Friday, April 21, 2006

Disney and Labor Unions

In my Communications 300 class, my professor lent me a copy of "How to Read Donald Duck". It's a translation of a Brazilian book, and it talks about how consumerist and imperialist values are being transferred through Disney books.

It got me thinking: I watch Disney channel pretty religiously; a) because it's one of the 6 channels I get and b) I love cartoons. But it's getting harder to enjoy them, namely because of Disney's anti-union sentiments.

There are two episodes in particular I'm thinking about: one from "The Proud Family" (PF) and one from "The Buzz on Maggie" (BoM). "PF" is about Penny Proud and her family, which includes her father, mother, twin siblings, and grandmother (in order: Oscar, Trudy, Beebe and Ceece, and Sugah Mama) and her friends: Sticky, Dijonay, Zoey, and LaCienega. "BoM" is about a fly named Maggie Pestki, and her family of flies and her friends, who are varying types of bugs (can you tell that I don't watch that one as much?).

Season One, Episode two [Strike] Penny Proud and her friends can't do anything: none of them make enough money to play mini-golf, bowl, or see a movie, anything at all (even lie in the grass: the Gross Sisters charge them a sitting fee). So, they decide to strike until their parents give them more money. The episode ends with everyone deciding that they can't hold out, and they all lose their allowances for a time.

In "Those Pesky Roaches" Maggie realizes that she is getting paid much less than her classmates, so she convinces her brothers to go on strike with her. Her parents hire roaches instead and the strike fails, with Maggie and her brothers having to take no allowance for a year to pay for the roaches.

The anti-union, anti-strike sentiment is there. You don't deserve enough to spend, you better not press the authority, or you're going to come out worse. Little kids see this, and are going to be afraid of striking, and internalize that they don't deserve a living wage, or a fair wage.

In PF, no one could keep up with inflation: they were working and STILL couldn't have anything. In BoM, Maggie didn't get what her friends got, because of the "benefits" of her family (job): presents on Christmas, and home-cooking (which, Maggie's friends should have been getting as well, so it is really a stupid argument).

I doubt that this wasn't intentional, or at the very least, that they are unaware of the sentiment. Disney has had some difficulties with unions in the past, and in fact when these episodes first aired, there were accusations of union busting.

This is scary, for an organization that is the second most powerful media organization in the world.


At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Maximus said...

Gawsh Mickey,

I guess only a delusional feminist could be scared by Donald Duck. A silly duck with no pants.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger Goddess Cassandra said...

Wow, what a total lack of reading comprehension skills you have!

My very first troll. This is really a ground-breaking moment in my life.

A) The title was "How to Read Donald Duck". The book itself actually had less to do with the character, and more to do with the themes in Disney works. This is much like acedemic works like "How to read Dikens".

B) What exactly is a delusional feminst? Is that like a feminist with hallicinations? Or is it a simple reference to feminism being delusional?

C) Where are you getting "scared of Donald Duck"? I thought it was scary that such a huge media mogul (who owns more than just children's programming, by the by) had such strong anti-union sentiments.

D) Duck with no pants, yet also had no dick. Odd.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a bilingual union negotiator for 14 years. The really scary part is how much the Unions take from the salaries, compacting the problems economically for every employee and for any company and compressing he profitability of any company. There is no excuse for the astronomically high fees except to finance the Union, which is their ONLY interest.


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