My daughter has discovered Mickey Mouse.
We’d tried to keep her away from the current generation of empty children’s programming, relying instead on DVDs of Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, and picking out the best of the Disney and Pixar offerings of the last few decades.
However, Abby started playing with a Mickey Mouse doll at her daycare, and it quickly turned into a full-fledged obsession. The first thing she said this morning was “Mickey Mouse.” (Admittedly, it sounds more like “Minna Mao.” (No, she is not saying “Minnie Mouse.” When she refers to Minnie – a character in whom she shows far less interest – she just says “Minna.” Also, Goofy is “Gooky,” Pluto is “Ploopo,” and Donald Duck is “Dawdo.”)) Now she constantly demands that we watch Mickey Mouse cartoons on TV, and she dances along happily with her Mickey doll when the hot dog song comes on at the end of the episode. (I don’t know what this song is or what it is supposed to mean. The whole thing is just so surreal.)
Perhaps most freakily, she is able to identify the Disney logo on other toys. No, not the logo with the Mickey Mouse ears. Just the word: Disney. We were at Chapters the other day, and she started saying “Mickey Mouse” (“Minna Mao”) while pointing at a boxed set of Cars toys. When we looked closer, we saw that she was pointing at the word Disney. That’s freaky, considering she isn’t even two years old yet and can’t read.
I’m not against Disney as a company. I enjoy Disney World immensely; Erin and I went there together years ago, long before we had kids, and had a blast. They celebrate imagination on a grand scale, and many of their films have been game-changers in the entertainment industry.
I’m not a fan, however, of things like the whole “Princess” line. It’s so aggressively pink, so viciously gendered, that I can’t help but see it as a tool for maintaining the hetero-normative attitudes of the political and social right wing. The Cars franchise seems to have been positioned opposite the Princesses as a “Boys Only” club full of grease and skid marks. That is an issue for me, as it should be for anyone that believes that gender roles are neither set in stone nor ethically enforceable.
As such, I have high hopes for Pixar’s latest movie. They rarely let me down when it comes to emotional engagement, and their storytelling is the best in the business. (I know this is playing with fire. Every time that I have expressed excitement over a movie here, that movie has turned out to be a complete dud. There is a reason why I won’t post the trailers for The Hunger Games or The Hobbit on Exercising Monsters any time soon.)
My daughter needs heroes that don’t dress in pink.