Donald Duck: A Comic Genius in Germany

11 May

My darling Mr. Broke Hoedown was kind enough to bring my attention to a recent Wall Street Journal article about Donald Duck’s popularity in Germany. Turns out, a whole lot is gained in translation.

“Donald is so popular because almost everyone can identify with him,” says Christian Pfeiler, president of D.O.N.A.L.D. “He has strengths and weaknesses, he lacks polish but is also very cultured and well-read.” But much of the appeal of the hapless, happy-go-lucky duck lies in the translations. Donald quotes from German literature, speaks in grammatically complex sentences and is prone to philosophical musings, while the stories often take a more political tone than their American counterparts.

I’ve got a vacation trip to Germany on the books, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this eloquent Donald! Thank goodness my son can translate for me . . . there’s really only so much I can pick up from the “learn German” CDs I picked up.

I must admit, when I think of Donald Duck and politics, a whole different thread comes to mind: The anti-Nazi propaganda shorts developed by Disney during World War II, most notably Der Fuhrer’s Face (which I’ll warn you has some impressively nasty racial stereotypes).

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