Make Mine Freedom is an American propaganda cartoon released in 1948 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera and produced by Fred Quimby. The cartoon concerns four American individuals at odds with each other: a worker, manager, farmer, and politician. Just then, a slick salesman called Doctor Utopia approaches them, offering a tonic called "Ism" that can solve their problems. And all they need to do to get it is to give up their freedoms. A man called John Q. Public tells the four what freedom and free enterprise gave the American people, and shows them what happens when they trade freedom for Ism.
This cartoon gives examples of:
- Be Careful What You Wish For: All four of the marks have their desires corrupted by Ism.
- Dirty Communist: Dr. Utopia is not explicitly identified as one, but his opposition to capitalism and desire to have forced labor, nationalize private industry, collectivize farms, and imprison dissenting politicians makes it pretty clear.
- Dirty Coward: Dr. Utopia turns out to be one in the end, making a break for it as soon as his marks learn they’ve been tricked, while pusillanimously crying, “Don’t throw those bottles!” A bottle to the face is a serious injury, but a real man would dodge, not run away cravenly.
- Divide and Conquer: John says that those who pit the people against each other through class warfare, race hatred, and religious intolerance seek to rob the people of their freedom and destroy their lives.
- Expy: The story of how the car was invented was heavily simplified, because it wasn’t invented in America but instead in Germany, and even though Daimler and Benz had died before Hitler came to power, All Germans Are Nazis was still a common belief when the cartoon was made. (Not to mention it would still go against the subtext that all advances in the world were exclusively caused by Americans.) And though Henry Ford, an American, made automobiles affordable to the common man, he still couldn’t work because of his Nazi sympathies, so he was replaced with one “Joe Doakes”.
- The Gay '90s: There is a flashback to this time when John Q. Public is "explaining" how the automobile was invented.
- Giant Hands of Doom: "The State" is represented by a booming voice and large blue arms with wristbands.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: After trying the Ism, and seeing what it actually brings, the four men run Dr. Utopia out of town by throwing the bottles at him.
- Obviously Not Fine: After the politician is made a political prisoner, he is turned into a record player that says “everything is fine” over and over again. This is a hallucination caused by Ism.
- Original Position Fallacy: Everyone (except Dr. Utopia) falls for this to a greater or lesser degree. It’s obvious with the four marks, who only think of what Ism could do for them without realizing the catch that no freedom means one’s life is forfeit, but even John Q. Public seems oblivious to the flaws of capitalism, assuming that everybody will live a comfortable middle class existence enabling them to become capitalists themselves, and that nobody will fall through the cracks because of financial exploitation.
- Perfection Is Impossible: John Q. Public admits that the current system has flaws and isn’t perfect, but no one else, especially not Dr. Utopia, has come up with anything better. The cartoon isn’t against reform on principle, presumably if anyone managed to improve society without jettisoning democracy and freedom they’d be for it, but that definitely isn’t true of Ism.
- Propaganda Machine: The politician becomes reduced to a Yes-Man under Ism, saying everything is fine on loop.
- Sissy Villain: Dr. Utopia wears feminine clothing and has many gay mannerisms.
- Snake Oil Salesman: The Ism salesman.
- Strike Episode: The worker threatens through much of the cartoon to go on strike.
- There Is No Higher Court: The State blows off the businessman’s threat to appeal to the Supreme Court by saying, “The STATE is the Supreme Court!” This at first seems odd, since the Supreme Court is by definition part of the state, but what it actually means is that, under Ism, there are no checks and balances and the courts always side with the rulers against the people, never the other way round. This convinces the businessman of his folly.
- Ungrateful Bastard: The worker, manager, farmer, and politician are depicted as these for putting their own concerns above their freedoms.