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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 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 quarrelthan 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 wayexcept 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 is utterly remarkable A Marxist critique of Donald Duck from Chilean academics published prior to the US inspired and paid for coup and burnt in the streets afterwards But this analysis is muchinteresting than just some historical curiosity That Marxist Chileans didn t much like Walt Disney is hardly surprising What is interesting is that in providing this cultural analysis they are not merely saying that Disney was a representative of the capitalist class and therefore only interested in the suppression of class consciousness they say this as well, of course , rather they illuminate some incredibly interesting themes from cartoons and show how these link to the world view Disney was seeking to normalise It must be remembered that this isn t an easy task, as it has to overcome a lot of prejudice, Disney is often presented as a remarkably moral man a provider of fantasy and imagination to children, someone who presents us with a better world, if not a golden age from a near distant past When my children were born it used to annoy me that each new Disney film that would come out would be referred to in the advertising as the all new Disney classic But that was how Disney liked to see themselves, as the classics factory.I didn t really know all that much about Disney himself before reading this book the introduction, really A Freudian analysis of Walt would also be a really interesting read His relationship with his mother is non existent and the one with his father seems particularly problematic and, well, let s be frank, Oedipal His relationship with his wife seems anything but loving, mucha commercial transaction But his relationship with his employees were particularly horrific The introduction talks about one of his key artists, who seems to have been the creative brains behind Donald Duck, but who lived in obscurity enforced as Disney took all credit for all creativity and relative poverty Disney made his employees sign contracts that gave him complete artistic control over all of their work I had always also just assumed that Disney was some kind of artist But, Walt Disney, the man who never by his own admission learned to draw, and never even tried to put pencil to paper after around 1926, who could not even sign his name as it appeared on his products, acquired the reputation of being the most significant figure in graphic art since Leonardo Pages 18 19Disney s world is a very male one Females exist as sex objects, even if sex itself is never realised even by implication This is a world without mothers and often also without fathers It is a world where parental authority resides in uncles Something that isn t said in the book, but that I couldn t help thinking about throughout, was the relationship here to the US s Uncle Sam Most countries are either fatherlands or motherlands, only is the US avuncular Perhaps there is a lesson here about patriotism, as the love from an uncle is far less guaranteed or something that can be be taken for granted than that of a parent to a child You have to earn it and even then the relationship can be cold and distant.As the authors note, The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage Page 35And the relationship between those with power and those without is not really like family either The less fortunate regard their subjection as natural They spend all day complaining about their slave master, but they would rather obey his craziest order than challenge him Page 36 In fact, not only can they not challenge authority, but any real union between those at the same level is deeply problematical too All that is left to them since solidarity between equals is prohibited is to compete Page 37 The old anarchist slogan that property is theft is virtually reversed here Property always belongs to someone and it is a duty to ensure that it is either returned to its rightful owners or kept out of the hands of those trying to take it from its rightful owners There is no talk of unfair distributions of wealth, such a notion is inconceivable, and so a reallocation is also and equally unimaginable What is, is and it is both lawful and natural This does not apply to the property of third world people s in quite the same way Their wealth is basically wasted on them and so needs to be taken from them But in a nice and smiling way, rather than in the way the Spanish did with the Conquistadors In fact, often the natives are only too happy to give away their wealth You don t just steal their riches, you trade them for it However, these trades are hardly ever fair, even in the make believe world of Disney Even our the authors fiercest enemies could hardly justify the inequity of such an exchange how can a fistful of jewels be regarded as equivalent to a box of soap, or a golden crown equal a cheap watch Page 51This is all part of the continuation of the white man s burden The constant characteristic of the natives irrational fear and panic when faced with any phenomenon which disrupts their natural rhythm of life serves to emphasize their cowardice rather like children afraid of the dark , and to justify the necessity that some superior being come to their rescue and bring daylight Page 53 And for bringing rationalism and protection how could anyone possibly complain that they also take with them recompense This stems from the fact that Disney has excised workers and production from his ideal society No one actually works, even though the world is awash with stuff, there are products, but never any production Donald Duck might be constantly looking for work, but he also constantly fails in whichever jobs he undertakes and these are invariably service jobs, never jobs in manufacturing, never jobs making stuff This seems almost ironic now, given that the first world seems to have mostly stopped manufacturing anything Disney s dream seems to be coming true.While there are no workers in Disney s paradise, there is certainly a kind of criminal underclass These are normally drawn as people of colour, certainly unkempt and presented as people without ideas There are a couple of major currencies that determine social location social class isn t discussed as everyone knows it doesn t exist The first is heredity As is pointed out a one stage here, Donald Duck puts on a hat that makes dull people smart and he suddenly knows lots about history And what does he know That his town was founded by someone with the same surname as his Uncle Scrooge Pedigree counts, even for ducks.Other than heredity there is also a kind of natural allocation of cash this is in fact also a kind of heredity But the thing that really sets the rich apart from the poor is ideas Once you have ideas you can have anything and money isor less guaranteed Money is essential in the stories the stories could really be defined as exercises in avarice This is only tempered by that great imponderable, luck Some people have it and some people don t and this affects their fortune in ways that are hard to foretell, although, the luck of the nice is infinitely better than that of the not nice As no one really works that can hardly be the basis of wealth Being the first person who knows where to look for wealth is the key, not getting there first.So, you re a duck that hasn t got enough money to pay the next instalment on your television set or to take your girlfriend out on a date or to buy a present for your rich uncle what to do Well, work is probably out of the question What you almost certainly need to do is go off on an adventure An adventure is a kind of abstract labour quixotic labour, really The arc of these stories generally starts with Donald resting, but bored He needs cash, not for anything like a gas bill or food, but for some trifle He goes off on an adventure, which is fast and furious and probably involves bringing civilisation to the uncivilised Then, after all this work, he takes a vacation Everything begins and ends in rest There is activity, but never any change.And this is part of the confinements imposed by the genre Each story is independent This is certainly not a serial, it is a series of stories all independent of the last Just because Donald achieved fame and perhaps a statue in the town square in the last story or Uncle Scrooge made a fortune from one or other of his ideas neither this fortune or fame has any currency in the new story which isor less a reiteration of the same thing yet again.When we steal from natives we are not really stealing from them The fact is that the objects we are taking from them are generally infinitely antique They nobelong to the natives than they do to anyone else This reminded me so much of Said s Orientalism The myth of the white expert who must go to distant lands and explain their cultural treasures to them If these people are so childlike that they don t realise how valuable their treasurers really are, do they really deserve to keep them Having recently been to the British Museum I have to say white people have had this attitude for quite some time.I would love to see this same critique done today on The Simpsons I suspect it would be just as interesting many of the same themes are evident in both shows, down to the rich uncle character and the anti hero being lazy and a bit stupid, but also somewhat good.There is a link to this book online I ve no idea how long the link will remain active but download the file onto your computer This really is a quick and fascinating read A lovely piece of Marxist literary criticism Enjoy quotes To say that this book was burnt in Chile should not come as a surprise to anyone Hundreds of books were destroyed, and thousandsprohibited and censored Page 9 Over the last twenty years Barks has become something of a cult figure which has generated a small literary industry, while his original comic books and the lithographs and paintings done since his retirement in 1967 have been eagerly sought after and bought at high prices, much in contrast with his earlier obscurity and relative poverty His working conditions under Disney make him look like Donald Duck vis vis Uncle Scrooge as Uncle Walt 18 Ever since 1935, when the League of Nations recognised Mickey Mouse as an International Symbol of Good Will , Disney has been an outspoken political figure Page 20 But the physical absence of the father does not mean the absence of paternal power Page 34 The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage 35 The less fortunate regard their subjection as natural They spend all day complaining about their slave master, but they would rather obey his craziest order than challenge him 36 Her own power is the traditional one of seductress, which she exercises in the form of coquetry 38 Women are left with only two alternatives which are no really alternatives at all to be Snow White or the Witch, the little girl housekeeper or the wicked stepmother 38 And since she is always cooking for the male, her aim in life is to catch him by one brew or the other 38 Her only raison d tre is to become a sexual object, infinitely solicited and postponed She is frozen on the threshold of satisfaction and repression among impotent people 39 But why this unhealthy phobia of Disney s Why has motherhood been expelled from his Eden 40 Moral don t try to change anything Put up with what you have, or chances are you will end up with worse 43 So there are two types of children While the city folk are intelligent, calculating, crafty and superior the Third Worldlings are candid, foolish, irrational, disorganised and gullible like Cowboys and Indians 46 Everything continues as before It doesn t matter if one part be in the right and the other in the wrong, as long as the rules stay the same 47 The king has learned that he must ally himself with foreigners if he wishes to stay in power, and that he cannot even impose taxes on his people, because this wealth must pass wholly out of the country to Duckburg through the agent of McDuck 51 Even our fiercest enemies could hardly justify the inequity of such an exchange how can a fistful of jewels be regarded as equivalent to a box of soap, or a golden crown equal a cheap watch 51 It is the old aphorism, the poor have no worries, it is the rich who have all the problems So let s have no qualms about plundering the poor and underdeveloped 52The constant characteristic of the natives irrational fear and panic when faced with any phenomenon which disrupts their natural rhythm of life serves to emphasise their cowardice rather like children afraid of the dark , and to justify the necessity that some superior being come to their rescue and bring daylight 53 In order to assure the redemptive powers of present day imperialism, it is only necessary to measure it against old style colonialism and robbery page 54 Disney does not invent these caricatures, he only exploits them to the utmost 54 Disney has had to adjust to the fact of Cuba and the invasion of the Dominican Republic The buccaneer now cries, Viva the Revolution, and has to be defeated It will be Chile s turn yet 56 Apparently, in modern times it is the champions of popular insurgency who will bring back human slavery 58 In the Disney comics, one never meets a member of the working or proletarian classes, and nothing is the product of an industrial process 59 What are these adventurers escaping from their claustrophobic cities really after What is the true motive of their flight from the urban centre Bluntly stated inthan seventy five percent of our sampling they are looking for gold, in the remaining twenty five percent they are competing for fortune in the form of money or fame in the city 61 We are struck by the antiquity of the coveted object 61 The nobel savages have no history, and they have forgotten their past, which was never theirs to begin with 62 For Disney, history exists in order to be demolished, in order to be turned into a dollar which gave it birth and lays it to rest 62 The origin of wealth has to appear natural and innocent 63 Nature is the great labor force, producing objects of human and social utility as if they were natural 64 There is a term which would be like dynamite to Disney, like a scapulary to a vampire, like electricity convulsing a frog social class That is why Disney must publicise his creations as universal, beyond frontiers they reach all homes, they reach all countries O immortal Disney, international patrimony, reaching all children everywhere, everywhere, everywhere 65 Surely, it is not good for children to be surreptitiously injected with a permanent compulsion to buy objects they don t need This is Disney s sole ethical code consumption for consumption s sake 66 Disney can conceive of no other threat to wealth than theft 67 There is no question of an unjust distribution of wealth if everyone was like the honest ducklings rather than the ugly cheats, the system would function perfectly 68 It is always the ideas of the bourgeoisie which give them the advantage in the race for success, and nothing else 69 The socio economic basis of unemployment is shunted aside in favour of individual psychological explanations, which assume that the causes and consequences of any social phenomenon are rooted in the abnormal elements in individual human behaviour 71 This gold is not easily attained One has first to suffer deconcretized work work in the form of adventure 72 The adventure usually ends in the recompense of a vacation, and a return to rest, now well deserved after the weight of so much deconcretized labor 74 Let us take the most extreme example Big Bad Wolf and his eternal hunt for the three little pigs He appears to want to eat them But hunger is not the real motive his need is really to embellish his life with some simulacrum of activity 75 The segregation of the child s world between the everyday and the enchanted begins in the comics themselves, which take the first step in teaching children, from their tenderest years, to separate work from leisure, and humdrum reality from the play of their imagination 76 Beyond the children s comic lies the whole concept of contemporary mass culture, which is based on the principle that only entertainment can liberate humankind from the social anxiety and conflict in which it is submerged 76 They can be read in any order, and are timeless one written in 1950 can be published without any trouble in 1970 79 All is in motion, but nothing changes 80 Statue, Statute, Status, Static Time and time again, someone is rewarded with the prize of a statue standing in a public place or museum 84 History is portrayed as a self repeating, constantly renascent adventure, in which the bad guys try, unsuccessfully, to steal from the good guys 85 There first and last thought is to fill up spare time, that is, to seek entertainment 96 Matter has become mind, history has become pastime, work has become adventure, and everyday life has become a sensational news item 96 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 interestedin 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. 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.

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