It begins with a stuffed mouse. It has distinctly round black ears that could be recognized from any distance. At the end of it’s cartoonish snout lies a spherical black knob of a nose. Hidden beneath the nose is a large, toothy, friendly grin. The mouse wears bright red shorts, yellow shoes, and distinct white gloves. His fur is all black, except for his face, which is a peach colored patch of fur in the shape of a smile. He also has a long, thin tail. Does he sound cute? This innocent, adorable mouse? Well, guess what. This mouse is out to get you. He works for an incredibly evil corporation that only seems like the nicest company in the world because they’ve played the game the right way and own almost everything you like. They won’t stop until everything and everyone belongs to them. Which, to be fair, every company does. But this one uses the mouse to distract people. To lull them in, thinking, “Nothing that pure can come from evil.” But the mouse and the frozen head that controls him want your money. They’ve spent decades trying to make you forget that The Song of the South exists just to keep their image untarnished. And right now, in the first step of a nearly perfect indoctrination process that was thought of 98 years ago, the mouse selects his victim.
Benny’s parents are unaware of this when they purchase the stuffed mouse for their infant son. But if they knew, they probably wouldn’t care. His father’s Death Star schematics T-shirt brushes up against Benny’s crib while his mother gazes at her son lovingly. She’s wondering whether her son’s first movie should be Cinderella or Snow White. Benny’s eyes widen with joy at the sight of the mouse. The cartoonish grey bunny that used to be his most prized possession will soon be taking a one-way trip to Goodwill. As the child settles back to sleep, the mouse smiles.
They thought it was an innocent purchase. Just some cute toy for their son. They don’t realize they were the ones who were chosen. And this mouse is the gateway drug. The mouse sits and watches as Benny’s teeth come in. As he potty-trains. While he learns to crawl, and then walk. Soon Benny and the mouse are inseparable. Then the mouse introduces Benny to his friends. The TV that used to be reserved for late-night viewings of 24 now only plays Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Benny’s fate is sealed once and for all at his first birthday party, when he looks his mother in the eyes and utters his first word: Disney.
From there they have him. The mouse fades away, soon replaced by PJ Masks and Handy Manny. Manny is especially grateful to be a part of the mission, now fully fed up with being mistaken for Bob the Builder. PJ Masks especially awakens something in Benny, who soon discovers Spidey and his Amazing Friends.
Mom has started showing Benny the classics. They just watched Aladdin and he couldn’t be happier. Wait till he sees Toy Story! Benny is eight½ and Dad finally gets to introduce him to Luke, Han, Yoda, and Jar-Jar(Benny’s Dad is an idiot). And wait, what’s this? For his ninth birthday, Benny is getting a subscription to the mouse’s streaming service, and there are some movies on there with Spider-Man in them? Oh, he’s gotta watch those.
Now Benny is 13 years old. He’s boxing up his Marvel action figures for the move to the new city when he catches a glimpse of this sitcom called Black-Ish on TV. Hey, this looks fun! After Black-Ish comes The Goldbergs, then The Connors, and, wait, what’s this show Family Guy?! His parents are yelling at him to keep packing boxes, but he doesn’t hear a word. He’s hypnotized, transfixed by the incredibly generic sitcom comedy.
The final moments of Die Hard fade from the screen, leaving Benny exhilarated. Who knew something this amazing could exist? A notification pops up on his computer screen. It’s an email from his professor, reminding him that the deadline for the writing internship is tomorrow. Benny shuts his computer screen and presses play on the next movie. He wasn’t gonna get in anyway, so what’s the point in trying? From the other room, in a box beneath Benny’s bed, a cackle of evil delight is drowned out by the sounds of Die Hard 2.
As Benny rocks his beautiful twins to sleep, he thinks back on his life. His eyes wander over the wall, inspecting each frame with nostalgic joy, but also a sense of sadness and regret he can’t quite put his finger on. The acceptance letter to his accountant firm hangs next to the photo of his wedding at Disney World. His phone buzzes with a text from his mom: “Happy 51st! Your dad and I got you tickets for Disney Cruise! This’ll be your tenth one, right? Wow!” He lays his children, Donald and Daisy, into their cribs, and goes downstairs to watch The Simpsons. As Daisy drifts off to sleep she gazes lovingly at the slightly worn stuffed mouse laying next to her. The mouse smiles back.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to read my reviews of The Eternals, Hawkeye, and Home Sweet Home Alone in the coming weeks. Happy Halloween!!!