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Walt Disney and World War II Cartoons How media and communications have affected our history.

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Presentation on theme: "Walt Disney and World War II Cartoons How media and communications have affected our history."— Presentation transcript:

1 Walt Disney and World War II Cartoons How media and communications have affected our history

2 Cartoons weren’t only for kids… During this time, film studios used animated characters to spread propaganda and educate Americans about their enemies – Two-thirds of Americans went to the movies every week -- and they loved the Disney characters. During WWII, many studios, including Disney, were contracted by the US armed forces to produce training films, documentaries, propaganda and morale-boosting films * There was a monetary aspect as well…Disney was close to bankruptcy

3 The beginnings… (not in your notes) Representatives of the US military went to Disney in December 1941, right around the time that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. – The Army wanted to transform part of the studios into defensive fortifications that would be used to help protect a nearby airplane factory against air raids. – Plus then the Navy commissioned animated films to be used to train its sailors.

4 In May 1942 - "Donald Gets Drafted." Donald does his patriotic duty when he receives his draft notice and enlists in the army. However if you watch - anti-military sentiment The film is meant to draw a sharp distinction between the glamorous life presented in the posters outside the draft board compared to the reality Donald faces inside. Ex: when Donald is at basic training, Barks pokes fun at military discipline, and even gives the sergeant a punishment of sorts by getting shot. This played well with audiences who were resentful of military strictness as America was mobilizing itself for war. Why? Carl Barks, one of the writers of the film. - was a pacifist who was against America's involvement in the war. "When I saw how little we accomplished with World War I, I thought, why in the devil kill off another whole generation of young men to accomplish the same result?" ~Berks In Donald Gets Drafted Barks ridicules military recruitment, in particular its deceptive propaganda.

5 More contracts followed Then cartoon called "The Spirit of '43" This movie was commissioned by US Secretary of the Treasury (Barks did not write it) – Donald showed Americans why it was important to save money -- so that they could pay their taxes fully and on time. – WHY? During the war, taxes were “high,” so that the government could produce the things needed to wage the war Americans contributions were urgently needed for the war because "taxes will keep democracy on the march" and "every dollar you spend for something you don't need is a dollar spent to help the Axis." Was seen by 26 million Americans, and more than a third of them later admitted they began saving for their taxes partly thanks to Donald.

6 In addition to films, starting in 1942… Walt Disney's artists designed insignia for American troop units. A crow from "Dumbo" for bombing squadrons A turtle with a broom for minesweepers Mosquito riding a torpedo for the Navy's new torpedo boats

7 Likewise, many soldiers and airmen decorated their tanks and fighters themselves with Mickeys, Donalds and Plutos. These were symbols of the American way of life, of freedom and democracy, of everything that was at stake. "Mickey Mouse" is even said to have been a password used by the Allied forces on D-Day. Fact: During World War II, Disney cartoons were not allowed to be imported into Occupied Europe (propagandistic content)

8 Other propaganda posters to support the war effort and to “keep awake” for the enemy

9 Disney…. (notes start again) Produced nearly 68 hours of film during the war years, nearly all for the war propaganda effort for various military departments. Devoted 90% of their staff to these war films

10 First One… The first is Education for Death, subtitled as “The Making of a Nazi.” – based on a book that chronicles a young boy’s development in Nazi Germany, from young innocent child to a cold, unfeeling Nazi ready to give his life for his Fuhrer (Hitler). – It is an interesting the way emotion–and especially family emotion – was used to stir up anti-Nazi sentiment.

11 Second One… The second is a more humorous piece titled Der Fuhrer’s Face. (January 1, 1943) – It follows Donald Duck through a nightmare in which he imagines himself in Nazi Germany working in a defense plant. His entire routine is watched and monitored by a ridiculous band of Nazis singing the title theme song – This is propaganda as absurdity–the use of exaggeration and satire to make the enemy seem as ridiculous as possible.

12 Answer the Discussion Questions

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