Article Overview:   Mickey Mouse is being dusted off and reshaped to fight the War of Terrorism--the Terrorism of Complacency, the Terrorism of atrophy.   For years, Mickey's image has been on the decline, sinking into a quagmire of disuse at the expense of his 75 years of serving as a Sentinel of Vigilance.   Can Mickey Mouse become the leader of the Children's Children's Children battle with the Beast of Terror?   Find out.


Monday--November 24, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 803
Mickey Mouse Reeling Under Terrorism Of Age
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Nov. 24, 2003-- One of the great Terrorists of all time is age.   It whittles away at one's youth, vitality and optimism like the proverbial drip of water upon a stone, eating away at the granite of what once was to remove it for what will be.

Disney celebrated its 75th Anniversary last week

      Walt Disney is facing such a battle with its icon, Mickey Mouse.   Last week, Mickey celebrated 75 years of public life, and, according to some, may be on his last legs.   The Beast of Age Terror may have his name scribed in the "Doom Book," the one with burned and singed pages kept in crypt with the ashes of icons past.

"Steamboat Willie" was Mickey Mouse's first appearance

      I'm personally not a Mickey fan myself, but I do understand the "rise and fall of empires."   In his first appearance in the famous cartoon, "Steamboat Willie," Mickey grabbed the hearts of both kids and adults, and, the loveable rodent went on to inspire millions and millions to a world Walt Disney built to recapture and retain the safety and security of a child's imagination.
      In a way, Mickey Mouse was modern society's first Sentinel of Vigilance, the first Parent of Imagination Vigilance, and now, nearly three generations later, may well be the great great grandfather that the children don't relate to because he's being kept in an "old people's home," wired to life-giving fluids that keep his weakening body from failing as a wake of modern technocracy such as Rescue Heroes or Sponge Bobs or Transformers vie to command the 21st Century child's imagination.
      But the crew at Disney isn't laying down on the railroad tracks and letting the Big Bad Wolf tie them up as the chugging locomotive rounds the bend.    Nope.   In great cartoon style, they're marshalling their forces in a vainglorious attempt to bring Mickey back to the forefront.
      Mickey, like patriotism or nationalism, is viewed by some as anachronistic, antediluvian.   The foundations of what built America are being plowed down and replaced with new ones--and not everyone is sure the retrofit will produce the same results. 

Mighty Mouse might have evolved from Mickey

        Mickey is symbolic of such a shift in our cultural and political values.   Originally, he was an underdog, fighting for justice.   Historians suggest his super-hero counterpart, Mighty Mouse, might have evolved from Mickey's more fun-loving character by other artists who saw Mickey as a grandfather image of children's imagination.
       Walt Disney built a giant empire on the small mouse's big ears.    In fact, the problem today, say analysts both within and outside Disney, is that Mickey's image has been safeguarded by legal beagles so that he could not change.   As the trademark for Disney, changes and alterations to Mickey's appearance and character threaten the preservation of his image as a corporate icon.  
       But protecting the child from growth may have ossified his ability to relate to the modern children.   Mickey sales have dropped to less than 40 percent of Disney's consumer products division that racks up nearly $2.3 billion annually.   Winnie the Pooh is now ahead of Mickey in the cash department.  In 1997, Mickey's sales topped 50 percent of the division's revenues.
      Disney is concerned.

In 2004 a new stamp will highlight Mickey and his friends

       It's hired a plethora of Soldiers of Mickey Mouse Vigilance to form an offensive front geared to shine Mickey's image and keep his value gleaming in the eyes of the children and parents.
      Next year, a new stamp will highlight Mickey and his friends.    Consumers will be able to "lick their love" of Mickey when they post letters and bills.
      Last year, in a copyright battle that threatened to put Mickey's image into the public domain because the law limits the length of any copyright, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Mickey's copyright could be extended to 2023.   This flew in the face of many who believe Mickey should become public property, and that his demise in the eyes of the world is the limitations and licenses required for his use.   
       Celebrity marketing is another ploy being used to bring Mickey back to the forefront.   Superstars such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Aniston have been caught wearing trendy Mickey Mouse T-shirts now sold in boutiques.
        In Los Angeles, murals of Mickey cartoons are being painted on freeway walls, moving the staid image of Mickey as a simple corporate logo into the mainstream of daily life.  
        It's a fascinating thrust to save the decaying image of a mouse that created a world of magic for children and parents.

    Disneyland was designed to bring out the child in all of us

      Disneyland was designed to bring out the child in all of us.  When one enters the Magic Kingdom, a sign above the archway at the entrance reminds all who visit they will be swept back into time, to a place where the child in all is free to run and laugh and play, where "old" is left at the gate, where "problems" are checked and where "unhappiness," "pain" and "sorrow," are banished.
         Our family used to live in Orange County, California, just a few miles from Anaheim where the first Disneyland was built.   It was easy to take the kids there and enjoy the magic of a world that stripped one of reality and thrust all into a world of fantasy and imagination unleashed.
          I often thought that if every world leader could start his or her day with a quick tour of Disneyland, especially a journey through it's a "Small, Small World," that decisions made on a global basis would be more prone to benefit the children than the adults who thrust out their chests and pounded their shoes on tables to show their dominance over others.
         Disneyland was, and ultimately is, the United Nations of the Children's Children's Children.   It is, at its nexus, the source of Vigilance.
         Fear, Intimidation and Complacency have no chance inside the castled walls of any Disneyland.    Instead, Disney is the "warp core" of Courage, Conviction and Right Actions that favor the Children's Children's Children.
        Back in the 40's, Mickey was an activist, not just a corporate spokesman that he has become after the death of Walt Disney in 1967.   His creator used him as an "action figure," one that showed rather than "told" others what "Vigilance" was all about.   In one of his early cartoon strips, Mickey saved his pal Goofy from a dogcatcher who threatened to put Goofy in an execution chamber.
         Is there much difference between Mickey's action then and the role of U.S. troops in Iraq to protect the children and citizens of Iraq from the tyranny and oppression that existed in that country for nearly a quarter of the last century?

What if Mickey's image starts to take on characteristics that people don't like?

         The idea that Mickey Mouse would risk his image to fight for the safety of children makes corporate lawyers tremble.   What if Mickey's image starts to take on characteristics that people don't like?    What if Mickey's image on a T-shirt ends up being worn by a Terrorist?   Or, by someone who falls from grace, such as the current child-abuse accusations against Michael Jackson?
          Obviously, there are risks in taking Mickey out of mothballs and removing him from the staid and silenced role as a corporate icon, guarded by legions of lawyers who want to protect the logo.   The more merchandise efforts are put into bringing Mickey to the foreground, the greater the risk he might be caught in some cultural, social or ethnic cross-fire by critics.
          But, there is another danger far greater than his risks of rubbing the grain the wrong way.  That is the risk of Complacency, the becoming of a nobody, a nothing through non-action.
         Sales certainly suggest the atrophy of Mickey's value in the eyes of a world seeking figures to embrace.   Mickey's decline to less than 40 percent of sales, and a drop of more than 10 percent since 1997, suggests that Mickey is on a quick path to oblivion as an "embraceable" Sentinel of Child Vigilance.
         The idea that Mickey once saved Goofy from certain death has been long lost by the public.   Children need heroes.  They need to know that people, often taking the form of cartoon characters, will stand up for them in a world of constant threat, constant pressure, constant demands upon them.
        Mickey Mouse is being reshaped and reengineered to return to his primary role as a Sentinel of Vigilance--the kind of Sentinel a child hugs at night to protect the child from the shadows in the closet, or the bumps in the night.
        If we look at imagination from a child's perspective, we see the underdog rising up to stand up against the bully.   We see the "weak" becoming "strong," and reinforcing the basic values of life with joy and happiness for all.

We see Pooh helping Piglet...........

         Fundamentally, we see the character fighting the Beast of Terror, whether it be Winnie the Pooh helping one of the characters in the "Hundred Acre Woods" feel better about itself, or, we see Mickey saving Goofy from execution.
         Mickey Mouse is more than just a Sentinel of Vigilance, more than just one of the Justice Heroes.   He's a Father of Vigilance, and Minnie Mouse is the Mother of Vigilance.  Their family represents the Family of Vigilance--and, Disneyland is the Home of Vigilance.
          I hope that the people at Disney think in terms of reshaping Mickey as he once was--the fighter, the defender of those being trampled upon.  He is the "mouse that roars," but not in grandiose terms.   Mickey Mouse is subtle.   He is quiet and anonymous in his actions.  No chest thumping.  No magical transformations.
         He rises to the occasion, as we all do when the Beast of Terror threatens us.  Or, as we all should.

Mickey Mouse rises to the occasion and reminds us we need to change our outlook as Disney is changing its

          I hope the Complacency that keeps many Americans and other members of the world from standing up for what is right in the face of wrong will be replaced with the need for us all to change our outlook as Disney is changing its.    We all need to brush off our Mickey Mouse and polish up the Parent of Vigilance, the Citizen of Vigilance, the Loved One of Vigilance that resides inside.
         Disney is doing it.
         And, what's good for Disney, is good for all the Children's Children's Children.




Nov. 23--The Cradle Of Vigilance

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