That Time Romania Cancelled Mickey Mouse

In 1935, the Romanian government banned any visual representation of Mickey Mouse, and the reason behind this drastic measure might make you take a double look at Disney’s most beloved character.

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo / Be&W

You may have seen those posts before, the internet pages covering the world’s most absurd, hilarious, or borderline baffling laws. From Georgia’s prohibition of chickens crossing the road to Singapore’s ban on chewing gum, you may have thought you’ve seen it all! But we’ve got a good one for you. After only 7 years in public display and attention, Mickey Mouse was banned in Romania, and you’ll never guess the reason why.

Mickey Mouse, the Romanian black market good

The world’s most cherished animated character, beloved by children everywhere and famous all around the globe, became, during the inter-war period, a black-market good, as the Romanian authorities officially deemed as illegal any visual representation of the cartoon.

But don’t be quick to throw the blame and point fingers. It was all done for a good cause. Or so the officials may have considered. The reason behind canceling Mickey Mouse was not out of envy or malicious intent; it was all done in order to protect Romanian kids. Protect them from what, you may ask. Well, from Mickey Mouse himself – and his appearance.

That’s right – Romanian authorities banned the world’s most beloved rodent out of fear that his appearance, which they considered to be ugly and unattractive, would scare kids, giving them nightmares and making them cry. Other countries, such as Finland, may have banned Disney characters for objective and valid reasons, like for their lack of trousers. However, Romanians cared more about other aspects of the animation, and despite the fact that Mickey Mouse was originally designed for children, they drew the decision that the funny and adorable mouse would not have a home in Romania.

The cartoon that won

It’s not clear what it was about Mickey Mouse that posed such a threat to the authorities that they had to cancel it within the Romanian borders. Maybe it was his tiny stature (yes, some do argue that was the case), his overly animated face, his interesting-looking hands (later to be even covered by mittens), or maybe it was his perfectly-round ears. No one really knows. And really, what was going on in the minds of 1935 officials may be a question whose answer is way beyond you and me.

What we do know, however, is that the authorities did not spare any time in exiling poor Mickey Mouse. However, not to fear – the underdog – or, shall we say, “undermouse” – won. There is no consensus over how or when the law was abolished. However, the Communist regime was not any more inclined towards the animated character than the previous rulers, so Mickey’s true introduction to Romania came once that regime was toppled, too. And luckily for Mickey, kids were not even a little scared off by the friendly appearance of Disney’s most beloved creation.

Naomi Gherman

Master student in Cultural Diplomacy and International Relations at Babeș-Bolyai University, eager to share more about our world's most fascinating stories and people. Romania-based reader, writer and content creator with a strong interest in journalism, foreign languages and politics.

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