My daughter and I were watching Disney’s Silly Symphonies on Netflix this week and it was great to reminisce about when I was her age watching these same cartoons. I was also reminded just how political these cartoons got sometimes. Chicken Little is probably one of the more powerful wartime propaganda cartoons that I’ve seen. To the unsuspecting viewer, it’s just a cartoon about a timeless story with several explanations. However, Disney’s Chicken Little is much darker and has a message that is timeless even 75 years later.
A narrator introduces everyone to the viewers then points out the big fence, the locks on the gate, and the farmer’s shotgun — all symbolic of what a nation uses to keep itself safe. We first see Cocky-Locky, the rooster in charge. Then we see all the others: Henny Penny, Turkey-Lurkey, and even Goosey-Poosey. Lastly, we come up to Chicken Little, who Foxy-Loxy — the antagonist — decides to trick into believing that the sky is falling. Foxy-Loxy got the idea from a psychology book, which said that if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one.
As we all know, Chicken Little yelps, “The sky is falling!” and Cocky-Locky debunks the big claim. Foxy-Loxy, not wanting to be outdone by a simple rooster with a bow-tie and cigar, learns from the psychology book that he needs to undermine the faith of the community’s leader. Foxy-Loxy then plants little seeds of doubt amongst different groups, spreading a rumor that Cocky-Locky is “full of corn,” a euphemism for imbibing corn whiskey. He then uses flattery to make Chicken Little stand up to Cocky-Locky and gain the trust of the community, then suggests to Chicken Little that the community should run to the cave for safety.
Foxy-Loxy is then seen finishing his meal, leaving the narrator dumbfounded, saying, “That’s not how it ends in my book!” Foxy-Loxy then ends the short with one simple moral: “Don’t believe everything you read, brother!”
Symbolism and Facts
As you can guess from the year this came out, Disney was looking to send a message to Americans that they shouldn’t believe everything they read about the United States being painted in a negative light. According to IMDB, Disney originally wanted Foxy-Loxy to be reading Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ so people would understand what was going on. He also wanted the little poultry graves to be marked with swastikas. However, he kept it generic so it could stay relevant outside of WWII.
As mentioned earlier, there were several symbols used. Here’s how I understood it. The large fence symbolized American borders and the use of big locks represented our laws and regulations around who comes into our nation. The farmer’s shotgun, however, symbolizes the Second Amendment. The narrator asked the viewers why they thought Foxy-Loxy didn’t just hop over the fence and eat everyone. After all, the community was practically trapped. He then asks if the viewers thought it was the fence, locks on the gate, or the farmer’s shotgun, placing an emphasis the shotgun.
One can draw the simple conclusion that this is a gentle reminder that the fact that everyone might be armed may have been a reason why Germany didn’t bring the war to the mainland United States.
The community’s symbolism is fairly obvious. Cocky-Lock represents the President of the United States and Foxy-Loxy represented the Third Reich. Then we had a Henny Penny and her gossiping hens, Turkey-Lurkey’s political conversation groups, and a bunch of comically drunk ducks and geese that sound like Donald Duck (damn, Disney…). So how is this relevant today?
The Left’s War with Donald Trump
Using this symbolism, we can easily exchange President Trump with Cocky-Locky, the political left with Foxy-Loxy, and even Turkey-Lurkey’s political elite with mainstream media pundits. The difference, however, is that the left likely doesn’t seriously want people to get hurt like Foxy-Loxy did, regardless of the fact that their ignorance would certainly lead to such. It’s important to note that had Foxy-Loxy not needed to worry about that shotgun, he probably would’ve just leapt in and devoured the entire community. In other words, Foxy-Loxy, much like the political left today, wished that the shotgun wasn’t there at all.
The media ran several headlines and segments to disparage Trump and undermine any confidence people had in him as a potential leader. BuzzFeed even published a fake Russian dossier out of desperation, which is similar to Foxy-Loxy suggesting that Cocky-Locky showed totalitarian tendencies. We’ve even had Special Agent Robert Mueller of the FBI investigating Donald Trump after winning the presidency for an entire year and there’s still nothing that they can seriously indict President Trump with that’s even remotely related to treason or collusion with Russia. It’s become a nasty wild goose chase!
Whatever happened to “Don’t believe everything you read?” While conservatives have a lot of explaining to do about Breitbart’s twisting of several facts, it’s clear that there’s a lot of fragmented and dramatized news stories about President Trump with one agenda: To get him out of office at all costs. Why would the left do this, knowing that Trump could likely lose in 2020? I have absolutely no idea as to why, aside from wanting control, but it’s alarming to see a large population of Americans vowing to resist anything the president does, regardless of how positive it may be.
The beauty of free speech is that we can literally say, write, and print just about anything we want. But it comes at a price. That price is simple: We must remain vigilant against propaganda and other biased information with half truths and falsities, no matter which side it’s coming from.
If you’re ever wondering whether we’ve fallen off the wagon on this obligation, just remember that there’s still a lot of people out there that believe the Russian dossier is 100 percent factual.