Today, I watched the 1944 Disney animated film “The Three Caballeros,” released from the fabled “Vault” of old Disney films that may or may not be offensive today, like “Song of the South,” that one about Uncle Remus and Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.
In “The Three Caballeros” Donald Duck visits other birds from Latin American countries like Brazil and Mexico. A title card before the film warns that some of the depictions in the film may be “culturally out of date.”
And maybe some of them are, but at least the film doesn’t portray Mexico and Brazil as “shithole countries.” Donald Duck, even in 1944, is no bigot.
Donald Duck is positively giddy at the prospect of experiencing and learning about other cultures. His curiosity and wonder are admirable, I think.
I wonder, though, if Donald’s newfound Latin American friends would be treated with the same generosity of spirit were they to accompany Donald on a trip through the United States of America in 1944. I hope so.
“The Three Caballeros” is pretty quiet on the subjects of poverty and prejudice. Is there an animated Disney film about poverty and prejudice? Maybe “Lady and the Tramp.”
What about a movie called “Donald and the Trump”?
It’s a sequel to “The Three Caballeros” in which Donald Duck, now quite a bit older and wiser than he was in the original, takes current US president Donald Trump on a tour through Latin America to visit his old friends Jose Carioca, the dapper cigar-smoking parrot from Brazil and the rooster Panchito Pistoles from Mexico.
Before they embark on Air Force One, Donald the President assures Donald the Duck that he is not prejudiced, as evidenced by “the low Hispanic unemployment rate.”
Donald the Duck replies, “Sure, I mean, unemployment is down and the GDP and the stock market are up, but have you factored in housing and heath care costs? I live in California and we’ve got a bona fide housing and homelessness crisis on our hands—so lots of people are not all that pumped to be employed if they can’t make rent or afford decent health care. And don’t get me started on the gig economy.”
It was shaping up to be a long trip.
Flying over the border, Trump the President points down proudly and asks, “What do you think of the wall we’re building?”
At this point it’s important to remember that Donald Duck is speaking in that adorable quacky voice, maybe a bit quackier with age, but basically the same voice.
“I think it’s a glorified boondoggle whose chief legacy will be more border crossing deaths,” Donald Duck replies. “You know, in 1944, there was no border wall. At that time, there were wartime labor shortages, and Mexicans were recruited in large numbers to work in the US. We were fighting fascists in Europe, you may remember, at that time.”
Trump takes a bite of his steak and looks out the window.
“So what part of Mexico are we visiting again?” Donald Trump asks indifferently.
“Last I heard, Panchito Pistoles was living in Jalisco,” Donald Duck answers.
“We’re not going to fucking Jalisco. It’s a shithole. I own a resort in Rosarito. We’ll go there. It’s very safe. It’s where I meet with foreign dignitaries when I’m down here,” Donald Trump says authoritatively.
“But I don’t know anyone in Rosarito. Panchito Pistoles lives in Jalisco,” Donald Duck said. “And also doesn’t having foreign dignitaries stay at a resort you own violate the emoluments clause of the constitution?”
“Jalisco is no good,” Trump said. “Lot’s of bad hombres. Full of drugs and rapists and, I suppose, some good people, like your friend Pedro.”
“Panchito. His name is Panchito Pistoles.”
At this point, a secret service agent ducks in and asks, “Mr. President, where exactly are we going? Air traffic control needs a destination. We can’t just roam around Mexican airspace.”
To be continued…