No one who grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s could doubt for even a microsecond Walt Disney’s artistic genius. Fortunately that genius can be still be appreciated on YouTube. Here, for instance, is a 1940 Disney ‘toon called Window Cleaners. Don’t you love Disney’s use of brash perspective and over-stated shadow?
Today a new kind of cartoon genius is being exhibited in the form of cartoon remixing, particularly by Rebellious Pixels, a group that refers to themselves as “media hackers.” Their cartoon genius is a different type than Walt’s; it’s more like Banksy’s, and just as impressive as Banksy’s. In fact, Rebellious Pixels is impressive enough to piss off Glenn Beck, which is not that hard to do, but is a feather in your cap when you do.
Jonathon McIntosh at Rebellious started with Window Cleaners and patched together a bunch of Donald Duck toons to take on Glenn Beck’s dangerous demagoguery, which has already resulted in one shoot-out between a Beckian wacko, Byron Williams, and the cops. McIntosh’s piece is an 8 minute Beck-spoof called “Right Wing Radio Duck.” The technique is brilliant. The result is brilliant. If you are a Beckie, you may not agree. He certainly didn’t.
What Beck did was to pull, well . . . a total Beck. He blasted McIntosh’s work as communist propaganda aimed at him (Beck) and paid for by government money, implying (and the art of unsupported implication is where Beck’s dishonest “genius” lies) that Obama was behind it.
“It is some of the best well made propaganda I have ever seen…We are looking into this gentleman and this incredible propaganda against me” – Glenn Beck.
The beauty of demagoguery in a free-speech country is that it inspires more free speech. And that’s what Beck got. Rebellious came back with a response to Beck’s response – it’s a short remix ‘toon by “ikat381″ staring Mickey Mouse and Goofy, which is even funnier than the Duck piece.
Which got me to thinking: If you put a pair of those Sarah Palin glasses on Goofy, he’d look just like Glenn Beck. Is Glenn Beck Goofy?
Of course he is, but in a much more fundamental sense than the good looks.
Cartoons are caricatures, not just of people, but of life. Look at the opening scene in Window Cleaners. It’s funny because it digs at your imagination until you can almost see how Pluto could actually raise Donald up the building by using a railing as a pulley. What Disney has done, what all good cartoonists do, is to caricature physics. What you see sort of makes sense. It would, for instance, definitely “make sense” to a 6 year old (as it did to me when I was 6) because a 6 year old has not yet developed an ability to discriminate that which is real from that which “makes sense.” The shrinks probably have a name for this condition. The rest of us call it “being gullible.” One has to be slightly gullible to enjoy a Disney cartoon. One has to be entirely gullible to believe one.
“Entirely gullible” precisely describes the sort of individuals — millions of them, apparently — that demagogues like Beck and Limbaugh and Hannity and Savage attract. Individuals who are quick to conclude that if what they hear of see “makes sense”, then it must reflect reality; which is to say, individuals like Byron Williams who have not developed an ability to discriminate ideas from reality.
Hit that link to the video of the Williams’ shoot-out and listen to what Williams says. He says that the conspiracy theories about Obama taking over the world are not just theories, they are conspiracies. He says Beck is like a schoolteacher to him with those blackboards. Williams displays a child’s fascination and a child’s total lack of any ability to discriminate ideas that “make sense” from reality.
Whereas Disney was a master of caricaturing physics so that the impossible made sense, Beck is a master of caricaturing politics so that Beck’s babble makes sense. To Beck’s audience, the cartoons — the political caricatures — that Beck draws, whether on the black board or by his adroit use of language, make sense, therefore they must be true. And that, of course, is goofy.