The party poopers, the pious pipers, and poor old Mickey

September 30, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

Mickey Mouse just got his tail kicked.

Now, you ask, who in the wide, wide world of sports would want to do that?

Who do you think?

It was an unholy alliance of fat cats, tree-huggers, pointy-headed intellectuals and other assorted un-American types. That's who. And it just fries my bacon.

You know the story. Walt Disney, not simply a company but an institution so American that apple pie seems subversive in comparison, wanted to bring to northern Virginia its own special, it's-a-big-country-after-all version of Disney History Land.

Swell idea, huh?

I mean, you could go to school to learn history. Or you could read a book. Or, in a pinch, you could just go to Disney History Land, only minutes away from genuine Civil War battlefields, and see the Constitutional Convention as performed by the Country Bears Jamboree.

There's so much history to cover, and so many possibilities. For instance, I couldn't wait to see who would play Ross Perot -- Chip or Dale.

But now it won't happen, at least not in Prince William County, even though the governor wanted it and all the politicians wanted it and the 30,000-people-a-day who'd fight the crowds and the exhaust fumes just for a chance to see Goofy as Robert E. Lee wanted it.

But the Disney folks, who are so concerned about their image, especially after the "Mighty Ducks 2" debacle, didn't want to ruffle any feathers. So they backed out. They gave up. They quit.

Mickey Mouse loses out to intellectuals. What is going on? The intellectuals are taking over.

First, there was this 18 1/2 -hour version of "Baseball" on PBS, a network not exactly the same as ESPN, in which long-winded historians and poets and paleontologists and George Will talked about the timeless rhythms of the game, and never once mentioned spitting, scratching, beer or hot dogs. Somebody did bring up Thomas Mann, however. I believe he used to play third for the Tigers.

Then these same people, or people indistinguishable from them, challenged Disney and its proposed History Land. They accused Disney of crass commercialism, as if that weren't the most American thing in the world.

They even got together 3,000 protesters, if you can imagine, to either march against Disney or drink cappuccino while discussing the latest "Paris Review." They were easy to pick out. Lots of Volvos and tweed jackets with patches at the elbow.

Somehow, they had a problem with something as innocent as a Lewis and Clark raft ride. That's the Disney we know and love. And what's so wrong with an exhibit, tastefully done of course, in which bright-eyed tourists "experience" slavery, say, right before lunch?

Don't you trust a Hollywood movie company to get history right? Didn't you see "The Alamo"?

All I know is that the anti-Disney people -- who wouldn't know Spin from Marty -- used the word "irony" a lot. In fact, if we're not careful, there may soon be T-shirts across the country with nothing but the word "irony" on them. Or maybe this: "Effete, don't fail me now."

Where's Spiro Agnew when you really need him?

This is not the America I used to know. In America today, you try to do something useful like bringing a Wal-Mart to a New England village and, before you know it, people are passing out petitions and threatening hunger strikes.

Lighten up here. Heck, Disney History Land would have an environment exhibit, if that's what it takes.

Of course, Disney has been taking its lumps lately. There is also Euro-Disney, a huge amusement park much like our Disney World, except it's in France. It has been a huge failure, but you could understand that. They're not Americans over there. They don't even like Americans, if you don't include Jerry Lewis. The French can have their je ne sais quoi. We'll stick with Mickey.

I tried to get Mickey on the phone to ask him about all this, but Minnie said he was too upset to talk. He wasn't upset for himself, of course. He's too big a mouse for that. He's upset about what this means for America.

She did say Mickey wanted to pass along one message to his fans, though. It goes like this: "M-I-C (see ya real soon) K-E-Y (why? because we like you) . . ." And then Minnie just sort of broke down. I hope everyone's happy now.

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