In the documentary the Mickey Mouse Monopoly, experts explain the effects the media has, specifically major companies like Disney, have on children and their perceptions on groups and society. The magic bullet and cultivation theory perspectives are used to explain these reactions children have when watching the films, and what messages they are being given from huge conglomerate companies like Disney.
The magic bullet perspective can be used to explain how children react to watching Disney movies. The Payne Fund Studies show that children watching films learn from the movies, and form attitudes about the groups portrayed in the films. In the Mickey Mouse Monopoly, multiple experts describe how Disney develops characters of certain races and genders in their films. Marisa Peralta of the Rafael Hernandez School explains how Latinos are perceived in Disney films. Really, there is only one example: the Chihuahua. The Latino character in the movies will always end up doing the things that he shouldn’t do, like Alonzo stealing a car in Oliver and Company. She doesn’t understand why Latinos can’t be represented as humans, but are instead represented as dogs. Disney movies also lack representing black people in their movies. Dr. Alvin Poussaint gives the example of the hyenas in The Lion King and how they spoke in a street, city, African-American dialect, and they were considered “the bad guys.” Children are adopting an idea about people from these types of characters. Jacqueline Maloney of Harvard explains how her friend’s child was playing and was scared of the “hyenas” and the people he was scared of was a group of black children playing nearby. He heard their dialect and related the two groups. This gives children the idea that people that talk like that, are bad, and thus, that African-Americans are bad. These examples show how direct and powerful the media is in this magic bullet perspective.
Another perspective explained in the film is the cultivation theory. The women of Disney movies have not changed much over the years: they still have enhanced sexual features, with large breasts, large hips, and a small waist, and are seductresses. The characters show how women can be influential against men, but mostly with their bodies, which can be dangerous to a young girl watching the movies. Dr. Gail Dines of Wheelock College says that, “this presents people with a notion of what femininity is about. This is not a mirror on society, not reflecting who women really are.” Young girls watching Disney movies even before they can speak are shown what “society” thinks their bodies should look like, or what beauty is. They take these messages more strongly than looking at everyday women walking down the street, who are real examples of what normal women look like. Young people generate ideas of their place in society when watching these films. Alison Wilson of the Neighborhood House Charter School explains how young girls in her class play “Mermaid” and “Princess” and reenact these damsel-in-distress scenes, and the young boys come and save them, because in the movies, the girls are always unable to save themselves. The men are always saving them. This is an important point of cultivation research, that these impressions and behaviors in society can be cultivated through long-term exposure of the films.