Is Disney Self-Censoring Old Mickey Mouse Cartoons for TV?

I came across this post on the website yesterday (I’m not a regular reader or anything, these things just come to my attention sometimes) which berates the fact that Disney appears to be self-censoring old Mickey Mouse cartoons. As you can naturally expect from a website like this, it concerns Mickey’s use of a gun in the classic short, Mickey’s Parrot (embedded above for convenience).

The gripe from the site itself is:

In this episode, a parrot belonging to an escaped killer wanders into Mickey’s basement. Mickey hears it talking and thinks that the parrot is the killer who is on the loose who he just heard about on the radio. Mickey then goes and grabs his double barreled shotgun off of the wall and prepares to defend himself.

Well, wouldn’t you know it… in the version they presented on the Disney Channel the other day, they had digitally removed the shotgun and replaced it with a broom. Yes, Mickey grabbed a broom off of the gun rack, shouldered it, and prepared to defend himself with his handy, dandy tactical… broom.

So, the question is, why? Why would Disney feel the need to edit out a gun in one of their cartoons? The post on Ammoland makes a heavy argument that they shouldn’t simply because it’s a false representations of guns and gun ownership. While this may be true, it still fails to account for why Disney censored their own cartoon.

Have we gotten to the point where companies will self-censor themselves to reduce the perceived problems of broadcasting their older material? I mean, we all know why Song of the South isn’t seen anymore but that is because of the very nature of the film itself, this is all to do with the a small aspect of a cartoon.

As the post itself says:

Disney cartoons from that era have featured firearms literally more times than I can count. They’ve depicted firearms in terms of being a legitimate means of self defense, as a means to take game animals, and they have shown firearms as the indispensable tool that they are for every cowboy and cowgirl of the old west. Several generations have now been brought up with Disney cartoons that have depicted firearms as an integral part of their plot, and now you are telling me that we as a society can no longer handle it?…

I mean c’mon, we’re dealing with Walt Disney here, the guy who believed that above all, his material should be suitable for anyone to watch. Heck the first and only Disney animated feature film to get a rating higher than G was Tangled, and that only came out last year! none of the animated features to come out of his studio have seen a rating higher than PG.

I can sort of see why the company would feel the need to edit a gun out of cartoon, but that still doesn’t justify it. The idea that as a society, we are somehow “better” now or more sensitive to these kinds of things now is a fallacy. Especially for the Disney company, who seem to engage in stunts like this on the one side, but register trademarks on the term “SEAL Team 6” on the other (though later withdrawn). That sends a mixed message to just about everybody.

Literally millions of kids have grown up with cartoons depicting guns, drinking, gambling, you name it, and yet we’re not a nation of gun-toting, alcoholic gamblers. That’s because kids learn pretty quickly that cartoons are not meant to replicate real life to the extent that they serve as a role model.

It safe to assume that Disney simply jumped the gun on this one (no pun intended). Self-censorship is ultimately self-defeating, especially if it degrades the quality of the original piece, which in this case, it does.

POLL: Should File-Sharing Be Considered “Free Speech”?

Despite the humour of the FOX censor, this post has little if anything to do with what it commonly called ‘broadacst standards’ in use today. Nope, it refers to censorship outside of the studio, in this case, by the government, and no, I’m not talking about those naughty cartoons from Japan that have lead to charges for some people either.

The issue is that the entertainment lobby (read: the MPAA) really wants to pass a law called PROTECT IP. Now they claim that this law will give them and the government the legal firepower to stamp out “piracy” or unauthorised file-sharing. However there’s a problem.

That problem is that there are no due process clauses. In fact, the government can simply confiscate a website based on accusation alone, no proof required!

Scary thoughts, no?

Anyway, yesterday, an analyst from Disney by the name of Anthony Accardo wrote on the Harvard Business Review website that granting the government the authority to confiscate websites for file sharing would not run counter to the free speech clause in the constitution. In other words, content owners should be allowed to control how you see and view content because they said so.

I recommend you read Mike Masnick’s response on Techdirt for a good deconstruction/analysis of Accardo’s arguments.

My point is that, as an animator or other artistic type, do you think that this proposed law would cross the line when it comes to censorship? I mean, it’s one thing to use legal steps and the courts to remove your content from places you don’t want it to be but isn’t it quite another to just blithely remove not just the content but also the hosting site itself based solely on accusation rather than evidence?

Please answer the poll below or share your thoughts in the comments.

[poll id="2"]