Monday, November 25, 2013

Online Assignment #3: Mickey Mouse Monopoly

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.


Emily Zellers said...

Jessie, great job on your post. I chose the same two media effects of cultivation and cultural studies because these show up very clearly in the documentary. I like how you started off discussing that Disney is a transnational media conglomerate and has the ability to reach the public through various forms of media, giving them a great amount of influence, and tied that into the cultural studies idea that elite groups control the media to maintain power. Dr. Giroux’s comments were also a great example of how he stood up to the Disney media monopoly. Something you could add here is that another aspect of the cultural studies concept found in the video is people in the cultures mass media messages enter may resist the ideas. Your example of the story of Jacqueline Maloney’s friend’s son identifying African American children as the hyenas from the Lion King, and assuming they were bad, was another effective way of illustrating the concept of cultural studies.
Later on in the post when you discus cultivation good use of examples to describe the effect Disney is having on children, especially girls. One thing you could add here is that in addition to girls wanting to imitate the princesses they see in the movies when trying to develop their idea of what women should act like and be like, Dr. Levin explains young girls focus on dramatic characters such as Disney characters rather than real women in their lives.
Overall great job on your post and connecting the concepts in the documentary to class concepts.

Katie Hicks said...

Jessie, I thought this was a really well-written response. You tied in a lot of great examples with the perspectives you saw presented. I liked how you related the recreation of the Pocahontas story to Disney's underlying motivations. It's important to recognize the interests of those behind the movies. In this case it was the political motive to make the white settlers seem less villanous. I also liked how you went on to point out racial depictions in Disney movies, which also relates to cultural representations and the power of the white, male writers. In regards to cultivation research, I thought it was important that you pointed out the actions of the characters in addition to their appearance. In my response, I talked about the oversexualization of women and blatant racism, but neglected to talk about the abuse present in movies like Beauty and the Beast. Belle's relationship with the Beast could definitely skew a child's perception of a normal relationship. Overall I think you made some great points, especially regarding Disney's power and motivation. In an ideal world, Disney would use its influence for good, but seeing as it is a corporation, do you see this actually happening in the future?