The Plastics Inventor

I was delighted to find online this short animation, which is discussed at length in Jeffrey L. Meikle’s book American Plastic: A Cultural History. It’s a wonderful reminder of how the associations with a cultural good—particularly one as plastic as, well, plastics, change over time: in 1944, plastic was mockable as shoddy, junky, and—here’s the real surprise—the realm of do-it-yourselfers and backyard alchemists. It was hyped as the product of the future, but “such visions melted away as quickly as Donald Duck’s plastic plane when exposed to the reality of shoddy home-front plastics. By portraying plastic as a so-called miracle material that dissolved in contact with water, Disney animators relied on the audience’s familiarity with similar catastrophes—with plastic sink strainers that melted in hot water or buttons that became greasy blobs at the dry cleaners.” (The book’s introduction is also fascinating: for some reason I’d never thought to hear the famous line from The Graduate—”Just one word…Plastics…”—as anthing more than just good solid late–’60s career advice.)

The Plastics Inventor” (1944), directed by Jack King, animated by Paul Allen et al, produced by Walt Disney :: via Boing Boing

Originally published at

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