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Mickey Unrapped: A Cautionary Tail

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mickey UnrappedA word of warning to Bob Iger and his team of experts: As you go about remaking Mickey, keep the lessons of Mickey Unrapped fresh in mind.

What's Mickey Unrapped, you might ask? Well, I might've asked the same question myself, were it not for having recently discovered several of the tracks from this 1994 gem recycled into Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Disney Grooves video game. Grooving in my living room to the gawdawful beats of Little Red Rappinghood, Ice Ice Mickey, and Ducks in the Hood, I simply had to know where these tracks had come from.

Hearing Mickey Unrapped for the first time is a bit like listening to Florence Foster Jenkins: You can't quite believe someone not only produced this, but actually put it in print. In some ways, Mickey Unrapped is no worse than Mickey Mouse Disco, a similar concept album (to use the term quite loosely) which drew on the popular dance music of the 1970s. And perhaps it's just my age that makes me feel Mickey Unrapped is even worse, but there's something about Tag Team's call-and-response Whoomp (There It Went) with Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy that's just more radically wrong than anything I'd heard in some time.

Epic MickeyNow, don't get me wrong: I do, in fact, salute Mr. Iger's new initiative to give the Mouse a makeover. I heartily agree with Brookes Barnes of the New York Times when he says that "Keeping cartoon characters trapped in amber is one of the surest routes to irrelevancy." I'm tremendously excited about the upcoming Epic Mickey video game, which promises to pit our hero against a villainous Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who's grown bitter and vengeful over Mickey's ascent to Oswald's rightful place in animation history. The dystopian Magic Kingdom pictured in the early concept art for the game [http://brokehoedown.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/more-on-epic-mickey-twisted-broken-dangerous/] absolutely turns my cyberpunk crank. The Mickey in these images is strong, bold, lean, and perhaps somewhat vulnerable. (Check the NYT article for a great picture of our favorite rodent.)

And I hope that the other possibilities that Mr. Iger and his team are exploring with be similarly ambitious, and similarly well-executed. But folks, be careful. You don't want another DJ Goof on your hands.