Dec. 9 – Mickey’s Good Deed

MICKEY’S GOOD DEED
Original Premiere:December 17, 1932

 

A lovely black and white Mickey short becomes the jumping off point for our angriest article ever. Apologies in advance….

BACKSTORY:

Strange how “Steamboat Willie” is generally celebrated an Mickey’s inaugural appearance, even though he actually debuted six months earlier in “Plane Crazy.” And thus begins a Disney’s lifetime of selective legacy…

Mickey practically committing date rape in “Plane Crazy” and acts of animal cruelty in “Jungle Rhythm

Steamboat Willie” deserves all the credit in the world for being the first cartoon where Mickey, or any cartoon character for that matter, actually spoke, but it does seems to me that Disney would rather forget almost every cartoon that precedes Mickey putting a shirt on.

Guns and smokes, also forgotten tools of the cartoon trade

It’s not hard to see why. Today Mickey stands as a neutered corporate spokesman, and his time onscreen is used for little more than to teach toddlers the ABCs. But it wasn’t always that way. And taking a trip back to Mickey’s monochrome roots reveals a far more kinetic, mischievous creature, not to mention sheds some light on how he became beloved the world over in the first place.

BREAKDOWN:

Man, how I’ve wanted to infiltrate this garishly colorful blog with some black & white class. And there’s no better Christmas-themed short than Mickey’s Good Deed.

Mickey is a street performer playing for change

However, I must warn you that this cartoon does contain some imagery that could send morons who lack historical context and are looking for a politically correct platform on which to push an agenda out into the streets to do rage cartwheels of unnecessary protest.

Getting a bite to eat after a hard day’s work

Or not…

All of these images were taken from my Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume Two DVD, and this cartoon appears only in the “From the Vault” section. Collectors of the Walt Disney Treasures sets know that this is where Leonard Maltin has to come out and calm me down, soothing all of us with a brief history of minstrel shows and all the finer points of Al Jolson.

“Contrary to popular opinion, Walt actually did not strangle an overwhelming majority of the colored people he came in contact with.”

Basically, he’s gotta reassure me Walt wasn’t a racist, and the studio is deeply ashamed at the joke it made to appeal to the broadest possible audience of the day.

An aristocratic pig tries to calm his spoiled son

Well, given that I’ve been watching cartoons since before the PC police decided I couldn’t handle unflattering depictions of what used to be socially acceptable, and yeah I find it a little patronizing.

They attempt to buy Pluto to silence the crying hog

Disney was always pretty good about sweeping its racially insensitive past underneath The Rug of Time. However, Looney Tunes, Popeye, and hell – The Little Rascals didn’t seem to give a shit about sensitivity until at least the turn of the nineties, so I saw more than my fair share of regrettable studio material.

Mickey comes upon someone worse off than him

But yeah, then the guns, knives, booze, smoking and suicide gags started to disappear, and this hopelessly Toon-addicted young boy began to realize something was up. Of course, I also witnessed plenty of slapstick violence, so I considered going to school in blackface about as much as I wanted to show up in a dress to trick a bully or play a lion’s whiskers like a harp. That is to say – NOT AT ALL.

A broke mother with a jailed husband…

Two assumptions I hate about animation:
1. All cartoons are for kids
2. All kids are idiots

Husband slash FATHER!

Assume the worst of people, and you’ll get the worst people have to offer. Every kid in my obscenely middle class, multicultural neighborhood grew up watching these cartoons and not one of us – Black, White, Brown, or Asian – had any idea our minds were being poisoned until some busybody crusader, with nothing better to do, told our parents that was probably what was happening.

Mickey nobly reconsiders selling Pluto

What really pisses me off now, is that I’m an adult. And one who’s willing to spend the money on animation, that, let’s be honest, kids are no longer interested in. I realize Mr. Maltin’s introduction are just part of Disney covering their ass, but do I really need that whitewashy level of context when putting on a cartoon meant for everyone in the 1930s?

While Mickey shops, things don’t go well to Pluto

I’m watching this precisely because I want to see comedic depictions of a bygone era. I want to see a piece of history untampered with. I desire to see what people were laughing at when my grandparents were teenagers. And yeah, sometimes I just want to see something a bit naughty.

So… what was all the fuss about?

A fucking pickaninny balloon almost no one would’ve noticed

OH YES! STARE INTO THE INFLATED EYES OF EVIL!

The historically contextual Horror!

Mickey’s very good deed, overshadowed by his choice of charitable merchandise. Or was it this perhaps:

One look at this picture and you will hit a child

Or maybe it was the hidden dick in Jimmy Durante‘s nose?

Jesus! Joe Camel was more subtle

Oh, well it’s an otherwise fun cartoon with a fantastically happy ending

This image should also remind you to spay and neuter your pets

Let’s just all watch the whole thing on YouTube, because apparently the internet doesn’t need context. For some reason, when some idiot goes off on a kneejerk reaction without all the facts, the internet treats them like an idiot.

Predates Disney’s Snow Dogs by 70 years

None, dammit! I’m beginning to question why I even put this scale here…

Other than in the minds of babes (kittens), we’ve got only one:

An absolutely wonderful Christmas short, and I truly apologize for going off on such an unrelated rant about cartoon censorship. But as a testament to Mickey’s Good Deed, I was set off by something so heartwarming, so phenomenally Christmasy, getting relegated to black sheep status over something so insignificant you’d probably have to point it out to people in order for them to get upset over it. Whatever, ten bucks says I’ll be watching this at least one more time before the 25th.

PRODUCT INFORMATION (Shop Amazon through us – it helps!)

Count your blessing cartoon fans, because Mickey Mouse In Black and White, Volume Two is miraculously still available on DVD for an incredibly reasonable price! (The same cannot be said for Volume One.) If you have any interest, do NOT hesitate – BUT IT NOW! As of right now it’s the ONLY way you can own Mickey’s Good Deed, as well as several dozen other shorts, and these Walt Disney Treasure sets fetch an enormous price on places like eBay because they’re manufactured in a limited run and go out of print fast. (If it helps, the version I purchased over a year ago is numbered 146, 271 out of 175, 000.) If you need more evidence on the need for haste, Mickey’s Good Deed used to be available Classic Cartoon Favorites, Vol. 8 – Holiday Celebration With Mickey & Pals, but now commands upwards of $40 for just a handful of cartoons. For right now, the only thing Disney offers commercially to scratch your classic Christmas itch is Disney Animation Collection: Volume 7, which contains Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Pluto’s Christmas Tree, and more.

Yesterday’s Christmas Special
BATMAN: CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER


2009’s Dec. 9th Christmas Special
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

10 thoughts on “Dec. 9 – Mickey’s Good Deed

  1. Good job Chris, another wonderful Christmasy jewel of the past.

    It really is a monumental shame that the creators of these classic cartoons so greatly fear that these reminders of a bygone era could put them into an uncomfortable place in the here and now.

    As a child I didn’t have Leonard Maltin to give me historical perspective, I had my father and grandfather. Both having grown up in the deep south, they had lived some of the worst racial discrimination to have occurred in our country. I was taught that racism was not funny, and though my favorite cartoons displayed it so casually they were from a different time and should be thought of as such.

    People need to raise their damn kids, it makes all the difference in the world. I watched loony tunes as a child, but I had my parents to teach me that cartoons are not real life.

  2. I’ve theorized that the only reason these Disney sets come in “Collector’s Tins” is to make it more difficult to get into.

    Yeah, I watch these things partly because they’re timeless, but also because they’re a product of their time. I dunno… perhaps I was too harsh

  3. There are some un-PC Mickey shorts where a Maltin introduction is jusitifed (like the one where they perform Uncle Tom’s Cabin), but putting Mickey’s Good Deed behind an UNSKIPPABLE disclaimer that’s over a minute long is just insane. I understand the fear of a Don Imus-sized media circus is strong, but Good God.

    My personal favorite B/W Mickey, Shangheid, was also given the vault treatment only because Pete appears with soot on his face for like 1.5 seconds. I don’t even think Disney edited it out on TV in the 90’s.

  4. Yeah, that was my issue mostly: Kids aren’t clamoring to watch cartoons from the 1930s. But I am, for the very reasons they’re being disclaimed.

    Oh, and I was fortunate enough to be at a screening of old Mickey cartoons recently – in Disneyland, oddly enough – and they showed “Shanghaied.” Totally edited

  5. Please excuse my belated response, but thank you Chris for finally featuring this gem of a Mickey cartoon. I enjoy this cartoon as much now as I did when I was a child and didn’t know what racism was.
    Merry Christmas Pluto.

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