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I can t really quarrel with any of the main points this book raises, except to say that they seem to me to miss the point somewhat Actually, I can quarrel than that Valid enough as the observations here are in broad strokes, they are also ultimately, I believe, overly reductive not surprising, I suppose, given the ideological and polemical aims of the authors Indeed, the polemical style occasionally interferes with intellectual objectivity Of course, they re not really trying to be intellectually objective but to persuade readers that Disney comics are used deliberately as part of a capitalist colonialist strategy of dominating other cultures and reconciling people to being cogs in the mercantile machine It s easy enough to read Uncle Scrooge that way except for how frequently the comics the Barks ones, anyway satirize Scrooge s capitalist agenda Definitely an interesting read for anyone interested in cultural studies, somewhat less interesting but still worth a look for folk interested in comics studies, of limited interest to anyone else Th most fascinating bit is the appendix, documenting the book s problems getting into the US Disney tried to have it blocked because it dared to use images from Disney comics, in a pretty blatant attempt to suppress free speech and subvert the fair use exception entrenched in copyright law. This book is a must read for anyone interested in a 1960 s Chilean Marxist interpretation of Mickey Mouse and has just this month October 2018 been released on the kindle Christmas has come early this year. Ariel Dorfman Chilean author, playwright, poet, essayist, human rights activist is best known for his riveting play Death and the Maiden How to Read Donald Duck Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic, written with the Belgian sociologist Armand Mattelart before Dorfman had to flee Chile because of General Augusto Pinochet That means the book is dated in parts, and it has some of that over the top flavor of the late 1960s and early 1970s But Dorfman and Mattelart meticulously maybe a bit too much dissects Disney comic books sold in Latin America which uphold the banner of capitalism by justifying Uncle Scrooge McDuck, mocking working stiffs like Donald Duck, and infantilizing Third World peoples as children who need Duckburg read U.S management And if we take their gold Well, they weren t using it for anything, anyway A very convincing and compelling argument.In interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and OR Books in exchange for an honest review Thank you, OR Books for reissuing this book translated into English. A marxist take on cultural imperialism in Latin America This was a useful text for my MA thesis in discussing the effect that globalism had on comic strips in Latin America Though it has been a while since I have read it, Reviewing it brought me back to my time in graduate school A period piece of cultural criticism, written by a young Allende supporting Chilean, on the eve of Chile s descent into a hell of authoritarian neoliberalism It aims to deconstruct the faux innocence of the Disney universe to demonstrate the subterranean political agenda that its animated world traffics in In order to attain knowledge, which is a form of power, we cannot continue to endorse, with blinded vision and stilted jargon, the initiation rituals with which our spiritual high priests seek to legitimize and protect their exclusive privileges of thought and expression In the end, Donald Duck provides a justification narrative for nothing less than imperialist plunder and colonial subjugation of noble savages who are unable and indeed forbidden ever to become civilized and modern The Disney world is one in which all materiality has been purged All forms of production the material, sexual, historical have been eliminated, and conflict never has a social basis, but is conceived in terms of good versus bad, lucky versus unlucky, and intelligent versus stupid.
I don t have a shelf for political criticism of popular culture but that is where this belongs How to Read Donald Duck was originally published in Chile in 1971 as an indictment of American imperialism being marketed as children s literature in the form of Disney comic books It was hugely popular and spread to the rest of Latin America When an English translation was shipped to America in 1975, it was seized at the port and was the subject of a copyright battle When a military coup in Chile in 1973 ousted the socialist government, all copies of the book were banned and burned and the authors put on a hit list they survived This 2018 edition is the first official American release.If you have ever watched the 1944 Walt Disney movie The Three Caballeros you might have considered that Donald Duck is acting a bit suspiciously during his tour of Brazil and Mexico My friends and I always postulated that Donald was actually a CIA spy sent to report on political conditions in those countries, but got sidetracked by samba Imagine my surprise when the book How to Read Donald Duck appeared in a catalog of new releases I had to read this to see if our hypothesis was correct.The movie is barely mentioned Instead the focus is on the monthly Disney comic books being distributed in Latin America since the 1950 s It seems that Donald Duck is popular there than Mickey Mouse so Donald is the point of entry for all sorts of capitalist ideas in socialist markets The authors take a Marxist view of this colorful and entertaining propaganda and explain exactly why it was an insidious part of a not so subtle cultural revolution It is both thought provoking and frightening, especially considering future events right up to the current immigration situation in the USA I actually learned a bit about Marxism it is like learning Taoism from Winnie the Pooh and had my worst suspicions about the Walt Disney Corporation validated I think it should be part of every political science curriculum There are three introductions and an appendix of essays, all worth reading to put the book in historical perspective One star off for getting a bit too didactic in some sections but otherwise recommended if any of what I ve written has sparked your interest. Left critique of mass culture products as distributed abroad, wherein the presentation is that The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage 35.Fulfills the normal role of ideology insofar as Disney relies upon the acceptability of his world as natural, that is to say, as at once normal, ordinary, and true to the nature of the child 41 It is further simply escapism, the common mass culture safety valve necessary for a society 43 And yet it also takes part of the repressive coercive apparatus There are two forms of killing by machine guns and saccharine 48 the latter being Disney s preferred method.Very much a creature of the cold war, in seeing a typical example of Disney s colonial attitudes, in this case directed against the African independence movements 50.Disney strategies dilution, whereby protest is converted into imposture banalize an unusual phenomenon of the social body and symptom of a cancer, in such a way that it appears as an isolated incident removed from its social context 56 and recuperation the utilization of a potentially dangerous phenomenon of the social body in such a way that it serves to justify continued need of the social system and its values, and very often justifies the violence and repression which are part of the system 56.Stereotypes are sold to peoples abroad as a channel of distorted self knowledge 54 , the normal method of oppression to lead victims away from self recognition.Disney uses animal symbolism, infantilism, and noble savagery to cover over the network of interests arising from a concrete and historically determined social system US imperialism 58 Only one true object the working class 59.Likely that Disney escapism is aptly described by Each great urban civilization created its pastoral myth an extra social Eden, chaste and pure 59 a utopia of the future which revives a nostalgia of the past 60 Part of the fantasy is that objects have no history they arise by enchantment, and are untouched by human hand The stork brought the gold It is the immaculate conception of wealth 63 a routine bourgeois mysticism.Diagnoses a standard rightwing mysticism in such things as Disney style unemployment based on the personality of the employee 71 , as opposed to structural economic causality.Fairly standard critiques here, but nice to see them paired with images from comics, which really are ludicrously imperial. It is very hard to categorize this because, for Americans who know Disney and who doesn t , the descriptions of the comic book scenarios are radically different from the syrupy films we all grew up with.According to the authors, who wrote this in Chile before the coup that brought down the Allende government, the comics were a purposeful attempt to glorify the Capitalist system and to subjugate native peoples by portraying them as childlike and stupid According to them, there was a story template dictated by Disney, which was then filled in by local artists and writers with details that would resonate with the locals.I have a hard time believing that Disney himself could have had an agenda this well thought out But there is no doubt in my mind that these cartoons glorify a sort of Calvinist version of America where wealth conferred is an outward sign of divine right.It s pretty easy to see in a particular favorite Disney film of mine entitled The Three Caballeros It is my favorite, because unlike his famous works which seem childish to me now, this one seemed to satirize the whole imperialist American ethos.especially one segment where Donald Duck duck goes to Brasil and is shown around by a slickster parrot named Ze Carioca who reminds me of the kind of local fixer who would be in cahoots with an American businessman in Latin America It struck me as very funny long before I ever heard of this book, which is why, when it caught my eye, I needed to see if I was really onto something In addition to the political scene, the analysis does extend to a sort of Freudian analysis of Disney himself and his terrible childhood, which is why there are no parents in the Disney universe only uncles, aunts, and grandparents and the only young females like Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck are submissive types.One thing not mentioned is that the whole concept of Disney World was based on the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893 Disney s own father worked as a contractor there This would also explain why Disney parks are just one big ad for corporate America.Not exactly the easiest read because it is over the top in its analysis at times, but it was interesting I wonder if the same could not be said about Warner Brothers or anything else emanating from the U.S.A at that time. Donald Duck as the agent of American imperialism Surely it s a joke, right Not according to Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, exiles from the Chilean dictatorship They are in dead earnest and they do a good job of convincing the reader, in this slim volume of less than a hundred pages.Donald Duck and later on, Uncle Scrooge was my personal favourite among the Disney characters In an age bereft of TV and computers, comic books were very popular among the bookish kids and Walt Disney was a sort of god in the field If anybody would have mentioned that there was anything political in those harmless fantasies in those days, he would have been ridiculed to death.But that was India In Latin America, a turbulent continent struggling with lawlessness on one hand and dictators backed by the USA on the other, anything and everything was political In Chile, a country with an unfortunate history, the struggle between capitalistic despotism and communism was fought on the arena of comic books unlikely as it may seem In 1973, the democratic government in Chile was overthrown by the military with the blessings of the USA and with liberal help from the CIA Liberals and leftists were jailed and tortured Democratic institutions were closed down Books were burned, including this one Even now, this book is not available in Chile in those days, to be found in possession of one was to risk death at the hands of the authorities.This War of the Comics had started in 1971 In 1970, after the Popular Unity government came to power, there was a marked shift to the left This worried the US, because Chile was totally in their economic control till then However, as David Kunzle says in the introduction to the book , it was easier to nationalise the copper industry than to remove the influence of insidious American popular media Chile took the effort anyway apart from this book, a local comic called Cabro Chico Little Kid was created to counter Disney How effective these measures were can be seen by the violent reaction of El Mercurio, a reactionary daily funded by the CIA, no less , who claimed these comics were a plot to seize the control of young minds by Marxist media which was true in a sense What they forgot to mention was this was already being done by America, through its free press The inevitable happened the military stepped in with the blessings of the US In the words of David Kunzle On September 11, 1973 the Chilean armed forces executed, with U S aid, the bloodiest counterrevolution in the history of the continent Tens of thousands of workers and government supporters were killed All art and literature favourable to the Popular Unity was immediately suppressed Murals were destroyed There were public bonfires of books, posters and comics Intellectuals of the left were hunted down, jailed, tortured and killed among those persecuted, the authors of this book.To illustrate where Disney stood in this fight, Kunzle reproduces a cartoon which is chilling in its implications A couple of vultures, Marx and Hegel see the blatant politicisation in the names are attacking innocent animals, and Jiminy Cricket as the voice of conscience is trying to dissuade them However, they attack Jiminy Get him, comrade who says Occasionally I run up against guys who are immune to the voice of conscience However, the farmer comes with his guns and chases the birds away, cheered on by Jiminy Ha Firearms are the only thing these bloody birds are afraid of Emphasis is mine, to clarify the message shoot the communist Walt Disney, by his own admission, never learned to draw and never put pen to paper since 1926 What he did was assimilate and market the creative a genius of a group of people The case of Carl Barks is illustrative Barks retired in 1967 from the Disney Empire and was unknown until relatively recently even though he drew most of the popular Donald Duck stories and created many endearing and enduring characters the most popular being Uncle Scrooge In actuality, the relationship between Disney and Barks was almost a parallel of that between Scrooge and Donald one almost wonders whether Barks did it tongue in cheek Walt did not consider any of his employees as creators or what he did as art, it seems he was interested in its marketability This trend is continued by the Disney studios even now It is the god of capitalism and consumerism at the altar of whom they worship We tend to think of Children s Literature as different Children are supposed to live in a world of innocence, free from all subterfuge and deception Their world accordingly, has to be sanitised from such evils as violence and sex and above all, from politics As the authors say in the introduction Inasmuch as the sweet and docile child can be sheltered effectively from the evils of existence, from the petty rancours, the hatreds, and the political and ideological contamination of his elders, any attempt to politicise the sacred domain of childhood threatens to introduce perversity where there once reigned happiness, innocence and fantasy.It is this mythical world which Disney aims to protect with his magical world of talking animals.According to Dorfman and Mattelart, this ideal child s world is creation of the adult, based on their concept of what a child should be Children s literature envisages a magical world which is nothing but a projection of the adult s inner child which wants to shut out the unpleasantness and angst of existence, prevent all forms of questioning, and ensure the perpetuation of the current society with its status quo And this lie is self sustaining children nurtured in such an environment grow into adults who will continue to recreate this fantasy world of the nursery and the vicious circle is maintained.So the apolitical world of the child is anything but its lack of politics is its politics And Donald and company invades this universe with their own subliminal messages which affect the mind of children in insidious ways Read the full review on my blog.The book is available for free on Scribd, BTW. `Ebook ☜ Para Leer al Pato Donald: Comunicación de Masas y Colonialismo ☞ En Este Mundo Nada Escapa A La Ideologia Nada Escapa, Por Lo Tanto, A La Lucha De Clases Este Libro Intenta Develar Los Mecanismos Especificos Por Los Que La Ideologia Burguesa Se Reproduce A Traves De Los Personajes De Walt Disney Indagar, Asimismo, En La Estructura De Las Historietas Para Mostrar El Universo De Connotaciones Que Desencadena Y Que Termina Por Ocupar El Lugar Fundamental En La Comprension Del Mensaje