"Mickey Mouse"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Wed Dec 5 23:09:06 UTC 2001

  On 12/5/01, Mark Mandel wrote:
>Does anyone know how the phrase "Mickey Mouse" came to describe "a
>person or organization with a lot of poorly-justified, nit-picking
>rules"? IMHO the cartoon character isn't like that and never has

    It's not so much from the Mickey Mouse character itself as from
TV's Mickey Mouse club, with its pre-adolescent members wearing the
silly-looking Mickey-Mouse ears and earnestly singing the Mickey
Mouse anthem. To sophisticates, this no doubt represented the height
of silliness. Then by extension: silly (nit-picking) rules or

    Also, in the jazz era a Mickey Mouse band was one regarded as fit
only to play for an animated cartoon. (See Robert Gold's _Jazz
Talk_). But the present derogatory use of Mickey Mouse does not seem
to derive from this jazz use.

---Gerald Cohen

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