From the Wall Street Journal
starback at Minsk.DoCS.UU.SE
Tue Feb 9 17:40:02 CET 1993
This is a quote from Usenet. Did you see it there?
From: djdaneh at pbhyc.PacBell.COM (Dan'l DanehyOakes)
Subject: Disney news from the WSJ
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1993 18:45:50 GMT
The following is quoted from the WALL STREET JOURNAL, without permission.
Your humble & obedient servant has chosen to add his own comments in [square
AMID THEIR WAR, SERBS BID GOODBYE TO DONALD DUCK
Disney Characters' Departure Spurs Some Soul-Searching
Among Adults, Kids Alike
by Roger Thurow, Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - "Who killed Donald Duck?" cries the headline of Vreme
magazine. A cover cartoon depcits a pirate ship scoring a direct cannon hit on
The answer - one that many Serbs don't want to face - is that they did
the deed themselves.
Paja Patak (that's Donald Duck in Serbo-Croat) has been yanked from
their country by his creator, Walt Disney Co. [a company is the creator? and
here i thought it was Walt hisself!], which pulled its Mickey Mouse cartoons
and comic books from Belgrade publishers earlier this month in compliance with
American and United Nations sanctions. [Now *THAT'S* punishment.]
A Defiant Attitude
After 18 months of being blamed for much of the ferocious fighting raging across
the former Yugoslavia, many Serbs have developed a defiant attitude toward the
world's wrath. Accusations of atrocities and war crimes committed by Serb
soldiers draw mainly disbelief or scorn. Sanction-induced shortages of gasoline
and heating fuel, and a 6% _daily_ inflation rate, only inspire patriotism.
Threats of Western military intervention stir more bravado.
But Mickey and Donald have accomplished what the world's diplomats have
so far been unable to do: Focus Serbia's attention on the consequences of its
actions. The prospect of life without Paja Patak, Miki Maus and their good
friend Silja - Goofy - has made Serbs flinch and feel alone in the world [!].
In the context of the brutal war, Disney's action may seem to be, well, Mickey
Mouse. But in Serbia, the wound is deep and real.
"We will never be forgiven for chsasing Mickey out!" screams a headline
in NIN magazine.
"For the first time, life under sanctions looks disgusting," laments
Vreme, striking a sarcastic "we-told-you-so" tone. "Yugoslavia is being forced
into a spiritual ghetto." [Gadzooks. Do you suppose Marvel and DC will pull
their product, too? Now _that_ would be a spiritual ghetto!]
Despite the outrage and indignation, of couse, the absence of Donald and
Mickey won't achieve the main goal of the sanctions: the capitulation or ouster
of the current hard-line Serb government.
Unless kids can vote.
"My mother told me Donald Duck died because of Mr. Milosevic," says 10-year-old
Natasa Tomic, referring to Serbian President Siobodan Milosevic, the man most of
the world blames for propagating the war. "I'm going to miss him," she says -
the cartoon character, that is, and not Mr. Milosevic, who was recently re-
elected by Serbia's adults.
Child psychologists and other academics have entered the debate, warning
about lasting emotional scars and the potential impact on Serbian society. With
Mickey and Donald gone as role models, they worry that children will now have to
get their clues on life from Kninja, a Serbian version of the Ninja Turtles.
Kninja is a camouflage-clad soldier from the Serbian-controlled town of Knin
fighting to seize parts of Croatia.
"Our children, who at bedtime watch horrendous TV pictures from the war,
will be deprived of the few remaining dreams," protests the newspaper Politika,
which had carried Disney's comic strip since 1932. On the day the news of the
Disney ban broke, Politika even ran an obituary of Mickey and Donald. "All
people loved Disney cartoons," the paper mourned.
A Disney spokesman says the only ohter time Disney characters were
banished from a country was when East Germany outlawed Mickey as a symbol of
capitalist imperialism. Here, the characters had over the years worked their
way into the Serbian vernacular. Until the sanctions, Mickey and Donald were a
prominent staple of Belgrade's kiosks, holding their place against the post-
communist proliferation of porn magazines. Belgrade opponents sometimes
acerbically refer to Mr. Milosevic as "Mickey Mouse," picking up the phrase from
Milan Panic, the Serb-born American businessman who unsuccessfully ran for
president last month and who blasted the Milosevic government for its "Mickey
Yet the politicians themselves seem just as unhappy as everybody else
about the characters' departure. "by expelling Donald Duck," fumes Ratko
Bozovic, Serbia's culture minister, the U.S. "is starting a war against our
future." [Eh? What's that again?] Meanwhile, novelist Vlada Bulatovic,
writing in Vreme, complains: "America has forced Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse
to be Marines."
The All-American Mouse
The departure of Mickey and Donald has even triggered an animated [I can't
believe they chose that word by accident...] debate about who was better, the
mouse or the duck. It rages on editorial pages and on the streets.
"Compared with the all-American guy Mickey, the 'stupid' duck was always
more dear to our readers," reckons Vreme in a tongue-in-cheek commentary.
"Mickey's attitude was always the American way of life. YUK! But Donald Duck
is different; like all humans he has his vices. He was always more interesting
than the boring old mouse."
Eating popcorn on Belgrade's main shopping street, 13-year-old Andrijana
Abrocic agrees. "I like Donald," shey says. "He's always unhappy and acts more
like real people. Mickey is always successful. I don't like that."
Her friend, 13-year-old Sonja Tomic, votes for Mickey. "He's the best,"
she artues. "He's funny. Minnie, too."
Daddy's No Disney
Mickey and Donald won't totally disappear from Serbia. Politika is talking
about releasing old Disney comic books. Newspaper vendors expect bootleg copies
of Disney comics to be smuggled in from arch-enemy Croatia. And as the price of
the real comics soared with inflation - a monthly Mickey Mouse comic cost $12
before the sanctions - many families began drawing their own anyway.
"It's a shame Donald and Mickey are gone, but the kids still have their
daddy, and he's a good drawer," says Slavka Zekovic, doing her morning shopping
with her two children. Vladimir, 10, and Biljana, 6, look duious.
"The Disney characters are better," says Vladimir.
Back in Burbank, Calif., a spokesman soothes angry Serbian-American
callers by acknowledging that Disney's action is another tragedy of the war.
"We want Mickey to come back as much as they do," says the spokesman.
But that's little consolation to Serbia's children. "By the time the
cartoons come back, I'll be too old for them," muses Miss Abrocic.
Four-year-old Iskra Knezevic, wearing a Mickey and Minnie sweatshirt, is
gobbling down french fries at her other favorite American institution,
McDonald's. (She wanted to have a hamburger too, but sanctions have pushed
prices beyond her mother's budget.) Vera Knezevic says Iskra repeatedly asks
when Mickey and Donald will be back. Mrs. Knezevic tries to explain that the
sanctions won't last forever, but the explanations don't seem to do much good.
"Something she has had for her entire life is suddenly gone," Mrs.
Knezevic says sadly. "After every explanation, she just asks, 'Why?'"
There, beyond the bounds of your weak imagination,
Lie the noble towers of my city, bright and gold.
Let me take you there, and show you a living story.
Let me show you others such as me.
Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, Net.Roach
My opinions do NOT represent Pacific Bell,
Professional Development, or anyone else.
But I'm willing to share.
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