Disney’s history of anthropomorphized animals is such that you wouldn’t necessarily think about the fact that they are animals living in a human-style world. They wear clothing, albeit not always a full set of clothing. They live in houses. They have jobs and go on dates and do all kinds of other human things. And we accept that, because that’s what Disney animals do. And we talk about Pluto and Humphrey, because they are sentient but not human animals, but one of the stranger byways, if you will, of Disney is the use of bugs in Disney cartoons. Sometimes ants and sometimes bees, but starting with this cartoon, beetles.
A narrator tells us about the rare bootle beetle, one of the rarest insects in the world. We then see one, sneaking off to live a new life in the wider world. He is stopped by an elder beetle, who tells him that many others have gone to see what’s out there across the river—and few of them return. The elder beetle is one of the few who do, and he tells the story of a giant monster he encountered out there. He was captured but managed to escape, and perhaps the giant is out there to this day, hunting.
Well. For once, I’m not the only one calling Donald a monster. In this, he appears to be an entomologist—but not a good one, because when the elder beetle escapes, Donald’s immediate response is to try to squish it. Way to go, duck. One of his only lines of dialogue is him being excited about the idea of being a famous professor. But because the beetles don’t know anything about anthropoids and their ways, they don’t know anything about entomology.
Another of the things We’re Just Not Talking About I Guess is that Donald and the elder beetle age the same way. This has happened in a few shorts; there’s a bee short we’ve discussed that has the same thing happen, where Donald and Spike the Bee get old at the same rate. That’s not true with ducks and insects in the real world, but it is what it is. Donald has had long enough in this short to completely devastate an ecosystem because of course he did. He’s a bad entomologist, because he’s bad at everything.
In a Disney world, many things have an advance enough brain for language and various other important aspects of cognition. If Donald were introspective—for a lot of people, I’d say “more introspective,” but this is Donald we’re talking about—he would be able to discover that his world is full of microscopic societies, those of bees and ants and beetles. But he’s Donald. All of that knowledge is lost to him. The way he goes about things, they’re lost to everyone else, too.