Dent (1988) says that Mickey Mouse is 'a well loved symbol of the greatness of America' (p53) who symbolises the best aspects of life from the American viewpoint. In defining this symbolism he refers to the prosperity and the power, both political and economic, of the United States of America and its people throughout the period of Mickey Mouse's existence (approximately the last fifty years). During this period America has increase its status as a world power through participation in wars and the space race as well as through generous overseas aid and maintenance of a strong dollar.
Souris (1990) agrees that Mickey Mouse is symbolic of certain features of American life, however, he takes a more negative view of this symbolism which he sees as 'a form of insidious colonialism that is far more evil than the European colonialism of the past' (p109). He argues that the European colonialism of the nineteenth century was easier to combat whereas the insidious 'Mickey Mouse colonialism' (p109) is much more difficult to overcome because it integrates itself more fully into the society it invades. It is important to note that while Dent (1988) refers only to the American context Souris (1990) extends his arguments to a global context.
Dent (1988) says that the rise to fame and fortune of a cartoon character, particularly of such a weak figure as a mouse, is a phenomenon unique to American culture. He links this symbolism to the aspects of the way of life in America which offer its citizens the freedom to lead their lives as they please. This freedom is guaranteed under the American constitution and is, therefore, an important feature of life in America. Souris (1990) does not dispute this argument but says that, when taken outside the American context, Mickey Mouse is not a good role model for children but, in contrast, encourages behaviour which is unacceptable in their own societies. Souris (1990) also says that Mickey Mouse encourages consumerism and facilitates the establishment of English as a universal language to the detriment of local languages.
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