The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'mickey mouse'


The latest character to get a darker, edgier makeover: Mickey Mouse. Yes, the antiseptically squeaky-clean mascot of one of the largest family-entertainment corporations is being brought back to his original roots as a sadistic prankster, mostly because today's kids find him too much like a personification of benign authority to actually, you know, identify with:

Mickey was a bit of a wild child himself, when he made his first appearance, in 1928, in that changeover period when silent movies were being superseded by the “talkies”. He played practical jokes, he pursued his girlfriend Minnie aggressively, and in Steamboat Willie, he vented his anger on an undeserving parrot.
But in the anxious 1930s, when American was threatened by recession and political radicalism, the highly conservative, communist-hating Walt Disney toned down Mickey’s behaviour and created the bland, all-American mouse kid that he has been ever since.
The new, grittier Mickey makes a début in a Nintendo Wii game set in a "cartoon wasteland" occupied by forgotten Disney characters.

I wonder if it'll work any better than Warner Bros. attempt to give their Looney Tunes characters a gangsta hip-hop makeover in the 1990s.

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Under a new deal between Disney Corp. and China's Communist Youth League, millions of Chinese children will now be indoctrinated into the teachings of Mickey Mouse. Or, more precisely, will learn Disney stories instead of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.

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What shall it profit a rodent if he shall gain the pop-cultural world but lose his soul? One could ask that question of Mickey Mouse; since his debut in 1928, the ubiquitous rodent has gone from being a mischievous, somewhat sadistic cartoon prankster (in the classic slapstick style of the medium) to the corporate identity of an intellectual-property behemoth and, arguably, a symbol of McWorld itself. Of course, as this happened, the once lively character lost his own story and personality and became, at best, as bland and anaemic as any friendly, helpful corporate mascot, and at worst, a symbol of heavy-handed corporate hegemony over culture:

"If I was looking for the crossover point where Mickey's story morphed into the Disney story, it was `The Sorcerer's Apprentice,' " said Mr. Hardison, referring to the Mickey segment of Disney's 1940 classic, "Fantasia," in which the mouse, as an aspiring magician, attempts to harness his master's tricks. "That's where he cemented his place as the source of Disney magic. Magic is such an important characteristic of Disney, but it wasn't an important characteristic of Mickey. Once he becomes magical, he is no longer the everyman underdog. He went from being the little guy against the world to a symbol of what Disney does."
And so a logo was born. A brilliant one, at that: any close approximation of the two black ear-disks is enough to say "Disney" anywhere in the world. "For the sheer power of the graphics," the sculptor Ernest Trova once said, "Mickey Mouse is rivaled only by the Coca-Cola trademark and the swastika." By making itself inseparable from its beloved mascot, Disney made it impossible to see Mickey and not think of the company that backs him -- one whose public profile is a lot more controversial than that of your average stuffed animal.

(via bOING bOING, of course)

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Just the thing to wear for when Osama comes to take out the mall: Mickey Mouse gas masks. Originally designed for children during World War 2, perhaps we can expect them to return to shops in a few terrorist alerts' time. Though perhaps this day we'd be more likely to see Hello Kitty or Jar-Jar Binks gas masks. (via bOING bOING)

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