In the documentary, Mickey Mouse Monopoly, there are two main perspectives on media effects that are seen most prominently: cultural studies and cultivation. Cultural studies deal with how the media represents culture and how culture is shaped by media messages. It also asks how the media is used by elites to exercise and maintain power. The documentary outlines how the Disney corporation is a transnational media conglomerate, owning many TV stations, newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. Therefore, the various outlets Disney is able to use to reach the public are vast, lending themselves to Disney's tremendous influence. This monopoly that Disney holds over mass media may be detrimental to democracy. The public is receiving limited views that are skewed by corporate interests. Yet, Disney continues to exercise control because it “hides behind innocence”. This idea is evident in the narrative of Dr. Giroux. In his book, he talked about how Disney represents a merger of corporate power and entertainment. He received a hostile response from the public, who strongly believe in Disney’s innocence.
Cultural studies also focuses on how media represents existing ideas. The documentary talks about how Disney re-writes history by ignoring certain conflicts. For example, Pocahontas completely ignores the genocide committed towards Native Americans by Europeans. These false representations of history are politically motivated. The documentary equivocates Disney to a “dominate storyteller for children globally”. This is a huge responsibility; Disney’s messages are shaping children’s perceptions of race, as seen in the story of Jacqueline Maloney from Harvard University, who’s friend told about her son identifying African American children as the hyenas from the Lion King, and immediately associating them as bad.
The media effect of cultivation is also evident in Disney’s influence on society. The cultivation perspective talks about how TV is a “cultural environment”. Impressions of the world can be cultivated through long-term media exposure. Similar ideas are raised in the documentary when it talks about how media tries to create an environment of images. The effects are not immediate, but slow and cumulative. Media deals with constructions of reality that help viewers form images of the world. Cultivation also deals with distorted perceptions of sex and race. Female characters in Disney movies are highly sexualized. The way Disney characters look and act affect how children believe they should look and act. Some movies also make certain negative behaviors seem okay. For example, the abuse seen in Beauty and the Beast is cast aside, and the idea of tenderness within is brought forward. People pick up racial stereotypes, as African Americans are depicted as crows or monkeys, and Latinos are Chihuahuas. White males are generally the dominant force in all Disney movies.
Culture and cultivation are key perspectives apparent in Disney’s media kingdom. Disney has power to shape children’s perceptions of the world and affect how they look, act, and play. Few people realize the tremendous influence it has on the minds of youth. Because of this, Disney must recognize the responsibility it has to depict society in a positive way.