Today I took the final exam and submitted my last paper for my English seminar course. Now, I have a single paper left on Nazis, and my final full semester is over. Why Nazis? because the only other option is to write about the Bush administration. If I attempt to do the latter, I will end up handing in a semi-coherent conspiracy theory piece that may as well be a corkboard with "HALIBURTON," "SOUTH OSSETIA," and "DICK CHENEY'S ROBOT HEART" connected by string wrapped around pins.
So, here's "Der Fuehrer's Face," a Donald Duck cartoon from 1943. I originally heard about its existence when I was eleven or twelve, from my mom's boyfriend, who heard about it on Howard Stern. Considering that I had grown up in the sanitized Cartoon Network era, after their purge of anything remotely "offensive" from their collection of classic animation, I refused to believe in it. I wouldn't encounter the wide world of pitch-black Holocaust jokes until high school and my complete disbelief was further supported by growing up a European Jew from Leningrad and taught that there is nothing funny about Hitler, ever. When a friend of mine tracked this down and showed it to me, around age sixteen or so, it blew my mind. It didn't feel like something anyone at Disney would ever have the balls to make, and yet here it was! Donald Duck the Nazi, just like mom's boyfriend said!
As with all of Disney's output during that period, it's a wonderful piece of music and animation regardless of the subject matter. While not particularly witty -- wartime propaganda rarely is -- it is rather funny. The conformity and uniformity of the Nazi regime tends to breed lazy satire, but this is quite the opposite; the animators imaginations are clearly firing on all cylinders and they thankfully set out to make a good cartoon as much as a piece of propaganda. Unfortunately, this is also a cartoon to which I must give the "product of its times" racism-pass and I'd rather go no further into that territory lest I end up turning the blog post into a dissertation on race and politics and then offhandedly mention Glenn Beck and have it turn from dissertation into that whole conspiracy-pinboard situation I am trying to avoid in the first place.