The Shindig: The Mickey Mouse Short Banned in America Because of a Nude Cow Reading Erotica
For A More Civilized Age
Everyone has heard about the pervy things that Disney animators have slipped into their movies, like the word “sex” in The Lion King, or the erection in The Little Mermaid. But little inside “jokes” like this go way back to the earliest days of Disney when Walt Disney was producing Mickey Mouse shorts. One such joke got one short, “The Shindig,” banned in America in 1930 because an allegedly naked Clarabelle Cow was reading Elinor Glyn‘s Three Weeks, an erotic novel from 1907. Oh, those saucy Disney animators!
While Mickey started out as a mischievous scamp, he eventually evolved into a morally-sound good guy (and then they created Donald Duck, because Mickey wasn’t a jerk anymore, and they needed a foil). Once that transition was made, Mickey was far from scandalous — but that didn’t stop his animated co-stars, including Clarabelle Cow.
The scene in question is short, but it was enough to get censors all riled up and ban the cartoon from American theaters. Clarabelle is reading the book, Three Weeks, right before a date with Horace Horsecollar. When Horace arrives, Clarabelle is seen getting dressed, implying that we just watched a naked cow reading an erotic novel.
Now, Ohio theaters didn’t like that we could see Clarabelle’s udders. Because in 1930, even the animals that provided us dairy products could elicit dirty, dirty thoughts in humans, and that was immoral. But the major problem was with Three Weeks, and here is why: It is the story of Paul Verdayne, who meets a mysterious older woman known only as “The Lady,” then has sex with her on a tiger skin rug. Glyn was responsible for the phrase “It,” as in “It Girl,” as in Clara Bow, who starred in the 1927 film adaptation of Three Weeks. But the thing about “It” is that “It” refers to “sex appeal,” and as we know, America (and Canada, who banned the book) was not exactly open-minded about such things.
Eddie Deezen writes at Neatorama that Glyn was a pioneer in “women’s mass market erotic fiction,” which was great for her — and bad for Disney.
Here is “The Shindig,” in all of its pervy glory:
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