi l d and peopl e ) ?
Why shoul d gol d, the fruit of urban cmmerce
and i ndusry, fl ow so freel y from these rusti c
and natural envi ronments?
The answer to these quetions l i es in the
manner in whi ch our earthl y paradise generates
al l this raw wealth.
I t comes, above al l , i n the form of hi dden
treasure. I t is to be found in the Thi rd Worl d,
and i s magi cal l y poi nted out by some anci ent
map, a parchment, an i nher itance, an arrow, or a
cl ue i n a picture. After great adventures and ob­
stacl es, and after defeati ng some thi ef tryi ng to
g e t t he re fi rst ( di squal ifi ed from the pri ze
bcause i t wasn 't his i dea, but fi l ched from some­
one el se's map) , the good Duckburgers appro­
pri ate the i dol s, fi guri nes, jewel s, crowns, pearl s,
nee k l aces, rubi es, emeral ds, preci ous daggers,
gol den hel mets etc.
Fi rst of al l , we are struck by the antiquity of
the coveted object. It has l ai n buri ed for thou­
sands of years : wi thi n caverns, ru i ns, pyrami ds,
coffers, sunken sh ips, vi ki ng tombs etc. - that is,
any pl ace wi th vestiges of civi l i zed l i fe in the
past . Ti me separates the treasure from i ts ori gi nal
owners, who have bequeathed thi s uni que heri t­
age to the future. Furthermore, thi s weal th i s
l eft without hei rs; despite thei r total poverty, the
n o bl e savages take no i nterest in the gol d
aboundi ng so near them (i n the sea, i n the moun­
tai ns, beneath the tree etc. ) . These anci ent ci vi l i ­
zati ons are envi si oned, by Di sney, to have come
to a somewhat catastrophi c end. Whol e fami l i es
extermi nated, armi es in constant defeat, peopl e
forever hi di ng thei r treasu re, for . . . for whom?
Disney conveni entl y expl oits the supposed total
destruction of past civi l i zations in order to carve
an a bys s between the i nnocent present-day
i nhabi tants and the previ ous, but non-ancestral
i nhabi ta nts. The i nnocents are not hei rs to the
past, bcause th a past is not father t the
present. It is, at bet, the uncl e. There i s an
e mpty g a p. Whoever arri ves fi rst with the
bri l l i ant idea and the excavati ng shovel has the
r i ght to take the booty back home. The nobl e
savags have no history, and they have forgotten
thei r past, which wa: never thei rs to begi n wi th.
By deprivi ng them of thei r past, Disney destroys
thei r histori cal memor, in the same way he
deprives a chi l d of his parenthood and genealogy,
wi th the same resul t: the destructi on of thei r
abi l i ty to see themselves as a product of hi story.
It woul d appear, mreover, that these for­
gotten peopl es never actual l y produced thi s treas­
ure. They are consi stentl y descri bed as warri ors,
conquerors and expl orers, as i f they had sei zed it
from someone el se. I n any event, there i s no
reference at any ti me - how coul d there be,
with somethi ng that happened so l ong ago? - to
the r ki ng of these objects, although they must
have ben handcrafted. The actual ori gi n of the
treasure i s a mystery whi ch is never even men­
ti oned. The only l egi ti mate owner of the treasure
i s the person who had the bri l l i ant idea of
tracki ng it down; he creates i t the moment he
thi nks of setti ng off in search of i t. It never
r eal ly existed bfore, anywhere. The ancient
civilization is the uncle of te object, and te
father is the man who get t kep it. Havi ng
discovered i t, he rescued it from the obl i vion of
ti me .
But even then the object remai ns I n some
sl i ght contact with the ancient civi l i zati on; i t i s
the l ast vesti ge of vani shi ng faces. So the fi nder
of the treasure has one more step to take. In the
vast coffers of Srooge there i s never the sl i'ghtest
trace of the handcrafted object, i n spite of the
fact that, as we have seen, he bri ngs treasure
home from so many expedi ti ons. Only banknote
and coi ns remai n. As soon as the treasure l eaves
i ts country of ori gi n for Duckburg, it l oses shape,
and i s swal l owed up by Srooge's dol l ars . I t i s
stri pped of the l ast vestige of that crafted form
which mi ght l i nk i t to persons, pl aces and ti me.
It turns i nto gol d wi thout the odor of fatherl and
or histor. Uncle Scrooge can bathe, cavort, and
pl unge in his coins and banknotes ( i n Di sney
thee are no mere metaphor) more comfortabl y
than i n spi ky i dol s and jewel l ed crowns. Every­
thi ng is transmuted mechani cal l y ( but without
machi nes) i nto a si ngl e monetary mold in whi ch
the l ast breath of human l ife i s exti ngui shed.
And fi nal l y, the adventure which led to the rel i c
fades away, together with the rel i c itsel f. As treas­
ure buri e i n the earth, it poi nted to a past ,
however remote it may be, and even as treasure
in Duckbur (were i t to surive in i ts ori gi nal
f orm) i t vuld poi nt to the adventure ex­
per i enced, however remote that may b. Just as
the histori cal memory of the ori gi nal civi l i zati on
is bl otted out, so i s Scrooge's personal memory
of h is experi ence. Ei ther way, hi story is mel ted
down i n the cruci tle of �he dol lar. The fal si ty of
al l the Di sney publ i city regardi ng the educati onal
and aesthetic val ue of these comics, whi ch are
touted as j ourneys through ti me and space and
ai ds to the l earni ng of history and gography
etc. , stands reveal ed. For Disney, hi story exi sts in
order to be demol i shed, i n order to be tu rned
i nto the dol l ar which gave it bi rth and l ays i t to
rest. Di sney even ki l l s archeol ogy, the sci ence of
arti facts.
Disnifi cati on is Dol l arficati on: al l objects (and,
as we shal l see, actions as wel l ) are transformed
i nto gol d. Once this conversi on i s compl eted the
adventur is over: one cannot go further, for
gol d, i ngot or dol l ar bi l l , cannot be reduced to a
more symbol i c l evel . The onl y prospect is to go
hunti ng for more of the same, si nce once i t is i n­
vested i t becomes active, and i t wi l l start taki ng
si des and enter contemprary history. Better
cros it out and start afresh. Add more adven­
tures, whi ch accumulate i n ai ml ess and steri l e
fashi on:
S it is 10t surpri si ng that the hoarder desi res
to ski p thee productive phass, and go off i n
search of pure gol d.
But even i n the treasure hunt the producti ve
procss i s l acki ng. On your marks, ready, go,
col l ec; l i ke fruit picked from a tree. The pro­
bl em l ies not in the acual extracti on of the
treasure, but in discoveri ng i ts gographi cal l oca­
ti on. Once one has got there, the gl d - al ways
in n ice fat nuggets - is al ready i n the bag,
wi thout · havi ng raised a si ngl e cal l ous on the
hand whi ch carri es i t of. Mi ni ng i s l i ke abundant
agri cul ture, once one has had the geni us to spot
t he mi ne. And agri cul ture is conci ved l i ke
picki ng fl owers i n an i nfi ni te garden. There is no
effort i n the extracti on, i t i s forei gn to the
materi al of whi ch the object i s made : bl and, soft,
and unresi stant. The mi neral onl y pl ays hi de and
seek. One onl y needs cunni ng to l i ft i t from i ts
sanctuary, not physi cal l abor to shape i ts content
and give it form, changi ng i t from i ts natural
physi cal - mi neral state i nto somethi ng useful to
human soci ety. In the absence of thi s process of
transformati on, weal th is made to appar as i f
soci ety creates i t by means of the spi ri t, the i dea,
the l i ttl e l i ght bul bs fl ashi ng over the characters '
heads. Nature apparentl y del i vers the materi al
ready-to-use, as i n pri mi ti ve l i fe, wi thout the
i nterventi on of workman and tool . The Duck-
burgers have airpl ane, submari nes, radar, hel i ­
copters, rockets; but not so much as a sti ck to
opn up the earth. "Mother Earth" is prodi gal ,
and taki ng i n the gol d i s as i nnocent as breathi ng
in fresh ai r. Nature feeds gol d to these creatures :
i t is the only sustenance these auri vores desi re.
Now we understand why i t i s that the gl d i s
found yonder i n the worl d of the nobl e savage.
It cannot appear in the ci ty, bcaus the normal
order of l i fe i s that of producti on (al though we
shal l see l ater how Di sney el i mi nates even thi s
factor i n the ci ties ) . The ori gi n of thi s weal th has
to appear natural and i nnocent. Let us pl ace the
Duckburgers in the great uterus of hi story: al l

come from nature, nothi ng i s produced by man.
The chi l d must be taught ( and al ong the way,
the adult convi nc h i msel f) that the objects have
no history; they arise by enchantment, and are
untouched by human hand. The stork brought
the gol d. I t i the i mmacul ate concpti on of
weal th.
The producti on proces i n Di sney's worl d i s
natural , not soci al . And i t i s magi cal . Al l objects
arrive on parachutes, are conjured out of hats,
are presented as gi fts i n a non-stop bi rthday
party, and are spread out l i ke mushrooms. Mother
earth - gi ves a l l : pi ck her frui ts, and be ri d of
gui lt. No one i s getti ng hurt .
Gol d i s produced by some i nexpl i cabl e, mi ra­
cul ous natural phenomenon. Li ke rai n, wi nd,
snow, waves, an aval anche, a vol cano, or l i ke an­
other pl anet.
"What i s that fal l i ng from the sky?"
"Hardened rai ndrops . . . Ouch ! Or mol ten
metal . "
li l t can't be. I t's gol d coi ns. Gol d ! "
"Hur ray! A ra i n of gol d! Just l ook at that
rai nbow. "
"We must be havi ng visi ons, Uncl e Scrooge. I
can't be true. "
But i t i s.
Li ke bananas, l i ke copper, l i ke ti n, l i ke cattl e.
One sucks the mi l k of gol d from the earh. Gol d
i s cl ai med from the breast of natu re wi thout the
medi ati on of work. The cl ai mants have cl earl y
acqui red the r i ghts of ownershi p thanks to thei r
native gni us, or el se, thanks to thei r accu­
mul ated sufferi ng (an abstracted form of wor k,
as we expl ai n bel ow) .
I t is not superhuman magi c, l i ke that of the

STRANGE JI SH ! • • MONEY! •• . � �
� �

. . .
' : ' >/ .
. . '
wi t ch Magica de Spel l , for exampl e, whi ch
creates the gold. Thi s ki nd of · magic, disti l l ed
from the demon of technology, i s merel y a
parasi te upon nature. Man cannot countereit the
weal th. He has to get it through some other
charmed source, the natu.ral one, in which he .
does not have to i nterVene, but onl y deerve.
Example. Donal d and nephews, fol l owed by
Magi ca (T R 1 1 1 , DO 1 /66) , search for the
rai nbow's end, behi nd which, accordi ng to the
l egnd, i s hi dden a golden pot, the di rec fruit of
n ature (TR 1 1 1 , US 38, 6-8/62) . Our heroes do
n ot exactly fi nd the mythical treasure, but return
wi th another kind of "pot of gl d": fat cm­
merci al profits. How di d this happen? Uncl e
Srooe's ai rpl ane, l oaded with �emon seeds, ac­
ci dentl y i nsemi nated the North African deert,
and when Magica de Spel l provoked a rai nstorm,
wi t h i n mi n utes the whole area bcaie a"
orchard of lemon trees. The seeds ( i. e . . i deas)
come from abroa, magi c or acci dent sows them,
and the usel ess, u nderdevel oped · desert soi l make
them grow. "Cme on, bys '" cries Donal d,
"l et's start picki ng l emons. And take them to the
town to sel L" Work is mi ni mal and a pl easure;
the profi t i s tremendous.
Thi s dos not happen onl y in distant places,
but also in Duckburg, on i ts beaches, woods, and
mountai ns. Donald and Gl adstone, for exampl e
(D 381 , CS 5/59) , go on a beachcombi ng ex­
pedi ti on, to see who comes up with the most
val uabl e fi nd to give to Daisy and win her
company for l unch. The sea washes up succes­
si vel y, huge seashel l s, a giant snai l , a "very val ua­
bl e" anci ent I ndi an seashel l neckl ace, rubber
boats (one each for Gl adstone and Donal d) , a
r u b be r el ephant l oaded with tropi cal fruits,
: papayas and mangoes, an Al askan kayak, a
mi rror, and an ornamental comb. The sea is a
cornucopi a; generous nature showers abundance
upon man, and i n the Thi rd Worl d, natur does
so i n a parti cul arl y exotic form. In and byond
Duckburg, it i s al ways nature that medi ates
betwen man and weal th.
I t i s surel y undeni able nowadays that al l
man's real and concrete achievement deri ve from
hi s effort and h is work. Al though nature provi des
the raw materi al s, man must struggle to make a
l i vi ng from them. If thi s were not so, we woul d
sti l l be i n Eden.
I n the worl d of Disney, no one has to work i n
order to produce. Tere i s a constant round of
buyi ng, sel l i ng and consumi ng, . but to al l ap­
pearancs, none of the producs i nvolved has re-
qui red any effor whatsoever to make. Nature is
the gr eat l abor force, produci ng objects of
human and soci al uti l ity as if they were natural .
The human ori gi n of the product - be i t
table, hous, car, cl othi ng, gol d, cofee, wheat, or
mai ze (whi ch, accordi ng to TR 96, comes from
granarie, di rect from warehouses, rather than
from the fi el ds) - has been suppressed. The pro­
cess of producti on has been el i mi nated, as has al l
reference to its genesi s; the ators, the objects,
the ci rcumstances of the process never exi sted.
What, i n fact, has been erased i s the paterni ty of
the object, and the possi bi l ity to l i nk i t to the
process of prducti on.
Thi s bri ngs us back to the curi ous Di sney
fami l y structure with the absence of natural
pate r n i ty . Th e si mul tneous l ack of di rect
bio;ogical produci on and di rect economi c pro­
duci on , i s not coi ncidental . They both coi nci de
and rei nforce a domi nant i deological structure
whi"ch al so seeks to el i mi nate the worki ng cl ass,
the true producer of objects. And wi th i t, the
cl ass strugl e.
Di sney exorcises history, magi cal l y expel l i ng
the social l y ( and biol ogi cal l y) reproducve
el emnt, leavi ng amorphous, r�otless, and i n­
offensive products - without sweat, without
bl ood, without effort, and without the misery
which they i nei tably sow in the l i fe of the
worki ng cl ass. The object produced i s truly
fantasti c; i t i s purged of unpl easnt associ ati ons
whi ch are rel egated to an i nvi si bl e background of
dreary, sordi d sl uml and l ivi ng. Disney uses the
i magi nati on of the chi l d to eradicate all reference
to the real worl d. The producs of hi stor whi ch
"popl e" and pervade the w6rl d of Di sney are i n­
ces s antl y bught and sol d. But Di sney has
appropri ated these products and the work whi ch
brought them i nto bei ng, just as the bourgeoi si e
has appropri ated the products and l abr of the
worki ng cl as. The si tuati on i s an i deal one for
the bourgeoi si e: they get the product wi thout
the workers. Even to the poi nt when on the rare
occasi on a factory does appear (e.g. a brewery i n
TR 1 20) there i s never more than one workman
who seems to be acti ng as caretaker. Hi s role
a ppe a rs to b l i ttl e more than that of a
pol i ceman protecti ng the autonomous and auto­
mated factor of his bos. Thi s is the worl d the
bourgoi si e have al ways dreamed of. One in
which a man can amass great weal th, without
faci ng its producer and product: the worker.
Objects are cl eansed of gu i l t. I t i s a worl d of
pure surpl us without the sl i ghtest suspi ci on of a
wo r ker dema ndi ng the sl i ghtest reward. The
prol etari at, born out of the contradi cti ons of the
bourgeois regi me, sel l thei r l abor "freel y" to the
hi ghest bi dder, who transforms the l abor i nto
wea l th for hi s own soci a l cl ass. I n the Di sney
worl d, the prol etari at are expel l ed from the
soci ety they created, thus endi ng al l antagoni sms,
confl i cts, cl ass struggl e and i n deed, the very con­
cept of soci al cl ass . Di sney's i s a worl d of bou r­
geoi s i nterests wi th the cracks in the structure re­
peatedl y papered over. I n the i magi nary real m of
Di sney, the rosy publ i city fantasy of the bour­
geois i e is rea l i zed to perfecti on: weal th wi thout
wages , deodorant wi thout sweat. Gol d becomes a
toy, and the characters who pl ay wi th i t are
amusi ng chi l dren; afer al l , the way the worl d
goes, they aren' t doi ng any har m to anyone . . .
wi thi n that worl d. But i n this worl d there i s
harm i n dreami ng and real i zi ng the dream of a
parti cul ar cl ass, as if it were the dream of the
whol e of human ity.
There i s a term whi ch woul d be l i ke dynami te
to . Di sney , l i ke a scapul ary to a vampi re, l i ke
el ectri ci ty convul si ng a frog: soci al cl ass . That is
why Di s ney must publ i ci ze hi s creati ons as
u niversal , beyond fronti ers; they reach al l homes,
they reach al l countri es. 0 i mmoral Di sney, i n­
t e r n a t i o n a l patri mony, reachi ng al l chi l dren
everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
Marx had a word - fetis h i sm - for the pro­
cess whi ch separates the product ( accumul ated
work) from its ori gi n and expresses it as gol d,
abstracti ng i t from the actual ci rcumstances of
product i on . I t was Marx who di scovered that be­
hi nd hi s gol d and si l ver, the capi tal i st conceal s
the whol e process of accumul ati on wh i ch he
achieves at the worker's expense (surpl us val ue ) .
The words "preci ous metal s" "go l d, " and
"si l ver" are used to h i de from the worker the
fact that he i s bei ng robbed, and that the capi tal ­
i�t i s no mere accumul ator of weal th, but the ap­
propri ator of the product of soci al producti on.
The transformati on of the worker' s l abor i nto
gol d, fool s hi m i nto bel i evi ng that it is gol d
whi ch i s the true generator of weal th and source
of producti on.
Gol d, i n sum, i s a fetish, the supreme feti sh,
and i n order for the true ori gi n of weal th to
remai n concal ed, al l social rel ati ons, al l peopl e
are fetishized.
Si nce gol d i s the actor, di rector and producer
i . of this fi l m, humani ty i s reduced to the l evel of
j a thi ng. Obj ects possess a l i fe of thei r own, and
� humani ty control s nei ther i ts products nor i ts
I: Own desti ny. The Di s ney uni verse i s proof of the
i n ternal coherence of the worl d rul ed by gol d,
and an ex act refl ect i on of the pol i ti cal desi gn i t
Nature , by taki ng over human producti on,
make it ev aporate . But the products rema i n.
What f or ? To be consumed. Of t he capi tal i st pro­
ces s wh i ch go e s from producti on to con­
sumpti on, Di sney knows onl y the secon< stage.
Thi s i s consumpti on rid of the ori gi nal si n of
producti on, j ust as the son i s ri d of the ori gi nal
si n of sex represented by his father, and j ust as
hi story is r i d of the ori gi nal si n of cl ass and con­
fl i ct.
Let us l ook at the soci al structure i n the
Di sney comi c. For exampl e, the professi ons. I n
Duckburg, everyone seems to bel ong t o the ter­
tiary sector, that is, those who sel l thei r ser­
v i c es : h a i r d r e s s e r s , real estate and touri st
agnci es, sal espeopl e of al l ki nds (especi al l y shop
assi stants sel l i ng sumptuary objects, and vendors
goi ng from door-to-door ) , ni ghtwatchmen ,
wai ters, del i very boys, and . peopl e attached to
the entertai n ment busi ness . These fi l l the worl d
wi th obj ects and more objects, whi ch are never
produced, but al ways purchased . There i s a con­
stant repeti ti on of the act of buyi ng. B ut thi s mer·
canti l e re l ati onshi p i s not l i mi ted to the l evel of
obje cts. Contractual l anguage permeates the most
commonpl ace forms of human i ntercourse. Peopl e
see themsel ves as buyi ng each other' s serv i ces, or
sel l i ng themsel ves . I t i s as i f the onl y securi ty
were to be found i n the l anguage of money. Al l
h u man i nterchange is a form of commerce ;
peopl e are l i ke a purse, an obj ect in a shop wi n­
dow, or coi ns constantl y changi ng hands.
" I t's a deal , " " 'What the eye doesn' t see . . .
you can take for free' - I shoul d pate nt that
sayi ng." "You must have spent a foru ne on thi s
party, Donal d. " These are expl i cit exampl es, i t i s
genera l l y i mpl i ci t that al l acti vi ty revol ves around
mo nay, status or the status-gi v i ng object, and the
competiti on for them.
The wor ld of Walt, in whi ch every word ad­
verti ses somethi ng or somebody, i s under an i n­
tense compul si on to consume. The Di sney vi si on
can ha rdl y transcend consumeri sm wen it i s
fi xated upon sel l i ng itsel f, al ong wi th other mer­
chandise. Sl es of the co
i c are fostered by the
so-cal l ed "Disneyl and Cl ubs, " which are heavi l y
advertised i n the comi cs, and are fi nanced by
comm rci al fi rms who ofer cut pri ces to mem­
brs. The absurd ascent from corporal to general ,
ri ght u p to chief-of-staff, is achieved excl usivel y
through the purchas of Di sneyl and comics, and
sendi ng i n the coupns. I t ofers no benefi ts,
except the i ncenti ve to conti nue buyi ng the
magazi ne. The sol i dar i ty whi ch it appears to pro­
mote among readers si mpl y traps them i n the
buyi ng habi t.
Surel y i t is not good for chi l dren to b sur­
r e pti ti ousl y i njected wi th a permanent com­
pul si on to buy objects they don't need. Thi s is
Di sney's sol e ethi cal code: consumpti on for
consumpti on's sake. Buy to keep the system
goi ng, throw the thi ngs away ( rarel y a re objects
shown bei ng enjoyed, even i n the comi c) , and
buy the sa me thi ng, onl y sl i ghtl y di fferent, the
next day. Let money chang hands, a nd i f i t
ends up fatteni ng the pockets of Di sney and his
cl ass , so be it.
Di sney creatures are engaged i n a franti c chase
for money. A we are in an amusement worl d,
al l ow us to descri be the l and of Di sney as a car­
rousel of consumer ism. Money is the goal every­
one str ives for, because it manaes to embdy al l
the qual i ti es of thei r worl d. To start with the
obvi ous, i ts powers of acquisi ti on are unl i mi ted,
encompassi ng the affecti on of others, securi ty,
i nfl uence, authori ty, prestige, travel , vacati on,
l ei sure, and to tempr the boredom of l i vi ng, en­
tertai nment. The onl y access to these thi ngs i s
through money, which comes to symbol i ze the
good thi ngs of l i fe, al l of whi ch can be bought.
But who decides the distri buti on of weal th i n
the worl d of Disney? By what criteri a is one
pl aced at the top 0 r the botom of the pi l e?
Let us exami ne some of the mechani sms i n­
vol ved. Geographi cal di stance separates the p­
tenti al owner, who ta kes the i ni ti ati ve, from the
ready-to-use gol d whi ch passi vel y awai ts hi
. But
thi s distance in i tsel f is i nsufi ci ent to create ob­
stacl es and suspense al ong the way. S a thief
after the same treasure, appears on the sc
Chi ef of the cri mi nal gangs are the Beagl e Boys,
but there are i nnumerable other professi onal
crooks, l uckl ess buccaneers, and decrepi t eagl es,
al ong with the i nevitabl e Bl ack Pete. To these we
may add Magi ca de Spel l , Bi g Bad Wol f, and
some lesser thi eves of the forest, l i ke Brer bear
and Brer Fox.
They are al l oversi ze, dark, ugl y, i l l -educated,
unshaven, stupi d (they never have a good i dea) ,
cl umsy, di ssol ute, greedy, conceited (al ways
toadyi ng each other) , and unscrupul ous. They are
l umped together i n groups and are i ndi vi dual l y
i ndi sti ngui shable. The professi onal crooks, l i ke
the Beagl e Boys, are conspi cuous for thei r pr ison
i denti ficati on numbr and burgla r's mask. Thei r
cri mi nal i ty is i nnate: "Shut up, " says a cop
sei zi ng a Beagl e Boy, "you weren't bor to be a
guard. Your vocati on i s jai l bi rd. " ( F 57) .
Cri m i s the onl y work they know; otherwi se,
they are sl othful unto eternity. Bi g Bad Wol f (0
281 ) reads a book al l about disguises ( pri nted by
Confusi on Publ i shers) :
At l ast I have found the
prfect di sguise : no one wi l l bel i eve that Big Bad
Wol f is capable of worki ng. " S he disguises
hi msel f as a wor ker . With hi s moustache, hat,
overal l s, barrow, and pi ck a nd shovel , he sees
hi msel f as qui te the southern convi ct on a road
As if thei r cri mi nal record were not suffi ci ent
to i mpress upn us the i l l egi ti macy of thei r am·
bi tions , they are constantl y pursui ng the 'treasure
al ready amassed or pre-empted by others. The
Beagle Boys versus Scrooge McDuck are the bst
exampl e, the others bei ng mere vari ati ons on
thi s
central theme . I n a worl d so ri ch i n maps and
badl y kept secrets, i t i s a stati sti cal i mprobabi l i ty
and seems unfa i r that the vi l l ai ns shoul d not oc­
casi onal l y, at l east, get hol d of a parchment fi rst.
Thei r i nabi l i ty to desere this good forune is an·
other i ndi cati on that there i s no questi on of
them changi ng thei r status. Thei r fate i s fruitl ess
robbery or i ntent to rob, constant arrest or con­
sta nt escap from j ai l ( perhaps there are so many
of them that jai l can never hold them al l ?) . They
are a constant threat to those who had the i dea
of hunti ng for gol d.
The onl y obstacl e to the adventurer's getti ng
hi s treasure , is not a very real i sti c one. The
sol e purpose of the presence of the vi l l ai n is
to l egiti mati ze the ri ght of the other to appto­
pri ate the treasure. Occasional l y the adventurer is
faced with a moral di l emma : hi s gol d or someone
el se's l i fe. He al ways chooses in favor of the l i fe,
al though he somehow never has to sacri fice the
gol d (the choi ce was not very real , the dice were
l oaded) . But he can at l east confront evi l tempta-
ti ons, whereas the vi l l ai ns, wi th a few excepti ons,
never have a chance to search thei r consci ence,
and to ri se above thei r condi ti on.
Di sney can concei ve of no other threat to
we a l t h t ha n t h e ft . Hi s obess i ve need to
cri mi naJ i ze any person who i nfri nges the l aws of
pri vate poprty, i nvi tes us to l ook at these vi l ­
l ai ns more cl osel y. The darkness of thei r ski n,
thei r ugl i ness, the disorder of thei r dress, thei r
stature, thei r reducti on to numeri cal catagori es,
thei r mbl i ke character, and the fact that they
are "condemned" i n perpetui ty, al l add up to a
stereotpi cal sti gmti zati on of the bosses' real
enemy, the one who trul y threatens hi s property.
But the real l i fe enemy of the weal thy i s not
the thi ef. Were there onl y thi eves about hi m, the
man of proprty coul d convert hi story i nto a
struggl e btween l egi ti mate owners a nd cri mi nal s,
who are to b j udgd accordi ng to the property
l aws he, the owner, has establ i shed. But real ity i s
di fferent. The e l ement whi ch trul y chal l enges the
l egi ti mcy and necessi ty of the monopol y of
wal th, and i s capabl e of destroyi ng i t, i s the
worki ng cl ass, whose onl y means of l i brati on i s
to I i qui date t he economi c base of the bourgeoi si e
and abol i sh pri vate property. Si nce the moment
the bourgeoi si e bgan expl oiti ng the prol etar i at,
the former has tri ed to reduce the resi stance of
the l atter, and i ndeed, the cl ass struggl e i tsel f, to
a battl e btween good and ev i l , as Marx showed
i n h i s anal ysi s of Eugene Sue' s seri al novel s. The
moral l abl i s desi gned to conceal the root of the
confl i ct, wi ch i s economi c, and at the same
ti me to censure the acti ons of the cl ass enemy.
I n Di sney , the worki ng cl as has therefore
ben spl i t i nto two groups : cri mi nal s i n the ci ty,
and nobl e savages i n the countrysi de. Si nce the
Di sney wor l dvi ew ema scul ates vi ol ence and soci al
confl i cts, even the urban rogues are concei ved as
naughty chi l dren ( "boys") . A the a nti -model ,
they are al ways l osi ng, bei ng s panked, and cel e­
brati ng thei r stupi d i deas by danci ng i n ci rcl es,
hand i n hand. They are expressi ons of the bour­
geoi s desi re to portray workers' orga ni zat i ons as
a motl ey mob of crazi es.
Thus, when Scrooge i s confronted by the
possi bi l ity that Donal d has taken to thi evi ng ( F
1 78) , he says "My nephew, a robber? Before my
own eyes? I must cal l the pol i ce and the l unati c
asyl um. He must have gone ma d. " Thi s statement
* Karl Marx The Holy Family ( 1 845) , d. Marcel i n
Pleynet, "A pr�pos d' une anal ys des Mvst
res de Paris,
Par Marx dans La Saint Famille, " in L
Critique, Pari s, num6ro sp6cial , 1 96.
MAN � you
refl ects the reducti on of cri mi nal acti vi ty i nto a
psychopathi c disease, rather than the resul t of
soci al condi ti oni ng. The bourgeoi si e convert the
defects of the worki ng cl ass whi ch are the out­
come of thei r expl o itati on, i nto mor al bl e mi shes,
and objects of der i si on and censure, so as to
weaken them a nd to conceal that ex pl oi tation.
The bourgois i e even i mpose thei r own val ues
upon the a mbi ti ons of the enemy, who, i n­
capabl e of or i gi nal i ty, steal i n order t o bcome
mi l l i onai res themel ves and j oi n the expl oiti ng
cl ass . Never are they depi cted as try i ng to i m­
prove soci ety. Thi s cari cature of workers, whi ch
twists every characteri sti c capabl e of l endi ng
them di gni ty and respect, and the reby, i denti ty
as a soci a l cl as, tu rns them i nto a spectacl e of
mockery and contempt . ( And parenth eti cal l y, i n
the mdern technol ogi cal era, the dai l y mass cul ­
ture di et of the bou rgeoi si e sti l l consi sts of the
sa me mythi c cari catures whi ch arose dur i ng the
l ate ni neteenth century machi ne age) .
The cri teri on f or d i v i di ng good from bad i s
honesty, that i s, the respect for pr i vate property.
Thus i n "Honesty Rewarded" ( 0 393, CS 1 2/45) ,
the nephew fi nd a ten dol l ar bi l l and fi ght for
i t, cal l i ng each other "thi ef, " "crook, " and "vi l ­
l ai n. " But Dona l d i ntervenes : such a su m, found
i n the ci ty, must have a l egal ower, who must
b traced. Thi s is a ti tani c task, for a l l the bi g,
ugl y, v i ol ent, dar k-s ki nned peopl e try to steal the
money fo r themsel ves. The wo rst i s one who
want to steal the note i n orde r to " buy a pi stol
to rob the orphanage . " Peace fi n a l l y returns (si g­
ni fi cantl y, Donal d was readi ng War and Peace i n
the fi rst scene) , when the true owner of the
money appears. She i s a poor l i ttl e gi r l , fami shed
and raggd, the onl y case of soci al mi sery i n our
enti re sa mpl e. "Thi s i s al l my mom had l eft, and
we haven' t eaten al l day l ong. "
Just as the "good" forei gners defended the
s i mpl e nati ves of the Thi rd Worl d, now they pro-
TE�T �LLr .
tect another l itle native, the underprivi l egd
mi te of the big city. The nephews have bhaved
l i ke si nts (they actual l y wear haloes in the l ast
picture) , because they have recognized the right
of each and al l to posess the money thy already
own. There is no question of an unjust di stri­
buti on of \al th: i f everyone were l i ke the
honest duckl i ngs rather than the ugly cheats, · the
system woul d functi on perfectl y. The l ittle gi rl 's
problem is not her poverty, it is havi ng lost the
onl y mney her fami ly had (whi ch presumably
wi l l l ast forever, or el se they wi l l starve and the
whol e house of Disney wi l l come tumbl i ng
down) . To avoid war and preserve soci al peace,
everyone shoul d del iver unto others what is al ­
ready thei rs. The duckl i ngs decl i ne the monetary
reward ofered by Donal d: "We al ready have our
reward . Knowi ng that we have hel ped make
someone happy." But the act of chari ty under­
l i nes the mral superiority of the givers and
j usti fies the mani on to which they return after
thei r "good works" in the sl um. If they hadn't
returned the banknote, they wul d have des­
cended to the level of the Beagle Boys, and
woul d not be worhy enough to wi n the treasure
hunt. The path to weal th l i es through chari ty
which is a good moral i nvestment. The number
of l ost chi l dren, i njured l ambs, ol d l adies needi ng
hel p to cross the street, i s an i ndex of the re­
qu i rement for entry i nto the "good guys cl ub"
_ after one has been al ready nomi nated by an­
other "good guy. " I n the absnce of acive
vi rtue, Good Works are the proof of moral su-
peri ority.
Propheti cal l y, Al exis de Tocquevi l le wrot i n
his Demcracy in America, "By thi s means, a
ki nd of vi rtuous materi al ism may ulti matel y be es­
tabl ished in the worl d, which woul d not corrupt,
but enervate the soul , and noisel essly unbnd its
spri ngs of acti on. " I t is a pity that the French­
man who wrote thi s in the mi d-ni neteenth cen-
tury did not l i ve to visit the l and of Di sney,
where hi s words have been burl esqued i n a great
i deal isti c cock-a-doodle-doo.
Thus the wi nners are announced i n advance.
I n thi s race for money where all the contestants
are apparently i n the same posi ti on, what is the
factor which decides this one wi ns and the other
one l oses? I f goodness-and-truth are on the side
of the "l egiti mate" owner, how does someone
else take ownershi p of the property?
Nothi ng coul d be more si mpl e and more re­
veal i ng: they can't. The bad guys (who remember
bhave l i ke chi l dren) are biggr, stronger, faster
and armed; the good guys have the advantage of
superior i ntel l i genc, and use it merci l essl y. The
bad guys rack thei r brai ns desperately for ideas
( i n D 46, "1 have a terri fi c pl an i n my head,"
says one, scratchi ng it· l i ke a half-wit, "Are you
sure you have a head, 1 76-71 6?") . Thei r brai n­
l essness i s invariably what l eads to thei r downfal l .
They are caught i n a double bi nd: i f they use
onl y thei r legs, they won't get there; if they use
thei r heads as wel l , they won't get there ei ther.
Non-i ntel l ectual s by defi n i ti on, their i deas can
never prosper. Thi nking won't do you bad guys
any good, better rel y on those arms and l egs, eh?
The I ittle adventurers wi l l always have a better
and more bri l l i ant i dea , so there's no poi nt i n
competi ng with them. They hol d a monopoly on
thought, brains, words, and for that matter, on
the meani ng of the worl d at l arge. I t's thei r
worl d, they hae to know it better than you bad
guys, ri ght?
There can be onl y one concl usion: behi nd
good and evi l are hidden not onl y the soci al
antagoni sts, but al so a defi niti on of them i n
term of soul versus body, spir it versus matter,
br a i n ve r s us muscl e, and i ntel l ectual versus
manual work. A divi si on of l abor which cannot
be questi oned. The good guys have "cornered the
knowledge market" in thei r competi ti on agai nst
-r- _ -� "�1 5 I NVENi(ONI
the muscl e-bound brutes.
But there i s more. Si nce the l abori ng cl asses
are reduced to l egs runni ng for a goa l they wi l l
never reach, the bearers of ideas are l eft
as the
l egiti mate owners of the treasure. They won in a
fai r fi ght. And not onl y that, it was the power of
thei r i deas 'which created the val th to begi n
with, and i nspi red the sarch, and proved, once
agai n, the supriority of mi n d over matter. Ex­
pl oitation has been justi fi ed, the profits of the
past have been l egiti mi zed, and ownershi p i s
found to confer excl usive ri ghts on the retenti on
and i ncrease of weal th. I f the burgeoi si e now
control the capital and the means of producti on,
i t is not because they explo i ted anyone or accu­
mul ated weal th unfairl y.
Di sney, throughout his comics, i mpl i es that
capital ist weal th ori gi nated under the same ci r­
cumstances as he ma kes it appear i n his comi cs.
I t was al ways the i deas of the bourgeoi si e whi ch
gave them the advantage i n the race for success,
and nothi ng el se .
And thei r i deas shal l rise up to defend them.
li l t's a 10b where there is nothi ng to do.
Just take a turn around the museum from
ti me to ti me to check that nothi ng is
happni ng. "
Donal d (D 436)
"I am ri ch because al ways enginer my
strokes of l uck. "
Scrooge (TR 40)
At thi s poi nt, perhaps our reader is eager to
brandi sh the fi gure of Donal d hi mself, who, at
fi rst si ght appears to run counter to our thesi s
that Di sney's i s a worl d without work and with­
out workers. Everyone knows that this fel l ow
spends hi s l i fe l ooki ng for work and moani ng
bitterl y a bout the overwhel mi ng burdens whi ch
he must carry.
Why does Donal d l ook for work? I n order to
get money for hi s summer vacation, to pay the
fi nal i nstal l ment on his tel evisi on set (whi ch he
apparentl y does a thousand ti mes, for he has to
do it afresh i n each new episode) , or to buy a
present (gneral l y for Dai sy or Scrooge) . I n al l
thi s, there is never any question of need on
Donal d's part. He never has any probl ems whith
the rent, the electri city bi l l , food, or clothi ng.
On the contrary, wi thout so much as a dol l ar to
his name, he i s al ways buyi ng. The ducks l i ve
surrounded by a worl d of magi cal abundance,
whi l e the bad guys do not have ten cents for a
cup of coffee. But suddenl y, in the next pi cture
zap - the ducks have bui lt themsel ves a rocket
out of nothi ng. The bad guys spend much more
money robbi ng Scrooge than they wi l l ever get
from hi m.
There is no probl em about the means of sub­
si stence in thi s l uxurious and prodigal soci ety.
Hunger, l i ke some pl ague from ancient ti mes, has
been conquered. When the youngsters tel l Mi ckey
that they are hungry; "Doesn't one have the
ri ght to be hungry?" (D 401 ) , Mi ckey repl i es
"You chi l dren don't know what hunger is ' Sit
down a n d I ' l l tel l you. " I mmedi atel y the
nephews bgi n to make fun of hi m, sayi ng "How
l ong is thi s hunger busi ness, how l ong is al l thi s
nonsense goi ng to l ast?" But there's no need to
worry, ki ds. Mi ckey i s not thinki ng how hunger
today is ki l l i ng mi l l ions of people around the
worl d, and causi ng other mi l l i ons i rreparable
mental and physi cal damage. Mi ckey recounts
a prehi s�ori c adventure about Goofy a nd hi msel f,
with a typica l contemporary Duckburg pl ot, to
i l l ustrate the problem of hunger. Apparentl y,
for Mi ckey, nowadays such probl ems as hunger
do not exi st - peopl e l i ve in a fantasy world
perfecti on.
50 Donal d doesn't real l y need to work, and
the proof is that any money he does manage to
m a k e a l wa ys goes t o wa r d s bu y i ng t he
s u pe r f l uous. Thus, when Uncl e Scrooge de­
cei tful l y promi ses to wi l l hi s fortune to hi m, the
fi rst thought that occurs to Donal d i s "At l ast I
can spend a l l I want. " (TR 1 1 6) . S he orders
the l atest mdel of automobi l e, an ei ght- berh
crui ser, and a cl or T set with fi fteen channel s
and remote-ontrol swi tch. El sewhere ( 0 423) he
deci des "I must get some temporar work some­
where to rai se enough money for thi s gi ft. " Or ,
he hopes to go on a n expensi ve tri p, but "al l I
have i s this hal f dol l ar. " ( F 1 1 7) .
A need i s superfl uous, s o i s the work. Jobs
are usual l y (as we have observed) tose whi ch
provi de servi ces, protecti on, or transporati on to
con s u me r s . E v e n Scrooge McDuck has no
workers; when he i s brought a l i st of hi s per­
sonnel , they are al l cal l ed "empl oyees. "
Al l empl oyment i s a means of consumpti on
r a t he r than producti on. Wi thout needi ng to
wo r k , Do n a l d i s constantl y obsessed with
searchi ng for i t. So i t i s not su rpris i ng that the
ki nd of j ob he prefers shoul d be easy, and un­
d e ma n di ng of mental or physi cal effort. A
pasti me whi l e he wai ts for some pi ece of l uck ( or
pi ece of ma p) to fal l u pon hi m from who knows
whe r e . I n s ho r t , he wants wages without
sweati ng. I t i s moreover no probl em for Donal d
( or anyone el se) to fi nd a job, because jobs
abound. "Wow, that l ooks l i ke pl easant work !
' Pastry cook wanted, good wages, free pastri es,
shor hours. ' That's for me ! " ( F 82) . The Real
drama on l y bi ngs to unfol d when, once hav i ng
got the j ob, Donal d becomes terri fi ed of l osi ng
i t. This terror of bei ng l eft i n the street i s qu ite
i nexpl i cable, gi ven that the j ob was hardl y i n­
di spensbl e to hi m.
And si nce Donal d is by defi ni ti on cl umsy and
carel ess , he i s al ways getti ng the boot. " There are
jobs and j obs i n the worl d, but Donal d never
seems to fi nd one that he can do. " "You' re
fi red, Duck. That's the thi rd ti me you've gone to
sl eep i n the dough mi xer ! " "You're fired, Duck !
You do too much fi ddl i ng around! " "You're
fi red Duck! Where di d you l earn barberi ng -
from an I ndi an warchi ef?" ( C5 1 2/59) . So work
becomes for Donal d an obsessi on wi th not l osi ng
work, and not suffer ing t he catastrophes whi ch
pursue hi m wherever he goes. He bcomes un­
empl oyed through hi s i ncompetence, i n a wor l d
where j obs a bound. Getti ng a j ob i s no probl em
si nce the suppl y of them i s far i n excess of de-
mand, just, as i n Di s ney, consumpti on exceeds
producti on. The fact that Donal d, l i ke Bi g Bad
WOl f, the Beagl e Boys and a host of others, i s an
i nveterate sl acker, proves that thei r unempl oy­
ment i s the resul t of thei r free wi l l and i ncom­
petence. To the reader, Donal d re presents the un­
e m pi oyed. Not the real unempl oyed caused
hi stori cal l y by the structural contradi cti ons of
capi tal i sm, but the Di sney-styl e unempl oyment
based on the personal i ty of the empl oyee. The
s oc i o- ec o n o mi c ba s i s of unempl oyment i s
shunted asi de i n favor of i ndi vi dual psychol ogi cal
expl anati ons , whi ch assume that the causes and
co nsequences of any soci al phenomenon are
rooted i n the a bnorma l e l ements i n i ndi vi dual
human behavi or. Once economi c pressu re has
ben converted i nto pressure to consume, and
jobs are readi l y avai l abl e everywhere, Donal d' s
worl d bcomes one in whi ch "true" freedom
rei gns : the freedom to be out of work.
I ndustr i al entrepreneurs i n the present worl d
pu s h the "freedom of l abor" sl ogan: every
ci ti zen is free to sel l hi s l abor , choose whom he
sel l s it to, and qui t i f i t doesn't sui t hi m. Thi s
fal se "f reedom of l abor" ( i n the Di sney fantasy
wor l d) ceases to be ,a myth, becomes a real i ty
and takes on the form of the "freedom" of bei ng
lff �
\ \
~¯ ¯ ¯ ¯
unempl oyed.
But despi te al l Donal d's good i ntenti ons, em­
pl oymnt s l i ps through his fi ngers. He has hardly
crossed the employment threshol d before he
bcomes the vi cti m of crazy and chaoti c com­
mot i on. These absurd paroxysms of activity
general l y end i n the hero's rest and reward.
Often, however, the hero cannot escape from
these apocal ypti c gyrati ons, because the gds do
not wish to rel eas hi m from his eternal suf­

ri ngs. Thi s means that the reward and puni sh­
ment do not depend on Donal d, and the resul t
of al l this activity i s unforeseeable. Thi s i ncreases
the reader's feel i ng of dramatic tensi on. The
passi vity and steri l ity of Donal d's work poi nt up
hi s l ack of positive meri t, other than his accumu­
l ated sufferi ng. Al l respi te is conferred upon hi m
from abve and beyond, despite al l hi s eforts to
master his desti ny. Fate, in maki ng Donal d hi s
favorite pl aythi ng, becomes the sol e dynami c fac­
tor, provoki ng catastrophes, and bstowi ng joys.
Fate is l i ke a bottoml ess bucket in which water
is constantl y churni ng. It is Donal d's job to fi l l
* E.Q. Cerants' Trabjos d Periles y Seismunda.
1AT'S �E ".\ RD

H| ¤H1NA¯CHNñh
this bucket. A l ong as no one comes al ong and
bnevol entl y puts back the bottom, Donal d wi l l
fai l , and b doomed to stoop and pour forever.
Thi s type of work, whi ch takes pl ace i n the
ci ty, i s si mi lar to other forms of nervous suf­
fer i ng which occurs outsi de the city on forei gn
adventures. As soon as they l eave home, the
Duckburgrs sufer al l ki nds of acci dents: shi p­
wrecks, col l i si ons, and peri l s - obtacl es and mi s­
fortunes gal ore. It is this torure at the hands of
fate which separates them from the treasu re they
a re searchi ng. The exerti ons of thei r l abors
appear nul l bcause they are a chai n of conti n­
gncies. Thei r "l abrs" become a response to
crises. Fi rst, bad l uck scatters danger and pain i n
thei r path; then, at the end, good l uck rewards
them wi th gol d. Thi s gold i s not easi l y attai ned.
One has fi rst to suffer deconcrtized work: work
in the form of adventur. I n a si mi l ar way, the
fi rst Spani sh novel s of adventure were cal l ed
"l abors." I n this form of novel, the i nter­
medi ary between the hero and weal th is the pro­
cess of accumul ati ng mi sfortune. Thi s process
symbol i zes work, without actual l y bei ng wrk. It
is a passi vel y consumed form of toi l , rather than
one whi ch i s acti vel y creati ve and producti ve.
Just as mney is an abstract form of the object,
so adventur is an abstract form of labr. The
treasure is attai ned by a process of adventuri ng,
not produci ng. Yet another means - as i f more
were needed - to mask the ori gi n of weal th. But
the substance of the adventure i s al so fraught
wi th moral consequences. I n v i ew of the fact
that the hero dos not propel hi mel f, but i s pro­
pel l ed by desti ny, he l earns the necessi ty of
obyi ng i ts desi gns. ,I n thi s way, by accepti ng the
sl i ngs of mi sforune, he puts fate i n hi s debt, and
eventual l y extracts a few dol l ars therefrom. The
di abol i cal rhythm of the worl d - i ts menaci ng
sadi sm, i ts crazy and peri l ous twi sts and turns,
and i ts vexati ons and dis rupti ons - cannot b
denied, because everythi ng answers to providenc.
It i s a universe of terror , al ways on the
poi nt of col l apse, and to s urvi ve i n i t requi res a
phi l osophy of resi gnati on. Ma n deserves nothi ng
and i f he gets a nythi ng, i t i s due to hi s humble
humanity and h is acceptance of hi s own i mpo­
Despite a l l the masks, Donal d is sensed as the
true representati ve of the contemprary worker.
But the wages essenti al to the l atter are super­
fl uous to Donal d. What the real l i fe worker
searches desperatel y, Donal d has no troubl e fi nd­
i ng. Whi l e the worker produces and suffers from
the materi al condi ti ons of l i fe and the expl oi ta­
ti on to whi ch he i s subjected, Donal d suffers
onl y the i l l usi on of wor k, i ts passi ve and abstract
wei ght, i n the form of adventure.
Donal d moves i n a worl d of pure superstruc­
ture wi th a cl ose forma l resembl ance, however,
to i ts i nfrastrucure, and the stages of i ts deve­
l opment. He gi ves the i mpressi on of I i vi ng at the
concrete base of real l i fe, but he is onl y a mi mi c
fl oati ng i n the a i r above. Adventure i s l i ke work
i n the real m of qui cksands which bel i eve them­
sel ves to be u pwrds-sucki ng cl ouds. When the
cri ti cal moment of payday arri ves, the great
mysti fi cati on occurs. The workman of the real
worl d i s cheated and takes home onl y a fracti on
of what he has produced: the boss steal s the rest.
Donal d, on the other hand, havi ng demostrated
hi s usel essness on the job, i s i pso-facto overpai d.
In Di sney, not hav i ng contri buted to weal th, the
worker has no r i ght to demand a share in i t.
Anythi ng this "parasi te" may be gi ven i s a favor
granted from outsi de, for whi ch he shoul d be
grateful , and ask no more. Onl y provi dence can
di spense the grace of survi val to one who has not
deserved i t. How can one go on stri ke, how can
one demnd hi gher wages, i f i t i s al l l ef to pro­
vi dence, and there are no norms governi ng wor k­
i ng condi ti ons? Donal d is the bastard representa­
tive of al l workers. They are suppsed to b as
submi sive as Donal d because they are supposed
to have contri buted as l i ttl e as he h as to the
bu i l di ng of thi s materi al worl d. Duckburg is no
fantasy, but the fantasagoria Mar x spoke of :
Donal d's "work" is des i gned to screen off the
contradi cti ons i n the bosses' mythol ogy of l abor,
and hi de the di fference between the val ue of
l abor, and the val ue whi ch l abor creates; that i s,
surpl us val ue. Labor geared to producti on does
not exist for Donal d. I n his fantasmagori cal
r h y t h m of s uf f e r i n g a n d reward, Donal d
represents t he domi nated ( mysti fi ed) at the same
ti me as he paradoxi cal l y l i ves the l i fe of the
domi nator ( mysti fi er) .
D i s n ey f a n t a s i z es c o n t e mp o r a r y soci al
confl i cts i nto the form of adventure. But even as
he reveal s these sufferi ngs i nnocentl y, he neutra­
l i zes them wi th the i mpl i cit assurance that al l i s
for the best. Everythi ng wi l l be rewa rded, and
wi l l l ead to the i mprovement of the human con­
di ti on and t he paradise of l ei sure and repose. The
i magi nati ve real m of ch i l dhood i s schemati zed by
Di sney in such a way that i t appropri ates the real
l i fe co-ordi nates and angui sh of contemporary
man, but stri ps them of thei r power to denounc
them, expose thei r contradi cti ons, and overcome
Wo r k , di sgui sed i n Duckburg as i nnocent
sufferi ng, i s al ways defi ned i n functi on of i ts
contrary, l ei sure. Typi cal l y, an epi sode opens at a
' noment emphasi zi ng the boredom and peace i n
' 'Jhich t he heroes are i mmersed. The nephews
,/ awn : "we are bored to death with everythi ng
. . even tel evi si on. " ( 0 43) .
The openi ng si tuati on i s stressed as normal :
" How can so s i mple a thi ng as a buncin bl
l ead our fr i ends to treasures in Aztecl and?" ( 0
1 32, DO 9/65) . "Is there ' anythi ng so restful as
I V ing stretched out over one's money, l i steni ng to
! he gentl e t i c-toc of a cl ock? One feel s so
'� ecure. " ( TR 1 1 3) . "Who woul d have i magi ned
; hat a mere i nvi tati on to a fami l y reunion woul d
I ' nd l i ke thi s?" Donal d asks hi msel f after an ad­
venture (0 448) which "all started i nnocentl y
I me morni ng . . . " " I t i s dawn i n Duckburg,
normal l y so qu iet a town. " (0 48) . They are
, ! l ways resti ng; on a bed, on a cuch, on a l awn,
qr i n a hammock. "Mi ckey takes a wel l -earned
, est as a guest of the Seven Dwarfs in the En­
chanted Forest . " ( 0 424) . The repeti ti on and
-- �
T�E 8�EAD OF L/�E, 80'5 1 AS USUAL , I'M
restful sense of these phrases sets the tone for
l i fe i n Duckburg. Our hero l eaves hi s habi tual
everday exi stence, whi ch i s that of l ei sure, i nter­
rupted by any one of the harml ess attri butes of
that l ei sure (l i ke a bounci ng bal l ) , whi ch l eads
hi m to adventure, sufferi ng and gol d. Readers are
e n cou r a ged to i denti fy with the character
bcause they too are resti ng whi l e readi ng the
co mi c , a nd be c ome easi l y trapped in the
confi ned-excitement of the race. Once bai ted,
they fi nd themsel ves accompanyi ng him for the
rest of the fantasti c epi sode.
The adventure usual l y ends i n the recompense
of a vacati on, and a return to ret, now wel l
deserved after the wei ght of so much decon­
crtized l abor. Formal l y, one may observe in the
f i r s t a n d l as t dr awi n g s t he pri nci pl es of
i mmobi l i ty and symmetry of bal anced forces. A
pictori al devi ce of renai ssance cl assi ci sm is used
to s oot he the reader before and after the
adventure. For its durati on, on the other hand,
the fi gures are drawn i n constant agi tati on. They
rush, as . a rul e, from l eft to r ight, i mpel l i ng the
eye to fol l ow the heroes ' l egs fl yi ng over the
ground. Outstretched fi ngers poi nt the dI recti on,
u nti l peace i s restored and the ci rcl e cl osed.
"Hal Our adventure ends with a tropi cal
vacati on." ( 0 432) . After worki ng for Scrooge,
Donal d i s r ewarded by his u ncl e "Wi th a real
vacati on i n Atl antic City. " ( F 1 09) . "Ha, ha l I
have been dreami ng for so l ong of spendi ng the
summer i n Aapul co. Thanks to my acci dent i n­
surance, at last I can choos that marvel l ous
pl ac. ( F 1 74) . This episode proves cl earl y how
pai n provokes good forune: "H urray, hurray. I
broke my l eg. " Havi ng ben l oaned hi s uncl e' s
property for a month, Donal d decides "fi rst of
al l , I won't work any more. I wi l l forget al l my
worri es and devote mysel f to l ei sure. " (TR 53) .
And what were those worri es? "You can't i ma­
gi ne how difficul t it i s, wi th the cost of l i vi ng,
maki ng it to the end of the month on my wages.
I t's a ni ghtmare' " What i s the great probl em?
, "I t's hard to get a decent night's sl eep when one
knows that the next i nstal l ment on the TV i s
due the fol l owi ng day, and one hasn't a cent. "
The apparent opposi ti on between work and
l eisure i s nothi ng but a subterfuge to the advan­
tage of the l atter. Leisu re i nvades and i mposes i ts
l aws upon the whole real m of work. I n the
" Hard-Worki ng Lei sure- Lovers Cl ub" ( the descr i p­
t i o n of femi n i ne acti vi ty, D 1 85) , work i s
nugatory, a l ei sure acti vi ty, a veh i cl e of con­
sumeri sm, and a means of ki l l i ng ti me.
Let us take the most extreme exampl e: Bi g
Bad Wol f and hi s eternal hunt for the three l i ttl e
pigs. He appears to want to eat them. But hu nger
i s not hi s rea l moti ve: his need is rea l l y to em­
bel l ish his l i fe wi th some si mul acrum of acti vi ty.
Chase the pi gl ets, l et them el ude hi m by a tri ck,
so that he can teturn agai n, etc. . . . Li ke the
consumer societ i tsel f, whi ch by consumi ng,
consumtes the adventure of consumpti on. Sei ze
the object to have it di sappear, to have it i m­
medi ately repl aced by the same object in a new
gu ise. This si tuati on i s epitomi zed i n D 329,
where Practi cal Pi g persuades Big Bad Wol f to l et
them al l go: "What fun can you have, now that
you have caught us? You' l l have nothi ng to do,
except si t around growi ng ol d before your ti me. "
Eati ng them woul d be to exceed his defi niti on as
a character, byond whi ch l i es the banal or a
voi d. The character becomes sel f�orrecti ve i f
ever the constants of hi s nature are threatened.
He cannot, nor does he wi sh to, face a shortage
of pigs, or the i nventi on of some other chaseabl e
object. He feeds upon his own recreati on as the
manner of his work : "thi s is more fun than any­
thi ng el se. " Practi cal Pi g has convi nced hi m wi th
Madison Avenue persuasi veness : "BUY TO CON­
fi cti ti ous poi nt of departure i s need, whi ch then
bcomes arti fi ci al i zed, and forgotten. For the
wol f, the pi gl ets a re "i n. " Desi re is sti mul ated i n
order t o conti nue "produci ng. " (the superfl uous) .
Gi ven this pretext that work i s i ndespensi bl e,
i t enters hi story i n the form of a "repeti ti ous
a bnorma l i ty. " Work i s regarded as an u nusual and
eccentr i c phenomenon, and i s empti ed of i ts
meani ng, whi ch i s precisel y that it is common­
pl ace, habi tual , routi ne and normal . Wi thi n the
*See Umberto Eco, Apocalittici e Interati,
Bompiani , Mi l ano, 1 964 (Apocalipt;cos e Intgrados
ante la cultura de masas, Edi tori al Lumen, Barcel ona,
1 968) ,
* *Quotati on from Vance Packard, The Hidden Per­
suaders, New York, 1 957 . Cf. the advertisement bel oW,
from General Motors, for a 1 974 vari ati on on thi s theme:
Cas, Jobs and Pogss
Enomic DIoyeSS ÌS like 3 wheel. \Y²If|I it Ì´<5 speed
it wobbls, and when it stops it {ails. Kerphm
To keep ou economy rlling. Amercs muS| not D
afad to buy whal lhey wat ad need. Demand means produc·
ton; more proucton meas mo!e jobs, stonger bu:ines;t:.
and more revenues for our towns ad cties. 0U 5Ì3lCS Md the
naton. It adds up to prospert, ad everby gains.
The automobile is basic to Americ's economy. ÍI ac·
cuts for one-sith of our Gros National Prouct. Thireen
million jobs-one in ever six-ad 80.00 businesses. fom
steel companies to the comer service statiun, depend on lhc
Right now is te tme to buy a new O. Use G
values ae high. Operting costs on our 1975 CU 00 reduced,
and less scheduled maintenance is required. ;ew cas are H
20C C�Y~�nd buybg ke�s U£ ¹·*!�Ì r U!V�5 !CÌÌ��.
Ë L U-rs|cnbrv
Irº· ral \l··lmsC·qr1| on
producti on process, the stage i nvari abl y sel ected
for depi cti on are thos whi ch loosen the bnds
of l abor. Banal and repetitive work is trans­
form d i nto free-fl owi ng fantasy, acci dent and
co m mot i on . Labor, i n spite of i ts present
coercive character, no l ongr appears as the dai l y
gri nd i t i s, sparati ng al l human bi ngs from
misery. I n a word, dai iy l ife beCmes sstion­
alzed. For Donald, Goofy, Mickey, the chi p­
munks, the strange and rare are commonplace.
Donal d, for exampl e, worki ng as a hai rdresser (0
329) , bcomes the geni al artist-sci entist at the
j ob: "seven i nches to the epicrani al aponeurosi s;
n i ne i nche to the spJeni us capiti s; seven i nches
to the poi ntus of the probscis. " Routi ne i s re­
fi ned i nto a variety of wonders attai ned "with
speci al l y i nvented tool s. "
Thi s concept of work i s a stratagem for trans­
formi ng dai l y l i fe, and al l the hard work whi ch is
necessa ry for survivi ng in i t, i nto a prmanent
spectacl e. Just as a Disney character leaves hi s
normal surroundi ngs to undertake fantasy
adventures free of the usual ti me-space l i mita­
ti ons of Duckburg, or undergo the most absurb
extravaganzas i n the mst i nnocent of urban
occu pti ons, so i t i s si mi l arl y proposed that
chi l dren transcend the concrete real ity of thei r
l i fe, and surrender to the "magic" and "ad­
venture" of the magazi nes. The segregati on of
the chi l d' s worl d btween the everyday and the
enchanted begi ns i n the comi cs themsel ves, whi ch
take the fi rst step i n teachi ng chi l dren, from
thei r tenderest years, to separate work from
l ei sure, and humdrum real i ty from te pl ay of
t he i r i magi nati on. Apparentl y, thei r habi tual
worl d is that of uni magi native work, whereas the
worl d of the comi c i s that of fantasy-fi l l ed
l ei sure. Chi l dren are once agai n spl i t between
matter and spi rit, a nd encouraged to el i mi nate
the i magi nary from the real surroundi ng worl d.
To defend this type of comi c on the grounds
that i t feed, the "overfl owi ng i magi nati on" of
the chi l d who tends, supposdl y, by his very
nature to reject hi s i mmedi ate surroundi ngs, is
real l y to i nject i nto chi l dren the escapist needs of
contemporary soci ety. A society so i mpri soned i n .
i ts own oppressi ve, dead-end worl d, that it is con­
s t r a i ned to dream up prversel y "i nnocnt"
utopi as. The adul t's sel f-protecti ve escapist dreams
i mpel the chi l d to abandon i ts i ntegrated
ch i l dhoo d ex i stence. Later, adults use this
"natural " fantasy trait of chi l dhood to lessen
thei r own anxiety and al i enati on from their dai l y
This worl d of projecti on and segregati on is
based upon the rol e and concept of entertai n­
ment as it has developed i n capital i st society.
The manner i n which Donal d l ives out hi s l ei sure,
t r an sformed i nto fantastic mul ti col or, mul ti ­
mvement and mul ti visi on adventure, i s i denti cal
to the ma nner i n whi ch the twentieth centur
(fox) consumer I i ves out hi s boredom, rei ieved
by the spi ri tual food of the mas cultur. Mi ckey
i s enterai ned by mystery and adventure. The
reader is entertai ned b Mi ckey entertai ni ng
hi msel f.
The Di sney worl d coul d b revamped and
e ven di sa p pear altogether, without anythi ng
changi ng. Beyond the chi l dren's comi c l i es the
whole concpt of cntemprary mass culture,
whi ch is based on the pri nci pl e that onl y enter­
tainmnt can l i berate humanki nd from the soci al
anxiet and confl i ct i n which it is submerged.
Just as the burgeoi si e concive soci al probl ems
as a margi nal resi due of technologi cal probl ems,
so they al so bl ieve that by devel opi ng the mas
culture i ndustries, they wi l l sol ve the problem of
peop l e ' s al i enation. This cul tural technol ogy
reaches from mas communi cati ons and its pro­
ducts, to the hucksterism of the organized tour.
Enterai nment, as it is understood by the capi­
tal ist mas cul ture, tries to reconci l e everythi ng -
work with l ei sure, the commonpl ac with the
i magi nary, the social with the extrasocial , body
wi th soul , producti on with cnsumpti on, city
with countrysi de - whi l e vei l i ng the cntra­
di cti ons arisi ng from thei r i nterrel ati onshi ps. Al l
the confl i cts of the real worl d, the nerve centers
of bour geoi s soci ety , are purified i n the
i magi nation in order to be absorbed and co-opted
i nto the worl d of entertai nment. Si mpl y to cl l
Disney a l i ar i s to mi ss the target. Li es are easi l y
exposed. The l aunderi ng process i n Di sney, as i n
al l the mass media, i s much more compl ex.
Di sney's soci al cl ass has mol ded the wor ld i n a
certai n cl earl y defi ned and functi onal way whi ch
co r r es pon ds to its n eed s . The bourgeoi s
i mgi nati on does not ignore thi s real ity, but
sei ze it, and returns i t veneered with i nnocence,
to the consumer. Once it is i nterpreted as a
magical , marel l ous paradi gm of hi s own com­
mon experi enc, the reader then can consume his
own contradicti ons i n whitewashed form. Thi s
permi ts hi m to conti nue v i ewi ng and l i vi ng these
confl i cts with the i nnocence and hel pl essness of a
c h i l d . He enters the future without havi ng
resol ved or even understood the probl ems of the
To put Humpty Dumpty together agai n, the
bourgeoi si e have suppl i ed hi m with the realm of
freedom wi thout havi ng hi m pass through the
realm of necsity. Thei r fantasy paradi se i nvi tes
parti ci pati on, not through concreti zati on, but
abstracti on, of needs and problems. Thi s i s not
to i mpl y that peopl e shoul d be prevented from
dreami ng a bout thei r future. On the contrary,
thei r real n eed to achi eve a better future i s a
fundamenta l ethi cal motivati on i n thei r stuggle
for l i berati on. But Di sney has appropri ated thi s
urge and di l uted i t wi th symbol s uprooted from
r e a l i t y . I t i s the fun wrl d of the Pepsi ­
generati on : al l fi zz and bubbl es .
Thi s concepti on of redempti on by neutral i zi ng
contradi cti ons surel y has i ts supreme e mbodi ment
i n the Disney comi c. And i n one character i n
parti cul ar we fi nd i ts ul t i mate expressi on. I t i s,
of course - di d you gues? - Gl adstone Gander.
"When I deci de to fi nd the best shel l on the
bach, I don't have to l ook for i t. I ' m j ust
l ucky. " (0 381 ) . He wal ks around "and never
fal l s i nto traps. Lucky as al wa ys. " (F 1 55) ,
Gl adstone gets al l he wants - as l ong as it i s
ma t e r ial thi ngs - wi thout worki ng, without
s ufferi ng, and therefore, wi thout deservi ng a
reward. He wi ns every contest (the dynamo of al l
Du c k b urg acti vi ty) i n advance, and from a
posi ti on of magi cal repose. He is the onl y one
who is not ground i n the mi l l of adventu re and
suffer i ng. "Not hi ng bad ever happens to hi m. "
Donal d, by contrast, appears as real and de­
servi ng, for at feast he pretends to work. Gl ad­
stone fl outs al l the pri nci pl es of puri tani cal
moral i ty. Ti me and space conspi re i n hi s favor,
forune s poi l s h i m. Hi s prosperi ty fl ows l i ke a
pure force of natu re. Hi s freedom is not camou­
fl aged i n the i l l usi ons of necessi ty. He i s Donal d
wi thout t he sufferi ng. One may aspi re to hi m,
but one cannot fol l ow h i m, for there i s no path.
The r e a de r , s i mu l t a n e o u s l y r ejecti ng and
fasci nated by Gl adstone, l earns to respect the
necessi ty of wor k whi ch gi ves the r i ght to l ei sure
(as embdi ed in Donal d) , and to despi se the
work-hy "hi ppi e" who is given everythi ng for
nothi ng a nd i s not even grateful .
But wat happens when he cnfronts the
Disney gds, those of Geni us and I ntel l ect, the
supreme i dea. "Good l uck means so much more
than a god brai n . " observes Gl adstone, pi ck i ng
up a banknote that Gyro had over l ooked ( TR
1 1 5) . Gyro repl i es, "Pure coi nci dence. I sti l l
mai ntai n that brai ns are more i mporant than
luck. " After an exhausti ng day of competi ti on,
they end i n a ti e, wi th a s l i ght advantage to i ntel ­
l i gence .
Al l the other characters n ot possessi ng thi s
ti mel ess i nexhausti bl e l uck have to earn i t wi th
p a t i e n ce, s ufferi ng, or i nte l l i gence. We' have
al ready seen what model s of cl ever ness the l i tt l e
ones are, al ways ready for thei r r i se to success.
The i r i ntel l i gence i s broa, and qui ck to detect
and repress rebel ! i on. They are v i rtuous Boy
Scouts who, s ubordi nate though they are, pl ay
the game of decept i on a nd adul t substi tuti on.
When thi s Boy Scout grow up and has no
one i n commnd over h i m, he wi l l tu rn i nto
Mickey Mous, the onl y creature not i nvol ved i n
t he hunt for gol d in and of itslf. He i s t he onl y
one who al ways appears as t he helper of others
i n thei r di ff i cul ti es, and he a l ways hel ps someone
el se get the reward. And i f he occasi onal l y
pockets a few dol l ars, wel l , he can hardl y be
bl amed when there i s so much money a round. I n
Mi ckey, i ntel l i gence serves to u nvei l a mystery,
and to bri ng si mpl i ci ty back to a wor l d di s­
ordered by evi l men i nten t .on robbi ng at wi l l .
The real l i fe chi l d al so confr onts a strange wor l d
whi ch he too has to expl ore, wi th his mind and
his body. We coul d cal l Mi ckey's manner of ap­
proachi ng the worl d aki n to that of a detecti ve,
who f i nds keys and sol ves puzzl es i nvented by
others. And the concl usi on is a l ways the same :
unrest i n thi s worl d i s due to the exi stence of a
moral di v i s i on. Happi ness ( and hol i days) may
rei gn agai n once the vi l l ai ns have been ja i l ed, and
order returns. Mi ckey i s a non· off i ci al paci f i e r,
a n d r ece i ves n o o t he r r e wa r d t h an t he
consci ousness of hi s own v i rtue. He is l aw, j ust i ce
and peace beyond the rea l m of sel f i sh ness and
co mpe t i t i on, open- handed wi th goodi es and
favors. Mi ckey' s al t rui s m serves to ra ise hi m
a bove the rat- race, i n whose rewards he has no
share . Hi s al t ru i sm l ends presti ge t o hi s off i ce as
guardi a n of order , pu bl i c admi ni s trat i on, and
s o c i a l s e r v i ce, al l of whi ch are supposedl y
umbl emi shed by t he i nevi tabl e defects of t he
mercanti l e wor l d. One can tr ust i n Mi ckey a one
does i n an "i mpar ti al " j udge or pol i ceman , who
stands above "part i san hatreds. "
The su peri or power i n Duckburg i s al ways one
of i nte l l i gence. The power el i te i s di vi ded i nto
the ci v i l srvi ce caste, supposedl y above con­
si derati ons of personal profi t , and the economi c
c a s t e , wh i c h u s e s i t s i n t e l l i ge n ce i n
money- grubbi ng. The arch- represen tati ve of the
l atter, who has become the acknowl edged butt of
radi cal cr i t i ci s m today, is Uncl e Scrooge. Hi s ou t-
"Hi story? don' t have the fai ntest noti on
of i t. "
D o n a l d, i n t h e h i s to r y
section of a l i brary (0 455)
' 'el l , thi s i s real democracy.* A bi l l i onai re
and a pauper goi ng around i n the same
ci rcl e. "
Do nal d to Uncl e Scrooge,
caught up i n the same whi rl ­
pool (TR 1 06, US 9/64)
If there is no path where you wal k, you make
it as you go, wrote Antoni o Machado. But in the
Di sney yersi on: if there are nothi ng but paths
where you wal k, stay were you are.
For the great wi zard, the worl d i s a desert of
readymade tracks, beaten by robots in ani mal
How come? Aren't these comics feveri shl y
pulsati ng, al ways at boi l i ng poi nt? That charmi ng
efferescence, that spar k of l i fe, the Si l l y Sym­
pathi es, that el ectri c energy of acti on, are they
not the very soul of Di sney?
True, the r hythm never fal ters. We are pro­
jected i nto a kal ei doscope of constantl y shi fti ng
patter ns. The breathl ess acti vity of the characters
* I n the English original , "sociable. " (Trans. )
i s even refl ected i n the col ors. For i nstance, the
same kitchen changes i n successi ve frames from
bl ue to green, then yel l ow and red ( 0 445) . The
nephew' bedroom (0 1 85) i s fi l med i n even
more dazzl i ng technicol or effects; pal e bl ue,
yel l ow, pi nk, viol et, red and bl ue. Si mi l arl y, the
pol i ce chi ef's office (TB 1 03) i s l i ght bl ue, green,
yel l ow, pi nk and red i n rapi d sucessi on. Thi s
s udden switchi ng of col ored surfaces reaches i ts
cl i max with the nephews' cps ( 0 432) . The
nephew j umpi ng over the gri l l has a l i ght bl ue
cap; when he drops over the other si de it be­
comes red, and fi nal l y, when he i s caught, he i s
l eft wi th a green one. The cap remai ns thus for
the rest of the story, as if it were a patheti c
remi nder of his need to be rescued, unti l the
three nephews are reunited and the col or changes
bgi n al l over agai n .
Thi s change of external s over i denti cal and
r i gi d content, the appl i cati on of a fresh coat of
pai nt from one picture to the next, i s the cor­
rel ate of technol ogi cal "i nnovati on. " Al l is i n
moti on, but nothi ng changes.
Li ke c l ot h i n g , t r ansporati on i nsi de and
outsi de Duckburg i s subject to vari ati ons on a
standard theme. The Duckburgers wi l l take any­
thi ng whi ch wi l l get them moving : a rol ler skate
or a jet pl ane, a space rocket or an i nfernal
bicycl e. The perpetual refurbi shi ng of objects
offers a veneer of novel ty. Each character's i deas
machi ne uses the most extravagant forms of
sci enti fi c i nventi on in order to get what he
wants. I n a worl d where everyone i s dressed i n
the manner of chi l dren at the begi nni ng of thi s
century or i n the fashi on of a smal l post·fronti er
town , the thi rst for the new, di fferent and
strange i s al l the more stri ki ng. The ease wi th
whi ch these gadgets appear and di sappear i s
a mazi ng. The presentat i on of novel ty and "gad·
gets" i n the Di s ney comi c provi des a model for
the readers duri ng thei r chi l dhood experi ence,
whi ch l ater i n l i fe i ampl i fi ed by the mass
cul ture i ndustri es i nto a pri nci pl e of real i ty. What
IS new today i s ol d tomorrow. The products of
science, the i nventi ons of Gyro Gearl oose, and
the l atest geni al i dea on the market are objects
o f i m med i a te c on s u mpt i o n ; pe r i s h a b l e ,
obol escent, and repl aceabl e .
Sci enc becomes a form of sensati onal i sm and
technol ogi cal gi mmi ckry. I t is a branch of the
patent ofice opened in the l unati c asyl um. I t
performs dazzl i ng qu i ck-chang acts. A vehi cl e
for novel ty·hunti ng i nterconti nental touri sts, and
for novel ty·hunti ng comi c bok scr i pt·wr i ters.
There is not even any progress : these gdgets are
o n l y us e d for t r a n s p or t a t i on or external
vari ati on, and i n the next number they have
al ready been forgotten. For there to be progress,
there must be memory, an i nterrel ated chai n of
i nheri ted knowl edg. I n Di sney, the object serves
onl y the moment, and that moment al one. Thi s
i sol ati on of the object i s the power of control
over i ts producti on, whi ch i n the l ast anal ysi s,
renders it steri l e a nd meani ngl ess. The cl i max i s
r e a ch e d i n "Use less Machi ne" ( TR 1 09) , a
machi ne whi ch is mass produced because it serves
no purpos except entertai nment, as i f to parody
the Di sney comi c i tsel f. "Who can res i st usel ess,
costl y and noisy th i ngs? Just l ook at the success
of transi sto r radi os, mtorbi kes and tel evi si on
set. " Thi s i s i nci tement to the consumpti on of
arti fi ci al abundance, whi ch i n turn , sti mul ates the
sal e of anci l l ary and other usel ess products. "The
consumpti on of high grade gasol i ne by the ' Use­
l ess Machi nes' make i t more expensi ve to run
than jet pl ane, " the secretary i nforms propri etor
McDuck. "They are run al l day l ong, and cuse
l i nes at every gas stati on. And they are al l mi ne, "
* The televi si on channel belongi ng to the Cathol i c
Uni vesity and control led by the Christian Democratic
Party, who i n 1 971 expel l ed, most democrat ical l y, al l
their opponents. The Sunday afternoon Disney show has
an audience rat i ng of 87%.
chuckl es the unscru pul ous mi l l i onai r e. The gad­
gets whi ch a ppea r on the scene onl y to be i m­
mediatel y abandoned and repl aced, ar e usual l y i n
t h e f i el d of commu ni cati ons. Ei ther touri st­
transport ( ai rpl anes, subma ri ne, shi ps, l aunches,
a nd the whol e congeri es of marvel l ous stupi di t i es
concocted by Gyro) , or cul tural ( tel evi si on sets,
radi os a nd records) . The dual tacti c of the
Disney i ndustry i s rei nforced through the sel f·
publ i ci zi ng consumpti on wi thi n the magazi nes,
whi ch promote the mass medi a and the tour i st
trade . Se the Di sneyl andi a show on Santi ago de
Chi l e's channel 1 3. * Vi sit Di sneyl and and Wal t
Di sney Worl d, capital s of the ch i l dren' s worl d i n
the U. S. A.
Technol ogy, i sol ated once more from the pro­
ducti ve process, passi ng from the head of the i n­
ventor t o t he ma nufactured state wi thout the
intermedi ary of manual l abor, i s used as a sub­
terfug to conceal the absence of real change.
Conci ved as a form of fashion , i t gi ves a fal se
i mpressi on of mutabi l i ty. The fi rst ci rcl e cl oses
i n .
Just a s the objects are pai nted over wi th a
fresh col or wi thout changi ng i n functi on, so they
are refurbi shed by technol ogy wi thout al ter i ng
the nature and thrust of the heroes' acti vi ty.
Technol ogy i s the mai d dressed up t o l ook l i ke a
fash i on model .
The desti ny of technol ogy- as-actor is no di f­
ferent from that of the human ani mal -as-actor :
no matter how many bubbl es they put i nto the
soda- pp fantasy worl d, the taste is al ways the
same, unbeatabl e. Sci enc i s pul l ed out of the
toy cl oset, pl ayed wi th for a whi l e, and put back
aga i n. Si mi l arl y. the hero of the comi c i s pul l ed
out of h is routi ne, knocks around i n an absurd i st
dramati zat i on of h i s dai l y l i fe, goes off l i ke a
fi recracker , and then returns to h i s wel l -ear ned
rest ( hi s normal condi ti on, and the start i ng poi nt
for the next bor i ng adventu re ) . Thus t he bgi n­
n i ng and end are the same, and move ment be­
comes ci rcu l ar. One passes from one comi c to
the next, and the passi ve achi evement of rest
becomes the background and spr i ng- board for
sti l l another adventure. Even the adven ture i tsel f
i s a n exaggerated repeti ti on of the same ol d
mater i al .
The act i on i n each separate adventu re i s essen­
ti al l y i denti cal to i ts predecessor , and the pre­
decessor to i ts antecedent, and dum-t i tty-dum­
ti tty-dum, chorus, r epeat . The l east deta i l de­
scri bes the maj or ci rcumference to the epi center ­
episode i tsel f . They are the var i ousl y col ored
concentri c ci rcles on the archery target: same
shapes, but di fferent col ors. The hero turns
around in the adventure, the adventure turns
btween i denti cal begi nni ng and end of the epi­
sode, the episode revolves wi thi n the copy-cat
dance of the comi cs as a whol e, the comi cs
revol ve wi thi n the orbi t of readi ng whi ch i nducs
bo r e dom, bredom i nduces the purchase of
a n o t h e r c o m i c , r ead i n g i n du ces mor e
boredomti tty-dum-ti tty-dum. ,Thus any overfl ow
of fantasy, or mvement which mi ght appear ec­
centr i c and break the rigi d chai n, is nothi ng but
a serpent bi ti ng i ts tai l , Donal d Duck marki ng
t i me wi thi n the cl osed fram of the same Orer.
The forma I breakdown of the Di sney worl d i nto
fragme nts (a mechanism characteri sti c of capital ­
i st I i fe i n general ) , i nto "di fferent" comi c stri p,
serves to decei ve the reader, who is but another
l i ttl e wheel i n the great gri ndi ng mi l l of con­
sumpti on.
Boredom and fear of change is hel d at bay by
the physi cal mobi l i ty of the characters. But not
onl y i n thei r epi l epti c dai l y acti vity, i n thei r
pe rpetual travel l i ng, and in thei r constant de­
campi ng from thei r homes. They al so a re al l owed
to cross over from thei r pre-assi gned sector to
meet other members of the Di sney real ity, l i ke
the fi gures dressed as Di sney characters who
pa t r o l the streets of Di sneyl and, Cal i forni a,
l e n d i n g co hesi on to the crowd of vi si tors.
Madame Mi m and Gofy vi si t Scrooge. Bi g Bad
Wol f converses wi th the duckl i ng. Mi ckey hel ps
out Grandma Duck, I n this fake tower of Babel ,
where al l speak the same language of the estab­
l i shed repress i ve order , the i ngredi ents are
al ways thrown together to concoct the same ol d
mental poti on: curi osi ty. How wi l l Snow Whi te
r eact towards Mi ckey? Fami l i ari ty i s preserved
t h r o u gh the mai ntanance of the tradi ti onl
character trai ts. The reader, who i s attracted by
the adven ture, does not noti ce that beneath the
novel ty of the encounter, the characters are con­
ti nual l y repeati ng themselves.
Te characters are over active and appear
fl exi bl e ; the mgi c wand sends of a lot of
sparks, but depite al l the magic they sti l l remai n
straight and ri gi d. There is an unholy terror of
change. Trapped i n the stri ct l i mi tati ons of the
personal ity drawn for hi m - a catal ogue assort­
me nt wi t h v e r y few entri es - anyti me a
character tri es to ariculate himsel f di fferentl y,
he i s doomed to stupendous fai l ure. Donal d is
under constant attack for his forgetful ness, but
as soon as Gyro transpl ants the memor of an
el ephant i nto his brai n, the worl d around hi m
bgi ns to break up ( DO 7/67) . Al most i m­
mdi atel y, everyone -' and Donal d especi al l y -
demands that he be returned to his ori gi nal state,
the god ol d Donal d we al l love. The sme
happens when Uncle Scrooge uses a magi c i n k to
shame his nephew i nto payi ng a debt. Not onl y
dos i t work on Donal d, but on Scooge as wel l ,
s o that he feel s ashamed of hi mself and heaps
costl y gi fts on Donal d. Better not change another
person's habitual psychological mechani sms; it i s
better to be sati sfi ed with the way one i s. Great
danger l urks behi nd very sudden changs. Al ­
though usual l y provoked by some mi crob or
ma gi cal device, changs such as revol uti ons,
whi ch pos external threats to a prsonal i ty
strucure, and i ndi vi dual psychol ogi cal di sturb­
ances, which threaten a character's escape from
hi s past and present stereotype, also pse a
threat. Di sney subjects his characters to a rel ent­
l ess sl i mmi ng course: they pedal away on fi xed
bi cycl es, shed a pound, gai n a pound, but the
same ol d skel ton remai ns under the New You. I f
thi s remdy seems di reced only to the pri vi l eged
cl asses who can i ndul ge in such spor, i t is
equal l y mandatory for the savage, both good
and bad.
I n any i ndivi dual hero, it i s the tentacl es of
compe t i t i on wh i ch pr ovo ke these formal
paroxysms . I n n i nety percent of our sampl e, the
expl i ci t theme is a race to get to some pl ace or
object i n the shortest pssi bl e (and therefore,
most franti c) ti me. In thi s (al ways publ ic) con­
t est, thi s obtacle race and test of athl etic
prowess, the goal i s usual l y money ("Ti me is
Money" as the ti tl e of one story tel l s us) . But
not al ways : someti mes it is a hankeri ng for
presti g, and to stand out from the common
herd. Not onl y becaus this automati cal l y means
dol l ars, and women to admi re and cater to the
wi n ner , but al so because it re presents the happy
concl usi on to the sufferi ng, the "work" l eadi ng
to the hal l s of fame.
·FUN W)T� �(S
Fame is bi ng abl e to enjoy, i n l ei sure, al l the
benefi ts of producti ve work. The i mage radi ati ng
from the cel ebri ty asures his l i vel i hood; he can
sel l hi msel f forever. I t is l i ke havi ng found the
gol d of personal i ty. Converti ng fame i tsel f i nto a
source of i ncome, it i s the busi ness of sel l i ng
one's own super-se l f.
But the pre-requis i te to al l thi s is to have be­
come a news itm, broadcast by the mass medi a,
and recogni zed by "publ i c opi ni on. " To the
Di sney hero, the adventure in and of i tsel f is not
suff icient reward. Wi thout an audi ence it makes
no sense, for the hero must pl ay to the gal l ery.
The i mporance of the expl oit i s measured by
the degree to whi ch others know that he has
surpased them. Thus, from the te l evi si on, radi o
and newspaper he i s a bl e t o i mpress other peopl e
of hi s i mporance and domi nate them. A power­
ful fi gure may be able to hel p them bcome
famous themsel ves. On one occasi on ( 0 443, CS
2/61 ) , Donal d i s worri ed because he seems to b
one of those peopl e "j ust born to be nobodi es, "
and wants to do somethi ng about i t. He asks an
actor how he stared on the road to fame.
Reply: "I was pl ayi ng golf and made a hol e- i n­
ane . . . a r i ch producer saw me do i t, and he
was s o i mpressed he made me a star . ' " Donal d
tries the same, but fai l s because the tel evi si on
cameras were ai me d at someone el se. "I wuld
hi t a hol e-i n-one as everybody turned to watch
Bri gitte van Doren wal ki ng by. " A pol i ti co tel l s
Donal d how he found the way t o make peopl e
notice hi m So Donal d twi ce cl i mbs a fl agpl e,
but fal l s down each ti me wi thout getti ng hi s
photograph taken . Fi nal l y, h e succeeds by ac­
ci dent. "Success di d not come eas i l y, but i t
came," he says to the d uckl i ngs, "wi th thi s start,
Unca Donal d, you can become a movie star or a
Snator . . . or even Pres i dent ! " But the news­
pa per ( Tripe) misspel l s the name under the
photograph : Ronal d Dunk . Fi nal and total de­
I t i s not truth, but appearance, that matters.
The hero's reputati on rests enti rel y upon the
gossi p col umn. When h is party i s a fl op ( al so D
443) Donal d says " 1 can onl y hope that no
reporter gets to hear about thi s. An arti cl e on
that party woul d fi ni sh me for good. " But
natural l y there was a reporter there, and the
owner and soci al edi tor ( of the Evening Tattler)
as wel l .
Wi th t hi s obsessi on for the successful propa­
gati on of one' s own i mage, i t i s not s urpri si ng
that a common tri ck for getti ng an epi sode goi ng
is by means of a photograph al bum. I f there i s
no evi dence, i t never happened. Every adventure
is vi ewed by i ts protagoni st as a photograph i n
a n al bum, i n a k i nd of self- tourism. The camera
i s onl y a means to can and preserve the past.
When the photo fai l s to come out ( D 440) , i t i s
a di saster, for the guarantee of sel f- reproducti on
( i n the mass medi a) has been l ost , the bri dge of
memory has been broken. I mmoral i ty has ben
forfei ted; i ndeed, hi story i tsel f has ben mi s l ai d.
But there is somethi ng even better than a
photograph : a statue. I f a character can get a
s ta t u e made of hi msel f, i mmortal i ty i s hi s.
Statue, Statute, Status, Stati c. Ti me and ti me
agai n, someone i s rewarded wi th the pri ze of a
statue standi ng i n a publ i c pl ace or museum.
"The secret ambiti on of Donal d : to be the l ocal
hero, with a right to a statue i n the park. " ( 0
441 , DO 7/68) . This he achieves by defeati ng the
Marti ans (si c) : "We are thi nki ng of hi ri ng a
f amous scul ptor, so that your l i keness may stand
among the other HGreats" i n the ci ty park! "
Every corner a record of the cl i mati c moment of
personal past histori es. Ti me, far from bi ng a
curse, as in the Bi bl e, is stopped, turned to stone
and made i mmortal . But the fami l y photograph
and the statue are not onl y "souveni rs" brouht
back from a "tour" of the past. They al so val idate
the past and present i mportance of one's ancestors,
and guarantee thei r future i mportance. Ki ng
Mi chael the Fi rst, "except for the moustache" ( 0
433), i s just l i ke Mi ckey. The fame of the
mul ti tude of uncl e ducks can onl y b proven
t hrough tHe i mage whi ch they l eave bhi nd. Fear
of t i me and competi ti on come to an end when a
c onse n s us i s r each e d over an i ndi vi dual 's
reputati on: " I am leavi ng bfore they have ti me
to change thei r opi.nion of me, " expl ai ns Goof
. ( TB 99) .
Fame and pri ze-wi nni ng turn an i ndi vi dual
i nto a product - that i s, i n the etymol ogical
sense of the word, a fi ni shed object, cut
of from any other productive process, ready to
be consumed or consummated.
Once agai n, change l eads to i mmobi l i ty.
In the fi rst chapter, w have seen that the
s a me stat i c re l at i o n s h i ps ocurred in the
supposed confl ict between adults and youngsters.
There, the pol es were apparentl y in opposi ti o,
di vided and mobi l e. But i n real i ty (whether ex-
p ress ed negatively or posi ti vel y) , they were
turn ing around the same central standard, and
constantly switchi ng roles; two masks over the
same face. In fusi ng father and son with the
same i deals, the adult projects i nto hi s offspri ng
the perpetuati on of hi s own val ues, so that he
can pass the baton to h i msel f. The movement
generated from the confrontati on between the
two pople or strata, was tautol ogical and i l l u­
sory. The antagonism disappared as soon as the
tv agreed on the rul es which put one on top
and the other bl ow. Each was hi msel f and hi s
doubl e.
Thi s fal se di al ogue, whi ch i s the monologue of
the domi nant cl as and i ts taped pl ayback, is
repeated a' al l l evel s of the soci al l y strati fi ed cast
of characters. Here the age-ol d concept of twi ns
enters the pi cture. This fol k-motif, whi ch al so
f i g u r es pr omi ne ntl y in el ite l iterature (for
example, i n the work of Poe, Dostoievsky, Cor­
tfi zar ) , i s often used to exprss the cntradi cti on
people suffer i nsi de thei r own personal i ty, that i s
to say, agai nst the rebel l i ous and demoni cal l ayer
of thei r bei ng; as i n that ambi guous part of them
whi ch threatens etabl ished order, savi ng thei r
soul s and destroyi ng thei r l i ves. The cul tural
monopol i sts have flattened and expl oi ted this
dual i ty in whi ch one i s both commended and
condemned, and served it up in si mpl i fi ed form
as the col l ecti ve visi on to all the popl e.
I n the two · l evels i n Di sney - the domi nator,
mos of the l i tl e deni zens of Duckburg; and i n
the do mi n ated, the nobl e savages and the
del i nquents - thi s dual ity i s present on both
si des, but i s conveyed in a most symbol i c
manner. I n fol kl ore, as we al l know, one twi n i s
good a n d the other bad, with nothi ng i n
btween. Si mi l arl y, among the dominatd of Di s­
ney there are thos who happi l y accept thei r i n­
nocent and subject conditi on (good guys) , and
those who attack thei r bsses' property ( bad
guys) . The sharpness of the di vi si on, and the l ack
of mobi l i ty from one si de to the other i s
absl ute. The bad guys run around crazi l y withi n
the prison of thei r stereotype, with no chance of
ever escapi ng i nto the real m of the good guys.
To such an extent that in one episode, when di s­
guised as (neutral and passive) natives, the bad
guys are sti l l punished by havi ng to pick up
Un cl e Scrooge's money for hi m. The noble
savages, for thei r part, have to stay qui etl y in
situ, so as not to ri sk bei ng cheated i n the ci ty.
Each stratum of the domi nated is frozen in its
goodness or wi ckedness, for apparentl y i n the
pl ai ns of the people there a re no communi cation
channel s between the two. There is no way to be
bth good and attack property. There is no way
to bel bad i f you oby t he r ul es. "Become what
you are" goes an ol d popul ar sayi ng, coi ned by
the bourgeoi si e. Change is ·prohi bi ted i n these '
s ectors. The noble savage cannot bcome a
cr i mi nal , and the cri mi nal cannot bcome i nno­
cent. So whether they b acti vel y wicked or
pasi vel y vi rtuous, the role of the domi nated i s
fi xed, and history, i t seems, is made somewhere
el se.
Contrast thi s wi th the dynami sm of the do­
minant cl asses, where mobi l i ty rei gns and any­
thi ng is possi ble. There are ri ch and poor wi thi n
the same fami l y. Among fri ends, one i s l ucky,
the other not. Among the ri ch, there are god
and bad, a nd i ntl l i gent a nd stupi d. The capi ti ­
vati ng and craggy l and of the domi nant tol erates
di scordance and di l emma. There are no one-hun­
dr ed-percenters, that i s, compl etel y pl ari zed
characters. Donal d tends to l ose, but he wi ns
twenty percent of the ti me. Uncle Scrooge i s
often defeated. Even Mi ckey occasi onal l y behaves
l i ke a coward ( i n D 401 the chi l dren fri ghten
hi m and suppl ant him. Says Mi nni e: "You real l y
are someti mes worse than the chi l dren. I don't
know what to do with you. The chi l dren are
ri ght. " And Mickey repl i es : "Those doggone ki ds
al ways get the best of it . ") . Gl adstone Gander i s
not al ways the wi nner, and the Boy Scout duck­
l i ngs someti me sl i p up. Onl y the prodi gy Li ttl e
Wol f escapes thi s r ul e, but he needs to, wi th such
a rotten, stupi dl y wicked father. The real m of
the domi nant Duckburgers i s one of refi ned
nuances, and mrked by smal l contradi cti ons.
Over the mas sunk i n i ts col l ective determi ni sm
(that's the way i t i s, whether you l i ke i t or not,
you get scre�d) , ri ses the domi nant personal i ty
who can "freel y" choose and determi ne hi s
course i n l i fe.
His l i bery l i es in havi ng a personal i ty, i n
fl ourishi ng through statu ary, i n hol di ng a mono­
pl y over the voi ce of hi story.
Once the adversary i s di squal i fi ed i n advance
(and that disqual i fi cati on is systemati c) , he is
then beaten i n a race that he cannot even run.
Hi story acqui res the face that the domi nant cl ass
chooses to gi ve i t.
Need we stress further how cl osed· and suffo­
cati ng this worl d of Disney real l y i s?
Just as the subjec classes are depri ved of
voi ce and face, and the possi bi l i ty to open the
prison door ( noti ce how easy i t is to e l i mi nate
them when producti on is performed magi cal l y,
and they are not needed) , s o the past i s depri ved
of i ts real charcter and is made to appear the
same as the present. Past hi story i n i ts enti rety is
col oni zed by the anxi eti es and val ues of the
present moment. Hi stori cal experi ence i s a huge
treasure chest ful l of hal l owed moral tags and
reci pes, of the same ol d standards and �octri ne,
al l defendi ng the same ol d thesi s of domi nati on.
Donal d i s supici ous of Uncl e Scrooge's pre­
occu pati on wi th money, but the mi ser can
al ways demdstrate that hi s forune was j ustl y
acqui red, si nc i t i s l i abl e sudden l y to di sappear,
and i s subject to potenti al di sasters. For which a
h i s to r i cal precedent from anci en t Greece i s
adduced ( F 1 74) : Ki ng Di onysus spi ns hi s servant
Damocl es the same yarn.
Thi s anal ogy u nderl i ne the repeti ti ve charac­
ter of histor i n Di sney. A hi story in whi ch any
earl i er epoch i s seen as the pi oneer of present­
acy moral i ty. To see the wor l d as a ceasel ess
prefi gurati on
of Di sney you just l ook back. I t
may not be true, but at l east cronol ogy i s
I n real i ty, the past i s known through (and i n)
t he present, and as such i t exists as a functi on of
the present, as a suppor for prevai l i ng i deas.
Disney's muti l ati on of the rel ati onshi p between
the past and present accounts for his schemati ­
zati on and moral i zati on of Thi rd Worl d history.
Ma ny years ag the conquistadors ( l i ke the
Beagl e Boys) tri ed to take away the proprty of
the Aztec nati ves ( ducks) who hi d i t. Hi stor i s
portrayed as a sel f-repeati ng, constantl y
renascent adventure, i n whi ch the bad guys
try I unsuccessful l y, to steal from the good
guys ( 0 432, DO 9/65) . The pattern is repeated
in many other episodes i n which the struggl es of
contemporary Duckburg are projected onto the
history of past cul tures. From ti me to ti me the
heroes are transported, by a dream, hypnosi s or
ti me mchi ne, i nto another era. Ol d Cal iforn ia (
357) is the scene of the vl l -worn formul a; the
s e a rch for gol d with hardshi p, the struggl e
between cops and robbrs, and then the return
to l ei sure a nd order . The same thi ng happens in
thei r journeys to anci ent Rome, Babyl on and
prehi story. There are al so mi cro-ducks who come
f r o m outer s pace (TR 96, US 9/66) , with
traumati c adventures i dentical to those of our
heroes. I t's a sure bet that the "future ti me and
i nfi ni te space" market wl l b cornered and
col onial i zed by Disney.
By i nvadi ng the past (and the future ) with the
structures of the present, Di sney takes possesi on
of the whol e of human hi story. I n Egypt there i s
a s phi nx wi th the face of Uncl e Scrooge ( D 422,
DD 3/64) : "When he discovered the Sphi nx,
some years back, i t didn't have a face, so he put
h is on i t. " I t i s onl y proper that the face of
McDuck shoul d be transposa�le everywhere. It is
the trademark of U. S. history. It fits everywhere.
At the end of the above story, he adds hi s
l i keness to the gi ant scul ptures of Washi ngton,
Li ncol n, etc. on Mount Rushmore - now cal led
Mo u n t D uc k mor e . Thus Sroog joins the
Foundi ng Fathers. His statue is even in outer
s pace (TR 48).
Si nce the bourgeoi sie conci ve thei r epoch to
be the concl usi on and perfecti on of humani ty,
the cul mi nati on of cul ture and ci vi l i zati on, they
arrogate to themelve the excl usi ve right to re-
' i n�erpret, from thei r pari cul ar vi ewpoi nt, the
history of thei r own ri se to power. Anythi ng
whi ch denies the u niversal i ty and i mmortal it of
the bourgeoi si e i s consi dered a tri vi al and ec­
c e n t r i c , devi ati on. Any contradictions are a
matter of mi nor, subjective i nterpersonal di s­
p u tes. Di sney, the burgeoisi e's eul ogi st and
fl atter i ng mi rror , has di storted hi story so that
the domi nant cl ass sees i ts rise as a natur�l , n�t
soci al , phenomenon. The bourgeoisi e have taken
possess i on of an apartment which they pre-l eased
from the moment humanity appeared on earth.
The comi c-as-history turns the unforeseeabl e
i nto a foregone concl usi on. I t transl ates the
pai nful course of ti me i nto eternal and premature
ol d age. The causes of the present are not to b
sought in the past; j ust consult Donal d Duck,
t r ou bl e - sh ooti ng ambassador-at-I arge. What a
shame Socrates coul d not buy hi s comi cs. Surel y
he woul dn't have drunk the heml ock.
Thi s fusi ng of the past wi th the mi res and
wastes of the present at least i njects an i l l usi on
of the dynami sm of ti me. Whi l e the maj or di f­
ferences are obl i terated i n the ccl e, there per­
si sts a cerain discrepanc, btrayed by the
whi mperi ng nostal gia for an i rrecoverabl e excite­
But there is another means of anodi zi ng and
paral ysi ng history. Ti me i s apprehended as a con­
sumabl e enti ty. Anci ent l ands and peopl es are
the al i bi of histor. I nca- Bl i nca, Unsteadystan,
the Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Scandi navi a of
the Vi ki ngs, the piratical Cari bban, and the
North Ameri ca of the I ndi ans ( Chi ef Mi ni mi yo,
Ki ng of the Buffal oes (D 446) , cul tivati ng hi s
pre-reservati on l ands) , al l march off under the
Di sney anti quari an wand to the supermarket of
the dead statues. Buy your sl i ce of history now,
at cut-rate prices. The noti on that ti me prduces
somethi ng is natural l y el i mi nated; after al l , it
coul d be acti ve and cause decay of those Pepso­
dent-white teeth.
The visa of the past for entry i nto the future
through Di sneyl and Customs and I mmi grati on
(and I nterpol ) i s stamped wi th exoti ci sm and
fol kl ore. Hi stor becomes a marketpl ace where
anci ent civi l i zations pass by the pl ebi scite of
pu r cha se . The only di fferenc among past
civi l i zati ons l i es in the extent of thei r val ue
today as entertainment and sensati on. Unless, of
course, it is reduced to the I ncan floormat upon
wh i ch the bourgeoisie admi ri ngl y wi pe thei r
shoes. Says Dai sy, "I made a bargai n, I bought
this authenti c old fry pan for only thi rty dol­
l ars." Quacks Donal d, "But new ones onl y cst
twl " lIyou don't understand. New ones aren't
worh anyh i ng. Antique i ron is very much the
thi ng nowadays. " (F 1 78) . A doubl e i rony. The
age of the dead statues, where ti me is suspended
or cmpressed, is l i ke a supermarket- museum.
Li ke Di sneyl and, Cal i forn ia, U.S. A. , i t i s an
amusement park, where you can get the bargai n
of te day, your favorite ci vi l i zati on: "Today
a n d e v e ry Tue s da y , Ch i l e - wi th- I ndians i n
Araucani an sauce."
Just as Donal d & Co. need a photograph or a
statue to guarantee thei r survival and memory,
anci ent cul tures have to be Di snified i n photo­
graph or drawing in order to cme back to
"l i fe." You. have to be buri ed al i ve to order to
su rive.
Disney approaches an i ndivi dual existence i n
the same spi ri t as he does a forei gn civi l i zati on,
and both compete for success and the propa­
gati on of thei r petri fi ed i mage. Thi s is suggested
i n a story where Donal d i s the ni ghtwatchman i n
a wax museum ( 0 46, -CS 1 i/59) . One night ,
whi l e he is at work, a costume bal l takes pl ace i n
t he house opposi te the museum. The same
histori cal fi gures (wi th the same cl othes, faces
and expressi ons, etc. ) are present at the bal l as
are ptri fi ed in the wax museum I nevi tabl y,
Donal d fal l s asl eep, and upon awakeni ng mi stakes
the movi ng I ive fi gures for the wax ones. He con­
cl udes that whi l e he was asl eep a "revol ution"
took pl ace. Apparentl y, there can b no other
expl anati on for this movement of history. (A
si mi l ar atti tude towards the movement of hi stor
emergs from the story cited earl i er about Un­
steadystan, when the bi g city fol k snuff out a
revol uti on and bri ng Pri nce Char Mi ng (a pl asti c
i mi tati on of the mi l l enary dynasty) back i nto
power. Donal d cannot accept any movement of
history, real or i magi nary) . When he awakes he
desperatel y tri es to control the real fi gures with
rope and stop the "revol uti on, " yel l i ng that
"Queen El i zabth, Joan of Arc, Atti l a the Hun,
the whol e musum i s wal k i ng around i n the
street. " Al l this happened because the guests at
the costume bal l had used as mdel s the sme
histori cal fi gures as are i n the musum, turni ng
the past i nto an oasis of entertai n ment and
touri sm. Al though it wa not his faul t, the
epi sode makes Donal d a cel ebri ty, and he is re­
warded for his work as guardi an of the past. He
seem to prefer the profess i on of guardi an of the
past in the i nterests of the i ron-hard present.
"Mon t hs have passed, and Unca Donal d i s
maki ng so much money he doesn't need t work
any more ," say the youngsters. "Yes, he's a
famous character now . . . so famus that he gets
paid just for al l owi ng hi s wax dummy to b
exhi bited at the museum . . . Our own Unca
)onal d has caused the greatest commoti on in the
.hol e histor of Duckburg r "
Donal d has real i zed hi s dreams : easy, wel l
, .ai d and undemandi ng work. Any ci vi l i zati on,
I nci ent or modern, can model i tsel f on hi m. Just
Nri te Wal t Disney Producti ons.
The Great Duck did nothi n
g to deserve al l
: h is. I ntel l i gence may furher success and win
' )ubl'i city, but entry to the wi nter pastures of the
iead statues can only be won through a stroke
)f l uck. The movi e producer can reconstruct and
> erptuate the scene, or can cut it ri ght out. The
) wners of the mass voi ce guarantee that the
,. I e"n i zens of the cmetery bhave themsel ves
l ccordi ng to the rul es. If they do not, they wi l l
not gt a seat on the carrousel of histor, they
wi l l not be "di scovered. "
Accordi ng to Disney, each person, each ci vi l i ­
)ati on, i n i ts sol i tude, i mitates and anti ci pates
t he vicissi tudes of h istory. Hi story is conceived as
bei ng a hug personal organi zati on with each
person beari ng wi thi n hi msel f al l the l aws whi ch
govern change. Therefore, i ndi vi dual norms are
v al i d on both socia l and i ndi vi dual l evel s.
Just as di sembodi ed l i ght bul bs are suffi cient
1 0 send characters of to the discovery of some
materi al or moral treasure, so the super-duper
hr i l l i ant brai n-waves of the magi cal l y charged
l umi nari es of h istor are suffi ci ent to l i ght the
paths of progres ( 0 364) . Every creature has his
�hare of geni us, deposi ted i n an i dea- bank, and i n
moments of pani c he cashes hi msel f i n without
knowi ng how much he has on account. But,
vhere do these i deas come from? They come out
of nothi ng, or the previ ous i dea. Di sney hi story
I S i mpel l ed by i deas which do not ori gi nate i n
concrete ci rcumstances or human l abor, but are
:, howered on peopl e i nexpl i cably from above.
They use up i deas, and pay for them with bodi l y
s ufferi ng, but never produce them. The pai n of
t he body is the passi ve, the pl ay of the soul the
acti ve factor. I deas cannot be i nvested, bcause
t he bank does not reci ve deposits from humans.
One can onl y draw on the cash benevol entl y
poured by a Supreme Bei ng i nto one's mental
bucket. Peopl e are the fuel of the i deas- machi ne,
but not the controls. Every i dea is a very speci al
seed, beari ng marvel l ous but seedless fruit. I t is
g ov e r n e d by t he steri l e power of idealist
t hin ki ng. Si nce i t does not i ssue from material i ty,
from a� i ndivi dual 's real exi stence, the idea
serves onc and onc onl y. It i s a one way street
with onl y one way out: i nto another one way
street. Si nc they cannot b stored, percepti ons
are exoti c thi ng which are used up at one go
and then cast i nto the trash can, in expectati on
of another i dea to meet the next conti gency . . . .
The hi stori c process is "i deated" as a seri es of
unrel ated, compari mental i zed i deas paradi ng past
in si ngl e mi l i tary fi l e. In not acknowledgi ng the
ori gin of i deas in the materi al i ty of humani ty, it
is as if al l our heads were huddl ed together i n a
bag , wa i t i ng, and tryi ng to overhear some
whis pered command from the l i ps of the owner.
Si nc the owner of the bag i s pl aced outsi de any
concrete social si tuati on ( I i ke a superhuman, or
softhearted moneyl ender ) , i deas are conceived as
products of a natural force. By making i deas
appear beyond the control of the passi ve reci ­
pients and extri nsi c to them, it takes the motors
of history out of hi story i nto the real m of pure
natur. Thi s is cal l ed inverion. I n real ity, it is
peopl e who make thei r hi story, i n accordance
wi th concrete condi tions, and who, i n reci procal
i nteracti on with soci al forces produce ideas. I n
Di sney t he i deas appear to generate this real l i fe
proces wi thout havi ng any soci al or materi al
ori gi n, l i ke a aoy Scout manual wr i tten in .the
cl ouds.
But i s thi s Nature-Computer arbi trary i n the
di stri buti on of is benefi ts, as some contemporar
l i terature woul d suggest? Or is i t governed by
s o me l a w? Su r e I y, f or t h e D i s ney l egal
deparment has al l the deeds in order : brai ns are
di stri buted in a pre-strati fi ed worl d and the wise
and fool i sh, good and bad, stand there wa i ti ng
f o r th e m. D i s t r i buti on serves to rei nforce
damnation or sal vati on of the predesti ned, and
the val ues they represent. Apa rt from the ethi cal
di vi si on, people are al so differentiated by thei r
tal ent, so that when Donal d puts on Gyro's
magi c cap (desi gned "for the mental l y defi ci ent, "
TR 53, GG 4/63) , he i mmediatel y bcomes a
gen i us: "Dani el McDuck founded Duckburg i n
1 862 . . . Bori s Waddl e discovered the Wadd1 e
I sl es in 1 609 . . . Hurray ! I am a gni us i n
hi story ! " ( Note i n passi ng, how the founder i s an
ancestor of Srooge, and how the discoverer of
the isl ands attaches his name to them. You are
ri ght, Donal d, you hCve l earned your lesson
wel l . ) He wants to uti l i ze hi s inventi on in order
to affi rm his gentl e supremacy: " Huey, Dewey
and Loui e thi nk they are so bri ght. I 'l l show
them that thei r uncl e is bri ghter than they are. "
The cap is blown off hi s head and l ands "on that
crude l ooki ng i ndi vi dual . " He knows what to do
with new i deas : "Wow! Suddenl y I know how to
rob Srooge McDuck. " And Gyro l aments, "Oh
nol My Beanie- Brai n is aidi ng his cri mi nal mi nd! "
A soon as an i dea i s set i n moti on towards i ts
ha p p y goa I , a n 0 t h e r f a c tor e n t e r s : t he
i mpnderable. Tal ent is not enough, for if i t
were, the worl d woul d be forever predetermi ned.
Chance, fate, and arbi trary forces act byond the
reach of wi l l or tal ent, and i ntroduce soci al
mobil ity i nto the wrl d. I t permi ts i ndi vi dual s to
aspi re and enjoy a I ittl e success from ti me to
ti me, depite the l i mi tations of thei r personal i ty.
Thus, Donal d, defi ned as a fai l ure, i s capabl e of
bati ng the bri l l i ant McDuck, bcause he was
lucky: the i dea he got was, for once, super i or to
his uncl e's. Gyro Gearl oose, i ndisputably a geni us
l i ke Ludwi g von Drake, attracts an i ncredi ble
amount of bad l uck. The nephew as a rule
combi ne god l uck wi th i ntel l i gence, but if l uck
l ets them down, they wi l l l ose.
The mobi l i ty betwen good and bad l uck i s,
however , avai l abl e onl y to the domi nant sector ,
that i s, the "good guys " from the ci ty who are
permitted moral choi ces, and are al ways al l owed to
redeem themsel ves. For the i nferi or , cri mi nal cl ass,
l uck i s al ways terri bl e and there i s not even the
gl i mmer of a good i dea. I f ever a god i dea does
appear, it wi l l general l y l ead the owners to defeat
and capture. Thi nki ng is the surest route back to
j ai l . That's fate. Onl y the cl ass representi ng order
may be governed by chaos, that i s, by the l aw of
disorder. The anarchy i n the comi c acti on makes
i t possi bl e to appear to go beyond determi ni sm
( i n a worl d whi ch i s social l y predetermi ned any­
way) , and offers the necessary factors of surpri se
and vari ety i n each epi sode. An appearance of
anarchy in the action endows each character wi th
credi bi l i ty a nd suspense, and gi ves a means of
vi cari ous i denti fi cati on to readers l i vi ng every day
i n a constant state of anxiety.
Here is the difference btween Di sney and
other type of comi cs where a superman operates
in a worl d of order governed by the l aw of
order. Tarzan and Batman cannot devi ate from
the norm; they are i rreduci bl y god, and re­
present the physi cal and mental qui ntessence of
the whole di vi ne l aw of order. They can have no
con fl i ct with the establ i shed worl d or wi th
themsel ves. Thei r crusade for moral recti tude
agai nst thi eves restores the i mmacul ate harmony
of the worl d. As evi l is expel l ed, the worl d i s l eft
nice and cl ean, and they can take a hol i day. The
onl y tensi on whi ch may ari se i n this bori ng and
repeti tive worl d deri ves from the search for the
hero's weaknes, hi s Achi l l es' heel . The reader
i denti f ies with this hero because he shares wi th
h i m hi s dual personal ity, the one commonpl ace,
ti mi d and i ncapabl e; and the other supreme and
omni potent. The dual personal i ty ( Cl ark Kent/
Superman ) i s a means for movi ng from the
THE N . . . .
(�veryday to the supernatural and back; there can
be no movement withi n the everyday worl d
i t sel f.
Here l ies the novel ty of Disney ( a product of
hi s hi st-ri cal peri od) , whi ch rejects te cl umsy,
overdrawn schemati sm of the adventure stri ps
arisi ng in the same era. The· i deol oi cal back­
ground may be si mi l ar,
ut si nce he d�s not
reveal the repressi ve forces openl y, Di sney i s
much more dangrous. To create a Batman out
of Bruce Wayne is to project the i magi nation
beyond the everyday worl d in order to redeem
i t. Di sney col oni zes real i ty and i ts probl ems with
t he anagel si c of the chi l d's i magi nati on.
The "magic worl d of Di sney" consi sts of
vari ati ons withi n a ci rcul ar repressi ve order. I t
g i ve s t o each character and hi s i deas, the
i mpressi on of an autonomous prsonal ity, and
the freedom of choi ce. I f thi s freedom were al so
avai l able to the "l ower" strata, and there was no
moral predeti nati on at thi s l evel , we woul d b
I iv i ng in another society. The wal l sparati ng
d o mi n a t or s fr o m domi n a ted wou l d have _
crumbled, the whole superstructure of repression
woul d have expl oded, and thi s woul d end up i n
revol uti on. I nstead of the fal s di al ecti c wi thi n
a cl osed ci rcui t whi ch we now have in Di sney ( i .e.
t he fl ui d substituti on among the "good guys",
wh i ch we have anal ysd earl i er ) , there woul d be
a true dial ecti c, in which tose "bl ow" woul d
have the . chance to bcome both rebel l i ous and
good. The only course now open to the "sub­
missive" peopl es, if they leave thei r state , is
r evol ution , the wrong kind of change, a
constant Unstadystln of cri me and recri mi na­
ti on. Better b god� · And i f one i s unl ucky
enough to lack tal ent, sit -tight. Perhaps someday
the whel of fortune wi l l cast some prestige and
money your way, so that you can go up, up, up.
Chance is thus a mechanism through whi ch
the authoritri an and chari tbl e l aws of the
universe oprata Thee l aw i mpse certai n ri gi d
ctagories of vi rtue and tal ent, but, due to an
unfathomable wil l , rewards are afterwards di s­
tr i b u ted democratical l y, i rrespective of prior
cl assi fi cations. I t i s a bankrupt wel fare state
dol i ng out happi ness. Luck l evel s al l .
S the readers l ove these characters, whi ch
share all their own degradation and al i enation,
whi l e remai ni ng i nnocent l i ttl e ani mal s. Unabl e
to control thei r own l i ves, or even the objects
around them, the characters are perfectly cl osed
around the nucleus of thei r i mperfecti on. The
egoism of the l i ttl e ani mal s, the defense of thei r
i n d i vi dual i ty, thei r embroi l ment with pri vate
i nterests, provi des a sense of di stance btween
the characters and thei r creators , who are pro­
jecti ng thei r vi ew of the worl d onto the ani mal s.
The reader as consumer of the l i ves of the
ani ma l s reproduces the sense of di stance by
feel i ng

uperi or to and pi ty for the l i ttl e ani mal s .
Thus the very act of consumpt i on gi ves the
reader a feel i ng o! "super i ori ty" over the a ni mal s
and provi des the basi s for hi s acceptance of thei r
val ues.
Onl y occasi onal l y i s a character abl e to break
l oose from his egocentr i c pri vate probl ems and
habi ts, and i denti fy hi msel f wi th a struggl e other
than the race for success. Whi l e most of the
ch a r acters have no regul ar access to di vi ne,
messi ani c power, they have i ts pl en i potenti ary i n
Mi ckey Mous. A cha racter who dedi cates h i s l i fe
to the struggl e agai nst ev i l wi thout demandi ng
recompense. He i s not a super- anythi ng, but a
paci fi c prophet wi thout j udi ci al or oth er coerci ve
powers. He does not seek pri zes o r advantages
for h i msel f, and h i s vi rtue, when he tr i umphs , i s
i ts own reward. The good l uck Mi ckey meri ts
a nd cul ti vates, he u ses on behal f of h i s fel l ows. I t
i s h i� dis i ntrest whi ch guarantees success. I t
rai ses h i m above others and thei r petti ness, and
al l ows h i m to partake of divi ne power. He i s
materi al , but seems to deny the real , mater i al
worl d. Thi s may hel p expl a i n hi s past success i n
the Uni ted States and Eu rope. He i s the tri bal
chi ef, and the provi denti al l eader who heads the
publ i c parades i n Di sneyl and. And he represents
Wal t hi msel f. I n Lat i n Ameri ca, on the other
h and, Donal d i s more popul a r, and i s the chosen
propagandi st for the magazi nes, al though the
tel evi s i on programs syndi cated from the mother
country ar e cal l ed the Mi ckey Hour or the
Mi ckey Cl ub. We Lati n Amer i cans tend to
i denti fy more readi l y wi th the i mperfect Donal d,
at the mercy of fate or a s uperi or author i ty, than
wi th Mi ckey, t he bos i n t hi s worl d, and Di sney's
personal u ndercover agent.
Through the fi gure of Mi ckey, the pwer of
repress i on di ssol ves i nto a dai l y fact of l i fe . He i s
at once l aw a nd big sti ck, church l ottery, and
i nte l l i gence agency. Hi s ch ival rous generosi ty, hi s
sense of fai r pl ay whi ch di sti ngui shes so acutel y
between bl ack and white (a nd t he respl endence
of h is probosci s wi th i ts l umi nous ti p l ends a
reassur i ngl y ma tter-of-fact ai r to h i s gi fts of
presci ence , and guar antees thei r proper, common­
sense appl i cat i on) . He never mi suses hi s power .
Mi ckey , sta ndi ng at a l egal bou ndary whi ch
others can not cross without l osi ng caste or bei ng
puni shed, promotes the mess i a n i c s pi r i t at the
l evel of the routi ne. He makes the spi r i t the
commo n stuff of l i fe. He turns the unusua l ,
abnorma l , arbi trar i ness of externa l power , i nto 1
commo npl ace phenomenon whi ch partakes of the
natural order. Hi s extraord i nary occul t powers
appear ordi nar y, and therefore, natu ral and eter nal .
In the Disney worl d, Mickey is the fi rst and
,'1 St i mage of prmanence, he i s the al l en­
orpassi ng, sel f-ontained l aw. But the dai l y l i fe
I f Mi ckey is a false dai l y l i fe, becaus it is based
in the e xtraordi nary. Li kewise, his permanenc is
I false permanence bcause it, too, i s based on
he extraordi nary. I n a certai n sense, Mi ckey's
al se permanence is a symbl for a false mother.
Perhaps this aspect of Mickey wi l l hel p us
mderstand te absnce of woman as mother i n
) i sney.
The onl y female i n the Di sney deck is the
' Cpti ve and ul ti matel y fri vol ous wman, who,
u bject to coursh i p and adul ati on, retai ns onl y a
racti on of her so-al l ed "femi ni ne nature. " Bei ng
r apped in this superfi ci al aspect of her bi ng,
voran rel i nquishes that other el ement whi ch,
rom ti me i mmemori al , has made her a symbol
)f permanenc. A permanenc based on a real ,
) hysi cal rel ati onshi p to existenc. One which has
nade her an i ntegral part of the uni verse, and part
)f the natural cycl e of l i fe itsel f. To i ncorprate
n to the worl d of Disney ti s ki nd of real per­
nanenc and mother i mage woul d be to i nject an
l Ilti -body, a real i ty which woul d threaten the
eturn to concrete dai l y l i fe. The existence of a
: eal mother would excl ude the need for the fal se
' nother Mi ckey.
Another turn of the srew, another ci rcl e
: I oses.
But i s there not a short ci rcuit, a break i n the
:entri petal movement, when Di sney cri ti ci zes the
l efects of contemporary socety? Does he not:
sti gmati ze bureaucracy;
r i dicul e North American touri sts ( i n I nca-
81 i nca a nd the Mato Grosso, for exampl e ) ;
attack atmospheri c pl l uti on and ecol ogi cal
destructi on;
d e n o u nce the s l a ught e rs committed by
I nhuman technol ogy;
d e n ou n ce the sol itude of peopl e i n the
modern city;
a ttack the unbri dled greed of those who
expl oit the cnsumer's weakness by sel l i ng hi m
usel ess objects ;
de n o u nce th e excessi ve cncentrati on of
weal th?
and, i sn't the character of Srooge McDuck a
great soci al satire on the ri ch; and . . . . ?
Woul dn't thi s vi si on of Di sney's b j usti fi ed as
the best way of teachi ng chi l dren about the evi l s
of today's worl d and the necessity of overcomi ng
Let us take to exampl es of Disney's brand
of "cri ti cism" and see whether i n fact they do
a l l ev i ate the sufocati ng atmosphere of the
comi cs. In the Bl ack Forest (TR 1 1 9, HDL 7/70)
"al l days
are happy ones for the Juni or Woo­
chucks." Tere they l ive in i nti mate harmony
wi th nature, and even the wi l dest ani mal s, the
bear and the eagl e, are afecti onate. "Freh ai r, "
"quiet, " "heal th, " "goodness" are however soon
to be sared off by the true wi l d beast, the bar­
barous technology of Uncl e Scrooge. An army of
bu l l doze r s , t r uck s , pl a n es and monstrous
machines, advances upn te i dyl l ic spt. "Get
out, you' re hol di ng up progress. " I nstead of
trees, a "model city" and "the ci ty of the
fu t u re" wi l l be bui l t : "Ten thousand brick
houses, with chi mneys . . . two mi l l i on i nhabi t-
ants, wi th shops, factories, parki ng l ots and re­
fi n e r i es . . . " In reply to the Woodc
peti ti on to prevent the constructi on, cmes the
i nfuriati ng response: "deers, bears, and bi rds
don't pay taxe or buy refri gerators. " Techno­
l ogical devel opment is j udgd to be a harmful
natural force, which establ i shes an authori tari an
rel ati onshi p between itsel f and those who use i t.
But there has to be a happy endi ng. The forces
of nature react, at fi rst pasi vel y, then with
cauti ous aggressivity, and fi nal l y wi n over the
mi l l i onai re devel oper by demonstrati ng thei r
utilit. The forest cures hi m of hi s col ds, hi s
anxieti es , and neuroses ; he i s rej uvenated. Be­
neath the veneer of attachment to steri l e urban
progress, there l ies a natural moral feel i ng and
si mple goodness, the unforgotten chi l d, whi ch
permi ts peopl e to b regenerated from one day
to the next. Faced wi th the curse of cn­
temporary l iving, one can onl y fl ee, turn i nward,
reconci l e social enemi es, and regress to the worl d
of nature, where those gui l ty of provoking suc
disasters may b redeemed. The conquistador i s
convi ncd, and i ntgrates back i nto nature. Thus
the earth, from every fl ower and tree, regul ates
and rescues sci ety, and is to be found wi thi n
t he depths of every person. So when McDuck
tri es to put pure ai r i nto cans i n order to sel l i t,
the wind dri ves away the smog and rui ns hi s
busi ness ( TR 1 1 0) . Such "cri ti ci sm" i s desi gned
to val i date te sysem, a nd does not cri ti ci ze
a n y t h i n g . It onl y proves that it i s al ways
possi ble, i n fantasy, to make the magi c j ump
f rom one type of human bi ng i nto another one
more reconci l ed wi th the l ost paradi se. ( I t was
"the Black Forest, the on l y one l eft from the
great forests of ol den t i mes, " whi ch Scrooge
wanted to cut down ) . Moral : one can cnti nue
l i vi ng i n the city as l ong as there remai ns an
u l ti mate refuge i n the country; and as l ong as
there s urvives the real i ty and i dea of a nobl e
s av a g e . S i n ce a meek peopl e i s mek by
defi n iti on and wi l l never di sappear , humani ty is
saved. The technol ogi cal revol uti on i s pri med by
the peri odi c retu rn to the tri be, as l ong as it
keeps its fi gl eaf or l oi ncl oth on. Thi s is cul tu ral
regressi on at i ts worst. The ol d natural forces of
nat ure wi n out agai nst the fal se natural forces of
sci ence .
Di sney-style cri ti ci sm i s launched from the
vi ewpoi nt of the i ngenuous chi l d - nobl e savage
thi rd wor l dl i ng, who i s i gnorant of the causes
of technol ogi cal excess. I t cannot be i nte rpreted
as an attack on the system i tsel f, for it does not
treat the causes of technol ogi cal excess.
Once agai n , scienc is isol ated as a hi stori cal
factor, and so much so that Gyro Gearl oose i s
al ways made ri di cul ous (except when he i s abl e
to take on an evi l adversary, i n whi ch case he
i nstantl y becomes a success ) : l i The worl d today
i s not ready to appreci ate me But I have to l i ve
i n i t and must try to adapt mysel f. " (0 439) ,
Si nce there are no producti ve forces , poor Gyro,
"the mad sci enti st " often has to work wi th
pri mi ti ve, manual methods whi ch testi fy to hi s
usel essness . I n thee comi cs not even scienti fi c
rati onal i sm can become subversi ve.
Di s n e y h o pe s that by i ncorporati ng the
weaknesses of the system as wel l as i ts strengths,
hi s magazi nes wi l l acqu i re an appearance of
i mparti al i ty. They embody pl ural i s m of moti fs
and . cri teri a, and l i berty of expressi on, and whi l e
promoti ng sal es, creati ve freedom for wri ters and
a rti sts. Of course, Di sney' s chal l enge to the
system is stereotyped and soci al l y acceptabl e.
Supposedly, i t i s compsed of conventi ons shared
by al l ; ri ch and poor, i ntel l i gent and i gnorant, bi g
and sma l l . I t repeats the common coi n of casual
s t r e e t corner and after di nner conversati on:
depl ori ng i nfl ati on ( forgetti ng that i t is al ways
the poor who are hardest hi t ) , the decl i ne i n
soci al sta ndards ( i mposed by the bourgeoi si e ) ,
atmospheri c pol l uti on ( produced by an i r rati onal
system beyond publ i c control ) , and drug abuse
( but not i ts true causes ) . Thi s is the facade of
democrati c debate , whi ch whi l e it appears to
open up the probl ems defi ned by the bourgeoi si e
as "soci a l l y rel evant," real l y cnceal s the subtl e
ce n s or s h i p t h ey i mpose. Thi s "democrati c
debate" prevents the ummaski ng of the fal l acy of
"free" thought and expressi on (just consi der the
treatment i n the medi a of the Vi etnam war, the
Cuban i nvasi on, the tri umphs of the soci al i st re­
publ i cs, the peace movement, women's l i berati on,
etc. ) .
But Di sney al so denounces t he mass medi a
themsel ves . He i ndul ges i n the most common­
pl ace and stereotyp€d cr it i ci sms of tel evi si on : i t i s
th e new head of the fami l y, a threat to the
h a r mo n y of th e home, spreadi ng l i es and
fool i shness etc. Tel evi si on even corrupts Donal d's
own nephews , who i n one epi sode ( 0 437, CS
3/61 ) l ose thei r affecti on and respect for hi m
bcause he cannot measu re up to a certai n
boastfu l tel evi si on hero cal l ed Capta i n Gadabout.
At th i s moment Donal d i s i n the posi ti on of the
typical head of the fami l y faced with the comi cs,
Di sneyl and, and the whol e mass cul ture, as ri val s
to h i s authori ty.
Captai n Gadabout has asse rted that there are
prehi stori c savages l i v i ng i n a re mote and exoti c
corner of the Grand Canyon. Donal d refuses to
bel i eve the story, denounci ng the Captai n as a
"two bi t fr aud! A perni ci ous prevari cator ! A
pr i nce of hokum, and hi gh hi pster of hogwash ! "
and accuses hi m of brai nwas hi ng hi s nephews.
He sets out for the Grand Canyon ( not i n the
spi ri t of a search for tuth , bt out of re­
s e ntme nt and envy) , and di scovers that the
preh istori c savages ex i st i n real i ty ( j ust as the
Abomi nabl e Snow Man di d, whose exi stence he
h ad a l so chal l enged) . Donal d compounds h i s
erro r by getti ng trapped by the savages, havi ng to
swap cl othes wi th them, and then havi ng to be
saved from abandonment ( thei r pl ane meanwhi l e
h as been fl own off by the savages) by the arri val
of Capta i n Gadabout hi msel f. Donal d, so to
speak, is saved by the medi a ; but he i s al so
puni shed by them. Gadabout fi l ms the rescue, so
that i t is Donal d & Co. ( "ci v i l i zed ducks ! ") who
act the part of the savages ( who, i n the mean­
whi l e, have i mmedi ate ly become ci vi l i zed) i n hi s
adventure seri es, or face bei ng abandoned i n the
01 . CAPTAI N ,
Canyon. Later, whi l e watching the tel evisi on
program whi ch broadcass thei r humi l i ati on to
t he worl d, Donal d & Co. rueful l y reflect liThe
i rony of i tt We not only can't expse Captai n
Gadabout for the faker he i s, we have to si t and
watch ourlves be the fakes! "
Tel evi si on i s the bi bl e of contemprary l i vi ng.
The nephews carry a set u mbi l i cal l y around wi th
t hem to the Canyon. I t is usd to gi ve the
savages an i nstant crash course i n civi l i zati on,
teachi ng them to cook (duck) , to practice spor,
and even pi l ot a plane. Fol l owi ng a TV i nstruc­
t i on sessi on, the savages depart for civi l i zati on,
watched by the distraught ducks. "They're goi ng
lip toward the canyon ri ml " "To civilzation -
where we wantd to gol " "They made i t! "
"They landed up there, al l safe and sound -
t hanks to ou r portable tel l y vee ! " Only the mass
commu ni cati ons medi a can bri ng peopl e - and
chi l dren -. out of tat desert, that pri mi ti ve
( ba'k wa r d , u n de r deve l oped ) pl ateau, that
i l l iterate chi l dhood.
The whol e worl d of the ducks is a televi si on
pl ay, whether they l i ke i t or not, there i s no
escapi ng i t. We al l l i ve i n an enormous Di sney
comi c, we have bravel y to accept the fantasy,
and not poison ourel ves wi th the rhetori c of an
urgent retur to real i ty. Better to accept the
fantasy, even if we secretl y know it to be fraud­
ul ent, because supposedl y it offers pl enty of
i nformati on; heal thy amusment, and sal vati on.
Be sa t i sf i e d wi th the role of spectator;
otherise you' l l end up as a sufferi ng extra i n
the great movi e of l i fe. Donal d, the woul d-be
cri ti c, i s vi ndictivel y exposd by the medi a. He is
on screen, he is part of the show too. Hi s
rebl l i on l ed to the most terri bl e humi l i ati on,
and he made hi msel f al l the more ri dicul ous for
havi ng attempted to wri te his own scenari o. The
mas medi a, once agai n, have reveal ed themselves
as messi anic, i nvi nci bl e and i rrevocable.
Cri ti ci sm has been i ncrporated i n order to
provide a veneer of plu ral i sm and enl i ghtenment.
Contradicti ons i n the system are used to fei gn
movement which does n ot l ead anywhere, and to
suggest a future whi ch wi l l never come.
The last ci rcl e cl oses in to strangl e cri ti cal
anal ysi s, ours or any other. When the curai n
opens on the h istori cal drama of the worl d of
Di sney, the onl y character on stage is a Cement
Curtai n .
Nephews : "We ' re sved, Unca Dona l d!
The gunboat stopped fi ri ng 1 "
Donal d:
And I stamped out al l the
fuses. "
( 0 364, CS 4/64)
Attacki ng Di sney is no novel ty; he has often
been exposed as the travel l i ng sl esman of the
i magi nati on, the propagandi st of the I
Ameri can
Way of Li fe", and a spokesman of "unreal i ty, "
But true as i t i s, such cri ti ci sm mi sses the true
i mpul se beh i nd the manufact ure of the Di sney
characters, and the true danger they represent to
dependent countri es l i ke Chi l e. The threat der i ves
not so much from thei r embodi ment of the
" Ameri can Way of Li fe", as that of the I I Ameri ­
can Dream of Li fe". I t i s the manner i n whi ch
the U. S. dreams and redeems i tsel f, and then
i mposes that dream upon others for i ts own sal ­
vati on, whi ch poses the danger for the dependent
countri es. I t forces us Lati n Ameri cans to see
oursel ves as they see us .
Any soci al real i ty may b defi ned as the i n­
cessant di al ecti cal i nteracti on between a materi al
base and the superstructure whi ch refl ects i t and
anti ci pates i t i n the human mi nd. Val ues, i deas,
Weltanschauung, and the accompanyi ng dai l y
atti tudes and cnduct down to the sl i ghtest
gesture, are art i cul ated in a concrete soci al form
whi ch peopl e devel op to establ i sh cntrol over
nature, and render i t producti ve. I t i s necessary
to have a coherent and fl ui d mental pi cture of
thi s mater i al base, and the emoti onal and i ntel ­
l ectual responses i t engenders, s o that soci ety can
survi ve a nd devel op. From the moment peopl e
fi n d themsel ves i nvol ved i n a certai n soci al
system - that i s, from concepti on and bi rth - i t
i s i mpossi bl e for thei r cnsci ousness to devel op
wi thout bei ng based on concrete materi al con­
di ti ons. I n a soci ety where one cl ass control s the
means of economi c producti on, that cl ass al so
control s the means of i ntel l ectual producti on ;
i deas, feel i ngs, i ntu iti ons, in short - the very
meani ng of l i fe . The bourgeoi si e have, in fact,
tri ed to i nvert the true rel ati onshi p btween the
materi al base and the superstructure. They con­
cei ve of i deas as producti ve of r i ches by means
of the on l y unta i nted matter they know - grey
matter - and the hi story of humani ty becomes
the h i story of i deas.
To capture the true message of Di sney, we
must refl ect upon these two components i n hi s
fantasy worl d to u nderstand preci sel y in what
way he represents real i ty, and how hi s fantasy
may rel ate to concrete soci al exi stence, . that i s,
the i mmedi ate h i stori cal condi ti ons. The way
Di sney concei ves the rel ationshi p between base
fnd superstructure is comparabl e to the way the
bourgeoisi e concei ve this rel ati onshi p in the real
l i fe of the dependent cuntri es (as wel l as thei r
own) . Once we have anal ysed the structural
di fferences and s i mi l ari ti es, we wi l l be btter abl e
to j udge the effects of Di sney"type magazi nes on
the condi ti on of underdevel opment. ·
I t i s, by now, ampl y proven that the Di sney
wor l d is one in which al l materi al i ty has ben
purged. Al l forms of producti on (the materi al ,
s e xual , histori cal ) have ben el i mi nated, and
confl i ct has never a soci al base, but is conci ved
i n terms of good versus bad, l ucky versus
unl ucky, and i ntel l i gent versus stupi d. So Di sney
characters can dispense wi th the materi al base
u nderpi nni ng every acti on i n a concrete everyday
worl d. But they are certai nl y not ethereal angel s
fl y i ng around i n outer space. Conti nual l y we
have seen how purposeful l y thei r l i ves refl ect hi s
vi ew of the everyday worl d. Si nce Di sney has
purged hi msel f of the secondary economi c sector
( i n d u st r i a l pr odu cti on, whi ch gave rise to
co n te mp o r a r y soc i e ty a n d power to the
bourgeoi si e and i mperi al i sm) , there i s onl y one
i nfrastructure l eft to gi ve body to hi s fantasi es
a nd suppl y materi al for his i deas. I t is the one
whi ch automati cal l y represents the economic l i fe
of his characters: the tertiary sector . The servi ce
sector, which arose i n the service of i ndustry and
rema i ns dependent upon i t.
As we have obsrved, al l the rel ati onshi ps i n
the Di sney worl d are compul si vel y cnsumeri st;
commodi ties i n the marketpl ace of objects and
i deas. The magazi ne i s part of this si tuati on. The
Disney i ndustri a l empi re i tself arose to servi ce a
society demandi ng enterai nment; it i s part of an
enterta inment network whose busi ness i t i s to
feed l ei sure wi th more lei sure disgui sed as fan­
tasy. The cul tural i ndustry i s the sole remai ni ng
machi ne which has purged i ts contents of so­
ci ety's i ndustri al confl i cts, and therefore i s the
onl y means of escap int a future whi ch other­
wise is i mplacabl y bl ocked by real i ty. It is a
pl ayground to whi ch al l chi l drn (and adul ts ) can
come, and whi ch very few can l eave.
S there can be no confl i ct i n Disney between
s u pe r s t r u ct ure and i nfrastructure. The onl y
materi al base l eft (the teri ary, service sector) i s
at once defi ned as a suprstructure. The charac­
ters move about in the real m of l eisure, where
human bei ngs are no l onger beset by materi al
concrns. Thei r fi rst and l ast thought i s to fi l l up
spare ti me, that i s, to seek entertai nment. From
thi s entertai nment emerges an autonomous worl d
so ri gi d and confi ned, it el i mi nates al l traces of a
producti ve, pre-l ei sure type of i nfrastructure. Al l
materi al acti vity has been remved, the mere
presence of which mi ght expose the fa l si ty of
Di s ney's fusi on of entertai nment and "real "
worl ds, and hi s marri age of fantasy and l i fe.
Matter has become mi nd, hi story has become
pasti me , work has become adventure, and every­
day l i fe has become a sensati onal news i tem.
Di sney's i deas are thus trul y materi al PRO­
DUCTI ONS of a society whi ch has reached a
certain stag of mteri al devel opment. They re­
present a superstructure of val ues, ideas and
c r i t e r i a , wh i ch make up the sel f-i mage of
a dvanced capital i st society, and faci l i tate i n­
nocent consumpti on of i ts own traumati c past.
The i ndustri al bourgeoi si e i mpose thei r sel f-v isi on
upon al l the atti tudes and aspi rati ons of the
other soci al sectors, at home and abroad. The
utopi c i deol ogy of the tertiary sector is used as an
emoti onal projecti on, and is posed as the onl y
possi bl e future. Thei r hi stori c supremacy as a
cl ass is transposed to, and refl ected i n, the hi er­
archy establ i shed wi thi n the Di sney universe; b
it in the operati ons of the i ndustri al empire
wh ich sel l s the comi cs, or in the rel ati ons be­
tween the characters created in the comi cs.
The only rel ati on the center ( adul t-city fol k
bourgeoi si e) manages to establ i sh wi th the per i -
phery (chi ld-nobl e savage- worker ) i s touri sti c and
sensati onal ist. The pri mary resources sector ( the
Thi rd Worl d) bcome a source of pl aythi ngs;
gol d, or the pi cturesque experi ences with whi ch
one hol ds boredom at bay. The i nnocence of thi s
margi nal sector is what guarantees the Duck­
burger hi s touristi c sal vati on, his i magi native
ani mal -ness, and his chi l di sh rej uvenation. The
pri mi tive i nfrastructure offered by the Thi rd
Worl d countr ies ( and what they represent bi ol o­
gi cal l y and social l y) becme the nostal gi c echo of
a l ost pri mi t ivism, a worl d of purity ( and raw
materi al s) reduced to a pi cture postcard to be
enjoyed by a servi ce-oriented worl d. Just as a
Disney character fl ees degenerate ci ty l i fe i n
search of recreati on and i n order to justi fy hi s
weal th through an adventure i n paradi se, so the
reader fl ees his hi stori c confl i cts in search of
recreat i on in t he i nnocent Eden of Donal d & Co.
Thi s sei zure of margi nal peopl es and thei r trans­
formation i nto' a l ost puri ty, whi ch cannot b
understood apart from the hi stori c contradi ctions
ari si ng from an advanced capi tal i st soci ety, are
i d e ol og i ca l man i festati ons of i ts economic-
cu l t ur a l system. For these peopl es exi st i n
real i ty, both i n the dependent countri es and as
raci al mi nori ti es ( "Nature's" botoml ess reservoi r )
wi thi n the U. S. i tsel f.
Adv anced capital i st soci ety i s real i zi ng i n
Disney the l ong cheri shed dream of t he bour­
geoi si e for a return to nature. It the course of
the bourgeoi si e's evol uti on thi s dream has ben
expressed i n a mul ti tude of hi stori c vari ati ons i n
the fi el ds of phi l osophy, l i terature, art and soci al
cus t o m . Recen t l y , from the mi d-twenti eth
cen t u r y , t he mass medi a have assi sted the
domi nant cl ass i n tryi ng to recover Paradi se, and
a t ta i n s i n - free producti on. The tri bal ( now
pl anetary) vi l l age of l eisure wi thout the confl i cts
of wor k, and of earth without pol l uti on, al l rest
on the cnsumer goods der i ved from i ndustri al i ­
z a t i on . Th e i ma g i nati ve worl d of chi l dren
cl eanses the enti re Di sney cosmos i n the waters
of i nnocence. Once this i nnocnce i s processed
by th e entertai nment medi a, i t fosters the
devel opment of a cl ass pl i ti cal utopi a. Yet,
despite the devel opment of advanced capi tal i st
soci ety, it i s the histori c experi ence of the
margi nal peopl es whi ch i s i denti fi ed as the center
of i nnocence wi thi n this puri fi ed worl d.
The bourgeoi s concept of entertai nment, and
the speci fi c manner i n whi ch it i s expounded i n
t he worl d of Di sney, i s the superstructural
mani festati on of the di sl ocati ons and tensi ons of
an advanced capital i st hi stori cal base . In i ts enter­
t a i n me n t, i t automatical l y generates certai n
myths functi onal to the system. It is al together
normal for readers experi enci ng the confl i cts of
thei r age from wi thi n the perspective of the i m­
peri al ist system, to see thei r own dai l y l i fe, and
proj ected future, r efl ected i n the Di sney system.
J u st as the Chi l ean burgeoi si e , in thei r
*Cf. Michele Mattel art, "Apuntes sabre 10 moderno :
una manera de leer el magazi ne, " in Cuadernos de la
Rea/idad Naional (Santiago) , No. 9, September 1 971 .
J0LD vou� FI Re!
ma ga z i n e s , phot ogr a ph t h e l a tes t hyper­
s o p h i s t i cated mdel s in rusti c surroundi ngs,
putti ng mi ni - and maxi -ski rts, hot pants and
shi ny boots i nto the "natural envi ronment " of
some i mpoveri shed rural provi nce (Col chagua,
Chi l oe) or - this i s the l i mi t, why not l eave
them i n peace, extermi nators - among tbe Al a­
cal ufe I ndi ans ; so the comi cs born in the Uni ted
States, refl ect thei r obsessi on for a return to a
form of soci al organi zati on which has been des­
troyed by urban civi l i zati on. * Di sney is the con­
qui stador constantl y puri fyi ng hi msel f by j usti ­
fyi ng hi s past and future conquests.
But how can the cu l tural superstructure of the
domi nant cl asses, whi ch represents the i nterests
of the metropl i s and is so much the product of
contradi cti ons in the devel opment of its pro­
ducti ve forces, exert such i nfl uence and acqui re
such ppul ari ty i n the underdevel oped countri es?
Just why is Di sney such a threat?
The pri mary reason i s that hi s products , neces­
si tated and faci l i tated by a huge i ndustri al capita­
l i st empi re are i mpored together wi th so many
ot he r consu mer objects i nto the dependent
country, whi ch i s dependent preci sel y because it
depends on commdi ties ari si ng economi cal l y
and i ntel l ectual l y i n the power center's total l y
al i en (forei gn) condi ti ons. Our countri es are ex­
porters of raw materi al s, and i mporters of super­
structural and cul tural goods. To servi ce our
"monoproduct" economi es and provi de urban
paraphernal i a, we send copper, and they send
machi nes to extract copper, and, of course, Coca
Col a. Behi nd the Coca Col a stands a whol e
structu re of expctati ons and model s of behavi or,
and wi th i t, a parti cul ar ki n d of present and
future soci ety, and an i nter pretati on of the past.
As we i mport the i ndustr i al product concei ved,
packaged and l abe
l ed abroad, and sol d to the
profit of the r i ch forei gn uncl e, at the same ti me
we al so i mport the forei gn cul tural forms of that
society, but without thei r context : the advanced
capi tal i st soci al condi ti ons upon whi ch they are
based. It is histori cal l y proven that the depen­
dent countries have been mai nti ned i n depen­
dency by the continued i nternati onal di visi on of
l abor which restricts any devel opment capabl e of
l eadi ng to economic i'ndependence.
It is thi s discrepancy' betwen the sci al ­
economi c base of the l ife of the i ndi vi dual
reader, and the character of the col l ecti ve visi on
concerni ng thi s base which poss the prblem. I t
gi ves Di sney effecive pwer of penetration
i nto the dependent countries because he offers
i ndi vi dual goals at the expens of the col l ective
needs . Thi s dependency has al so meant that our
i ntel l ecuals, from the ��nni ng, have had to use
al i en forms to present t�ei r visi on, i n order t
express, in a warped but very ofen reveal i ng and
accu rate manner, the real ity they are submerged
i n, whi ch consists of the superi mpositi on of
var i ous hi storical phass. I t is a bi zarre ki nd of
a mbi gu i ty ( ca l l e d "barroquismo" i n Latin
Ame r i can cul ture) , which manages to reveal
real ity at the same ti me as it conceal s it. But the
great majori ty of the people have passivel y to
accept thi s discrepanc in thei r dai l y subsi stence.
The housewife i n the sl ums is i nci ted to buy the
l atest refri gerator or washi ng machi ne; the i m­
poveri shed i ndustri al worker l i ves bombarded
wi th i mages of the Fi at 1 26; the smal l l and­
hol der, l acki ng even a tractor, ti l l s the soi l near a
modern ai rport; and the homel ess are dazzl ed by
the chance of getti ng a hole in the apartment
block where the bourgeoisi e has deci ded to coop
them up. I mmense economi c underdevel opment
l i es si de-by-si de with mi nute- mental super­
devel opment.
S i n ce t he Di s ne y u topi a el i mi nates the
secondary (productive) sector, retai ni ng onl y the
p r i mary (raw materi al ) and terti ary ( service)
s e ct or s , i t creates a parody of the under­
devel oped peopl es. As we have seen, i t al,so
segregates spi ri t and matter, town and couJry­
side, ci ty fol k and nobl e savages, monopofsts of
mental power and mno-su fferers of physi cal
power, the mral l y flexi bl e and the moral l y
i mmobi l e, father and son, authori t and sub­
mi ssi on, and wel l -desered riches and equal l y
wel l -deserved poverty. . . Underdevel oped popl es
take the comi cs, at second hand, as i nstruci on i n
the way they are supposed to l i ve and relate to
t h e forei gn power center . There is nothi ng
strange i n thi s. I n the sme way Di sney expels
the producti ve and histori cal forces from hi s
comics, i mperial i sm thwarts real producti on and
hi stori cal evol ution in the underdevel oped worl d.
The Di sney dream i s cst i n the same mol d
which the capital ist system has created for the
real worl d.
Povr t o Donal d Duck means the promoti on
of underdevel opment. The dai l y agony of Thi rd
Worl d peoples is served up as a spectacle for
permnent enjoyment in the utopia of bourgoi s
l i berty. The non-top bufet of recreati on and
redempti on offers al l the wholesome exoti ca of
unde rde ve l op ment: a bal ancd di et of the
u nbl anced wrl d. The misery of the Third
Worl d i s packaged and canned to l i berate the
masers who produce it and consume i t. Then, i t
is thrown-up to the poor as the onl y food they
know. Readi ng Di sney is l i ke havi ng one's own
expl oited condi ti on rammed with honey down
one's throat.
"Man cannot return to his chi l dhood without
becomi ng chi l dish, " wrote Marx, noti ng that the
s oci al cndi ti ons whi ch gave rise to anci ent
Greek art i n the earl y days of ci vi l i zati on, coul d
ne ver be revived. Di sney thi nks exactl y the
opposi te, and what Marx regretful l y affi rms, Wal t
i nstitutes as a cardi nal rule of his fantasy worl d.
He does not rejoice i n the i n nocence of the
ch i I d , a n d he does not attempt, from hi s
"hi gher" l evel , to truthful l y reflect the chi l d's
nature. The chi l dish i nnocence, and the return to
a hi stori c i nfanc which Di sney, as monarch of
his creati on, el evates, i s , a defi ance of evol uti on. I t
i s l i ke a di rty, pueri l e, ol d man cl utchi ng hi s bag
of tri cks and traps, as he crawls on towards the
l ost paradise of puri ty.

And why, readers may ask, do we rai l agai nst
this deshelved seni l ity, whi ch for worse or worser
has peopl ed the i nfancy of us al l , i rrespective of
our soci al cl ass, i deology or cuntry? Let us
repeat once more: the Di sney cosmos i s no mere
refuge in the area of occasi onal entertai nment; it
is our everyday stuff of soci al oppressi on. Putti ng
the Duck on the carpet is to queti on the vari ous
forms of authoritari an and pternal i st cl ture
pervadi ng the relati onshi p of the burgeoi si e
among themel ves, wi th others, and with nature.
I t i s to chal l enge the rol e of i ndi vi dual s and thei r
cl ass in the process of historic devel opment, and
the fabricati on of a mass culture bui l t on the
backs of the masses. More i nti matel y, it is al so to
scruti ni ze the social relati ons which a father
establ i shes with his son; a father wishi ng to trans­
cend mre bi ologi cal determi nants wil l btter
understand and censure the underhanded mani -
pul ati on and repress i on he practices wi th hi s own
refl ecti on. Obviousl y, this i s equal l y the case for
mothers and daughters as wel l .
Thi s book di d not emanate from the crazi ed
mi nd of i vory tower i ndi vi dual s� but arises from
a struggl e to defeat the cl as enemy on hi s and
our common terrai n. Our cri ti ci sm has nothi ng
anarchi c about i t. These are no cannon shots i n
the ai r , as Huey, Dewey and Louie woul d have
it. It is but another means of furher i ng the
whole proces of the potnti al Chi l ean and Lati n
Ameri can Revol uti on by recogni zi ng the neces­
si ty of deepeni ng the cul tural transformati on. Let
us fi nd out j ust how much of Donal d Duck
remai ns at al l level s of Chi l ean society. As l ong
as he strol l s with his smi l i ng countnance so
innocently abut the streets of our cuntry, as
l ong as Donal d is power and our col l ecti ve re-
presentati ve, the bou rgeoi si e and i mperi al i sm can
sl eep in peace. Someday, that fantasti c l augh and
i ts echoes wi l l fade away, l eavi ng a mere gri mace
i n i ts stead. But onl y when the formul ae of dai l y
l i fe i mpsed u pon us by our enemy ceases, and
the cul ture medi um which now shapes our soci al
praxi s i s reshaped.
To t h e accusati on that thi s i s merel y a
destructive study which fai l s to propose an al ter­
nati ve to the defeated Di sney, we can onl y repl y
that no orie i s abl e to "propose" his i ndi vi dual
sol uti on to these probl ems . There can be no el i te
of experts i n the reformati on of cul tu re. What
happens after Di sney wi l l b deci ded by the
soci al practice of the peopl es seeki ng emanci ­
p ati on . I t i s for the vanguard organi zed i n
pol i ti cal parti es ' to pi ck up thi s experi ence and
al l ow i t to fi nd i ts ful l human expressi on.
neE AL "E WmHCAf I CULD DE\RE . .-