My last post reminded me of when Hassan and I went to Disney World, like two years ago. (It was the first time I’d been – there were no trips to Disney World in my deprived childhood.)
When we were there, we saw a Muppets 3-D show, which featured the Muppets alongside Disney characters, and throughout the show all the Muppets kept talking about how excited they were that Mickey Mouse was going to make an appearance on the show, as if Mickey were this big star and the Muppets were just a bunch of second stringers. And as this went on, I felt increasingly annoyed and even hostile toward Mickey, because the Muppets are just so way cooler than Mickey Mouse.
Let’s take Miss Piggy. She is headstrong and bossy, vain yet insecure about her appearance, she says “moi” too much, she’s perfectly willing to lie and scheme a bit to get her way, but she’s extremely loyal to her friends, and she’s desperately in love with Kermit. Those are building blocks for an awesome character.
Whereas Mickey…. has a squeaky voice and … is a mouse. I’m hard-pressed to think of a duller, more two-dimensional character that exists in cartoons or puppetry. This is why Disney and the Muppets don’t go well together. Disney characters tend to be squeaky clean, with few interesting quirks and no moral ambiguity, and the Muppets are all about the quirks and the ambiguity.
But maybe I’m being unfair to Mickey. I can’t remember the last time I even saw him featured in anything story-like, and at this point he’s more a logo than a character. And as a logo, he seems to have been pretty successful.