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Conflict by the use of Cartoons

Updated: Jul 2, 2022



In the animated movie “Spirit of 43” released in 1943, Joe Grant and Carl Barks build a compelling narrative through visuals to influence public perception and behavior. Analyzing this, we see how the media especially through secondary socialization has been used educate and condition early learners.


In the movie, the primary intention was to increase the collection of war bonds and taxes while simultaneously encouraging patriotism among the US citizenry. The movie shows Donald Duck, an average American working-class man who just received his salary. Donald is then immediately confronted by two of his angels, one asks him to spend - with a sinister connotation - and the other “righteous” angel asks Donald to save so that he can pay taxes. This attempt clearly reinforces the idea of imposing certain beliefs on children and shows how the state used media to manipulate the masses.


Furthermore, another movie, "Der Fuehrer's Face" goes on to show Donald Duck in a Nazi-like land where he is tortured and forced to work in factories, but eventually wakes up and realizes he had a nightmare. Donald can be seen waking up in a comfortable bed – wearing American flag trousers and displaying immense gratitude. He then kisses the Statue of Liberty and says “Oh boy, am I glad to be a citizen of the United States of America!” This scene explicitly utilizes propaganda which leaves the impression of the USA being an extremely comfortable and blessed nation, encouraging the public to be proud and grateful.


To conclude, media as an instrument, have constantly utilized various mediums and channels to educate and condition public opinion.




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9 commenti


Social media constantly being weaponized in such way to further a certain agenda. This may seem insignificant on an individual level but collectively when you look at multiple sources and such depictions you begin to wonder the exact impact it has on the minds of the people. It is even more interesting how these narratives are seen in cartoons and media made specifically for children. Why would children need to watch a cartoon that talks about taxes and war? Why include such complex themes and violent topics in shows made for children. Its because the aim of such media is to influence the people's minds and shape their perception. And what better place to start than a young impressionable mind…

Mi piace

A really interesting take! Begs the reader to wonder why promote the narrative through children's cartoons? is it because they are at a naive age and more malleable? Do the American's really want the aftermath of conflict - hate and prejudice to trickle down into their next generations? And how much of an impact do these cartoons really have on the brains of these children. If significant, could we also draw links between the increasing gaming culture and the escalating gun violence in the country?

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Risposta a

An excellent connection made Laiba! I believe the US authorities, atleast at that time, wanted to create a public and social narrative and wanted their public, especially children, to feed onto it. This was probably a part of a bigger plan which involved brainwashing of the US citizens as a whole. Coming on to the video games point, I feel it is an extremely important issue. Even in video games, you’ll see many games involving conflict which is happening either in Pakistan or some other third world country. This automatically creats a negative and criminal perception about Pakistan which carries on in every aspect and field.

Mi piace

This takes me back to the concept of 'conditioning' that we study about in psychology, and how subtle and vague acts such as these go a long way in changing the perception of a human being early on in their lives. Cartoons are an important part of every person's childhood, and there was a time when parents were not even informed enough to regulate the kind of cartoons that their children would be watching. To think that countries can conceive political agendas through such means seems like such a violation of one's right to a free world, where you cannot even allow a child to consume content without being brainwashed side-by-side.

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Risposta a

Quite an important take. As I’ve mentioned, this propaganda was done quite subtly and then targeting the children to promote their narrative is just cruel. Parents need to ensure and regulate what their children are consuming because even today, there are many controversial narratives that are being instilled on kids through mediums like cartoons and animated films.

Mi piace

While it's undoubtedly true that mass media is a form of education, persuasion and socialization, the examples you presented were of animated films, or in other words, children's cartoons. Their target audience was meant to be children. In light of this consideration, to what extent could subtle messages meant to condition public sentiments be effective? Are children really likely to grasp the importance and weightage of 'patriotism' or 'tax compliance'? Is it really worth it for children's T.V channels to invest such financial efforts for a completely uncertain outcome within its youth?

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Risposta a

Very interesting take Sana. While I understand your point of view, these examples which I gave were of animated films - which were watched by adults back then too.


Moreover, Disney, very cleverly incorporated subtle actions in these movies in order to make it impactful amongst the children as well.


Even though the Nazism ideology was completely wrong but that does not make the USA best country of them all.


In the movie, Donald Duck was seen praising the US as the best place to be in. Even if the kids are watching this, their mind is being told a narrative that every other country is inferior than the US and hence when they grow up, they will still have…


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A very interesting take. I was reading this article the other day and I was reading how Disney did not just decided to propagate its cartoon, in fact, it had hefty amounts of cash flowing in from the US government just in order to produce such content. Moreover, increasingly its cartoons also started to get nominated for oscars. Not only that, Disney apparently made a very huge name for itself capitalizing on propaganda cartoons and war, it innovated, it improved it further to get even more attention. Art has always remained a unquestionably strong form of revolution, education and protest however its always been manipulated by either capitalizing on it or by censoring it preserve the authorities' interests.

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Risposta a

Totally agree with your input. One of the reasons behind writing this blog was to tell how art has been manipulated by the higher powers and authorities. As you’ve mentioned, art has always been a method of revolution but now the same art is used to propagate and is used for one’s own benefits. We sincerely hope that this tool of freedom and creativity - “art” - stays away from misuse and from fake narrative building.

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