September 10, 2006

In the wake of Pluto’s recent de-planetting, my mind drifts to another Pluto, who has received just as much of a raw deal as his celestial counterpart. I’m speaking, of course, about Pluto, Mickey Mouse’s dog. It’s been the subject of many late-night stoner conversations: Pluto and another character in the Disney universe, Goofy, are both dogs, yet Goofy can walk and talk with the rest of Toontown while Pluto, well, Pluto is just a goddamn dog. Goofy is gifted with upright motion and speech, the things that seperate us from the beasts, or in this case, the things that seperate most of the beasts from one very unlucky beast. Pluto simply wasn’t there on the day Walt Disney handed out brains.

You could read Pluto’s situation as an elitist allegory, a letter from the Magic Kingdom that says, “No matter how many genes we share, some of us will be mighty, and some of us will wear leashes.” But I’ve chosen not to see it that way. I prefer to think that Goofy sold out. He traded his essential dog-ness for the ability to walk and talk like Mickey and Donald. In the bargain, he got slapped with the name “Goofy.” He only walks to trip and fall over. He only speaks to say “Gawrsh!” He went from a walking dog on four legs to a walking joke on two.

Pluto, on the other hand, opted to be a first-rate dog instead of a lame parody of a human. He’s named PLUTO, for the Roman God of the Underworld, not GOOFY, a synonym for “retarded.” He slobbers over bones, he likes to fetch, and he makes no apologies for either. Most importantly, he does NOT accept his slave name. Pluto the planet could learn a thing or two from Pluto the Dog: better to be a spec of space dust on your own terms than a planet on someone else’s.

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