Thursday, 5 March 2020

el gaucho goofy

As problematic and painful as past, back catalogue portrayals depicting racist and stereotyped can be and deserving of being called out, discussed and carrying warning labels, it is unsettling how versions offered as unadulterated can yet be revisionistic and casting a positive pall on iconic characters, Paleofuture’s take down of Disney’s cleaning up a scene of one of their old guard personalities smoking in its 1942 live-action and animated featurette Saludos Amigos mentions a foot-note behind the cartoon’s existence in the first place that bears investigation as well.
The US State Department commissioned Walt Disney and others to peddle the soft diplomacy of Mickey Mouse and company to counteract ties that Central and South America was forming with Nazi Germany—a job that Disney and much of Hollywood readily accepted since European markets were closed off to them due to the war. The propaganda film by most estimates was well received by audiences in both Latin America and domestically, instilling a sense of continental cohesion and giving US cinema-goers a taste of some the refinement of the culture and scenery that they’d been previously ignorant of—and was enough of a commercial success to inspire a sequel The Three Caballeros two years later. Curiously the version of the film currently on offer contains a warning about tobacco-use being depicted—despite the smoke rings being edited out—and we can only surmise that refers exclusively to parrot José Carioca chomping on a cigar. Addicted to the habit and eventually succumbing to lung cancer, like Disney, himself, the voice actor Vance DeBar “Pinto” Colvig Sr (*1892 – †1967) whom played Goofy was a vocal anti-smoking campaigner whose efforts were instrumental in getting Surgeon General warnings on packs of cigarettes in the US. Past behavior, judged through the lens of the present, is less than model in a lot of ways but it cannot be discussed and condemned if it’s not visible and addressing the off-colour and antiquated can be productive in establishing an enduring change in attitudes.