• Steven Heller

Duck And Cover

When first published 40 years ago in 1975, How To Read Donald Duck by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart argued that Disney’s famous Duck comics, featuring the ultra-rich Scrooge McDuck, who was routinely on global searches for treasure, reflects the ideology of American corporate exploitation of Latin American countries.

Dorfman and Mattelart criticized the heavy hand of Walt on all work that came from Disney studios. Critics of How To Read … argued that comics written and drawn by Carl Barks, the principle artist for the Duck comics, included social criticism and even anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist references.

Still there is some truth to the claims that Disney once, at least, controlled the world. “The names of the Presidents change, that of Disney remains,” wrote David Kunzle in his 1990 introduction to the English edition, adding “he has done more than any single person to disseminate around the world certain myths upon which that culture has thrived, notably that of an ‘innocence’ supposedly universal, beyond place, beyond time—and beyond criticism.”

Dorfman and Mattelart wrote in January 1975: “Mr. Disney, we are returning your Duck. Feathers plucked and well-roasted. Look inside, you can see the handwriting on the wall, our hands still writing on the wall: Donald, Go Home!”

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