Alright, picture the scene. It’s Ireland. The mid-nineties. Deep in the Nirvana era.
A young Mouse is, get this, watching cartoons. Specifically, I’m watching the classic 1947 Tom and Jerry short, The Cat Concerto. Slowly, as I watched, a curious sensation of deja vu began to wash over me. I turned to my parents and asked, curiously:
“Um…didn’t this cartoon used to be about Bugs Bunny?”
My parents patiently explained to me that, no, cartoons don’t swop out characters and I must have just remembered the cartoon wrong. So. I went along with my life, carrying razor sharp memories of a cartoon where Bugs Bunny battles a mouse on a piano while trying to play Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody Number 2 and grimly resigned to the fact that I was just insane.
Little did I know that I had innocently stumbled onto one of the biggest controversies and most enduring and intractable mysteries in the history of animation. RhapsodyRabbit versus The Cat Concerto.
Greetings traveller and welcome to my Stygian abyss of eternal suffering where I endure agonies that no one could possibly understand.
MY POINT IS I was planning on posting a review on Alice in Wonderland 2010 this week but since the tooth I had removed was apparently the special magical tooth that stops me feeling pain all the time, I will have to delay sharing that movie with you. Which is monstrously unfair, because why should I be the only one to suffer?
Anyway instead of that, please enjoy this post I was saving for the ten year anniversary of the blog next month, a look at one of the most fascinating controversies in the history of animation; Rabbit Rhapsody and The Cat Concerto.
Keep me in your prayers, that I may someday be delivered to the light.
“Hey Mouse, what do you think about all these live action Disney remakes?” is a question I have never been asked because I am a relic of the 2010s internet and have been irrelevant to fandom discourse for quite some time.
But if they did ask for those opinions, boy, do I have opinions! Nuanced and interesting opinions? Not really, by and large I think they’re hot garbage at best and actually morally reprehensible at worst.
I hate the whole scene, man. I hate the lazy nostalgia milking. I hate the rehashing of old songs and characters in ways that are always inferior to the originals (the 2016 Jungle Book is, I admit, a pretty fine movie but I’ll be deep in the cold ground before I say it’s an improvement on the ’67 cartoon.). I am real sick of Disney cynically trumpeting minor gay characters whose presence would have been real daring thirty years ago to earn gushing publicity. And I really hate that the biggest entertainment company in Western history is apparently unable to understand the simple fact that just because a character is a great villain doesn’t make them a great protagonist. In fact, it means the opposite of that.
That said…I’ll admit the announcement of 2015s Cinderella provoked a lot less bile and profanity to gush forth than it usually would. Mostly that’s a lack of skin in the game. The 1950 Cinderella is a film with which I am on perfectly cordial terms, but it’s not and never will be as important to me as something like The Little Mermaid or The Lion King. Plus…it’s Cinderella, you know? The Disney Cinderella may be the most famous film version but it’s certainly not the definitive version, because there isn’t one and never will be. Cinderella is one of the absolute pillars of world folklore, with versions spanning thousands of years across the breadth of Europe and Asia. And there have been Cinderella movies as long as there has been film. The earliest version I found was from 1913 (called, hilariously “A Modern Cinderella”). Cinderella has been played by everyone from Julie Andrews to Brandy to Betty Boop to Jerry Lewis. It’s a timeless story that’s remained popular despite decades of bad, pseudo-feminist critique (the story is not, and never has been, about marrying a prince. It is, and always has been, about escaping poverty and domestic slavery). So, whatever, I say. Disney want to make another Cinderella movie? Fine.
I am willing to acknowledge this movie’s right to exist, Disney. All you gotta do is make a good movie.