Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment 3

            Two course concepts that I saw in the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly, which argued that Disney movies are having a negative effect on the children who watch them, are the concepts of cultural studies and cultivation theory.
            The concept of cultural studies explores how media affects culture, and in turn how culture affects media, as well as how the companies in control of media use their power. In the 1920’s the Frankfurt school hypothesized that media is a form of production that produces culture, which is made up of values, beliefs, myths, and common sense, all of which are political. The opportunity of the people in charge of the media to speak through mass media or decide on its content is a form of power. In the video the narrator talks about how Disney is a transnational media conglomerate, explaining Disney has a tremendous influence on national and international popular culture. Another aspect of the cultural studies concept found in the video is people in the cultures mass media messages enter may resist the ideas. This is apparent through out the video. Author Dr. Henry Giroux was one of the first individuals to call out Disney for its control over the media. He explained the difficulty he had with using a Disney image on the cover of his book explaining that Disney has “monopolized the market on how it represents itself.” Although not everyone agreed with his critical view, it was important that he called this view to the public’s attention, instead of remaining a passive receiver of the messages Disney movies were creating.
            The concept of cultivation theory can be found in the film as well. This research focused on the common cultural experience a child was born into in the second half of the 20th century. The concern was that television was replacing family, state, and church’s influence on children. People who spent more time viewing television, especially children, developed distorted perceptions. Although the research focuses on television, this concept can be applied to children watching Disney movies. Dr. Diane Levin discuses this idea when she explores the idea of role models to young children. Dr. Levin explains, that when trying to develop their idea of what women should act like and be like young girls focus on dramatic characters such as Disney characters rather than real women in their lives. Another aspect of cultivation theory apparent in the video was the idea of stereotypes being reinforced by Disney. According to the cultivation theory research impressions of the world can be cultivated through long-term media exposure. This can be dangerous as the children could pick up the stereotypes portrayed in the movies. Marisa Peralta explains the negative portrayal of Latina people in the movie Oliver and Company through the Chihuahua character. “It’s almost expected that the character playing the Latino will do something he shouldn’t do,” she explains, “if it wasn’t so tragic it’d be comical.”


Kelly Martin said...

Emily, I thought your overall post was really well written and interesting to read. It was clear from the beginning you had a firm grasp of the course concepts and applied them accurately to the Mickey Mouse Monopoly documentary. For your first argument, the Cultural Studies Perspective, I think you are right. I think you formed a solid argument for your ideas. I would have liked to have some supporting examples from the documentary (involving some movies examples presented) to support your argument, which I think would have made it stronger. When reading your second paragraph on the Cultivation Perspective, I found a lot of solid class concepts that you used to introduce and reinforce your ideas. I totally agree that these stereotypes are dangerous to children because these are the images that they pick up on and believe. The use of the example from Oliver and Company enhanced your argument and added to the discussion (something that you would need in your first paragraph to make it just as strong). I would have also liked to see some discussion about Justin Lewis’s comments about how media does not have an immediate and straightforward effect, which would have been another strong supporting element to add (not to mention showing additional knowledge of other course concepts). Overall Emily, I thought you had a really great post that was supported with class concepts and examples from the documentary!

Maddie Peters said...

Emily, I thought you did a great job identifying probably the two largest theories present in the Mickey Mouse Monopoly. You also provided great examples to argue your points. In particular, I liked the example you used regarding Disney as a transnational media conglomerate to show the incredible power that Disney holds. Additionally the fact that it is so difficult to use Disney’s image is a great way to show that Disney is resistant to change. I hadn’t thought of that as an example for cultural studies, but it definitely makes sense there. In consideration of the Chihuahua example, I also identified that, but in evidence of the cultural theory. Both my argument your argument work, which highlights the interconnectedness of many of these theories. I think it is sad that society only sees many minorities in these minor and vastly stereotypical roles. Latino characters were just one example. Others than spoke up about their disappointment in Disney’s depiction of Arabia in Aladdin and lack African American presence throughout all films. One thing that is important to consider, however, is that this documentary is somewhat outdated and therefore, some of Disney’s habits and effects have changed. In its somewhat recent film, The Princess and the Frog, Disney cast their very first African American leading role. This is immense progress. In regard to your paragraph about cultivation theory, I though your examples fit really nicely. One other example that you could have used was mirror project, in which it showed how young girls mimicked the female characters shown in films and music videos. This shows the incredible power media has in shaping perspectives of the world and gender roles.