Growing up, Mickey Mouse was always the friendly little guy with all his friends in the comic books I read avidly. Up until I discovered Science Fiction, anyway. Harmless mouse. Harmless and happy cartoon characters (except maybe Donald Duck). I learned to read from those guys, and their book friends Dick and Jane. Childhood memories glow with a particular warmth, don’t they?
Even when I was grown, with kids of my own, like everyone else, I took my family to Disneyland, to ride the rides, see the shows, and to take pictures of my kids hugging that friendly mouse. We all bought and wore those mouse ears. Didn’t you?
All this was not that long ago, as I think about it. Sure, the year’s fly by, and the kids are grown now, with kids of their own. My grandkids all know about Mickey Mouse, and a few of his friends, but no one reads those comics anymore, and my grandkids will likely never get to Disneyland. They prefer Magic Mountain with the world’s biggest rides and roller coasters, or Waterworld. More likely, they get their thrills on their PCs and their game machines of choice.
Which is probably just as well. Mickey doesn’t seem that friendly anymore. Looks to me that Disney is toast too. With all the public in-fighting between Michael Eisner and Walt Disney’s nephew Roy, – and with the major split between Pixar and Disney, – and with the new hostile takeover bids by Comcast, Warner Brothers, et. al., – the image of the sweet harmless mouse is becoming tarnished, and a bit frayed around the edges. Childhood memories are fading fast.
Now bump that vision up a notch or two. Guess who wants a piece of the action, and might even bid to own Disney too? I will give you a big hint: the Queen of England recently knighted him, and he is a billionaire to boot. On top of all this, it is said that he *really, really* wants to have Disney!
Can you see it now? Disneyland, owned by Microsoft, and controlled by Bill Gates? Would you ever set foot inside that place again? Would you trust any of the rides? Would Pixar ever allow the Disney Corporation to distribute its films? Will all the old movies we know and love ever play on anything other than some DRM’d Microsoft controlled device?
It is two long years or more before Microsoft can release its next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. Buying Disney is just the diversion Microsoft needs to keep its software sales going, push its interactive set-top hardware and software, and bolster its image as a major media company.
Somebody please tell me we all are not going to lose all our best early childhood friends to the Evil Empire!
Get hold of Tinkerbell! Tell her to call for Peter Pan! Contact Clarabell Cow and Goofy! Set Pluto on guard! Call out mean ol’ Captain Kat! Send for Huey, Dewey and Lewie, and Unca Scrooge too! Go get Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, and send a telegram for Pecos Bill and John Bunyan!
Bring in the Big Bad Wolf, and Monstro! Send a letter to Jiminy Cricket and the Cheshire Cat! Phone the Seven Dwarfs and Christopher Robin! Bring on the Haunted Mansion Ghosts and the Pirates of the Caribbean! And tell all the Bald Mountain Ghosts and Goblins!
Bring ’em all! Tell all the hostile bidders and the unwanted suitors to take a powder! Twenty-Three Skiddoo! Run ’em out of town on a rail! And don’t come back! Let ’em hear the Mouse that Roared!