Thursday, May 10, 2007

Disney Promotes War and Safe Sex

It is fairly common knowledge that during World War II, Walt Disney worked with different government agencies to make war-propaganda films, including one for the Treasury on the importance of paying taxes and four anti-Hitler films. He also allowed Disney characters to be used to support the purchase of war bonds and rationing.

Perhaps, less well-known is that some Disney characters in the interest of winning the war also encouraged soldiers to use condoms. It is now possible to purchase your own World War II Anti-VD poster of Donald Duck despairing that he can't shag a woman because he is without a prophylactic.

I can't help but wonder about the success of this campaign. I mean why Donald and not Mickey or Goofy? It is some sort of slam on Donald's morals? Or could it be that no one can imagine Goofy remembering to use condom in such a situation?

Did hearing such wise words from a cartoon duck work better than the posters that warned that "You can't beat the Axis if you get VD" or tried to scare soldiers into worrying about what diseases the women they picked up off duty might have?

Each year I make my classes read Walt Disney's testimony before HUAC where he talks about the use of propaganda in Hollywood during the war. I never shown them examples of that propaganda before -but I would be interested in hearing their thoughts on why the government thought such campaigns would be effective. Although if I decide to present an example, I'll probably stick with the rationing poster - just to be safe.


Tim Lacy said...

Dr. History:

Funny post! I couldn't help but click through to the enlarged version of the Donald poster.

But you say: I mean why Donald and not Mickey or Goofy?

Of course the answer for Goofy is self-evident. Did Jerry Lewis get all the babes? Do girls today like goofy men?

And on Mickey, perhaps his diminuative size "extended" to other areas? And what girl finds a man with overly large ears attractive? (This could apply to Goofy as well).

So, all that's left is Donald. Didn't he always sound drunk, like easy takings for a hot woman on the move? Plus, didn't Donald have a bit of bravado, of the alpha male, about him?

- TL

Anonymous said...

I thought it might be because Mickey had a faithful girl at home.

Tim Lacy said...

True! I must admit I had forgotten about Minnie: I guess I'm down on my mouse lore. She's proof that even guys with overly large ears can find a gal. - TL

Nogias said...

Donald is an awkward character in that sense really. He's the one that is always being reminded to do the right thing because he's always suceptible to his vices. Goofy is too dumb to realize what his vices are, and Mickey is the model citizen of America.

Daisy is Donald's steady girl at home, so he's still held accountable for the infedility. But even in a cartoon I just watched on the way home from Germany last summer showed him paying another 'look-alike' of himself to win back Daisy after a fight. Of course he'd pay off another guy to be elloquent and charming instead of standing up and appologizing.

Note here: I know lots of people may argue that Daisy appeared *after* WWII, but not true.

"In the 1937 cartoon Don Donald there was a Donna Duck who can be seen as the first appearance of Daisy, or perhaps as a precursor of Daisy. The next appearance was in Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940) where she had the right name."

He's always the first to steal, always the first to lose his temper, essentially I'd have no idea where to put him Dante's hell now that you've brought my attention to the VD ad. I had no idea, though I'm not suprised.

You must admit though, because he completes the trio of stupid and model citizen by being the swarmy character he become the perfect scape goat for these kinds of behaviors that were not encouraged by the populace back home.