Dozens of the Hirsch’s fans obliged the request, tweeting back images of his character violently tossing around Nazis.
Many of the artists contributing artwork are taking aim not just at generic Nazis, but also at the current American president Donald Trump, who has (in the view of many) established himself as the de facto leader of America’s burgeoning white nationalist movement.
In recent years, as corporate producers of children’s animation have made an effort to appeal to broad global markets, they have treaded carefully as to avoid the appearance of taking sides or offending any portion of their viewership. However, the corporate stance hasn’t stopped the artists who work on the shows from using the characters in unofficial capacities.
After white nationalists organized a violent demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. last weekend, We Bare Bears board artist Louie Zong created an animation showing one of the characters from the Cartoon Network series punching a Nazi. The tweet received thousands of likes and retweets, before being taken down by the artist without comment. Though it’s impossible to confirm, one can surmise that corporate pressure from the suits at Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting, which owns Cartoon Network, played a role in the removal of the animation. (The animation can still be viewed on Cartoon Brew.)
Hirsch’s case is even trickier for the corporate parent, Disney. Gravity Falls has already ended production, and Hirsch did not himself create any of the artwork in question. By reaching out to his fans and asking them to use his characters in a way that he would perhaps like to use himself, he has found a slyly brilliant way of re-asserting ownership over his creations, even if he does not legally own them anymore.
While this will no doubt cause some concerned eyebrow-raising within the halls of the Walt Disney Company, at least they can be solaced by the fact that Disney cartoon characters are turning violent again for a good cause.