From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture

From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture

From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture

From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture


Offers a collection of essays, providing treatment of Disney cinema. Addressing children's classics as well as the Disney affiliates' attempts to capture adult audiences, this book responds to the Disney film legacy from feminist, marxist, poststructuralist, and cultural studies perspectives.


Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells

We just make the pictures, and let the professors tell us what they mean.

—Walt Disney

As you know, all of our valuable properties, characters, and marks are
protected under copyright and trademark law and any unauthorized use
of our protected material would constitute infringements of our rights
under said law.

—Editors’ correspondence with the Walt Disney Company

The original animator of Mickey Mouse, Vb Iwerks, first met Walt Disney in 1919 at the Kansas City Film Ad Company. Iwerks relates that the seventeen-year-old Disney was seated at a drawing board, practicing variations on his signature (Schickel 1968, 59). For all the achievements—good or ill—attributed to Walt Disney, perhaps none so well typifies the Disney empire’s cultural capital as this prophetic act of creating, coding, and owning the Disney name. Indeed, this book treats Disney film as cultural capital-its production, its semiotics, its audiences, its ideologies. But this book does not bear the Disney name.

The working title for this book was Doing Disney: Critical Dialogues in Film, Gender, and Culture. When we corresponded with Disney personnel to gain access to the Disney archives in Buena Vista, California, we were informed that Disney does not allow third-party books to use the name “Disney” in their titles—this implies endorsement or sponsorship by the Disney organization. Our authors responded to this news with academic wrath and ideas for subversive publishing strategies. Because we were denied his patriarchal nomenclature, we considered following the Old Testament Hebrew practice of referring to God by some other name. Our favorite suggestion was made by Kenneth Payne (the Oklahoma native described in David Payne’s Bambi essay): “Well,” he offered, “you just write them back. Tell them every time you’d write ‘Walt Disney’ in the book, you’ll write ‘Ole Chickenshit.’“ Doing Chickenshit, The Mousing of America, Call Me Walt/ Don)t Call J.1fe Walt, From Mickeywood to Minnie)s World, Thoroughly Postmodern Minnie, Critical Essays on the Films of You-Know-Who, are all at-

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