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Russia Bans Mickey Mouse Jesus Painting

1 Sep

Mickey Mouse as Jesus Christ

From Deseret News:

The Kaluga Region court has banned as extremist a painting by Alexander Savko that depicts the Sermon on the Mount with Mickey Mouse sitting on a rock surrounded by halo-clad disciples and admiring onlookers, reports RIA Novosti.

The story’s been covered in Business Insider Europe as well, which provides this handy link to a LiveJournal page which provides the image I’ve displayed above. Plus, a couple years before the image was banned, two prominent Russian intellectuals were found guilty “of inciting religious and ethnic hatred in an exhibition called “Forbidden Art — 2006,” which displayed works that had been banned by Russian museums” including this same painting (New York Times).

Traveling to Germany last month, I was struck by the number and style of irreverent iconic Disney images.

I'm Watching You Mickey Logo

Street art in Heidelberg, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

Scrooge Diving into Money

Unknown gallery in Munich, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

Donald Duck Capitalist

Unknown gallery in Munich, photo courtesy of Mr. Broke Hoedown

So, am I offended by the Mickey Jesus image? As a person who respects many faiths, I do feel a bit tweaked and disconcerted when I look at it.

I believe that one of art’s many roles is to challenge the viewer. And what I’m really offended by is the reality of what it portrays: That consumerism has trumped spiritual life for many people. As Savko told the Huffington Post:


Mickey Mouse is a cultural icon (as are some of his buds); his image belongs to the global, visual language of artistic expression.

Mickey Mouse Suicide Shirt

9 May

At least, I think it’s a shirt. It could be a skirt. It would be awfully strange as curtains or a tablecloth.

C’mon Mickey, things aren’t really that bad! Whatever’s wrong, let’s just blame Hooter. That’s what Captain EO’s crew always seem to do.

Readers, can you translate any of the background text? Maybe we can help poor Mickey.

Disturbingly Blackface Mickey Mouse Toy

30 Mar

My friend Geoff sent me a link to these disturbingly ugly and sometimes-racist toys on SuperPunch. I keep wishing I had something intelligent to say about them. But I have no words.

Banksy Billboard: Drunken, Lecherous Mickey and Minnie

18 Feb

Banksy Billboard on LA Times

My friend Geoff just tipped me off to this billboard, as seen on the LA Times web site. Some are speculating it’s a Banksy, in support of the Oscar nomination of Exit Through the Gift Shop.

And there are more, too:

There’s the one in Westwood that’s been dubbed “CrayolaShooter,” on the back of an Urban Outfitters in the UCLA neighborhood. Then there’s one known as “The Charlie BrownFirestarter,” spotted on Sunset Boulevard, that features theCharles M. Schulz-created character with a cigarette in his mouth and a can of gasoline in his hand. Soon after the “Firestarter” went up on the side of a fire-damaged building, someone cut it off the side of the structure.

Not surprisingly, no comment from Disney.

A Short Early History of Pluto

13 Feb

Yesterday, my fourteen-year old boy turns to me and asks, “Mom, why is Mickey’s dog named after the Roman god of the underworld?” So, let’s review the early days, with a little help from the Disney Archives and Cartoon Shorts Club:

We see Pluto for the first time in the 1930 short, The Chain Gang. He doesn’t have a name, though. And he looks so little like the Pluto we know today, I’m just gonna have to take Disney’s word for it that this is the same character. Plus, he seems to have been twins. (And hey, there’s a short section right around 7:00 that reminds me of Trolly Troubles with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.)

Watching The Chain Gang this morning made me wish even more that we could see old-school hard-times Mickey Mouse facing today’s economic troubles.

When we see him next in The Picnic, also released in 1930, his name is Rover. Plus, he’s Minnie’s dog, not Mickey’s, as my friend Eliyanna points out in an early episode of Those Darn Cats, A Room of Minnie’s Own.

When The Moose Hunt is released, the pup is now named Pluto, and belongs to Mickey.

The Disney Archives are silent on the reason for the name change. Wikipedia reports what is also widely speculated elsewhere:

Although it has been claimed that the Disney studio named the dog after the planet (rather than after the mythical god of the underworld), this has not been verified. Disney animator Ben Sharpsteen has said: “We thought the name [Rover] was too common, so we had to look for something else. […] We changed it to Pluto the Pup, […] but I don’t honestly remember why.”[9]

And, in turn, this then-newly-discovered (and now recently-demoted) planet had been named by an eleven-year-old girl in the UK. According to Wikipedia:

The name Pluto was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England.[27]Venetia was interested in classical mythology as well as astronomy, and considered the name, that of the Roman god of the underworld, appropriate for such a presumably dark and cold world.

So there you have it, kid. The best I can tell you is that Mickey’s dog is named after the Roman god of the underworld? Because Venetia and Ben said so. But Eliyanna, I still don’t know why Mickey stole Minnie’s dog.


Your Souvenir Guide on Mickey Mouse and Epcot Corporate Overlords

10 Feb

I learned something today: Geoff Carter owns more Vinylmations than I do. Who woulda thunk it?

If you’re not reading My Souvenir Guide, it’s time to add it to your blogreader right now. Geoff doesn’t post all that frequently, but when he does, it’s the most incisive Disney fan-boy commentary out there. And while I link to almost everything he writes, you really should go subscribe to his RSS feed just in case I’m out sick someday.

Two cases in point: He recently posted about Mickey Mouse’s image problem, and Epcot’s corporate overlords (did I say overlords? I meant protectors).

First, about Mickey:

Modern-day Mickey Mouse shouldn’t be trapped in his own mythology, fighting the same, safe malevolence he’s been vanquishing these past fifty years or so; he should be fighting to keep Peg Leg Pete from foreclosing on his home, sluicing buckets of water out of his waterfront shack, pounding the pavement looking for work. That’s the kind of scrapper we need right now — a Mouse with real problems and the wit and savvy to beat them back.

I second that emotion. Please baby please, can we see what Mickey does when unemployment benefits run out even after 99 weeks with extensions? Or when his roof is failing from the ice dams, and he can’t afford to call a contractor?

Now, on to Epcot, where Geoff exhorts corporations to invest in Epcot for brand enhancement . . . which after all is what much of EPCOT was built on in the first place (and yes, my change in caps was entirely intentional). I particularly enjoy his explanation of why the Norway pavilion needs Scandinavian Airlines to get involved:

This shrinking lutefisk behind me is EPCOT’s Norway pavilion. Now, I think I’ve learned a few things about the Norwegians — I live in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, home to the largest Syttende Mai parade in the United States. If I want a helmet with horns on it, I can walk to the end of the block and get one. And this EPCOT attraction, whose ostensible purpose is to promote tourism to your homeland, doesn’t even fill me with the desire to visit my own neighborhood. The queue leading to the pavilion’s centerpiece attraction Maelstrom is a simple blue wall cheaply bedecked with tiny flags; the attraction itself has precisely one interesting scene and a bunch of terrible ones. I know that yours are a people not naturally predisposed to showing off, but c’mon. Norway has left 1979; your amazing techno scene proves it. The chorus of Röyksopp’s “The Girl and The Robot” is sick.

A relatively small outlay of sponsor cash — $10 million, maybe $20 million — could make EPCOT Norway into one hell of a tourism office. It could pay for an update of the dated and borderline frightening movie that plays at the end of the boat ride; it could pay for badly-needed scenery and technical improvements to the ride itself; and it could enable Disney to do something, anything, with that boring queue. In exchange, Disney will slap your name on every flat surface and probably give you some shop space if you want it.

Not sure I want to give up the Spirit of Norway movie, though . . . after having avoided it per Disney Digerati Rules, I’m now inexplicably fond of it. It reminds me somehow of the Isabella Rossellini insect sex films, like something has gone terribly wrong and I want to know why.

Also, let’s have some freakin’ lutefisk in the pavilion, okay? If we can suffer through Beverly, we can have ourselves a little gelatinous lye-infused fish, can’t we?

Geoff has also just coined the wonderful term, “themepunks.” Want to hear it used in a sentence?

It’s trendy for us themepunks to wring our kissably-soft hands and wonder how EPCOT came to this pass. The short answer is this: Disney can’t deal with EPCOT right now because there’s no clear-cut way for them to make more money from it by dumping Pixar characters into it.

And finally, back to those Vinylmations. I own two. And Geoff? Twenty. Geoff, how bout posting a picture of your collection?

Vintage Mickey Mouse Japanese Postcard

27 Jan

Vintage Japanese Mickey Mouse PostcardSuper kawaii! My husband spotted this for me on Pink Tentacle. He may not be a fan of the Disney parks, but he sure does like that vintage animation. Thanks sweetie!

More on Epic Mickey: “Twisted, broken, dangerous”

5 Nov

The New York Times has a must-read story on the upcoming Wii video game Epic Mickey, including more details about the plot and characters:

Epic Mickey, designed for Nintendo’s Wii console, is set in a “cartoon wasteland” where Disney’s forgotten and retired creations live. The chief inhabitant is Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character Walt Disney created in 1927 as a precursor to Mickey but ultimately abandoned in a dispute with Universal Studios. In the game, Oswald has become bitter and envious of Mickey’s popularity. The game also features a disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck and a “twisted, broken, dangerous” version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.” Using paint and thinner thrown from a magic paintbrush, Mickey must stop the Phantom Blot overlord, gain the trust of Oswald and save the day.

Twisted, broken, dangerous, disemboweled? I’m shivering with ghoulish glee!

New York Magazine has a brief piece as well, including a YouTube link to this concept art (yeah, the soundtrack is irritating, but the little on-screen comments are worth it):

I do not think I have to tell you how excited I am that Oswald will play a major role.

Just as interesting, though, is the larger picture of Mickey makeover described in the New York Times article, of which Epic Mickey is just a trial balloon:

“Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth,” said Warren Spector, the creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer that spearheaded Epic Mickey.

The effort to re-engineer Mickey is still in its early stages, but it involves the top creative and marketing minds in the company, all the way up to Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive.

Max Pepeschi: Icons Gone Awry

16 Sep

Max Papeschi‘s work is disturbing and amusing, and some of it is even less for the squeamish than what you see above. Via Daily Obsessional, from which I essentially stole this headline.

Mickey and Minnie JAL Airplanes

24 Jul

I love these custom-painted JAL planes, seen recently on Dark Roasted Blend. There’s a whole bunch more on that page too, including a couple more Mickey but also fun Pokemon, Simpsons, and various other branding.

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