Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Donald Duck was once banned in Finland because the character doesn't wear pants.
Origins: It's a legend we giddily love to believe
Our story begins in late 1977, when the city of Helsinki found itself in a bit of a financial crunch. With monetary resources limited, Mr. Markku Holopainen, a local Liberal Party representative, proposed at a meeting of the board of youth affairs that the city economize by discontinuing its purchase of Donald Duck comics for youth centers in favor of hobby and sport publications. His suggestion was heartily approved.
A year later, while Holopainen was in the midst of an election campaign for a seat in the Finnish parliament, word was leaked to the press that he was "the man who banned Donald Duck from Helsinki." The chairman of the board of youth affairs failed to come to Holopainen's defense
When a similar incident had taken place in the Finnish town of Kemi a few years earlier, the international press had gleefully exaggerated the story with headlines such as "Finland Bans Donald" and "Donald Vanishes from Libraries," reporting that Donald's banishment was due to concerns over his lack of pants and questions about his marital status. As the foreign news reports about the alleged banning of Donald Duck filtered back to Finland (and neighboring Sweden), the local tabloids didn't attempt to verify the story
The furor quickly blew over, and within several months Disney cartoons became more prevalent on Finnish TV, leading the more cynical to wonder if the whole thing hadn't been encouraged as a clever publicity stunt by Disney.
Last updated: 19 August 2007
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