How did mice get such great PR?

My four-year-old has recently discovered Cinderella, and loves it. After the umpteenth time watching it, I started to think about something.

In cartoons and children’s shows, mice are almost universally treated as good guys. Why? In real life, mice are filthy disease vectors. If you have them in your house, you set traps or call the exterminator because you want them gone.

Well, I think the immediate answer to your question is that mice are adorable. They’re really cute little guys, right up to the point where they move into your house and start nibbling on everything and pissing and pooping everywhere. Also, mice are ubiquitous – you’re going to find them in just about every household.

What’s the alternative for happy little Cinderella helpers? Cockroaches? (In Rumplestiltskin, as I recall, it was the ants that came to the rescue.)

But really, you * don't * want to start thinking too deeply about the implications of a Disney universe where all the critters are intelligent, cute, and verbal.   The Little Mermaid's dinner scene lampshaded the whole disturbing "Hey, these are intelligent creatures and we're eating them" issue.

Cartoon mice are small and cute and are chased by cartoon cats. It’s easier to portray a cat as the bad guy – they try to eat the mice – and have the mice as good guys, since all they do is steal a little cheese.

Note, too, that cartoons don’t reflect real life, so you really can’t object if they’re not portraying mice realistically.

One thing I love about Itchy and Scratchy is the total reversal of that idea.

Because they are so cute!

As mentioned, they’re cute. Also, their size, speed, silence, and ability to go just about anywhere make them outstanding allies. For storytelling purposes it’s worth setting aside their downside. It’s worth noting humans are also infamous disease vectors and perpetrators of ecological disaster on a scale unmatched by any other creature on the planet. Kind of a double standard to get after the mice, eh?

Also, judged by those criteria, rats are much worse, and I think kids’ animation features that as a trope. They can be cute too, under certain circumstances.

Are you pondering what I’m pondering?..

Sure, MacTech, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?

I am minded of a quote from Walt Disney: " I had this mouse in the back of my head because a mouse is sort of a sympathetic character, in spite of the fact that everybody’s frightened of a mouse–including myself."

A mouse is a natural underdog character, a small and relatively frail creature trying to survive in a world full of looming threats. Your cartoon mouse has to rely on speed and wits to get by, which are traits we find admirable. (Occasionally there is a subversion of this, like Jerry’s musclebound cousin, but subverting tropes can be funny, so it works in small doses.) Disney knew what he was talking about.

Eh, we’ve got a long ways to go to catch up to the blue-green algae. It wasn’t us who replaced a fifth of the entire atmosphere of the planet with one of the most corrosive substances in the Universe.

There’s a trope for that.

Also, part of it may be the trope of portraying cats as mean in many fictional works (so the mice are the good guys.)

The author/creator of the comic, Mouse Guard, said something along these lines–mice are creatures struggling to survive in a world that’s too big for them, which makes them sympathetic.

But besides that, they’re ahDORable. I mean, really damned cute. And that’s BEFORE you toonify them.

There is a very ironic (if horrible) quote to this effect in the intro to Art Speigleman’s Maus, taken from a Nazi newspaper. :smiley:

I too, feel that rats get – in folklore and (widest definition) fiction-for-kids – a bit of a worse press than they deserve. I suppose it has something to do with mice being a nuisance, but not obviously and overtly dangerous to humans – and (“in real nature”) not very bright – and overall, fairly lovable. I disagree with Disney about “everybody’s frightened of a mouse” – many people, yes, but by no means all people. Rats – while equally unhygienic – are by contrast intelligent, ingenious, and – in the right circumstances for them – able and ready to physically harm humans: altogether more threatening.

I feel nonetheless, that rats are not totally without likeable traits; and tale-tellers do occasionally treat them with some sympathy. I’ve always liked Beatrix Potter’s rats Samuel Whiskers and his wife Anna Maria – they come across to me as jolly and quite lovable rogues, even though they seek to make Tom Kitten into a roly-poly pudding. IMO Tom was a thoroughly bumptious little so-and-so, who needed taking down a peg or two.

Sure, but where are we gonna get a duck and a hose this time of night?

I don’t disagree with your analysis - but oddly, rats are very common pet. And yet, I’ve never seen anyone with a pet mouse.

What do you get if you mix Batman, Chuck Norris, and Rocky Balboa? This cute little guy.

We had a pet mouse briefly (rescued from a fate as snake chow), but it did not work out well at all. It panicked at being in a cage, and our dog, who didn’t mind the hamster at all, reacted to it as a Thing That Does Not Belong Here. There might be other breeds that are more domesticated, but this one definitely wasn’t. And I don’t know, but maybe that’s typical.

Pet mice never seem to acclimate to being handled. They stay nervous, unlike rats or hamsters. Probably has something to do with being prey animals.