A 1968 Disney propaganda cartoon featuring Donald Duck encourages families in the developing world to have fewer children. The cartoon “Planificacion Familiar” (“Family Planning”) was created by Disney for the Population Council, one of the chief promoters of population control, and is being distributed by the Chilean affiliate of Planned Parenthood, Associacion Chilena de Protection de la Familia (APROFA), for home and educational viewing throughout the Spanish speaking world.
APROFA is selling the video in a set which includes a Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) cartoon entitled “Felices Familias Planeadas” (“Happy Family Planning”), and an APROFA educational video called “La Confianza No Es Un Metodo” (“Hope is Not a Method”).
“Family Planning” begins with Donald Duck, a well-known and loved children’s figure, opening a kit of reproductive health supplies that also contains oil paints and an easel. Using the paints he illustrates rapid population growth and ensuing starvation. “The world is overpopulated,” a narrator declares. “With every generation, the population is growing too fast .… Let’s say in time that this couple will have more children.… The mother is unhappy, weak and sick. The children will be sickly too.… But this situation can change.”
From his reproductive health supply kit, Donald Duck brandishes a golden key, and declares that “Science gives us the key for a new personal freedom: family planning!”
We wonder if anyone at Disney considered how children would react to the sight of their favorite duck declaiming on the dangers of overpopulation? How many children have felt guilty when they learned that they and their siblings were the cause of their mothers being “sickly and sad,” or grew anxious over the suggestion that they may “starve” and their families may grow “impoverished”? Children all too readily blame themselves for the misfortunes of others, a characteristic the video seeks to exploit.
At the end of “Family Planning,” a menacing Donald Duck points at the viewer and (through a narrator) says: “We are all responsible for humanity and that means you too!”
Patty Gadomski of Disney Educational Productions confirmed that Disney created the Donald Duck “Family Planning” cartoon. She said it sold well in Third World countries, but went out of production in 1988 because of decreased demand.
Gadomski added that APROFA is in violation of copyright law for reproducing and marketing the video, and for marketing the accompanying video “Happy Family Planning” as a Disney product.
“Happy Family Planning” markets condoms, IUDs, the pill and other methods of birth control in the Chinese, French, Spanish, English and Arabic languages. A close examination of the credits reveal that “Happy Family Planning” was made by PPFA in cooperation with the Wyeth Institute, the manufacturer of Norplant.
The APROFA video contains animations of the sexual act. It also contains live footage of two adults encouraging an adolescent audience to avoid pregnancy by practicing non-genital sex instead of coitus.
Gadomski described APROFA’s use of the Disney name and video as ‘“a serious no-no” and said Disney’s attorneys would be in contact with APROFA to stop the violation.
PRI’s conversation with Disney took place in the first week of June. As of this writing, Disney has yet to contact APROFA to end their alleged copyright violation. Copyright violations aside, pro-family groups in the US, most notably the American Family Association (AFA), have long-since criticized Disney because of its “assault on Christian values.”1 AFA reports that its boycott of Disney has been followed by a 41% drop in sales of Disney merchandise and videos.2
Bill Nye the ‘Science Guy’
Disney’s promotion of “family planning” did not end with the discontinuation of the Donald Duck video. A video produced by Disney Educational Productions in 1996 propagandizes public elementary school kids about the “need” for population control. “Populations” features Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” and opens with a shot of an overcrowded room. A mock ad — for “New, Improved ‘Populax’ — for those times when you’re feeling overpopulated”3 — then appears. A disturbed looking Bill Nye asks what “a colony of ants, a swarm of bees… and a crowd of people” all have in common. “We’re all populations!”
The 26 minute montage of pop control propaganda conveys a student’s experiment of exponential plant growth analogously applied to human population. “Populations usually keep other populations under control,” the child explains. However, the human population continues to grow exponentially.
In a frenetic scene change, another youngster (dressed up like a beekeeper) declares: “You have to control population, so it doesn’t get overpopulated.”
Nye declares that “The human population is growing very fast. If we keep doubling it, it gets unimaginably huge, more and more until we’ve got … billions of people living on the planet earth. When I was in fourth grade, there were about three billion people living on earth. Now there are almost six billion.” In a statement tailored to make fourth graders, the intended audience of the video, despise their fellow man, Bill Nye says: “And by the time people in the fourth grade now are my age, there could be 12 or 15 billion. You see how fast populations can increase?”
What follows is a quick shift to a shot of bacteria multiplying in a petri dish. “Just how fast do colonies of bacteria grow? Some have doubling times of 20 minutes,” says a narrator.
“As the human population begins to grow,” says Bill Nye “we’re taking more and more space, the space of other populations, we’re destroying their habitats .… In order to keep this from happening, we have to respect other populations. They live here too, you know. Ya’ know?!”
The video draws toward its conclusion with a shot of a sweaty Nye racing through a crowded inner-city. “Populations compete for places to live, for things to eat. It’s getting harder to compete with the human population. The amounts of resources, the amounts of energy used by humans is huge. The US uses more energy than all the other populations of the world combined. So all populations are going to be limited by the [lack of] resources.”
The video ends on an apocalyptic note: “We have to find a way to restrict the rate of growth of the human population. Otherwise, it’s going to get out of control. There won’t be enough for everyone to eat. It’s going to be hard for everyone. [Fade to black.] Where’s everybody going?”
“Populations” was made for use in public schools in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, Rabbit Ears Productions, and KCTS 9 Public Television, Seattle.
Meanwhile, allegations of the Disney Corporation forcibly contracepting employees in Haitian sweatshops surfaced during a C-SPAN presentation by Anita Roddick, founder and CEO of the Body Shop, a worldwide natural cosmetic franchise. Roddick cited a recent report of Disney “sweatshops” in Haiti conducted by investigators of National Labor Committee, a labor/human rights watchdog group. “When we saw the conditions of the… Haitian places where they make your sacred cow Disney products,” Roddick said, “and you saw the women being lined up and being forced to have contraceptive pills, or being injected [with Depro Provera]… working inside locked environments,”4 the reputation of Disney can be further questioned, and steps must be taken to stop the abuses.
1 American Family Association, “Why Boycott?,” 1 June 1999, http://www.afa.net/afajournal/1999/may/boycott.htm.
2 American Family Association, “Disney income plummets again,” 1 June 1999, http://www.afa.net/afajournal/1999/june/Disney/htm.
3 Disney Educational Productions, “Populations,” 1996.
4 C-Span, “Business and Social Responsibility,” 2 February 1999; cf. National Labor Committee, “Young Women in Free Trade Zones Injected with Depro Provera: National Labor Committee Calls for an Investigation,” Press Release, 17 November 1999.