BOOTLEG FILES 344: “Right Wing Radio Duck” (Jonathan
Collins’ McIntosh’s 2010 short that brings together America’s most famous malcontents).
LAST SEEN: It is now on YouTube and several other video web sites.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None – it only turned up in the past week.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Mixing a bunch of Disney cartoons without the permission of Disney’s legal department (albeit under a claim of “fair use”).
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Highly unlikely.
There is something strangely joyful about seeing beloved cartoon characters being abused by snarky comedians. Beginning with Marv Newland’s classic 1969 “Bambi Meets Godzilla,” there has been a subgenre of underground and outsider filmmaking where creative artists mischievously reimagine iconic animated figures in highly unlikely situations.
Some of the landmarks of this subgenre have already turned up in this column: Todd Graham’s “Apocalypse Pooh” finds the denizens of Disney’s Hundred Acres Wood in the midst of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now”; Jim Reardon’s “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” recasts the Peanuts gang in a Sam Peckinpah nightmare; and “A Charlie Brown Kwanzaa” (created by a filmmaker who has yet to publicly identify himself) offers the Charles Schulz characters channeling the spirit of the infamous Redd Foxx party albums.
The rise of YouTube has taken this wacky environment even further. Some of the better remix mini-masterpieces include “Gay Turtles in Space,” which borrows from the old Tooter Turtle cartoons and a slew of other unlikely sources, and an ingenious realignment of “Sesame Street” with Bert and Ernie performing the atrociously funny dialogue from Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.”
The latest entry in this subgenre has barely been online for a week, but it has already scored high-profile recognition: Jonathan
Collins’ McIntosh’s “Right Wing Radio Duck,” which mixes a number of Donald Duck cartoons with a soundtrack lifted from Glenn Beck’s radio talk show. In its brief life online, “Right Wing Radio Duck” has already been cited by the likes of Roger Ebert, Andrew Sullivan, Bill O’Reilly, and the wise guys at the Washington Post and Huffington Post. I learned of the short via my fellow film critic Mark Dujsik, who shared the YouTube posting via his Facebook page.
Who is Jonathan
Collins McIntosh? According to his biography on RebelliousPixels.com, he is a “pop culture hacker, video remix artist, photographer, a new media teacher, consultant and a fair-use activist…[who] worked on numerous media and social justice related projects in the United States and around the world.” Collins McIntosh also insists that his slicing and dicing of classic (and copyright protected) Disney cartoons is a “transformative remix work [that] constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright law.” Collins McIntosh adds that this cartoon is “licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 License – permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution.”
I don’t want to give away too much of the contents of “Right Wing Radio Duck,” since the cartoon’s sneaky personality requires brilliant surprises that constantly pop up. This much can be said: the cartoon features Donald as a window-washer who becomes agitated by the perceived income gap between the working poor (his socio-economic status) and the executive fat cats that run corporate America. After being fired for blatant insubordination, he finds it is impossible to get a new job. Donald’s finances evaporate and his home faces foreclosure by an unsympathetic sheriff. Even worse, his hatred of the contemporary economy boils over with a newspaper headline that declares how President Obama has bailed out Wall Street. (Of course, it was President Bush that bailed out Wall Street back in September 2008 – obviously, Donald Duck prefers to get his news from a Rupert Murdoch media outlet.)
Just when all hope seems to have vanished, Donald discovers a sympathetic voice coming over the radio. The voice is none other than Glenn Beck, who feeds on Donald’s emotional vulnerability. But Beck’s radio chatter quickly veers to extremes, and Donald finds himself on the verge of a nervous breakdown as Beck (or, at least,
Collins’ McIntosh’s inventive editing of Beck’s monologues) goes into a rapid fire attack against Nazis, Communists, illegal Mexican immigrants, Chinese laborers and a variety of enemies that are tearing apart the American way of life. Donald, upset by Beck’s fear mongering, barricades himself within his home – but Beck warns him (in the cartoon’s funniest moment) that the enemy is already within. Yet Beck offers Donald a solution to his problem – and, not surprisingly, the solution is actually a new problem in disguise. Collins McIntosh goes through three decades of Donald Duck cartoons to create a near-seamless scenario – and the sharp-eyed animation addict can enjoy watching the subtle changes in Donald’s costume and appearance over the years. One memorable moment rests on Beck’s bizarre obsession with Nazis. Collins McIntosh provides a hilarious cut from the Oscar-winning Disney short “Der Fuhrer’s Face” to suggest a Nazi band marching on Donald’s embattled home – an appropriate image, considering Beck’s endless prattling about how contemporary Americans are facing the same social perils of the Jews living in 1930s Germany.
Due to its unauthorized borrowing of Disney material, it is highly unlikely that “Right Wing Radio Duck” will ever turn up on a commercial DVD. However, it is already turning up on a number of online video sites and it has become a darling of the Twitter and Facebook crowd. It is easy to assume that Disney is already aware of it, though the company’s Disney’s famously aggressive lawyers have not forced “Right Wing Radio Duck” offline. Nor has Glenn Beck, who saw the cartoon and commented on his radio show that
Collins’ McIntosh’s work “is some of the best well made propaganda I have ever seen.”
Beck, however, has added, “We are looking into this gentleman and this incredible propaganda against me” – and then he used his radio air time to travel a bizarre self-pity tangent that ended with quotations from Mohandas Gandhi accompanied by an old Ravi Shankar sitar recording. Clearly, it seems that Beck can rival any lunatic character created by the zaniest animator.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either for crass commercial purposes or profit-free s***s and giggles, is not something that the entertainment industry appreciates. On occasion, law enforcement personnel boost their arrest quotas by collaring cheery cinephiles engaged in such activities. So if you are going to copy and distribute bootleg videos and DVDs, a word to the wise: don’t get caught. Oddly, the purchase and ownership of bootleg videos is perfectly legal. Go figure!