Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953)
Although released in 1953, this cartoon was under development and production during 1952, a presidential election year that pitted Dwight D. Eisenhower against Governor Adlai Stevenson. As you may know–and if you don’t, I’m givin’ it to you straight–presidential contests have a way of heightening the fear factor as both political sides of the contest use every trick in the book to motivate you to their way of thinking. (The More You Know…) In 1952, the cattle prod to the voting booth was Communism, more specifically the threat of godless hordes infiltrating our neighborhoods, churches, schools and bowling leagues. (Yes! Bowling leagues!) Much like today’s politics, it was the Republicans in 1952 who consistently championed themselves as the lighthouse in a darkness of evil whilst successfully painting the Democrats as weak-kneed handwringers who couldn’t poop nor get off the john. Beneath this opera of political wills–both national and international–was the quite real and terrifying threat of nuclear annihilation. In November 1 of 1952, the United States detonated in the Pacific Ivy Mike the world’s first Hydrogen “weapon”. Instantly the hopes of surviving your standard fission bomb war went from a maybe to a big fat wet phhht!. The futility of a cold war culminating in mutual destruction is codified in this toon. In Daffy’s Duck Dodgers is the arrogance that our nation brought to this mindless swager before our communist enemies. Who then does Porky represent in this tale? Oh, I don’t know, let’s say…uh, Canada?