Mickey Mouse Culture In Bangkok

I’ve had a project about American consumer culture creeping around in my gray matter for some time. I don’t recall how it happened, I’m guessing I was doing something mindless… and I got the damn theme song from The Mickey Mouse Club stuck in my head. I immediately started bastardizing it (a strange habit I have with song lyrics) until it turned into M-I-SEE!, K-E-WHY?, M-O-USA! Neither had I seen an image that established the look of the project, nor had I expected to find it in Bangkok…

micky mouse culture

~ Micky Mouse Culture • Click To Enlarge ~

So, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I was heading to an appointment with a dentist and just randomly peered over the rail of the BTS Thong Lo skytrain station platform and spotted this below me. There was my image:

micky mouse culture


So, a few days later I took my gear down there and starting setting up.

mickey mouse culture


The location happens to be a spot where a number of Bangkok’s endless motorcycle taxi drivers hang out between fares. As I got set up, I got that there are people standing right behind you sensation. I then discovered several taxi drivers peering around me trying to figure out what this frarang was up to. I immediately had several assistants. As you can see in the picture above, the concrete-filled tire has been moved to get the umbrella out of the shot—they helped move that. They also shepherded traffic around me and my camera, which was great as the sidewalk was crazy busy.

I tried to convince my assistants to do a group shot, but most scattered back to their motorcycles, and I could only get these two guys:

mickey mouse culture assistants


Then I was able to get the Thai version of Evel Knievel’s mother to pose (who moments later hopped on her motorcycle and was off like a bat outta hell):

mickey mouse culture woman


One of the drivers was also quick to point out that this wasn’t the only the Mickey Mouse skull nearby:

mickey mouse culture sign


I’m guessing this must be part of some culture jamming project by some politically aware Thais, as American consumerism has spread like wildfire here. I don’t have any idea when my project will be done… hell, I don’t even know what the project is fully about yet. But that shot is the keystone image.

For the geeks:

I shot a bracketed set (not really necessary as it was overcast and the light was nice) of two overlapping portrait shots to create a large (20″ when printed) square. Converted the raw files in Lightroom, ran the LR/Enfuse plug in to enfuse the brackets, exported the two enfused images to AutoPano Giga to stitch together, then re-imported the stitched image into Lightroom where I converted it to black and white with Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. Yes, yes I know. It would have been a lot easier to shoot it on some black and white film in a Hasselblad…

Mickey Mouse Culture In Bangkok.

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