Summary and Commentary Essay

Mickey Mouse is one of the most recognizable Disney’s characters. At the same time, he is one of the oldest Disney’s characters. In such a situation, it is quite natural that Mickey Mouse changed and evolved in the course of time. In fact, the evolution of Mickey Mouse and a considerable difference between visual images of this character in different epochs is in the focus of attention of Stephen Jay Gould, who analyzes the changes that occurred to Mickey Mouse in the course of time. The researcher reveals quite a paradoxical fact that Mickey Mouse grew younger, instead of growing older. Gould makes this conclusion on the basis of the analysis of the physical appearance of Mickey. Gould defines the changes that occur to Mickey Mouse as neoteny, i..e. progressive juvenilization as an evolutionary phenomenon.

In actuality, Mickey Mouse did change his appearance or, to put it more precisely, its creators changed the look of the character. It is worth mentioning the fact that the researcher admits that creators of Mickey Mouse were unconscious of changes or, at least, did not realize that the characters changes and evolves becoming younger and younger. Gould proves his assumption concerning the juvenlization of Mickey Mouse through the analysis of the head of Mickey, which in the course of time grew larger that was one of the preliminary indicators of younger age of humans and creators of Mickey unconscious extrapolated this trend on the animated character. In addition, the skull, eye size, cranial vault of Mickey also evolved toward the characteristics of his nephew Morty. In such a way, the juvenilization of Mickey is obvious to Gould. In such a way, people preserve the youth of Mickey, who, as Gould states, will never grow old as humans do.



In fact, the idea of juvenilization and the concept of neoteny developed by Gould is very important in the cotemporary world and it is possible to trace a strong trend to juvenilization in different fields. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the field of fashion, where the trend to neoteny is particularly strong. It is not a secret that contemporary models often need to work on their body shape through a system of physical exercises and diet to maintain the physical appearance that means the contemporary standards of female beauty. At the same time, such strife to meet modern standards is accompanied by a considerable change of the appearance of contemporary models who become more and more adolescents like. At this point it is possible to refer to the fashion of the 1960s, when standards of beauty of models were very different compared to modern slim, thin, adolescent-like models.

Another example of neoteny may be traced in the development of modern make-up and body care industry since leaders of this industry develop products which target at the “juvenilization” of people using their products. The overwhelming majority of customers using such “juvenilizing” products are women, who attempt to preserve their young look. However, such juvenilization occurs artificially and has nothing in common with the actual constitutional change of human body. Instead, it is just a change of the physical appearance which resembles the neoteny of Mickey who never grows older. In this respect, the use of plastic surgery is another area which can help people to preserve their young look.

Leave a Reply