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Loony 'Toons

First off, let’s dispense with the notion that Walt Disney was some sort of happy hero to the masses.

Disney was a right-wing reactionary (he was virulently anti-union and named names in HUAC’s anti-Communist witch hunt), a closet white supremacist (he supported the pro-Hitler German American Bund), and a general all-around bigot (he openly parodied Jews in many of his works, and refused to hire blacks at Disneyland, because he believed it would “have spoiled the illusion”). It’s not enough to forgive Disney’s flagrancies with the usual excuse that he was a product of his time; not when you’re Uncle Walt, and your product crafts the daydreams of generations.

Disney’s contemporaries knew this, and, though their reactions were driven by professional jealousy as much as anything, they creditably undermined Disney and his snow-white oeuvre at every turn. Film scholar Dennis Nyback has made a career out of packaging and screening rare animated works that parody and counterpoint Disney, and he’ll screen some in the Compare to Disney (aka F@#k Mickey Mouse). In addition to Disney’s own Der Fuehrer’s Face, a 1943 ’toon in which Donald Duck dreams he’s a Nazi, the bill includes Tex Avery’s va-va-va-voom Red Hot Riding Hood and the Warner lampoon Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves.

Sat., Sept. 5, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009


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