Friday, July 19, 2013

The Ambivalence of Mickey Mouse

This took my attention because there seemed to be so many soft toys piled into one space. It's an amusement arcade machine, where you can manipulate a crane to grab the toy you want. I think most people don't manage to get anything at all. Clearly this is Mickey Mouse and it was only following a Disney dispute that he emerged as his own character, replacing Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. This gives me an opportunity to correct a mistake. Many works on symbolism only recognise mice as rats. In turn, rats are compared with their "fellow rodents" - rabbits.  But rabbits, hares and pikas are lagomorphs, not rodents. That's lucky for rabbits since rats are regarded as unclean. Freud's famous tract, the Rat Man, gives an idea of what rats symbolise. These underground rummagers have connotations of both the phallic and the anal. At the same time, they are signs of money, wealth and plenty. The mouse that spreads pestilence is also a symbol of Apollo, who both sends disease and cures it. Symbols are ambivalent and perhaps Mickey Mouse is too. He's an excellent cartoon character, who's antics give me much pleasure. At the same time, he has become a symbol of a vast exploitation empire. Mickey is very protected in copyright terms, so I hope Mickey recognises my good faith.