[quote]No one in the Disney universe has parents. Donald Duck is Uncle Scrooge’s nephew, and in turn Huey, Dewey, and Louie are his nephews.
This situation arises from Disney’s strict prohibition of sexual or even platonic love. Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy: no where is it
explicit that these are boyfriend/girlfriend couples. The most extreme examples of the missing parents come from Disney films, where
mothers are often killed, bad, or just missing (see: Bambi, Snow White, Dumbo). One intent of this is to create a “children’s paradise,” where
they are beholden to no one. It also creates a situation where the roles of the children and adults are reversed and the adults are allowed
to regress into simpletonism (ex: when Donald and his nephews argue, his nephews are the voice of reason and are on the side of right much
of the time).
In the world where the kids are the adults and the adults are ostensibly in charge, there is a void left open for someone to fill. Someone needs
to be dominated in this universe, and Disney leaves it up to the “noble savage” to stand in this role. In a large majority of comics, the ducks travel to a foreign land in search of treasure and meet the locals along the way. These locals are depicted without fail as big, childlike, dark, and naive. The ducks (adults and kids alike) are free to take advantage of whatever the locals have while returning either nothing or something of low intrinisic value in the “civilized” world. One explicit example concerns Gu, the Abominable Snowman, who is enchanted by the magical properties of a cheap wristwatch and eagerly gives up the valuable gold crown in his cave which is “worthless” to him.
Whether they are headed to Aztecland (a stereotyped Mexico) or Unsteadystan (an extremely biased representation of Vietnam), the ducks
are almost always in search of one thing: gold. In fact, gold is the prime motivator in 75% of the comics, whereas in most
of the rest the ducks are seeking community fame and prestige in some fashion. Interestingly, whether the gold comes in the form of bagged nuggets or a pre-formed artifact, the consistent feature of these comics is the invisibility of the production chain that created the goods. In other words, there is no load to be borne by anyone from Duckburg (or for that matter, by anybody) in obtaining these objects. They are simply there for the taking; the items wait only for someone with enough intelligence to come along and make use of them.
The grand capitalist myth, that anyone can rise to the top of the pecking order if they are simply keen enough, is thus in full display in these comics. The populace in these comics is divided into three types: the inherently good Duckburgers, the evil swindlers that try to part them from their rightful gains, and the childlike “noble savages” that stand by on the sidelines. The Duckburgers are deserving of everything that comes to them because they had the right amount of genius and luck. This luck, which comes in the form of bad luck which scatters obstacles in the characters’ path and good luck which ultimately gives them their rewards, is supplied by fate and is called deconcretized work. The products are not attained through work or creative effort, but simply by a sufficiently large accumulation of misfortune or misery (they then “deserve” their good fortune in turn). Hard work (indeed, any work) is a foreign concept to them. The danger of using this foil is that people come to expect that providence is the only force determining their fortune. If they receive
any recompense, it was because of their acceptance of fate as their supreme master. (Slaves to misfortune?) In any event, the goods they
desire simply spring from Mother Earth, fully formed. It is amply shown that the other two groups cannot possible aspire to join the bourgoisie upper-class because in this world you must simply accept who you are. The Beagle Boys (part of the “thief” group) end up back in jail time and time again. The native savages are left in the same state they were at the beginning: neither richer nor poorer. Furthermore, Scrooge is often an island, reliant totally upon himself. Even if he calls in the police, he ends up having to do it all himself. He never uses his vast wealth to aid him in his quest for more. It only sits in a pile in the corner, conferring no power nor advantage to him over any competitor. He relies solely on his stores of intelligence to let him succeed.
This leads to one of the core conclusions of the book: the Disney universe never changes, and this strongly reinforces the proletariat to accept its
lot in life. Nothing material is ever formed in this world (no sex=no children, no production= no new commodities). Moreover, the accumulation of wealth leads to nothing more than further accumulation. Is Scrooge ever happy with what he gathers on his quest? The answer is a resounding no, and furthermore we never even see those things again. They are converted into more gold coins in his vault. The adventure is never spoken of again. In this sense, the Disney comics whitewash history and disallow any change from the lockstep system. The peasants in foreign lands must remain there so that they can be swindled anew the next time McDuck swings through town.
Conclusions: The book shows a much more coherent explanation of the above thesis than I have presented here (now that I reread it). Furthermore, there are many concrete examples of blatant anti-communist propaganda (a soldier says “shows you can’t trust these watches from the ‘worker’s paradise!’”, Donald successfully diverts and sells to a crowd of protesters holding “Peace” and “Love” signs, thereby showing their hypocrisy as they throw down their ideals for a glass of lemonade). These dilution strategies try to subsume unusual phenomena in society (protests, pop art) and make them banal so that the greater
social body can dismiss them as harmless. In other words, don’t worry about what that radical over there is saying, he’s either not serious or he’s just crazy.
Furthermore, if you can co-opt the symbols of a revolution you can dilute its message (punk rock music isn’t so political anymore, the reseller tells a housewife to “liberate” herself from chores by buying a new dishwasher and in doing so steals the term from the women’s liberation movement.)
Above this, there is a strong argument that this message coming from Disney is particularly insidious considering that it is certainly aimed at placating the next generation of subjugates (children reading the comics). The fact that it is “juvenile” literature gives it excess license to be fanciful and construct a world rife with “adventure,” and also gives Disney a tacit buffer from criticism since “it’s only kid’s stuff.” My fascination with the book stems mostly from the eye-opening approach to the discussion. Some parts of capitalism which have been taught to me as self-evident (in particular, the ideal of the self-made man) seem a lot more like indoctrination when you hear a socialist/communist address the issues. Many people of my generation might even snicker or shake their heads when told that Scrooge McDuck’s self-reliance is somehow a defect. Likewise, if presented with a situation where both parties are very happy with the outcome but you come out vastly ahead economically, wouldn’t you be a fool not to take it? Questions like this are never asked in an advanced capitalist society, so it was a change to read things from another angle. [/quote]