1. hemidactylus says

    I suppose mice being mammals are perceived as warm natured like us, but since Mickey Mouse represented housepest vermin, how did his celebrity catch on? At lease he wasn’t Randy Rat since their long scaly tails induce revulsion. To me mice are cuter than rats.

    Spiders and snakes are a hard sell compared to mice, elephants, panthers etc for children cartoon characters. Some people have revulsion toward frogs so that Kermit made the cut is surprising.

    As for Mickey’s appeal despite being vermin Gould assumed juvenilization of features:
    “As Mickey’s personality softened, his appearance changed. Many Disney fans are aware of this transformation through time, but few (I suspect) have recognized the coordinating theme behind all the alterations–in fact, I am not sure that the Disney artists themselves explicitly realized what they were doing, since the changes appeared in such a halting and piecemeal fashion. In short, the blander and inoffensive Mickey became progressively more juvenile in appearance. (Since Mickey’s chronological age never altered–like most cartoon characters he stands impervious to the ravages of time–this change in appearance at a constant age is a true evolutionary transformation. Progressive juvenilization as an evolutionary phenomenon is called neoteny. More on this later.)”… “In any case, the abstract features of human childhood elicit powerful emotional responses in us, even when they occur in other animals. I submit that Mickey Mouse’s evolutionary road down the course of his own growth in reverse reflects the unconscious discovery of this very biological principle by Disney and his artists. In fact, the emotional status of most Disney characters rests on the same set of Distinctions. To this extent, the magic kingdom trades on a biological illusion–our ability to abstract and our propensity to transfer inappropriately to other animals the fitting responses we make to changing form in the growth of our own bodies.”

    I came face to face with a black racer snake sunning in a tree recently and it looked cute enough to me. Maybe it was in the eyes and face shape.

    Some spiders might be cute depending on how offputting their multiple eyes are compared to our expectation of how human faces look. Don’t we have a knack for projection of face forms on objects?

  2. billseymour says

    This old fart remembers:

    …the first anything-can-happen day; and setting the trend, nothing happened.

    (from an essay by Greg Palmer in one of the KRAB (FM, Seattle) Program Guides from the mid 1970s)

  3. hemidactylus says

    @5- shermanj
    As bad as Disney is, couldn’t we capture the looming election results of Tuesday in the US as a cultural contradiction between Tomorrowland and Frontierland? The Carousel of Progress yields to the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade and Country Bear Jamboree?

  4. says

    @6 hemidactylus
    I’ve got to admit, you nailed it. And, EPCOT now has two distinct neighborhoods: luxury skytowers for the wealthy crooks and a food desert slum for all the rest of us.
    I don’t think I want to go on any of the new rtwing death-coasters!

  5. John Morales says

    Since no-one has yet remarked on it, those Arachnateers are into scorpions, not spiders.

  6. hemidactylus says

    @8- John Morales
    Yet The Scorpions had a huge fan base. I didn’t find them particularly cute, but could see the appeal. They were The Zoo on Holiday!