Winnie the Pooh

Ask anyone to name the icon of the Disney company, and they will invariably say Mickey Mouse. Indeed, go to the company’s About Disney website, and Mickey is sitting up top.

But I have discovered, with Oliver’s help, that Disney’s true weapon is Winnie the Pooh, bear of stealth.

Try this simple test: keep an eye open for representations of Pooh as you walk through your day. If your day is anything like mine, you might lose count after 25 or 30 sightings.

Here’s an example of where you can find Pooh in my life:

  • In Oliver’s bedroom there is one Pooh doll, one Pooh water bottle, a Pooh ball (with bell inside), a Pooh blanket, a pair of Pooh socks, and half a dozen Pooh books.
  • Painted on the window of the Basilica Rec Centre children’s daycare on Richmond St., half a block from our house.
  • On a flag flying over the daycare at the corner of Sydney and Hillsborough Streets, two blocks from our house.
  • In Wal-Mart you cannot walk 25 feet without seeing Pooh — videos, books, umbrellas, rubber boots, diapers, sip-cups. Same with Zellers.
  • In the video store — ad infinitum.
  • At the public library — many, many Pooh books.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

The secret of Pooh’s success is that parents like us, who would never in a million years welcome Mickey or Dumbo or Barney into our home, see Pooh as a loveable, friendly character, somehow existing above the commercial fold.

Mickey is out there in front, taking the heat, getting all the public attention, and the anti-capitalist scorn; Pooh is bringing up the rear, raking in the cash, and loving every minute.


Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 04:04 Permalink

Difference is that Pooh has a pre-Disney existence that can be celebrated and a tawdry present that can be pointed out as an example of how doing something wrong in life can have long term implications. Four year olds get the distinction.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 12:11 Permalink

Or “Winnie Ille Poo” — Winnie the Pooh in Latin. Not very Disney.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 13, 2003 - 12:22 Permalink

Right on Alan. There is a genuine magic to the original.

AA Milne was not much of a Dad. His son went to my prep school — a long time before me. Christopher Robin never adjusted to the reality that his father had this deep relationship with a fictional boy that had his name that in like he could not have with his son. He was also teased unmercifully for being soppy at school. So much so that the legends of his misery there were still talked about all the years later when I was a boy

Christopher's picture
Christopher on June 13, 2003 - 13:18 Permalink

Didn’t he change his name to Billy Moon, Rob? And well spoken in your first post, Alan. Disney scaped off the top 1% and Bowlderised it into Mittel-Amerika. But my kids all bridged from Disney to Milne and Milne Pooh icons are almost as common as Disney ones. THank heavens Disney never got hold of Jeremy Fisher.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 13:44 Permalink

I have my kids working on their mantra daily “TV is a lie, ads are a lie, McDonalds is a lie”. Let them experience these things and they point out why they are poorer options which are unhealthy and more expensive. Result? 98% carrot advantage over junk food and a Barnie free zone.

Winnie's picture
Winnie on June 13, 2003 - 13:49 Permalink

A. A. Milne left the rights to Pooh, and his other characters, to five beneficiaries: The Garrick Club, Westminster School, The Royal Literary Fund, the A. A. Milne Family and the E. H. Shepard Family. We understand that Mrs. Milne sold the film rights to Disney in 1961. Christopher Robin Milne sold his rights to the other copyright holders before his death in 1996.

Sometime around 1998, the Garrick Club sold Disney the rights to all of A. A. Milne’s characters until 2026 (when the copyright expires). On March 4, 2001, the Sunday Times of London reported that Disney paid an estimated $340-to-$350 million for the rights to the royalty stream, as well as future use of the characters in any media, from the A. A. Milne Trust.

Disney first bought rights to Winnie-The-Pooh (enabling it to use the Pooh characters freely in movies, television shows, theme parks and merchandising) in 1961 and has renewed those rights every year, paying twice-yearly royalties to a group of rights holders. Disney now has the rights to the Winnie-The-Pooh until the copyright expires in 2026. The copyright holders received lump-sum payments for their interests, rather than having to collect their money a bit at a time over the next 25 years. They will retain the publishing rights to the original A.A. Milne book.

Robert's picture
Robert on June 13, 2003 - 13:54 Permalink

Alan, that’s great but I hope this doesn’t result in your kids growing up to burn Ronald McDonald effigies and smash Starbucks windows at G8 summits.

Ken's picture
Ken on June 13, 2003 - 14:32 Permalink

I hope there are no McDonalds to smash when my kids grow up, so let’s get smashing now!

Maybe when they offer a ‘Pooh-Burger’ the truth will be known.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 13, 2003 - 15:05 Permalink

Why not work to preserve their right to make informed decisions themselves, Ken? Or would you rather the government step in and ban McDonalds, etc from our society? Iran as a role model…?

Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 15:26 Permalink

kids growing up to burn Ronald McDonald effigies and smash Starbucks windows at G8 summits.”

I hope it does! Would fit with the family history perfectly.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 15:27 Permalink

well, maybe not smashing but certainly burning effigies…

stephen good's picture
stephen good on June 13, 2003 - 18:07 Permalink

I regret letting my kids watch The Tigger Movie — I assume Disney finds Tigger more American than the other characters so brought him to the front. But the sad thing about the movie is how much happens, how hysterical it is, how the characters get all freaked out about this and that. The beauty of the Pooh books and the original movie is that nothing happens — pooh and piglet walk in circles and wonder whose footprints they are coming upon, pooh tries to imitate and cloud, the gang goes looking for “the north pole” thinking that it’s a stick. The Tigger Movie is about manic-depression, dysfunctional families, avalanches and who knows what all. of course, lots of movies are bad adaptations of books but what’s sad is to see how Disney has totally demolished the spirit behind the original books. i think you hit the nail on the head about pooh as the trojan horse of the disney empire — my daughters have the pooh characters on their walls and you’re right, i wouldn’t let them have mickey mouse on their walls.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 13, 2003 - 20:01 Permalink

It is bizzaro-pooh. I took the kids to Lelo and Stitch or whatever and that is the first and last Disney film they will ever see. Violence and power rules in every Disney flim.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 13, 2003 - 20:34 Permalink

Two points = first the gentleness. My favourite poem from memory

Nobody knows — tiddly pom
How cold my toes — tiddly pom
Are growing — tiddly pom”

My favourite parody.

Brian Jones, the early Rolling Stones guy had bought the Milne house and had died in the swimming pool of I think an overdose. That week in Private Eye, Ralph Steadman, the cartoonist, did a cartoon after Shepard.

You see a pond with a lovely humped bridge made out of sticks. On the bridge stand Pooh and Piglet. They are staring intently at something floating in the water below.

The caption — ” Doesn’t look much like Eyore to me!”

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 14, 2003 - 12:49 Permalink

I haven’t seen anything sadder lately than this set of replies. It drives me nuts to see parents trying to drive their jaded view of the world into their kid’s brains because they think it is somehow better for a child to be politically aware than happy. If you parents know anything it’s that there will be plenty of time for your kids to be unhappy later, why now?

Your kid wants to hug the yellow bear, you want to make sure your child understands the contractual agreement that the big bad corporation has forced onto the poor family trust of a beloved dead author.

Dad can I hug the bear?”
“No son, we are going to burn it in front of the Disney store! We used to do stuff like this back when I was in my twenties!”
“But I’m five”

Dad! That tiger is funny!”
“No son, he’s foolish, he used to be much more meaningful and understated, now he is just a mockery of a great author’s work!”
“Oh, I thought he was funny.”

Life’s too short guys, swallow your pride, let your kids have some fries and hug the yellow bear.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 14, 2003 - 13:22 Permalink

Life’s too short to raise a jerk. I have to live with the teen years implications — you don’t.

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 14, 2003 - 14:30 Permalink

We all have to live with the jerk you raise…especially the teen years based on: “well, maybe not smashing but certainly burning effigies…”

Alan's picture
Alan on June 14, 2003 - 15:34 Permalink

Suck it up Charlie — it’s a democracy not a shopping centre.

Ken's picture
Ken on June 14, 2003 - 19:07 Permalink

I hope my kid’s aren’t too damaged from the vegetarian diet I will impose upon them. Which is worse: forcing them to go to church or not allowing them to eat meat? Which will have more impact on their soul? The church barbeque is definitely out — they always have that orange McDonalds kool-aid, yuck!

Charlie's picture
Charlie on June 14, 2003 - 20:31 Permalink

Alan: Your kid grows up and wants to protest “evil corporations” that’s great, what bothers me are people forcing these ideals on young children. Let them choose themselves when they are old enough to understand the concept. I hate seeing the one kid who can’t go to Jimmie’s birthday party because it’s at macdonalds and mom and dad don’t believe in macdonald’s…would it be so terrible for mom and dad to be the “bigger person” and bite their lip for two hours while their kid has a fun time with his friends?

Ken: Interesting questions, here’s the thing, what if you let your kid try the meat, they like it and want to keep eating it, and are too young to understand the ideals of vegetarianism? Would you let them keep eating meat until they were old enough to choose not to?

Also, when I was in junior high school some friends pilfered a full left over jug of the concentrated orange drink mix from macdonald’s. They made a new skull and cross bones logo for the jug and labelled it “death brew” and then dared each other to take drinks straight from the jug. I think the stuff mixes at about 1 cup of mix for 40 cups of water, packed a pretty good punch…almost chewy!

Alan's picture
Alan on June 14, 2003 - 21:00 Permalink

Charlie — being a parent is protecting your kids against choices they don’t know how to make. McPigs / Disney / ? are ugly multinationals I can and do protect my kids from. I protect them from other mass consumer norms that folks who don’t know any better expose their kids to. Once theyare old enough to know chanllenging norms is ok, they’ll start piercing their eyebrows or joining buddhist monestaries or supporting progressive conservatives and that will be their call. What kills me are parents who impose their lack of control on others forcing me to pick up after their mistakes.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 14, 2003 - 21:22 Permalink

Exactly, Alan. The problem, or difficulty is, the kids don’t know enough to know how little they know, so they think they know it all! (3 times, fast!)And for that reason, we cannot allow students to decide on what they learn in school either, for that very same reason they need protection outside the school. Once they are old enough,they can make their own decisions. But, damn it if mine would be allowed to tattoo their butt or split their tongue at any age!

Mine are forced to play golf. Wanna learn about life…how it is hard, sometimes lucky, requires character, perseverence and patience, is frustrating and never “fair”, rewarding, challenging, requires control of emotion and develops social skills…??? Play a game of golf!

Bet you can’t play just one.

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 14, 2003 - 21:44 Permalink

I heard the other day that the fast food industry spend a total of about 10 billion a year to persuade our kids to eat their stuff — that is a lot of effort. Who is making their mind up with that kind of pressure?

My hope is that like tobacco, in afew years it will be clear that a major part of our obesity epidemic has been the impact of industrial food. Like the tobacco industry the case will be that they knew and that they focused on our children.

Their knowledge of the addictive aspects of sugar and acarbs, like the knowledge of the addictive aspects of nicotine, will doom them both to a legal hell but also to the oppribium of a hoodwinked society.

My kids are in their mid twenties now and haven’t eaten at MCD for years. I hear from younger kids that they are staying away too. The Happy Meal was the cornerstone of MCD’s North American earnings — down 9%

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 14, 2003 - 21:51 Permalink

It’s all about marketing and location.
I heard that MCD’s had 14 independent advertsising companies working on their latest catch phrase. (Remember “Did someone say MCD’s?”.) I forget what the new phrase is already.

Ken's picture
Ken on June 14, 2003 - 23:06 Permalink

There’s a little McDonalds in everyone: undigested meat in your lower intestine that stays for years.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 15, 2003 - 04:36 Permalink

Eight men sharing their feelings about Winnie the Pooh. And they say Prince Edward Island is a socially repressed place.

Alan's picture
Alan on June 15, 2003 - 20:13 Permalink

Good one, Peter. Now if we could discuss Rupert the Bear…

Rob Paterson's picture
Rob Paterson on June 16, 2003 - 00:37 Permalink

Loved Rupert the bear. Getting the Rupert Annual was a highpoint of the year until I became too sophisticated and got the Beano instead

Alan's picture
Alan on June 16, 2003 - 01:53 Permalink

Buy a few Rupert annuals again through ebay and you will find yourself soon describing normal activites in rhyming verse.

Wayne's picture
Wayne on June 28, 2003 - 16:34 Permalink

Zen,Winnie and Golf

Piglet kept worrying and worrying about being lost in the forest. Pooh said nothing. Finally Rabbit decided to forage off on his own, and when he left, Pooh said,

antonia's picture
antonia on December 10, 2003 - 00:32 Permalink

i think pooh is the bomb!

loren's picture
loren on January 16, 2004 - 23:37 Permalink

This is ggggggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeaaatttt!!!I love TIGER. HE is so cool.

loren's picture
loren on January 16, 2004 - 23:38 Permalink

I wanna do tiger!

loren's picture
loren on January 16, 2004 - 23:39 Permalink

not really! Do get mad get GLAD. hehehehehehehehehehehehehehhehehehhehe!

kayleigh's picture
kayleigh on April 17, 2004 - 20:37 Permalink

veeeeerrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyy goooooooooooooooooood
i so love himxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

jeweia's picture
jeweia on May 20, 2004 - 02:59 Permalink

i love tigger.that’s my baby.i hate fat poo

loren's picture
loren on July 9, 2004 - 13:26 Permalink


Quinetta Jones's picture
Quinetta Jones on September 8, 2005 - 22:46 Permalink