Minnie Mouse Across the Multiverse: The Symbolic Annihilation of the Everyday Woman

Chung, Haley Michelle

Animation, and Disney Animation in particular, is a unique medium in that it primarily targets children but can be universally enjoyed by all demographics. In a journal of organization studies, the writers argue that Disney’s animations “also have a pedagogical dimension: as cultural artefacts they represent certain versions of ‘the world’, particularly, perhaps, to young girls” (Griffin et al. 873). This “animation as cultural artifact” can be clearly proven by Minnie Mouse’s evolution as a character, which closely correlates to the various waves of feminist movements over the past 100 years. Throughout her tenure, Minnie Mouse has been a product of the cultural contexts from which her creators come (which, until recently, has mostly been white men). In turn, the result is a feedback loop that supplies other Americans with the creators’ idealized image of femininity. While this may not have much effect on adults, who have already had years to form their own conceptions of gender, this cultural artifact likely affects young viewers as they navigate their own gender identity construction. While this is true of many forms of media, Minnie Mouse is distinctive in that her multiversality, or differences throughout the ages, creates a complex network of conflicting messages for this gender construction.

This paper will explore how, in the canon of the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ multiverse, Minnie Mouse’s many lives provide a complicated psychoanalytical framework for young viewers in their construction of gender identity. To do so, this paper will 1) establish how Minnie Mouse serves to represent the “Everyday American Woman”, 2) analyze the symbolic annihilation of Minnie’s character, 3) explore the implications of contemporary depictions of Minnie, and 4) relate all of the above to the psychoanalytical construction of gender identity. Minnie may seem like a small part of Disney’s overall canon, but the effects of her character are both intentional and widespread.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Pat Anderson Prize in Film Reviewing
Published Here
May 23, 2024