“We had insolently threatened to roast the Duck.”
October 11, 2018 9:29 AM   Subscribe

How we roasted Donald Duck, Disney's agent of imperialism [The Guardian] “We had received death threats, an irate woman had tried to run me over and neighbours – accompanied by their children – had stoned the house where my wife, Angélica, and I lived in Santiago, shouting: “Long live Donald Duck!” It was later discovered that the 5,000 copies of the third printing of the book [How to Read Donald Duck] had been taken from a warehouse by the Chilean navy and cast into the bay of Valparaíso. What had we done to incur such enmity? Armand and I had denounced Walt Disney as an agent of American cultural imperialism, incarnated in the life, adventures and misdeeds of Donald Duck, that innocuous icon, then one of the most popular characters in the world.”
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
"It was not enough, we felt, to change the economic and social structures that benefited a rich minority and their international corporate allies. It was also imperative to understand how the previous rulers of our land had presented this subjugation as normal, natural and benign; how they had been covertly selling us an American model of success and consumer affluence as the false solution to poverty and misdevelopment."
So very relevant in 2018.
posted by Fizz at 9:34 AM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Interesting - thanks for this!

One bit of the Wikipedia article:
In the view of Mendoza, Montaner, and Llosa, the entire tone of How to Read Donald Duck is that of paranoia. It excites the imagination of the readers, convincing them that there is an international conspiracy aimed at subjugating them. That a wicked "gringo" is working to deceive them. In other work, the book promotes yet another conspiracy theory to a gullible audience.
That's a funny thing to say about a book written just before an international conspiracy did, in fact, overthrow Chile's democratically elected government.
posted by clawsoon at 9:46 AM on October 11, 2018 [29 favorites]

I am adding this to my shopping cart (the non 400+ dollar one, yikes). I have a constantly throbbing hate organ pumping vitriol into my system for both Disney specifically and capitalism at large, so this book sounds amazing. I can't believe I'm only just now hearing of it. Glad this book survived attempts to destroy it but I'm sad it is relevant today, it shouldn't have to be.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Donald Duck has a special history in South America. This comment should really be studded with links, but I'm on my phone and also too damn lazy. During WWII, the United States government instituted The Good Neighbor Policy, an effort to establish stronger ties with South America in order to undermine ties between South America and Nazi Germany.

At the same time, the Walt Disney Studios were in the middle of an animators’ strike. While the dispute was being settled, Walt jumped at the chance to get away from his domestic unrest when the government asked him to go on a goodwill tour south of the border. He took it a step further and brought along a bunch of his top artists to make a set of cartoons featuring Donald Duck traveling to meet his new friends José Carioca the Brazilian parrot and Panchito Pistoles the Mexican rooster. The story of the voyage and the resulting movies is told in the documentary Walt and el Grupo.

So that's one part of the world where the Duck can overshadow the Mouse for some.

The "Aquarela do Brasil" section of ¡Saludos Amigos! is particularly lovely.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:04 AM on October 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

One of my favorite possessions is a copy of "How to Read Donald Duck" signed by Don Rosa
posted by DCCooper at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I just finished reading How To Read Donald Duck yesterday - it's delightful. There's one particular section about the relationship within early Disney comics between Child and Uncle (as opposed to Child and Father, as there are few Fathers in the literature) that leads up to the line: "The world of Disney is a nineteenth century orphanage. With this difference : there is no outside, and the orphans have nowhere to flee to."
posted by RubixsQube at 11:12 AM on October 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

I clearly remember being taught this book in a Poli Sci class back in 91. In fact, when I read the headline of this post, I immediately said "Hey, this is that Dorfman book!" because I had long since forgotten the book's name but the Authors were still stuck in my head decades later.

When I tried to explain to my wife, early in our relationship, why I distrusted and despised Disney above other conglomerates, she was dismissive until I dug out the book and showed her the relevant comics and the role they played in setting the stage for the Chilean coup.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Extremely relevant to my interests.
posted by The Toad at 1:27 PM on October 11, 2018

I would like to reread Carl Barks now.
posted by JamesBay at 2:03 PM on October 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

This explains why the era of hyper-financialized late capitalist consumerism was ushered in by Disco Duck
posted by thelonius at 2:40 PM on October 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

So that's one part of the world where the Duck can overshadow the Mouse for some.

Also Scandinavia - there's been tonnes of pop psychology about why this is over the years.

Great post, I too read this book as a young political science major.
posted by smoke at 6:51 PM on October 11, 2018

speaking of Donald Duck and Scandinavia: Donald Duck, the Dogme film
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:48 PM on October 11, 2018

Yes, there was a time in Chile when CIA-supoorted American control and sabotage of foreign democracies was considered a conspiracy theory. Till we had evidence.
Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean it's not true, eh?

For what it's worth, thus book was really hard to find in Chile in the early 00ghts. Not impossoble, but my uni didn't have it. I heard about it though...
posted by ipsative at 8:15 AM on October 12, 2018

BigLankyBastard: When I tried to explain to my wife, early in our relationship, why I distrusted and despised Disney above other conglomerates
I hated Disney before I understood the politics. There's just so much to hate... *sigh*
posted by ipsative at 8:18 AM on October 12, 2018

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