Zombies and DUCK DAZE

DAVID.A.GERSTEIN 9475609 at arran.sms.ed.ac.uk
Thu Apr 20 13:49:55 CEST 1995

      DON:  In past messages, you seemed to have the opinion that one 
of the things Disney would find "incorrect" about LO$ 11 was the mere 
fact that Bombie was a zombie.  Huh?  Since when is spooky-stuff 
objected to?  The days in which the MM cartoon "The Mad Doctor" (now 
available on laserdisc) was banned for being too frightening are 
over.  And after all, "Voodoo Hoodoo" itself has been reprinted twice 
now in album form.
      Also, it's not politically incorrect to show white oppression 
of blacks, since that certainly happened (still does!) and by 
showing it, you're only pointing out historically accurate types of 
things.  Political correctness seems to have this goal of "setting 
the record straight" in mind:  the problem is that it's gone too 
far and said that ONLY losers can write history books.  Political 
correctness has thus emerged as a voice of extremism itself, and 
damaged the cause of those who want to expose genuine racism.  Now 
ACTUAL racists can brand their opponents "politically correct," which 
is a very bad thing.
      Scrooge takes his lumps for wrongly doing an imperialistic 
thing.  I don't think the politically correct crowd will have a 
problem with that.  My suspicion was that Disney would simply find 
such imperialism and its results to be too "adult" an issue for 
"their" comics (which as we all know, are mainly intended for weak-
minded tots in rompers) to tackle.
      It's not actually political correctness that motivated the ban 
on "War of the Wendigo," I have concluded.  It's FEAR of the 
politically correct crowd that's done it.  There may have been a 
voiced objection to "Indians all looking alike," but the final 
objection was that Indians appeared in the story at all.  The idea 
that the mere concept of Indians should not be used is certainly 
bizarre, but not very politically correct.

      * * * * *
      I have tapped into a stored resource of letters from the Disney 
Afternoon "Ranger list," which I was kicked off last year after 
stating that I didn't think Barks' ducks should be "recast" for the 
fall 1996 series DUCK DAZE.  Looking at letters that apparently 
precipitated my exclusion, I saw that it happened for several reasons:

      A)  I had invited folks from this disney-comics group to join 
the Ranger List so they could express their concerns about DUCK DAZE, 
and a member didn't want the Ranger List to be inundated with tons of 
angry criticism.
      B)  My opinion was seen as one-sided, for once HDL are 
teenagers -- as they will be depicted on this show -- they are 
essentially different characters, since everyone changes as they grow 
older.  So what right did I have to demand that they act like they 
did at the age of 12 or so, in the comics?
      C)  The disney-comics list was criticized for being too 
condemnatory of Disney itself.  It was acknowledged that the 
criticism of Disney (Don Rosa's comments especially) revealed 
essential "kernels of truth," but this was seen as bad:  such 
criticism would make that type of post particularly "hard to take" 
for the Ranger List's resident professionals (from Disney TV 
animation and its associates).

      From reading the articles I found, as well as seeing a 
publicity illustration while back in the States, I find that DUCK 
DAZE's version of HDL look very different from one another, will not 
speak in their traditional voices, and will be very "hip" (one has a 
punk haircut and leather jacket, while another -- the only one to 
wear his old cap -- wears it backwards).  Donald's voice has been 
slightly modified for the new show as well to make it slightly 
easier to understand.  Characters from GOOF TROOP and DARKWING DUCK 
will appear now and then in the series, but Uncle Scrooge may not 
appear (I don't have the final word on this).  Just as Chip 'n' Dale 
toys of all kinds were replaced by Rescue Ranger equivalents in 1989, 
I imagine that "classic" DD products will, for the most part, be 
replaced by DUCK DAZE products in the United States.

      My answer to the above is meant for any Ranger List members who 
also read these Digests.  I feel that criticism is not only important 
for a list -- it is essential.  I would not criticize Disney if I 
didn't love its characters and want to ensure that they were treated 
with the respect due all great fictional creations.  Furthermore, 
Disney TV animation professionals quite clearly DON'T work in the 
restrictive atmosphere that we comic creators do.  As seen from DUCK 
DAZE, they have unlimited license to alter even the most famous 
characters extensively, for good as far as Disney is concerned.  So 
of course they won't necessarily feel comfortable hearing about how 
Disney treats comic creators.  But the more that know about it, the 
more pressure can be put on Disney to change, which is a Good Thing.
      Last, I continue to be disappointed by DUCK DAZE.  It has 
clearly been developed by folk who, no matter what their talents, 
did not realize the importance of Barks' universe in Disney's 
international marketing and promotion of the Ducks (America 
notwithstanding), not to mention the hearts and minds of the 
characters' devoted fans.  The attempt to "modernize" the characters 
has, for me, taken something timeless and dated it squarely in the 
1990s -- and anyway, the modernization was done because Disney felt 
its classic versions of the characters were not popular enough.  This 
has nothing to do with the public.  It's because Disney itself only 
releases the classic cartoons in a very limited way, and itself 
damaged the market for its comics in the States.  But Disney cannot 
blame itself, so decided that the public must want something new.
      My disappointment over this series does not cause me to hate 
anyone at Disney TV animation.  I have no desire to deluge the Ranger 
List with wild, immature flame letters, and I don't think anyone else 
who might have joined the Ranger List upon hearing my call to arms 
would have done that either.  I would have offered CRITICISM, but 
that is not the same as an insult or a slap in the face.  I wanted to 
encourage Disney to alter what I viewed as a big mistake before the 
show actually went from concept to production.  When I was forced to 
leave the Ranger List so that pro-Disney-only letters continued to 
appear there, I continue to feel a grave mistake was made.

      David Gerstein
      <9475609 at arran.sms.ed.ac.uk>

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