“I Am Chinese”
Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 22, 2004
In The Ducktators (McCabe, 1943) the Japanese duck tries to escape getting whacked by a furious turtle by displaying a button, marked “made in Japan”, with the phrase “I am Chinese” on it. The turtle does not believe the button and proceeds to pummel the duck.
The gag has a bitter, ironic twist, as it is intimately connected with the prejudice suffered by many Japanese-Americans during the war who were forcibly relocated, losing their land, homes, and businesses. Chinese were often mistaken for Japanese, and suffered right along with them in the generally xenophobic atmosphere which broke out after the war started; hence these buttons really did appear.