Mickey Mouse, Foul-Tempered Giant Rodent

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Steamboat Willie was the official debut of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and frankly I never paid much attention to it until now. So what actually happens in this classic short film? Mickey Mouse tortures a series of animals, synchronized with wacky music. Yeah, there's some stuff about Mickey's conflict with Captain Pete and his relationship with Minnie, but what jumps out here is that Mickey is serially trapping and torturing a bunch of animals. Wikipedia's plot synopsis discusses this (emphasis added):

...Landing on deck, Minnie accidentally drops a guitar and some sheet music for the song "Turkey in the Straw" which are eaten by a goat. The two mice use the goat's body as a phonograph which they play by turning the animal's tail like a crank. Mickey uses various objects on the boat as percussion accompaniment and "plays" the animals like musical instruments.

Finally Captain Pete appears and puts Mickey to work peeling potatoes. In the potato bin, the same parrot from before appears in the port hole and mocks Mickey again. The mouse throws a partially peeled potato at him, knocking him into the river below. The film ends with Mickey laughing at the sound of the bird struggling in the water.

Um. Wow. In this recut of the cartoon, Steamboat Willie is mixed with Philip Glass's opening score from my favorite art film, Koyaanisqatsi. In this new cut, we learn that Mickey Mouse is a foul-tempered mouse-giant who takes out his anger on barnyard animals. Watch and be totally freaked out.

So what's the deal here? In this alternate universe, can we presume that Mickey and Minnie have been freakishly enlarged by some means, and are now using that advantage to take revenge on his formerly larger animal compatriots? Seems like it to me.

See also: Echoes of Koyaanisqatsi; Why Isn't Mickey Mouse in the Public Domain?; and 10 Things You Didn't Know About Mickey Mouse.

(Via MetaFilter.)

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January 19, 2013 - 12:07pm
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