Billionaire CEO happy for Disney to lose the rights to Mickey Mouse, resurrecting a dark Disney controversy involving alleged animal cruelty

steamboat willie elon musk
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A billionaire CEO has joined the growing number of public figures who eagerly await Disney’s copyright expiration on Mickey Mouse.

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Credit: Disney

READ ALSO: Disney’s losing the rights to Mickey Mouse, and that’s not the weirdest part of the story

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has quite the diversified portfolio, especially since he’s founder and CEO of many of the companies within it. Among the titles he wears are founder, CEO, and Chief Engineer at SpaceX, angel investor, CEO, and Product Architect at Tesla, Inc., and founder of The Boring Company. He’s also the co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI.

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Musk is known for taking jabs at other members of the big business arena, and lately, he’s seemingly been somewhat preoccupied with Disney, and it’s not because he wants to buy The Walt Disney Company. In May, Musk took to Twitter to express his thoughts about United States copyright law, tweeting that “current copyright law in general goes absurdly far beyond protecting the original creator” in response to a tweet from Slashdot about Disney possibly losing its rights to Mickey Mouse.

Disney’s rights to the Steamboat Willie version of Mickey Mouse are set to expire in 2023. Originally, those rights would have expired in the 1980s, but Disney lobbied Congress and got legislation introduced and passed that allowed a “stay of expiration,” if you will, thus protecting Steamboat Willie from the evils of the public domain–at least until 2023.

Steamboat Willie (film) - D23

Credit: D23

But Disney might not be so lucky this time around, as some lawmakers have said they will do nothing to save Steamboat Willie after Disney took a loud and prominent stand against the Parental Rights in Education legislation in the state of Florida earlier this year.

In a letter to The Walt Disney Company’s CEO, members of Congress who serve on the Republican Study Commission openly expressed their opposition to continuing the copyright on the mouse who began it all. It’s set to expire on January 1, 2024. According to the group of Congressmen, Disney “has capitulated to far-left activists through hypocritical, woke corporate actions,” citing Disney’s recent stance on Florida’s new law.

And they have a friend in Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, though Musk has his own reasoning.

Earlier this month, Musk once again tweeted a response about Mickey Mouse and the copyright cacophony, saying, “It’s time” when Slashdot tweeted that “Mickey Mouse could soon leave Disney as 95-year copyright expiration nears,” seemingly signaling his approval of Mickey moving on to the Great Public Domain Beyond.

Now it seems that Elon Musk is expounding on his jab at Mickey Mouse and his house with a tweet that resurrects criticism of Disney for a documentary made years ago, alleging that Disney disparaged “an entire class of rodents” for the sake of a documentary.

disney white wilderness

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

In 1958, Disney released White Wilderness, an Academy Award-winning “True-Life Adventure” nature documentary about wildlife in the northernmost snow-covered parts of North America. Some of the most memorable scenes from the documentary depict the supposed “mass suicide” phenomenon among lemmings, small rodents that live mostly in or near the Arctic.

The strange behavior would be unsettling enough were it natural, instinctual behavior, as it was presented in the Disney documentary. However, as the years passed and viewers began to research the “phenomenon” for themselves, it became more and more apparent that lemmings are not prone to mass suicide. Allegations arose that Disney created the scenario in the film, leading to the deaths of droves of the small rodents as they leaped off a steep cliff, plunging into the icy waters of the Arctic Ocean below and drowning.

Snopes researched the topic as well and found the claims that “lemmings don’t commit mass suicide” and that “filmmakers had to use various camera tricks to capture scenes of them supposedly plunging to their deaths” to be true.

On Sunday, Elon Musk tweeted about the “dark origin” of such a supposed “myth,” and in his next tweet, he makes his stance on Disney’s role in the suicide very clear, tweeting, “Ironic that Disney would disparage an entire class of rodents when their main character is a rodent – jealous maybe?”

Users responded to Musk’s tweet about Mickey and the lemmings by suggesting the billionaire SpaceX icon “buy Disney” or “short $DIS,” a suggestion to short-sell or bet against Disney.

According to The Street, Disney is one of Musk’s “favorite targets” when it comes to online criticism. It’s unclear whether Musk has any ulterior motive in slamming Disney. Is it possible he’s up for a Disney buyout?

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!