A graphic circulating online allegedly shows an eye chart in a Disney cartoon which reads “Ask About Illuminati.” Is this real or fake?
The eye chart in question appeared in the background of a 1989 episode of DuckTales entitled “Yuppy Ducks.”
DuckTakes was a television show by Walt Disney Television which ran from 1987 through 1990. “Yuppy Ducks” is the 13th episiode of the third season, which first aired on November 13, 1989. The episode’s plot involves Scrooge being hospitalized after a visit to the doctor.
In the scene at the doctor’s office, an eye chart in the background appears to read “Ask About Illuminati” and a includes a line of text at the bottom which has been debated. The chart changes to “Ask a Illumintam” when the doctor approaches Scrooge.
You can watch the scene in question in the episode below. It begins at the 2:45 mark.
The earliest online reference we could find to this clip dates back to July 2012, when a short clip was posted on YouTube. LiveLeak then posted a German-language version of the same clip, which provides further proof of the clip’s veracity. The Google Trends chart below shows the search popularity for the phrase “Ask About Illuminati,” which first appeared in July 2012.
Sexual and other hidden messages in animated films have been the subject of fascination for years. Perhaps the most infamous example is that of a Playboy centerfold which appears in two frames of the 1977 film The Rescuers.
In a January 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, former Disney animator and current USC professor Tom Sito discussed the practice of inserting hidden messages, describing it as something cartoonists do “as joke.”
We reached out to one of the animators credited in this episode, but have not heard back from him. Tom Sito, however, did generously offer us his opinion on the clip, noting that he worked in the feature films division, which was separate from the TV division. He prefaced his opinion by pointing out that he did not “have the direct enough experience to adequately explain this curious detail.”
“I can understand the artists precocious nature to sneak little jokes in, nicknamed ‘Easter Eggs’,” Sito wrote. “You must recall the politics of the era. It was the tail end of the Reagan Administration, when everyone was tired of the New-Right Moral Majority’s endless crusade against perceived cultural conspiracies.” He cited an example of a friend who slipped a message into a live broadcast which stated, “if you are looking for a Satanic message here, go F— yourself!”
“So I would hardly be surprised if some background designer didn’t sneak this in to tweak the nose of conspiracy buffs,” he continued. Sito also pointed out that by the early 1990s, “…we were all very aware how carefully people were scrutinizing these films. Most of those types of inside jokes had ceased by then.”
An eye chart containing the phrase “Ask About Illuminati” does appear in a 1989 episode of the Disney television show DuckTales. It was not uncommon for animators to insert hidden messages into scenes in this manner, especially prior to the early 1990s, when increased scrutiny led to a decrease in this practice.