Donald Duck The Donald Duck Universe is a shared universe which is the setting revolves around the adventures of Donald Duck and the accumulated wealth and gold of Scrooge McDuck. In 1971, a book-length essay ‘How to Read Donald Duck’ was published. The book critiques the Disney comics from a Marxist point of view as being vehicles for American cultural imperialism. Among other aspects, the book critically discusses the role that gold takes up in the cartoons such as the pool of gold where Scrooge McDonald takes a regular swim, or the golden objects and wearables that appear as plots. What is the role of gold in the context of the Disney comics? How are golden wearables used? What models of economy and power relations are depicted in the world of Donald Duck?
world The Donald Duck Universe envisions a world of concurrence, where all the relations are set by the possession of gold and its monetary values. Social mobility in this universe is a question based on luck, where personal intelligence or hard work is kept unexplored.
material In many Donald Duck comics, gold appears as a toy with which characters play as amusing children. In that fabricated world there is no harm done to anybody – unlike in reality. The Disney Universe is proof of a world ruled by gold and an exact reflection of the political design it produces. Gold as an actor of the comic plots reduces humanity to the level of a thing and objects possess a life of their own.
maker In such world, the maker of every golden item is eliminated from the story. Golden objects appear as if they would arise untouched by the human hand and we never see the processes of the production of any artefacts. In the comics there is no production, only consumption where objects are never produced but always purchased. This mercantile relationship is not limited to the level of objects, people see themselves as buying each others’ services and eventually all human exchange becomes a form of commerce.
owner The comic issue ‘the Golden Helmet’ is an example where a golden object becomes the plot of the comic. Here Donald Duck is enlisted by a museum director in a rival attempt to find a golden helmet. The object of power has the same effect on each of its successive owners: awakening of greed and ambitions of a would-be tyrant. The idealistic museum director is the worst of all; he wishes to change the North American culture to his own ideals. Eventually Donald’s nephew throws the helmet into the sea to end the madness.
jewellery perspective The golden helmet has an unquestionable power – without words, as a conflictual wearable it brings out a contradictory reaction of its wearers.