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Mini theory: What if all Dumbo’s problems were just the result of the stork at the beginning of the movie, delivering him to the wrong mother? Dumbo’s ears are certainly much bigger than the other elephants in the circus, but they don’t look so absurd when you look at the size of African elephants’ ears. Now look at all the other elephants that you see in the circus: they have themselves smaller ears, making it likely that they are Asian elephants. Does that mean Dumbo is actually a case of mistaken identity? Or is it a commentary on cultural migration and racial tension? Is “Dumbo” actually super woke? “Well I just can’t believe my eyes!” Uhhhhhhhh… Nope, back to the drawing board! *Film Theory theme* Hello, Internet! Welcome to Film Theory! The show that proves a theorist, much like an elephant, never forgets. To overanalyze that is. With the recent release of Tim Burton’s part live-action, part CGI, all weird version of “Dumbo”, I’ve been thinking about Disney’s iconic original from 1941. Now, I respect this movie for a lot of reasons, but today I respect it mostly for its brevity. It’s rare that I get to do a film theory on a movie that is only 64 minutes long. “Endgame”, love you, but you’re gonna have to build in a pee break, or find an editor who can make some hard choices. Take a lesson from “Dumbo” here, friend. Brevity is next to godliness. And keeping it brief is probably the best thing for “Dumbo” since, you know, it’s a movie loaded with racial stereotypes. Awkward! Anyway, with this new version out, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and re-watch the original “Dumbo”. To find out that, while it hasn’t necessarily aged perfectly, it really was a trailblazer for the Disney canon. It’s the first Disney movie centered around talking animals, it’s the first one that’s actually set in America, believe it or not. And it’s the first one with a psychedelic hallucination sequence, something that would become a staple of Disney movies for years to come. Now, if you don’t remember the scene, first off, do you even World War II, bro? Yeah, 1940s, get with it! Anyway, the set up is this: the clowns in Dumbo’s circus are partying and drinking champagne, you know, normal clown stuff, and they accidentally knock a bottle of champagne into a large bucket of water. Later, when Dumbo and his friend Timothy Q. Mouse wander by, Dumbo and Timothy take a couple of sips and start to feel a little bit woozy. Dumbo blows bubbles from his trunk, then a few moments later they start seeing
shape-shifting elephants that look like a Lisa Frank inspired nightmare. The next morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up in a tree not knowing what happened the previous evening. Indicating that they had just had themselves an alcohol-induced blackout. I guess this scene was included to show kids the horrors of… drinking? Or the magic of drinking? Again, these were weird times back in Disney canon, so maybe we don’t speculate on the motivation behind showing this to kids, instead just going with the fact that it’s a weird moment, that raises some really weird, but also some fascinating theoretical questions. So yes, today I am answering the question that no one has thought to ask, in over 60 years of this movie being out to the public: What is actually happening here? Is it possible that Dumbo, a baby elephant, is actually getting himself shwasted at basically toddler age? I mean, I’m no expert on alcohol, but this scene seems insane. And I think I can scientifically disprove that this could ever happen. In fact, I have a theory about this that instead of being drunk, there’s a real-world explanation for what’s really going on with Dumbo here. And that there’s actually something very fishy going on in that bucket. So, over the teeth, past the gums, look out theorists, here it comes. To start off with, I was suspicious that an elephant would ever drink alcohol, but this is the one point that “Dumbo” actually has going for it. Elephants actually like booze! This is not even a joke. Even in the wild elephants are particularly attracted to fermented fruit of the marula tree. And there are even some records of elephant binge drinking Mahuli, a strong fruit wine made in India. Still, there are a surprising number of Google search returns that debunk the idea that elephants like to get drunk…
at least regularly. So, while the taste of hooch won’t turn an elephant off, they’re not exactly at the level of college kids on spring break. So, Dumbo might enjoy himself the taste of his watered-down bucket of champagne, but if we look at that scene, there is legitimately no way he drinks enough to actually get as sloppy as we see him get. Timothy Q. Mouse is giving him water to get rid of the hiccups, so Dumbo sucks up a few trunkfuls, holds his breath and then swallows. He doesn’t come anywhere near downing the whole bucket, which also means the amount of champagne he’s drinking isn’t anywhere close to the entire bottle, even though the scene makes it seem like he’s just downed himself a whole keg. It’s gonna be hard to get a perfect calculation of just how much Dumbo is drinking, and how that should actually affect his body, but even if we’re as generous as possible, we’re not gonna get a result that makes Dumbo’s hallucinations and blackout make a lick of sense. For instance, a normal bottle of champagne is 750 milliliters, about the volume of two cans of soda. That’s roughly five servings of alcohol. Now, on the other side, baby elephants weigh in at roughly 230 pounds. For context, my little baby boy was 1/30th the size of a baby elephant. The point here is that if we use a BAC calculator to say Dumbo weighs approximately 230 pounds, and drinks that entire bottle of champagne in just those couple of gulps, which, again, he doesn’t, but devil’s advocate here, his blood alcohol concentration would be at about 0.11%. At a BAC of 0.11% Dumbo would definitely be feeling his liquor and probably shouldn’t be driving or flying, but he’s nowhere near the insane levels of intoxication that we see in the movie. According to the American Addiction Centers, blackouts begin to occur at blood alcohol concentrations of 0.2% and higher or about twice as high as our estimate for Dumbo. Now, unfortunately, we can’t get any more precise than that, because I wasn’t able to find any scientific studies about getting baby elephants totally hammered. I mean, jeez, science, get on that! Now, I can guess that you’re saying to yourself that it’s not fair to calculate baby elephant drunkenness based on human limitations. Or, heck, even human physiology. Baby elephants may have a totally different body composition that could make Dumbo respond differently to alcohol. And to that I say you are both astute, and also incorrect. Yes, you are absolutely right to think that the body composition of a baby elephant isn’t the same as a 22 year old frat bro. Even if they do weigh about the same. That said, the main body tissue that effects alcohol absorption is fat, where higher body fat percentages correlate to higher BACs, since fat tissue is relatively low in water and can’t dilute the alcohol in your system. Surprisingly though, baby mammals are actually born with very low body fat percentages. Now, you might not believe that because human babies look like little chubby bunnies and you’re right, but human babies are actually the chubbiest of most of the animals in the kingdom. At about 15% body fat, all of which is clearly going to the legs, or, as I like to call them, the little chunkers. Just pinch those little chunkers! Aww little chunkers. Elephants, on the other hand, max out at about 15% body fat as adults. Meaning that it’s reasonable to assume that a bottle of champagne wouldn’t have any more effect on Dumbo than a 200-pound dude… and, probably more accurately, even less. So, what gives? Why does Dumbo seem so drunk in this scene? Is this just cartoon logic? Well, yeah, probably. More often than not that’s usually the real explanation, but we don’t care about real explanations here! We come up with theories to justify why it’s actually happening as though it’s really happening. We want real world answers for these really inebriated pachyderms. So, if you go back and actually look at the scene and what happens in it, it becomes apparent that something else is likely going on here. Sure, a bubble comes out of his nose, his eyes go a little sleepy-like, and he generally seems to be a happy mellow drunk, which is one of the best drunks, so good on you Dumbo, but then you see that immediately after he takes a drink he starts seeing hallucinations of pink elephants. Then all of a sudden we enter a Dumbo bizarre-verse. But guess what, alcohol doesn’t make you hallucinate. If we go back to the scale from the American Addiction Centers, that describes what happens to the body at various BACs, it confirms that your brain will literally start to shut down before it starts making up anything like a pink elephant. And for those of you who are the stickiest of sticklers, yes, there are a couple of liquors that have historically been thought to have hallucinogenic properties. Stuff like absinthe, but remember that we know Dumbo is drinking champagne. That is not what’s going on here. So, what is going on here? Well, it turns out there’s another way to explain the crazy things that Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse see. To figure out what that is, we need to look closer at what the heck was going on in those hallucinations. Did you know that not all hallucinogens are created equally? They’re actually split into three major categories: psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. Now, I’m a control freak who gets nervous about taking too many Ibuprofen for a headache, so the information I give you about hallucinogens is rooted squarely in my research and not in my own personal experiences. So, take that for what it is. “Because drugs are bad, m’kay!” The first category, psychedelics, include the things that all hippies wrote songs about back in the 70s, before immediately going to rehab. Stuff like LSD, shrooms, peyote. Those psychedelics enhance or alter things that are real, like seeing the colors or shapes in a picture changing or blending. Dissociatives, like ketamine or nitrous oxide, are associated with the feeling of stepping out of your own body. Or, like, you’re dreaming, but you know that you’re powerless to stop it, which, honestly, sounds like the worst experience ever, but again, you do you, internet. Deliriants aren’t generally used on purpose, because they cause nightmarish swings in mood and extreme confusion that they would never be considered fun. Remember “Atropa Belladonna”? The poison that we concluded was in Snow White’s apple back in that past theory? “Atropa Belladonna” is actually a deliriant. It’s not good stuff. You don’t want to be messing around with it. So, what’s Dumbo gotten himself into? Given that his dream sequence in the movie starts with real bubbles that Dumbo has been blowing, which then proceeded to shift in shape and color, the likeliest substance that Dumbo and Timothy have consumed is a psychedelic, the one that morphs what you’re already seeing. That limits our list of possible substances way down to about five, since most psychedelics are derived from just a small number of plants. So, now let’s look into some history. Dumbo is set in Central Florida around 1941. But common psychedelics like LSD weren’t synthesized in a lab until 1943. And would have been very unlikely to end up anywhere near Dumbo. So, what we’re really looking for here is a naturally occurring substance, probably a plant. That makes mescaline a possibility, until you consider that it’s derived from the peyote cactus, and Central Florida is not a native home to that particular cacti. Nor do we ever see a cactus in the film. But there is a psychedelic that can grow in the wild in the same area that we’re looking at in “Dumbo”. It’s called “Psilocybe Cubensis”, a.k.a. the magic mushroom. These mushrooms grow naturally in the wild, including in Florida, they have psychedelic effects, and they don’t require a large dose to actually get those effects. Literally, it’s just a gram or two of this stuff and it causes plenty of hallucinations. Now, you might be saying that all of this is circumstantial evidence. I mean, just because Dumbo experiences the effects of consuming a psychedelic mushroom, that can grow in the wild near his circus doesn’t really mean a whole heck of a lot. It’s not like there’s any reason to believe that those mushrooms would be more likely to be in and around his particular circus, right? Wrong! You see, “Psilocybe Cubensis” is what’s known as a coprophylous fungus. In layman’s terms, it likes to grow in poop. The way these fungi reproduce is that they release their spores through the air to land on nearby vegetation, which, when eaten by herbivores, gets completely passed through their digestive systems and then out the poopy end. And the mushrooms then grow in whatever comes out. So, what would be a great place for “Psilocybe Cubensis” to grow? A circus, that houses elephants and hippos that are eating tons and tons of vegetation, thereby creating more and more spores. That water bucket that Dumbo and Timothy drink from has been sitting outside, heck, it even looks pretty dirty in the movie, that happens to be in the perfect habitat for psychedelic mushrooms. And with the optimal growing conditions for the mushrooms around it. Honestly, I’d be more surprised if that water weren’t contaminated with some hallucinogen. And it’s certainly no surprise the Dumbo gets himself a bit trippy after chugging a few trunkfuls. So, there you have it, friends. Dumbo isn’t drunk. It is simply not believable that he would blackout after a few sips of diluted champagne water. Instead, he just got himself the wrong end of a potent little mushroom. Oh, and uhh… next time that you’re in Florida, or when you hear about something crazy going on down there, like someone chasing people around a gas station with an alligator, it might not be their fault. After all, there is something in the water down there. But hey, that’s just a theory! A Film Theory! Aaaaand… Wait a minute. Are we sure that Dumbo can even fly? What if the whole audience is hallucinating? Oh my god! The bitter irony of this whole thing is that it’s a children’s movie, a Disney animated children’s movie, and yet I guarantee this video gets demonetized for talking about it. It’s not our fault that times have changed, people!

100 thoughts on “Film Theory: Dumbo’s Dank Adventure (Disney Dumbo)

  1. I never liked this movie. when I saw it as a kid, I immediately thought he was drunk. and of course a message to not drink. with this theory I was first closed minded that he couldn't be drunk. but then with the mushrooms ,my view changed. dumbo was definitely on them and not drunk. that's just overkill.lol

  2. That Pink Elephant sequence was a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment before Big-Lipped Alligator Moments even existed.

  3. matpat and his videos are so awesome and i love his theories but he can be a bit inappropriate at times 🙁 [referring to the girls in bikinis part]

  4. Matpat are you sure that your alcohol calculation is right?
    Blackouts occur around 0.20?
    The legal drink/drive level in the UK is 0.80 and in most of Europe is 0.50.
    I hit 0.20 according to my test device after half a bottle of wine but that it NOWHERE NEAR blackout which would be by my estimate about 1.8 thru 2.6. Or 3 to 4 bottles of wine.
    Source: I weigh 230lbs.

  5. As a Floridian I can confirm that I have multiple friends that have moved here from different states that have at one point said “there must be something in the water here.”

  6. Me:I has a theory
    Me:no matpat be stealing my theory
    Me:at least I have toy story theory
    1 month later
    Me:OH COME ON.

  7. you pronounce the sis at the end of cubensis. also surely some ergot could have also been the cause if it was an old feed bucket that contained wheat perhaps?

  8. That scene has been a part of my psyche since my earliest days. It was put on for me as a baby and at the time I couldn’t convey just how much it creeped me out. I’ve always remembered it but didn’t know what it was called I thought it was in Whinnie the Pooh

  9. You know in the spanish version of the pink elefhants song there is a part that says "las ánimas del terror" and the ánimas are like dead people spirits who terrories people like family or drunk people like Dumbo in that moment

  10. News!!!!!!!
    The flesh eating bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis ) is attacking Florida !!!!! It starts as a Vibrio Vulnificus and manifests itself in your sistem 😨😵😷
    Hey mat pat would you please spread these news I would really appreciate that thanks

  11. YouTube: don’t cover any crazy topics
    Matpat: ok, what about a Disney movie? It’s rated G
    YouTube: that might work
    Matpat: ok, please don’t demonetize me
    YouTube: …..too late

  12. Mat: elephants like to get drunk

    Me: so I'll just show up to Africa with some booze and elephants won't step on me?

  13. No. How do you explain Asians that don’t have an enzyme to breakdown alcohol …resulting in quicker intoxication and Asian glow. Doesn’t matter it could be. A fat Asian it won’t deter this. Dumbo is an Asian elephant.

  14. This was so fucking dumb. I’m all for theories but the alcohol point was the dumbest shit ever…it’s a movie where crows sing in English and an elephants ears allow him to FLY. Come on

  15. no mention of how Dumbo drank it with his TRUNK? found online:Elephants, unlike people, do use their trunks to help them drink, but they only suck the water part of the way up and then use their trunks to squirt the water into their mouths

  16. Before watching video: i always thought it was ayuhausca (sorry if it's spelled wrong) that dumbo drank. A psychedelic that can made into a liquid to consume. Although I think mushrooms can too 🤔

  17. Fun fact: when I watched this as a kid I asked my dad what it was and to avoid my very young mind from alcohol he told me it was “clown juice” that clowns used to be funny

  18. No one else ever questioned the weird psychedelic scene from Dumbo? 🤨 Enough people had questioned it that Disney's given an official response – the trippy elephants animation was originally done for Fantasia but didn't make the cut so they threw it into Dumbo so as not to waste it and wrote a scene around it to make the segment somehow fit in.
    🙄

  19. Dumbo is an African elephant, bigger ears, greyer skin and vaguely Africa shaped ears. Others? More tannish skin, smaller , India shaped ears. The shape is an actual thing to study, yes it is weird. Late theory, but valid? Possibly?

  20. Drinkingtip if you're drunk don't drink water it just makes more alcohol inside your stomach it doesn't dilute it it just turns it just sits there and makes more alcohol but that's you drinking and drinking and then you start to drink

  21. The mushroom is also called the liberty cap
    And grows in acidic soil so it it highly this is the case

  22. btw absinthe (or tequilla which I think has the "hallucination" reputation) doesn't cause hallucinations either. Alcohol just doesn't do that, even if you put a worm in the bottle .

  23. It's funny. As a kid I was already wondering why Dumbo had such big ears while the others had smaller ones. Also knowing different kinds of elephants have different ear sizes.

  24. A peyote plant is not bad for you. It can actually let you see a vision. Like my dad when he eats peyote he saw a flower come out of the fire he was sitting next to in writiquta.

  25. I just came back to this theory to show my mom. She made it 5 minutes of saying "oh, god" before going no no no no and shutting it off hahaha she is not into theories as I am i see

  26. The film makers:do we really need to research every little thing to make is accurate?
    The director:yes definitely there will always be one weird guy wanting to find out why a baby elephant is high af.

  27. I just thought those men added a little something something to the booze
    But go ahead mat pat theory your heart out

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