Jose Piedro criticizes 'The Three caballeros' as homosexual and Making women more than women
Among the essays in Eric Smoodin’s Disney Discourse: Producing the Magic Kingdom is Jose Piedra’s “Pato Donald’s Gender Ducking.” Published in 1994, with a more personal companion piece available in Lusitania, No. 1, Spring 1993, Piedra is upfront with his interests – “what interests me here are the sexual innuendos behind the US’s well-known patriarchal fostering of Latin American dependency."
While Piedra names several other films and film companies in his piece, he focuses on Disney’s contribution to American propaganda in the Three Caballeros and only references the other two Disney feature films that came out of the Disney goodwill trip to South America.
Using the charged words associated with sex, intercourse and vulgarity, Piedra manages to level all sorts of criticism throughout the beginning of his essay without giving a credible example of that which he is speaking. In fact, he can be relegated to the same place that those, who are ruled by Freud’s ideas and see sex and homosexuality hidden in everything, are banished to – sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes, a cactus is just a cactus.
Much of his unsupported, circular or thinly supported by questionable sources arguments are just Piedra’s opinions. They reveal more about Piedra’s ideas on homosexuality and feminism than they do about Disney’s, and by extension, the United States’ attempt to use the hypersexualization and desexualization of all Latino culture to seduce South and Central America into supplying the U.S. with their fruits.
Piedra asserts that Disney’s “part-film/part-animation features [were] aimed at the children of the US.” Later he says that “his work was ostensibly intended for children,” and he uses this argument to create the idea that Disney could use this innocent ploy as an excuse for the atrocities that Piedra believes to have been wrought upon the people of South America and by extension the Caribbean.
However, Disney, himself, said that he never made children’s movies; rather, he made movies for the child in all people, and these films were not designed as propaganda for the consumption of “US children.” They were actually created for the consumption of the people of South and Central America. There is no doubt that these films are supposed to be the kind of propaganda that would help keep countries in the Western Hemisphere from joining Nazi Germany.
The problem is that Piedra applies early 1990’s aesthetics to films made in the 1930s and ‘40s. If today’s reader were to do the same to Piedra’s writings, one may find Piedra’s intense homophobia, as he expresses it in negative terms when talking about Donald Duck’s relationship to Joe Carioca and Panchito, disturbing.
Readers using today’s value systems may also find Piedra’s view of women to be misogynistic as he continual talks about the feminization of men and the masculinization of women, especially when it comes to what he sees as Carmen Miranda’s sexual aggressiveness because apparently, women shouldn’t be sexually aggressive. He also says that Disney portrays a Latin America where “men are less than men and women are more than women.” A statement that may be less than feministic.
Piedra may have had something to say, but it gets lost in the rhetoric of sexually charged words that, in context, make no sense. There are times when an interpretation goes a bit too far, and then there are essays like “Pato Donald’s Gender Ducking.”