Beloved female cartoon characters like Strawberry Shortcake and Dora the Explorer have recently been the victims of “makeovers” meant to make them more appealing to today’s tweenagers. In reality, these redesigns just mean that the new versions of Dora and Strawberry have more conventionally pretty features and dress just a little bit sluttier.
And now Disney’s hopping on the makeover bandwagon, re-imagining Mickey Mouse as an angry-eyebrow-sporting curmudgeon who roams around a “cartoon wasteland,” wielding “paint and thinner thrown from a magic paintbrush” as a weapon. Seriously.
I understand why Disney is trying to give Mickey some edge—squeaky clean, anthropomorphic rodents just don’t have the same appeal that they used to. But there are tons of reasons that this gritty new version of their most well known character just isn’t going to work.
First of all, there’s the outfit—Mickey’s trademark red shorts with huge white buttons and silly yellow shoes aren’t exactly going to strike fear into the heart of, well, anyone. And outfitting Mickey in, say, a studded leather jacket and an eyebrow ring would just be wrong.
Then there’s Mickey’s familiar high-pitched voice and signature chuckle. Are they going to make the mouse go through puberty? How weird would it be if Mickey started sounding like this? I don’t see how Mickey could possibly be edgy if he still talks like Mrs. Featherbottom sans English accent, but I also don’t see how Disney could change one of the most recognizable things about Mickey without losing the soul of the character.
And how does Minnie play into all of this? Is Disney going to shorten her polka dotted dress and have her wear intense eyeliner or something? Are the new Mickey and the new Minnie going to have an unhealthy, codependent relationship? Is she going to start cheating on him with Donald, or maybe Goofy?
Okay, maybe the South Park crew managed to make Mickey pretty terrifying on an episode last year. Even so, Disney’s edgification of their mascot seems doomed from the start. Remember when Warner Brothers reimagined Daffy, Bugs and the gang as creepy, menacing “loonatics?”
Of course you don’t. Because it was terrible.