Daffy’s Inferno: An American World War II Propaganda Revue in Seven Chapters
By Joe DeMartino
Beyond a few broad, core truths (the Nazis are Evil, the Axis are a Threat), propaganda is by its very nature filled with falsehoods, exaggerations, and lies. It reveals far more about the country that created it than its actual target. In the following cartoons, which cast the most popular animated characters of the time into situations both comic and nightmarish, the concerns of World War II America are laid bare: it's scared, defiant, and strangely obsessed.
During a parable about the idiocy of signing a non-aggression pact with a man who is a wolf AND a Nazi, the Three Little Pigs run into the eldest pig’s house, which is made out of bricks and heavy cannons. There’s a sign on the door which says: “No Dogs Allowed”, except “Dogs” has been crossed out and replaced by “Japs”. No other mention of the Japanese is made during this sequence. Frankly, it seems like an afterthought -- like they completed this cartoon and sent it through the editing process, where it was determined that there was just not enough racism against the Japanese. By then, it was too late to add, say, a horrible buck-toothed reptile sidekick for Wolf Hitler, so they slapped the sign on the house and called it a day.
They really went out of their way to portray the Japanese as inhuman, too. Hitler and Mussolini are caricatures of people: Hitler is thin and floppy, while Mussolini is fat and bull-headed. Hirohito, on the other hand, is practically an alien--he’s got bright yellow skin, a face that seems to be composed entirely of buck teeth, long ears, and pinprick eyes. Last time I checked, Japanese people do not possess any of those characteristics (I would say, “anime doesn’t count”, but this doesn’t even happen in anime)...