Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment #3

Throughout the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly, many academics and scholars comment on the potentially dangerous effects of the Disney corporation’s dominance in the world of childrens’ entertainment. From shaping unrealistic expectations of gender roles and negative perceptions of race or history, it is clear that the content of products of the Disney corporation in the form of toys, movies and the entire image of the company itself, has a massive effect on shaping the worldview of young children. While there are examples of all of the five perspectives of media effects throughout the movie, the two most prominent are the magic bullet effect and the critical-cultural view.

The magic bullet effect, which argues that the media are powerful, direct and able to incite certain emotions and actions within their audience, is undoubtedly a major factor in the way that Disney influences the minds of children. Specifically, the gender representations portrayed in Disney films, although they tend to be extremely misleading and largely unattainable, play a significant role in shaping how children play with each other, and even see themselves. For example, Dr. Gail Dines argues that the images of women in Disney can construct notions of femininity and what being a woman is really about, despite how false the portrayals really are. Women in Disney films are always highly sexualized, with absurd and impossible body proportions, but the fact that young girls see this image so often communicates the idea that this is what real women are supposed to look like. This is an example of the media’s direct and powerful impact on how their audience sees themselves and the world around them -- we begin to associate these false notions with the ideal woman and feminine qualities and anything that doesn’t match up to these unrealistic expectations is somehow wrong.

The critical-cultural view is also an important perspective to recognize in the influence of Disney and how it both represents existing American culture and shapes it. Regarding cultural studies, the Frankfurt School concluded that media are one means of production that produces culture, and the ability to communicate through mass media is a form of power. Stuart Hall’s assessment of cultural studies also argued that messages are created through media in a society to communicate certain values and beliefs, something that is undoubtedly done through Disney’s products. As Dr. Justin Lewis argues, because Disney is such a major media conglomerate and is so popular across the globe, “the story that Disney tells will be the stories that will form and help form a child’s imaginary world all over the world. And that’s an incredible amount of power.” Dines added that one of the most cultural institutions in modern society is, in fact, the media, which “gives us a whole array of images, of stereotypes, of belief systems about race, about class, about gender.” Disney’s immense power as a major media corporation has a huge role in shaping not only how their young audiences see the world around them, but also the belief systems that are subtly communicated through Disney’s films.


Amy Perkins said...

Louisa, I think you do a really great job of explaining examples of where the aspects of the two perspectives you thought were highlighted most were in the documentary. I understood how the examples you gave related to the perspectives, however I don't think the magic bullet perspective was quite so applicable because of the fact that that perspective applies to immediate effects. In this case, it is unlikely that seeing a highly sexualized woman one time will have a direct and powerful effect on a child's view of the female body. I loved how you connected the critical-cultural view, the quotes you used from the documentary really supported that perspective and you did a great job explaining why that is.

Katie Hicks said...
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Katie Hicks said...

Louisa, I thought your analysis of the potential danger of Disney was really well put. I thought your examples worked really well with your arguments. The over-sexualization of women in Disney movies is definitely a good example of how the media affects our way of thinking, however I would argue that it applies more to cultivation research than the magic bullet perspective. Cultivation research explains how longterm media exposure affects our perceptions of certain groups, in this case, women. Like Amy said, it's probably unlikely that a single distorted image would have a direct effect on a child, but its repetition over time could produce powerful results. In regards to the critical-cultural perspective, I liked how you noted Disney's power in shaping how children think through their representations of groups and cultures. Your examples and explanations really supported your claim.