Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Sept. 23
Disney Rakes in the Hanukkah Gelt
Disney and Hanukkah: the two go together like a pork loin roast and a glass of eggnog. I'm all for niche marketing, but this type of pandering hucksterism simply doesn't compute. Aside from staffing a board room, I question what Disney has done for Jews. Name the Yiddish characters in the Disney canon: Fievel Crockett? Mary Poppinski? Sleeping Meeskite? Those denied access to The Restricted Mickey Mouse Club?
It's not as though Jews have never played a role in Disney cartoons. Remember the big, bad, stereotypical wolf-in-Orthodox-Jew's-clothing who, instead of huffing and puffing, resorts to crass consumerism in order to gain access to The Three Little Pigs brick bayit? If you don't, it's because the folks at Disney went back and reanimated the sequence. The offending door-to-door merchant was replaced by a Fuller Brush Man after the studio received complaints.
Another Landsman missing in action is Rebbe Mickey Moskowitz, shown below in a scene from The Opry House (1929), a short conspicuously absent from The Mickey Mouse in Black and White commemorative DVD collection.
Disney wasn't the only animation house to depict Jewish stereotypes in cartoons, but somehow the laughs came easier under the watch of studio heads named Fleischer and Schlesinger. It may look like a scene from The Night Before Kristallnacht, but the following frame was lifted from the 1932 Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Wayward Canary, another short that failed to make the DVD release.
Jewish money spends, and when Disney, Inc. realized that Hanukkah lasts eight days and nights, they hopped on the marketing bandwagon quicker than you can say Jiminy Cricket. How's this for a kitsch candelabrum? Every menorah has nine branches; eight candles symbolic of the miracle of Hanukkah, and a ninth, the shamash, used to light all others. In a sense, the shamash is the lead candle, yet who does Disney assign the task of lighting the way? Are they implying that Jewish leaders are goofy?
Dreidels are spinning out of stock at Disneyland gift shops, and what better symbol of Hanukkah than the most Aryan of all Disney creatures, Tinkerbell.
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Latke: "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, written with ink and hunny. And when the Jews all buy it, we'll make us lots of munny!"
Gambling away Mortimer's college fund at Disney's Tel Aviv Adventure.
Think of all the gelt the House the Mouse Built is missing out on by focusing on one holiday. Why not put in a line of Max Hare gregors to make a little noise come Purim? How about Minnie's Dream Sukkah or Spin and Marty lulavs and etrogs? Here are a few more items that could soon find their way to your grocer's shelves.
Mickey Mouse Gefilte Fish.
Lilo & Stitch Glatt Kosher Kishka.
Ludwig Von Drake Yahrtzeit Candles.
For further ecumenical insight, be sure to study the Lickona/Marks cover story on Christmas movies that FINALLY hits the stands tomorrow.
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