Sunday, February 06, 2011


The Comics Journal has an article that might be written by an Egyptian about Disney comics that were translated into Arabic for sales in Egypt, even going so far as to rewrite some of the character names and references in Arabic terms. I think what's really amusing here is that the writer, Nadim Damluji, actually calls Disney, of all companies, an imperialist! Does that mean they don't like Disney? "Imperialist" is something that's more what people like me could think: as told in Walt Disney: Hollywood's Dark Prince, the founder was anti-semitic, and based on that, if it hadn't been for Jewish businessmen taking over the company, I'd really look at them that way due to the founder's horrific background. Also, Disney's cartoons, as noted here, were among the few allowed into Germany, not unlike how Henry Ford was in good relations with those abominations, the making of possible anti-nazi Donald Duck cartoons notwithstanding. One can wonder if the same form of relations went for Disney/Egypt.

In this excerpt from the Comics Journal article, it tells:
In this first cover Mickey, Minnie, and their illegitimate mice kin are seen celebrating Mawlid, better known to those outside of Egypt as the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday or Islamic Christmas. The illustration depicts Mickey climbing up a ladder to Minnie in front of a mosque and is embedded with a plethora of Mawlid symbology. The circles around Minnie are a reference to the edible treat Arusta-el Mawlid and the other mice are dressed in typical Mawlid dress (including the hat). On the building there is well-known Islamic script that reads “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger,” while on the horse (another Mawlid staple) it states “Bless the Prophet.” In short, Mickey is very much in the spirit of celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
Ugh, ugh, UGH! It's a bad sign when a company like that has no problem with allowing a shady foreign entity retool their work to suit the Religion of Peace. Next thing you know, Mickey Mouse and company will be seen celebrating the "prophet's" marriage to the 9-year-old Aisha. Islam, simply put, is not something you deal with using kid gloves.

But maybe even more bothersome is what CBR's Brigid Alverson, the same writer who turned her back on Molly Norris, says about one of these odd publications:
Damluji points to a Carl Barks comic in which Uncle Scrooge discovers a pyramid and, convinced it will be full of gold, hires generic local Arabs to excavate it. The story does raise issues of ownership and primacy (Why does Uncle Scrooge think he can keep the gold? Why couldn’t the Arabs find the pyramid?), and it seems rather clueless of the Disney folks to print it in an Egyptian comic—had they run out of more generic storylines?
Do I detect a tinge of "cultural sensitivity" here? Of course, this item misses an important point: surely that gold wouldn't belong by heritage to the Copts of Egypt?

What's really funny here is that this story actually made its way to Egypt at all; today, I'm sure the Islamic censors would've stopped it altogether (and Minnie Mouse would probably wear a burka over her rodent ears). Alverson goes on to say:
While Damluji seems to be presenting the comics as a wolf in sheep’s clothing—here’s something familiar, kids, but what’s inside is going to make you feel bad!—I see it the other way, as Mickey adapting to local mores by adding content the local audience finds attractive, much as manga publishers put new covers on Japanese content and serve it up more or less unchanged.
But they are wolves in sheep's clothing. It's not Egyptian (read: Coptic) culture per se the comics embody, it's Islamic culture. Ironically, it's that specific Uncle Scrooge comic that's not really so. Alverson also says:
...surely Egyptian kids, especially in this day and age, are savvy enough to know that Mickey is an import, even if he does celebrate Mawlad.
Maybe not; the education system there is so steeped in Islamic fundamentalism, they might not figure it out until they're well into adulthood. And along the way, it's a very rocky road.

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