Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment # 3

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.


Kelly Martin said...

Sofie, I really liked reading your discussion about the Mickey Mouse Monopoly and thought you brought up some really interesting and valid points. While reading all of these posts, I feel that a lot of our media experience is not just one perspective or another but that the media affects us in a number of different ways. I really thought your paragraph about the Magic Bullet Perspective was insightful, but I also think you could tie in the Cultural Studies Perspective to argue a similar thing. In that perspective, our perceptions of groups and behaviors in society are cultivated by media representations. Alvin Poussaint argues that Disney writers hold stereotypes and they write from that perspective because that is what they have gained from the media they consume. This shows the circular effect of media and how that alters our perceptions of race. I do think that the effects of media are powerful, like you said, but I also think our perceptions of race are obtained through the stereotypes we see presented by others. I also really liked how you tied in class topics like the Payne Fund Studies (it really added to your argument). As for your second paragraph, I completely agree. Young children in society gain what they believe to be accurate knowledge about the world from movies…which can be really dangerous. I thought your examples of gender roles/representations was really strong and backed up your argument nicely. However, I also think it would be important to add that these effects are not direct or large but rather small, indirect and cumulative. I think your argument would be stronger if you added that the Cultivation Perspective states that our impressions of the world are cultivated through long-term media exposure. It would add to your paragraph as a whole and give support to your discussion of young girls and how they view women. Overall, nice job! It is clear you understand the concepts of this unit!

Chali Pittman said...

Hey Sofie, I like how you used the magic bullet and cultivation theories to explain Disney's effect on children -- two theories that complement each other well. I agree that the magic bullet effect is extremely effective; I posit it does not take long at all to influence the mind of a developing young adult with negative stereotypes. While I definitely agree with your concluding sentence, that behaviors in society are cultivated through long-term exposure, I wonder how long children must be exposed to stereotypical films in order to begin to develop a worldview that reflects those stereotypes. I would argue that it does not take very long at all, but that long-term exposure definitely reinforces those stereotypes. Do you think that long-term exposure lasts even now, as we are reminded of the stereotypes our generation learned when we were young? In other words, does the cultivation theory apply to our generation as well children?