Produced in 2D animation, the design esthetic for the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts reaches back almost 80 years and borrows reverentially from the bold style of his 1930s design, but not ... See full summary »
Although the show was filmed and broadcast in black and white, all of the animated segments - the opening theme, Mickey's introductions and farewells, the Jiminy Cricket shorts, etc. - were filmed in color. See more »
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Despite the Worship of a Fictional Mouse, One of the Best Children's Programs of All Time
To create a show or movie with an animal character, such as Lassie, Benji, Charlotte or the Black Stallion is reasonable enough, especially for children. A show based on the worship of an animal character, in this case a mouse, seems a little ridiculous. Yet the whole Mickey Mouse Club idea has to be very American. Entertainment industries have constantly capitalized on icons produced for movies and television and exploited them to the hilt for profit. The studio corporations know that when Americans fall in love with characters and worlds from the movies and television, part of the spectator public wants to connect with it on a deeper level. The Mickey Mouse Club allowed younger viewers enthralled with the Disney universe to experience their favorite mouse on television once a week instead of only when mom and dad would take them to the cinema.
Simultaneously, all things considered, The Mickey Mouse Club was a good children's show with merit. The original show incorporated games, educational segments, sing-a-longs, and even some dramatic episodes. It seems to me I remember the Hardy Boys, but I am not sure. In short, the Mickey Mouse Club encouraged children to be children. And hey, the young Annette Funicello was worth the price of admission. She will probably be best remembered for this show rather than her silly beach movies 10 years later.
Today most children's programming via the networks is about pure entertainment, barring PBS, and a lot of it seems grossly inappropriate for underage viewers who are not yet pre-adolescents. Propagating that 8-to-10-year-olds should have boyfriends and girlfriends, i.e. behave like adults or even adolescents, is I think harmful misinformation. Children are still learning what is appropriate and inappropriate except for what they see modeled in front of them, which is often on television. If the Mickey Mouse Club had a clear message, it was that childhood should be enjoyed for what it is, and there is a magical wonder about childhood that should not be missed.
Still, it raises my eyebrow that the show's participants would not only sing hymns to a fictional mouse but don mouse-inspired attire. Even as a kid, I thought the mouse ears were ridiculous, especially on the adults! But given the low-quality of material being presented to children today, maybe the mouse ears are a small price to pay. Afterall, donning the mouse ears represents "make believe", the essence of childhood.
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