Mickey’s Noble Savage

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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Walt Disney was no stranger to racialist and racist imagery. The former was comic convention, the latter was matter-of-fact. This 1949 story has our fabled mouse taking possession of a gift, Robinson Crusoe-style, of an African “boy” native. So in one swoop Disney covers racial stereotypes and servitude.

Other Disney faux pas included the Black Crows in Dumbo and buck-toothed Japanese in various propaganda films, and various other incidental characterizations. Cartoons will be cartoons, after all. But they tell us a lot about how Americans perceived otherness.

For more on the “dark side” of Walt’s productions, go here.


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About Steven HellerSteven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →