For many years now, the public has been growing concerned with how influential various types of media are on children. For example, violent video games have been feared as increasing violence in children and giving them false perceptions of reality. However, a seemingly more innocent source of concern is Disney. In Mickey Mouse Monopoly, this concern with the effects of Disney productions on children is discussed, and three of the perspectives discussed in lecture were referenced in the documentary: the Magic Bullet perspective, the Cultivation perspective, and the Cultural perspective.
Early in the documentary, Justin Lewis argues that to think that the effects of Disney are immediate and direct is incorrect. Hence, he is arguing against the Magic Bullet perspective and setting the stage for the discussion of the other perspectives that involve more long term and complex effects. Lewis’s argument is supported by the idea that the concern with how misrepresentation of race, gender, and reality in general often found in Disney movies are not immediately pointed out. These ideas and fears started out small and slowly grew to be large enough to have numerous studies conducted focusing on the effects of these misrepresentations in the psychological development of children. This idea is manifested in the Cultivation perspective.
The Cultivation perspective says that small and indirect effects accumulate over time and affect our perceptions and impressions of the world. In the documentary, concerns associated with this perspective were those such as body image, domestic violence, and general equality in young girls. The most shocking was Beauty and the Beast, a widely popular film of 1991 that even returned to theaters in 3D recently. The relationship between the main characters is quite obviously one of domestic abuse, even if it is fiction. Many fear that portraying such a relationship as a romance and suggesting that the girl ought to stick with “beast” actually impacts children’s behavior. Obviously this impact would not occur in an immediate way, but may rather slowly influence how children would perceive such a relationship or situation. Another idea presented is that of the female body image. Dr. Gail Dines and Dr. Diane Levin argue that the way Disney portrays women is not a reflection even of the most ideal body type, but rather a construction of what ought to be ideal and worked for.
Similar to the slow integration of ideas that the Cultivation perspective focuses on, the Cultural perspective looks at how these misperceptions and distortions of reality are portrayed in media because of their existence in our culture. It is unlikely that any Disney writers are purposely portraying racism or abuse intentionally, but rather these situations in reality naturally come out in their writing simply because of their presence in the writer’s own culture. However, as stated by Dr. Gail Dines in the film, whether or not such troublesome aspects of Disney films are intentional, they are still dangerous and ought to be recognized for the influence they have, and have had, on children.