Disney has successfully marketed their movies under an ideal of innocence and magic. This tactic has been so successful for them that many people overlook the messages taught and their effect on children. However, Disney is a corporation and at the end of the day the CEO decides the images shown and messages taught, based more on revenue than moral obligation. The Mickey Mouse Monopoly reveals the multiple perspectives of the impact Disney movies may have on children in the form of the magic bullet and critical cultural theories.
One prominent theory seen in The Mickey Mouse Monopoly is the cultivation theory. This is the idea that media shapes our perceptions of the world in a more subtle and continuous process. Dr. Justin Lewis supports this idea by stating, “The way the media effects the way we think is much less immediate and much less straight forward. It is much more creating a certain environment that we grow up in and become used to. And after awhile, those images begin to shape what we know, what we understand. That is a slow cumulative effect.” Some of the common images that we are often confronted with are gender stereotypes. It is quite common to see a music video or commercial emphasizing makeup or the say women should dance. In the documentary it shows “The mirror project,” in which children are exposed to Vanessa William’s music video, “Colors of the wind” from Pocahontas. Children as young as 5 or 6, imitate these dance moves they have seen paired with their favorite Disney song. This truly exemplifies the powerful effect media can have in children mirroring the moves they see on television.
Another perspective that can be seen it the critical cultural theory. This is the idea that media shapes the way we interpret culture. The hazard in this theory is that media often intends to reproduce existing power structures. This can be seen by the lack of minority representation within Disney movies. Disney is a “transnational media conglomerate” owning production companies, websites, radio networks, cable systems, and more. This places a lot of power into the hands of one company. Further, a single male CEO runs the whole company. The ideas presented often impact children’s perceptions of reality. According to Dr. Gail Dines, “We develop our notions of reality from the cultural mechanisms around us and one of the most important cultural institutions that we have today is indeed the media. It gives us a whole array of images, of stereotypes, of belief systems about race about class and about gender.” More specifically, among the lack of minority representation, minority characters often given to minor characters. For example, the Chihuahua is one of the only Latino characters in all Disney movies. “It is almost expected, the character playing the Latino will do one of the things that he shouldn’t do,” said schoolteacher Marisa Peralta. In “Oliver and Company,” the Chihuahua even tries to steel a car.
Media plays a significant role within out society. As The Mickey Mouse Monopoly demonstrated, both the cultivation and critical cultural theories are present. This leaves society the question of “What message do we want to be feeding our children?”