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Russia Bans Mickey Mouse Jesus Painting

1 Sep

Mickey Mouse as Jesus Christ

From Deseret News:

The Kaluga Region court has banned as extremist a painting by Alexander Savko that depicts the Sermon on the Mount with Mickey Mouse sitting on a rock surrounded by halo-clad disciples and admiring onlookers, reports RIA Novosti.

The story’s been covered in Business Insider Europe as well, which provides this handy link to a LiveJournal page which provides the image I’ve displayed above. Plus, a couple years before the image was banned, two prominent Russian intellectuals were found guilty “of inciting religious and ethnic hatred in an exhibition called “Forbidden Art — 2006,” which displayed works that had been banned by Russian museums” including this same painting (New York Times).

Traveling to Germany last month, I was struck by the number and style of irreverent iconic Disney images.

I'm Watching You Mickey Logo

Street art in Heidelberg, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

Scrooge Diving into Money

Unknown gallery in Munich, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

Donald Duck Capitalist

Unknown gallery in Munich, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

So, am I offended by the Mickey Jesus image? As a person who respects many faiths, I do feel a bit tweaked and disconcerted when I look at it.

I believe that one of art’s many roles is to challenge the viewer. And what I’m really offended by is the reality of what it portrays: That consumerism has trumped spiritual life for many people. As Savko told the Huffington Post:

THE PUPROSE OF THIS PAINTING IS NOT ABUSE OF CHRIST AND NOT ABUSE OF CHRISTIANS. THIS IS DISPLAYING OF CURRENT REALITY: THE SUBSTITUTION OF HUMAN SPIRITUAL, MORAL VALUES WITH MASS-CULTURAL VALUES.

Mickey Mouse is a cultural icon (as are some of his buds); his image belongs to the global, visual language of artistic expression.

Donald Duck Lifestyle Magazine

26 Aug
Donald Lifestyle Magazine

Donald Lifestyle Magazine

Nothing could have really prepared me for the popularity of Donald Duck in Germany. Sure, I’d heard that he’s a comic genuis in Deutschland, and I’m certainly familiar with the worldwide appeal of many Disney characters, but I was still surprised to find his likeness in so many places. It seemed like you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a Duck.

Donald Duck Ice Cream

Donald Duck Ice Cream, Frankfurt

Donald Duck in Game Store Window

Donald Duck in Game Store Window, Frankfurt

Drunk Donald Duck

Google Translate tells me this means "Power Class Binge Drinkers", seen in Prien

Most surprising of all is Donald Lifestyle Magazine, which focuses of course on cars, fashion, music, games, and pretty ladies, all with an emphasis on our favorite Duck. I picked up a copy my first night in Germany, and despite having leafed through it quite a few times I’m still at a loss to explain it. The features include:

  • Brief news pieces, including a piece on the Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Parody album covers featuring Disney characters
  • An interview with Jan Gulbransson
  • An article on Uncharted 3, for no reason I can discern
  • A seductive centerfold of Daisy Duck
  • Women dressed in Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse themed outfits
According to Fashion Daily, this magazine is being run in a limited edition of 150,000 copies. (Either I’m underestimating the potential audience, or that’s not particularly limited.) It’s available at a variety of newsstands and bookstores; I happened to pick mine up at a gas station. Since the target audience seems to be men ages 18-40 (if I’m correctly understanding the Google Translate version of this Mode article). I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find it in the Mens’ magazine section, near Maxim and Playboy.
Donald Duck Lifestyle Magazine

Donald Lifestyle Magazine, Sharing Shelf Space with softcore porn in Heidelberg

Now, all of this seems strange to my US-centric sensibilities. But maybe I wouldn’t be all that surprised if I were Dutch, as they seem to have had a similar magazine in Holland in 2009, as described in Paper Mode.

Wondering how on earth Disney decided to license such a thing? Well, according to the masthead, Donald Lifestyle is published by none other than Disney Enterprises. If you can read German, or are willing to wade through a whole bunch of Google Translate, it looks like you can buy a copy at the Ehapa Shop, which also has a few pictures from the magazine, as well as a variety of other (less surprising) Donald Duck products.

Remixed Donald Duck Theme

28 Jun

The lyrics include the N-word, which I just can’t get comfortable with. But the mix is outstanding. Props to Ganderson360.

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).

More on Epic Mickey: “Twisted, broken, dangerous”

5 Nov

The New York Times has a must-read story on the upcoming Wii video game Epic Mickey, including more details about the plot and characters:

Epic Mickey, designed for Nintendo’s Wii console, is set in a “cartoon wasteland” where Disney’s forgotten and retired creations live. The chief inhabitant is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character Walt Disney created in 1927 as a precursor to Mickey but ultimately abandoned in a dispute with Universal Studios. In the game, Oswald has become bitter and envious of Mickey’s popularity. The game also features a disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck and a “twisted, broken, dangerous” version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.” Using paint and thinner thrown from a magic paintbrush, Mickey must stop the Phantom Blot overlord, gain the trust of Oswald and save the day.

Twisted, broken, dangerous, disemboweled? I’m shivering with ghoulish glee!

New York Magazine has a brief piece as well, including a YouTube link to this concept art (yeah, the soundtrack is irritating, but the little on-screen comments are worth it):

I do not think I have to tell you how excited I am that Oswald will play a major role.

Just as interesting, though, is the larger picture of Mickey makeover described in the New York Times article, of which Epic Mickey is just a trial balloon:

“Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth,” said Warren Spector, the creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer that spearheaded Epic Mickey.

The effort to re-engineer Mickey is still in its early stages, but it involves the top creative and marketing minds in the company, all the way up to Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive.

Donald Duck Impersonator Arrested for Child Endangerment

14 Sep

Now, how did I miss this story? I guess I was lazing around in France when it hit the wires, but as I catch up on my blogreading it’s been brought to my attention by the Free Range Kids blog, an excellent resource for those who feel the current parenting climate is just a tad paranoid.

From the Rome Sentinel:

The case was dismissed on a motion by the public defender that the crime didn’t fit the charge, that there was no danger in Tuzzolino’s antics, prosecutors stated. At about 5:30 p.m. April 28, deputies said Tuzzolino approached a 9-year-old girl at Wal-Mart on Rome-Taberg Road and began speaking like Disney cartoon character Donald Duck.

Deputies said the girl started crying, and her mother called 9-1-1 to report the strange behavior. Tuzzolino left the store, and was arrested later for endangering.

Donald Duck’s Family Tree

20 Apr

Okay, I’ll confess: Until this very day, I had never heard of “Dirty” Dingus McDuck, Sir Quackly McDuck, or Sir Eider McDuck, let alone noticing that Sir Eider looks strangely like a certain Warner Brothers character, But Mr Broke Hoedown was kind enough to forward me a link to Donald Duck’s Family Tree, and now not only am I clued in about their existence, but also about their specific relationships to our well-loved Donald.

Tons more detail on the family tree, including several translations and a publication history, are available here.

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