Donald Duck Comics Banned?
No matter where you go, if you look hard enough you can find it. In print, on the internet, in trivia games and more. If you look for it you can always find a story about Donald Duck comic books being banned. If you search archives you can find stories all the way back to the 70′s, but there are plenty of current modern day stories of Donald Duck comics being banned.
In most cases the story is that some backwards southern state or European Country has banned Donald for not wearing pants. Is this really true? What’s the real story behind Donald Duck comics being banned?
Well before you start to get worried about your favorite foul (or fowl?) tempered duck, don’t worry, it’s only an urban legend. In this case it is a very strong and persistent urban legend that has endured for 30 years. Where did it come from? Like many urban legends there is some basis in actual events in the past that have been exaggerated and blown out of proportion with each new version. In this case the urban legend of Donald Duck comics being banned dates back to an actual historical event that took place in Finland in the fall of 1977.
Back in the 70′s the education and political systems of Finland may have in fact been more progressive than the same systems are today in North America. At the time the Finnish government invested large amounts of money to supply reading material to schools and libraries for various age levels, especially young readers.
As a part of their young reading initiative the government supplied Donald Duck comics to the public in an effort to promote literacy from an early age. In the fall of 1977 the government found itself over budget and strapped for cash. Many parents groups were also voicing concern over a lack of emphasis on physical fitness and outdoor activities for youth and youth programs. In a meeting held in Helsinki regarding youth affairs a candidate for Finland’s liberal party, Markku Holopainen, proposed that the country save money and promote fitness by replacing the Donald Duck comics it was providing to youth with sports magazines, which were cheaper at the time. The proposition was heartily approved by all of those in attendance.
A year later when Holopainen was running for election his rivals used the removal of Donald Duck from the public system as a weapon against him. The minister of youth affairs at the time did not come to his rescue and set the record straight because he was a political rival. Embarrassed and ignored by the media Holopainen’s reputation was trashed and he had very low voter support in the election.
American reporters in Europe were humored by the exaggerated stories and reported the news back home. The story took off like wild fire in the U.S. and grew to include that the Finnish did not approve of Donald and Daisy’s unmarried status as well as his not wearing pants. The snowballing story became so popular that is still persists as an urban legend today, readily spread at gatherings, on the internet, in trivia games and in print.
The news was so popular it even traveled back overseas and was picked up by European tabloids (even Finnish ones) and was reported all over Europe, told in tabloid newspaper stories that were almost entirely untrue.
The truth of the matter is that Finland loves their Donald Duck without pants on, just like the rest of the world. In reality Finnish television shows more Walt Disney programming than almost any other country.
Which goes to show, don’t always believe what you hear, or read.
Back issue magazine collectors can find references to this story in back issues of many prominent news magazines from the late 70′s.