This is a post by guest blogger Ellen Bulger.
I’ve never been a big Disney fan. Growing up, my exposure was minimal. The cartoons weren’t broadcast on TV and my parents took me to maybe two movies in my entire childhood. The only one I remember was Mary Poppins. And when I was in junior high, for some reason my dad took me to see the French Connection, which I remember being a pretty great film.
But the cartoons on TV were Fleischer (wonderful) and Warner Brothers (a mixed bag ranging from wonderful to meh) and Hanna Barbera (utter crap, all of it) with hardly a Disney cartoon in sight. But still I constantly heard about how Mickey Mouse was the most beloved cartoon character of all time and how everyone loved him. Most of this fawning press, I later came to realize, was generated by Disney’s own publicity machine. However masturbatory it was, it was effective. People will believe most anything if you simply say it loud enough and often enough. I don’t like to think about that during election season, but there you go…
I saw maybe half a dozen Mickey Mouse cartoons and they all utterly disappointed me. They were never nearly as inventive the Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons I adored. And while Disney animation was more meticulous than Warner Brothers, the cartoons were flat because the personalities of the characters were boring, really boring. And more than that, Disney never challenged the status quo, more like the studio enforced every bit of tedious and toxic middle American midcentury thinking. And while the other studios were likewise part of this culture, they were, at least, iconoclastic thinkers. No matter, I didn’t like Disney, I didn’t see much Disney, I didn’t think about Disney.