Jesse Walker interviews Mickey Mouse about the Eldred decision in Reason:
- Mickey’s own reaction to the decision was less enthusiastic. Telling his keepers that he was going on an “ice run for the boss,” the mouse made his way to a dive bar a few miles outside Disneyland, where he gave reason an exclusive interview.
Q: How does it feel to have your sentence extended by two decades?
A: How do you think it feels? For almost 70 years, I’ve only been allowed to do what the Disney people say I can do. Sometimes someone comes up with a new idea, and I think to myself, “Great! Here’s a chance to stretch myself!” But of course they won’t let me leave the reservation. If I do, they send out their lawyers to bring me home.
In 1971, for instance, Dan O’Neill got me a part in something called Air Pirates Funnies. It was great: I got to have sex, I got to use drugs, I got to explore the whole underground comix scene. It was liberating.
Well, of course Disney complained. They said—this is a direct quote—that O’Neill’s parody was tarnishing my “image of innocent delight.” After two issues of the comic book, they issued a summons and took us all to court for trademark violation and copyright infringement.
Q: And they never published another issue?
A: Of course not.
I don’t think you realize how tight the clamps on me are. If I so much as flicker on a TV screen in the background of a documentary, Disney can tell the filmmakers, “Either scramble that image or pay us for permission to use it.” And the courts will allow it.
Q: Some might say that it’s perfectly legitimate for Disney to own you—not just now, but in perpetuity. After all, they created you.
A: Created me? [An enormous cartoon spit-take follows.]
Did you like that? It’s my Daffy Duck imitation.
Q: Very nice. I didn’t know you were familiar with the Warner Brothers characters.
A: Poor bastards. They’re gonna be locked up even longer than I am. I guess if Chuck Jones were still around to direct their cartoons, they might not mind it on their plantation. Instead, they have to do those stupid commercials with Michael Jordan…..