Modern Mickey by Paul Rudnick

There is a humor piece by Paul Rudnick in this week’s New Yorker that takes a swipe at the forthcoming Mickey Mouse videogame Epic Mickey:

MEMO: To all Epic Mickey personnel
FROM: Disney Board of Directors
SUBJECT: New Mickey

Guys–we love the rethink, but we just have a few tweaks:

–When Mickey leers at Minnie in the waterfront bar, let’s have him squeak, “You know what they say, baby. Big ears . . .”
–In the “Brokeback Mickey” flashback, when Mickey makes tender love to Donald Duck, let’s have Mickey murmur, “Leave the little sailor hat on.”
–When Mickey is shown starving to death after the nuclear disaster, and he eats Porky Pig, we feel that Porky should still be alive when his feet are removed.

Visit The New Yorker website for the rest of the piece.


  • Kristjan

    Yikes, now I will get a night mere.

  • http://www.brandoncordy.com Brandon C.

    I’d pay money for that Real Housewives of Disney bit.

  • Vintage Season

    Porky Pig?

  • Justin Spurlin

    The people who first used the term “crass commercialism” had no idea how crass it could get before it adopted the standard of “edginess.” But how many people will read that piece and think it’s something that could never happen—or worse, think it would be brilliantly “edgy” if it did happen?

  • Donald C.

    The game seems charming but offset enough to make Mickey seem interesting again. I’m looking forward to it.

  • http://crisafullidoodles.blogspot.com/ Marc Crisafulli

    Just wanted to add that the painting Jerry chose for the post is by Gottfried Helnwien!
    (I didn’t want to spell his name incorrectly, so I looked it up)

  • Kate

    If Mickey’s Jesus tattoo looks like Chris Keller’s, I’d buy it.

  • http://carolwyatt.blogspot.com Carol Wyatt

    Great painting!

  • alfredo

    I thought the humor was pretty narrowminded. I’m a fan of the crew involved on Epic Mickey, and there definitely more to the game than slapping some new modern edginess to an 80 year old character. Theres a definite acknowledgment and embrace of history along with new style and design. This is hardly loonatics.

  • Donald Benson

    A friend, Ted Kopulos, coined the word “dag.” It’s a verb for making (or more often, remaking) a film “darker and grittier” as per the current substitute-for-imagination formula.

    Batman has been dagged repeatedly; The Spirit was dagged pointlessly; Sherlock Holmes was somewhat dagged, but a sense of humor and some loyalty to the source material diluted the degree of dagginess.

  • http://www.tubbirdbelty.blogspot.com Barbara

    Ever heard of the phrase ‘polishing a turd?’ That’s what occurs when trying to continuously update a character who was created for a 1920′s audience.

  • http://checkeredgeekcartoons.blogspot.com Zach Cole

    The video game will also feature Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, as the villain of the game. Apparently Oswald is bitter about Mickey getting all the attention or something. Disney is trying to be meta now.

    Also, they had to buy the rights back to use Oswald, which is why all the Oswald merch has been showing up lately. But most people here probably already know about that.

  • Rob

    Disney traded sportscaster Al Michaels for Oswald. The first time a human being was traded for a cartoon character, to my knowledge.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2324417

  • http://tillmyhands.blogspot.com Adam VM

    Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as the villain?

    Yeah, because -everyone- knows about the Oswald story.

    That doesn’t make any sense.

  • Scarabim

    The Epic Mickey game sounds like fun, and will be the primary reason if I finally give in and buy a Wii.

    Feh on the New Yorker. Dissing Disney, how original. Did it comment on the “edgier” (or maybe, as Mr. Kopulos would have it, “daggier” is the better word) Muppets we were assaulted with in the TV movie “Muppets Wizard of Oz”? You know, where Gonzo the Tin Man accused that shrimp guy of touching his nipples? Or how about Scooter in the dancing cage in “A Very Merry Muppets Christmas Movie”? How about dissing the Muppets for a change, all you pseudo-intellects out there in magazine land? Yeah, do something REALLY ballsy!

    Sheesh.

  • Scarabim

    Zach, I’ve seen some of the Oswald merch, and while I really dig the T-shirt that has the feisty rabbit wearing boxing gloves ready to take out anyone who dares to look at him, I’m not paying 40 bucks for it. I wouldn’t shell out that much money for Mickey.

  • http://www.taberanimation.com Taber Dunipace

    I dunno, the game sounds fun and the way Kingdom Hearts was handled didn’t ruin the Disney characters’ image. Besides, looking back at those early Micky shorts, he was a JERK!

    Micky got less and less interesting as time went on, leaving the spotlight open for Goofy and Donald series and spin-offs.

  • Melville Shaversville

    Going back to the 1928 Mickey verbatim would explode any modern attempts to dag the character. Too much about him would never fit today’s p.c. corporate mold, reimagined edgy veneer or not.

  • http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CowboyBebopAtHisComputer Some Darker and Edgier ‘Toon

    Love the hell out of that painting, as others have said.

    But it looks like the writer couldn’t be arsed to, you know, do a three-minute Google search to fact-check the content of “Epic Mickey”. So what else is new (see link)?

  • Greg Ehrbar

    Just have to clarify the facts since so much that gets written online floats into the ether and can be mistakenly taken as fact.

    Mickey Mouse is much more than “a character that was created for a ’20s audience.” The same is demonstrably true for landmark characters from Bugs to Spongebob. There are lots of characters, as well as movies, books, plays, etc., that transcend their actual date of origin and became relevant long beyond it, while others remain locked into a time frame and relative obscurity.

    The idea of re-imagining and re-introducing Mickey Mouse is nothing new. That was among the reasons Walt Disney produced “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” short that led to “Fantasia.” The “Mickey Mouse Club” gave him a new audience in the ’50s and early ’60′s. There were other instances since, some successful and some less so.

    The New Yorker piece seems to really be jabbing at recent popular entertainment and the absurdity of taking the modernization of Mickey too far.

    Some attempts at reinvigorating characters succeed while other do not, but dismissing a classic, enduring — and highly profitable — animation character as simply created for one audience of one era is shortchanging both the character and the fact that we’re all here discussing it, along with such an organization as The New Yorker, which has dedicated editorial space to it.

  • John A

    Will Oswald be the Lone Gunman in this game? Will Donald Duck be lurking at the grassy knoll?

  • FigmentJedi

    That’s just… Gah…
    *facepalm*

    For everyone in the discussion, Oswald’s not the main Big Bad, that role goes to the Phantom Blot, now an inky ultimate evil that uses Oswald’s jealousy of Mickey as a means to control him. Plus the game features the Mad Doctor and the Gremlins

  • http://www.fourhman.com Joe

    Jeez. A game tries to do something different with Mickey, including reffing all sorts of Disney ephemera from comics to cartoons to parks, and the game gets jumped on.

    Just like when Disney DOESN’T do anything with Mickey but keep him bland and inoffensive (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), and they get jumped on.

    So which way are we supposed to go? Leave Mickey in a cold sleep since Nifty Nineties, or not?

    Epic Mickey could be a very creative take, looks like quite a risk for the heretofore tightly controlled Disney brand, but it’s more fun for people to unknowingly slag it because of all those stupid pissed-off Tweety Bird attitudinal car seat covers.

  • GhaleonQ

    Yeah, that was imbecilic. They clearly got their information from late night jokes.

  • Mick Collins

    @Greg Ehrbar: Hear hear!

    @Everybody else: Years ago, I heard from an Australian that a “dag” was one of the bits of crap stuck to the back end of a sheep. Make of that what you will.

  • Brian Ellis

    I was about to rage-post a rebuttle over the apparent misconception of the forthcoming game, but ‘Joe’ said everything much more eloquently than I could have.

    The people involved in Epic Mickey are not hacks of their genre, and its clear in interviews that Warren Spector (the director of the project) has a thorough knowledge and reverence for the character. Even if the game doesn’t turn out well, this certainly isn’t anywhere near the same circle of hell as ‘Lunatics’ or even ‘Back in Action’, or even ‘House of Mouse’ for that matter.

    Beyond the moody concept images that are the sole talking point of the blogosphere, there’s a genuine attempts to do something original for one of the most overly protected characters in all of film history. At this point, we should just be lucky that a Mickey revival doesn’t involve him taking an Alvin and the Chipmunks-esque shit parade to become low-brow enough so that three year olds can get a small chuckle.

    The author’s piece reads like a confused old man’s attack on modern pop culture and videogames as a medium, but then snarking is what New Yorker humor pieces do best and it’ll probably funny when reprinted in a compilation book in a year or two.