Monday, November 22, 2010

It All Started With a Mouse...That is No Longer Recognizable

Last week, on the anniversary of Mickey Mouses's 82 birthday, I decided that I'd finally rip off the cellophane encasing my Vintage Mickey DVD, and revisit the original Mickey Mouse cartoons.

The original Mickey Mouse. Don't let the smile fool you
It was revealed to me that Mickey Mouse has lived two different lives. I know that he was mischievous in his early days, geting himself into comic situations in a Chaplin-esque fashion, but my first-hand knowledge came from basically only Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie. Obviously, I knew there were more than just two classic Mickey cartoons, but the others are much harder to find and less well known.

On Vintage Mickey, there are 7 other Mickey cartoons: The Karnival Kid, The Birthday Party, The Castaway, Mickey's Orphans, Mickey's Revue, Building a Building and Mickey's Streamroller. They all portray Mickey as a misbehaving, womanizing trickster. He's a completely different Mickey than I or anyone who didn't grow up in the late 20's 30's did. He was much more daring back in the old days, as exemplified in Plane Crazy when he grabbed Minnie and kissed her against her will. Things of that nature would not fly (even while in a plane) with today's standards of political correctness.

Mickey's New Image
So, over the time, Mickey's rough edges were smoothed out so he became a flat, dimensionless shell of a character. The Modern Mickey is known more for his costumed character at the Disney parks than he is for being an actual character. The company has tried to bring him back with shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhousebut nothing has really caught on.

Soon, Epic Mickey will be out, revealing a darker side of Mickey, a Mickey with actual character traits, a personality that may reinvigorate the classic character with something actually memorable.

Many have decried Mickey's image makeover, but really, if they knew anything about his original self, they'd know that Mickey having a dark side is nothing new. He started out as a little daring, a little left of center, a little clever and he's returning to that in a way.

Mickey has always been emblematic of the curent generation, so maybe this new Mickey in Epic Mickey says something about us. It's anything than a complete makeover, though, Mickey evolves and adapts, just like everything around us. If he was static, he'd have gone the way of his earliest competitors, like... well, I don't really remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment