Disney Goes to War: Animated Propaganda

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“Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world,” said Walt Disney of his beloved cartoons. While it is true that cartoons are an interesting medium of visual entertainment, their unique ability to convey information to people, adults and children alike, make the animated film medium one of the most far reaching means of propaganda. Today it is impossible to imagine American animated cinema without Disney and its cartoons. The American captivation with Disney has not changed much in the seventy years since World War II. In the early 1940s, two thirds of Americans went to the movies every week and these moviegoers were enamored with the Disney characters (Stillich). This love affair with characters like Donald Duck and Goofy made the Disney ‘Toons effective and educational propagandists. Propaganda: A Definition The concept of film propaganda is neither new nor innovative. It is a medium that has been explored and utilized by nations around the world to indoctrinate, educate and bend the minds of millions. During World War II, propaganda was used and exploited by all warring nations, the United States included. “During World War II the United States conducted a propaganda campaign against Nazi Germany of a magnitude never before seen in American history” and the Disney studios played a key part in this history-making crusade against Der Fuehrer. (Laurie 1). Before discussing the importance and effectiveness of Disney’s wartime propaganda, it is imperative to have an intimate understanding of the term “propaganda” and what it implies. Propaganda is defined as “any organized attempt by an individual, group, or g... ... middle of paper ... ...roductions. 1943. Film. Fussell, Paul. Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Print. Fyne, Robert. The Hollywood Propaganda of World War II. London: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1994. Print. Raiti, Gerard . "The Disappearance of Disney Animated Propaganda: A Globalization Perspective." Animation 2.2 (2007): 153-169. Sage. Web. 1 Apr. 2010. Shale, Richard. Donald Duck Joins Up: The Walt Disney Studio During World War II. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982. Print. Stillich, Sven. "Donald Versus Hitler: Walt Disney and the Art of WWII Propaganda." World War II. Spiegel Online, 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2010. Triumph of the Will. Dir. Leni Riefenstahl. Synapse Video, 1934. Film. "Walt Disney Goes to War." LIFE Magazine 31 Aug. 1942: 61-69. ASIFA: Hollywood Animation Archive. Web. 3 Apr. 2010.

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