Mickey Mouse and the Vietnam War (Part 1)
I know, I’m sure you’re reading through that title and thinking to yourself: “what.” Believe me, I didn’t think I would be writing this, but there is so much to talk about for this subject.
Recently, I found a video from a YouTuber known as Ethereal Snake called “Mickey is Forced to Choose Between Goofy and His Country.” The whole thing is an overdramatic and stupidly funny animation that portrays Mickey Mouse and Goofy as soldiers in Vietnam.
It’s really hard to describe how stupidly funny this video is, so I really recommend watching it down below (its only 2 minutes long and I think you’ll find as much enjoyment out of it as I did).
I think most sane people would simply watch, laugh, and move on with their day. But, here’s the problem. I’m not a sane person. After watching this, I realized that I had to talk about this. Am I losing my mind? Maybe. I’ll leave that for you to decide.
This video attempts to bring together two things: a serious, dramatic story set in Vietnam and the use of Disney characters. Before we talk about how the creator of this video manages to flawlessly blend them together, its important to talk about the themes of the story.
From an overarching perspective, this story is mostly about the United States’ military industry. The US thrives on war. I mean, throughout most of its history, its always engaging in some sort of warfare. Spain, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. The US cannot live contently in peace but must always be fighting someone.
Now, in this story, there are two characters: Mickey and Goofy. Despite being close friends, they are not anywhere near compatible in terms of their worldviews.
Let’s start with Goofy. As we learn early on in the video, Goofy discovers a dossier that exposed the crimes that the American soldiers are committing against the Vietnamese people. Immediately, we are made clear on what Goofy’s intentions are.
To him, it is important to follow morals. He does not answer to anyone, but he does what he believes is right. In this case, he knows that leaking the documents to the press would be an act of treason, but morality and values trump loyalty to country.
Mickey, on the other hand, follows a different set of principles. He believes that the job of a soldier is to simply be a cog in the machine. Follow orders and don’t question anything. A soldier does not think with his mind, but he acts with his gun. He says:
“We’re soldiers. We don’t question. We act.”
But, is that all Mickey is? No, we know for a fact that there are multiple layers to his person.
Goofy tells him that if they leak these documents to the press, it would end the war. But, what does Mickey say?
“There’s nothing left for me back home. War is the only thing that holds me together. Its all I know.”
Mickey is a person who lacks an identity. A man (or a mouse) who drifts throughout life with no purpose. We don’t know exactly what his life was like before Vietnam, but we don’t need to. He represents anyone who feels a sense of emptiness in life.
Perhaps he was a man who worked a 9–5 job, looked forward to the weekends, and came home to his nagging wife, Minnie. His life was an endless cycle of balancing a boring office job with a mediocre home life. I imagine that every night, he looked out of a window in the Clubhouse and asked himself:
“Is this all that there is?”
That’s when the Vietnam war started, and he was drafted into the war. Then, for the first time ever, Mickey felt something. Could it have been the rush of adrenaline? The idea that at any moment he could be killed? Perhaps he loved the idea of slaughtering people that he regarded as the “enemies of freedom?”
We don’t know.
But, all we know is that for the first time in Mickey’s life, he felt something. War almost became a religion for him. Maybe even a cult. He prayed to the church of America, and walked out of the doors every Sunday to proclaim the gospel of freedom through napalm and bullets.
But, even then, there’s more to his character than meets the eye.
Mickey pulls out his gun, and demands Goofy to hand over the files to him. But, Goofy makes himself clear. If Mickey wants the files, then he has to kill him. What does Mickey say to Goofy?
“Don’t make me choose between my country and you. You’re like a brother to me.”
You see, the war provided more than just meaning in his life. It gave him a family. He had brothers. If you’re familiar with the brutality of war, then you know that in order for soldiers to survive warfare, they have to take care of each other. Mickey trusted in a band of brothers that he knew could protect his life.
But, Mickey feared the worse. Once the war ends, they would all return back to the US. He is afraid that they will slowly lose in contact with each other. What makes them brothers is that they fought together in a war. But, how can they be brothers if the Vietnam War ended?
He fears peace. To him, the Vietnamese soldiers aren’t the enemy. Peace is the enemy. He fears returning back to the existential dread of his prior life.
Mickey is given an option. He can either choose to worship the religion of war, or choose his band of brothers. Its either Vietnam, or its Goofy. But, he can’t have both. War and family do not go together. He has to make a decision.
What will he do? Will he kill Goofy and become a mindless cog in the machine of war? Is he willing to sacrifice soul to continue to live in his fantasy? Will he merely become a zombie with a gun in his hand?
Or, will he choose loyalty of brotherhood over war? Is he willing to hand over the fantasy he lives in to end the bloody war of Vietnam?
This video does not show his choice. But, there’s another video by the same YouTuber who shows Mickey’s life after Vietnam.
The video is title, “Mickey Never Came Back,” and it opens up with a monologue from him. He talks about the brutality of warfare and how soldiers are designed to kill and destroy. He reflects over his life and realizes all the evil he has committed.
All this is said as Mickey looks over a grave with a name chiseled on it:
The title really summarizes who Mickey is after the war. Sure, his body returned back to America, but his soul died in Vietnam. By killing Goofy, Mickey chose to become a mindless cog in the machine of warfare, and he paid dearly for it.
Ironically, he joined the Vietnam War to feel something, but he returned back to America without being able to feel anything.
One comment I found on YouTube summarized the whole premise of the story with a single phrase:
“With one bullet, two men died that day.”
If you ignore the Disney characters for a moment, it truly is a tragic tale of the brutality of warfare and the choices soldiers are forced to make.
But, why? Why take a serious tale with deep philosophical themes and put in Disney characters in the mix? What is the goal behind this?
Well, as you can tell based on the title, I’ll be splitting this blog into two parts for now. The second part (which will be coming out next Saturday) will be diving into why this tale works with Disney characters.