Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment #3

After watching Mickey Mouse Monopoly, I find the "magic bullet" and "two step flow" perspectives simultaneously prevalent in Disney's media. 

Dr. Justin Lewis argues that the two-step flow is applicable to Disney, even as this transnational conglomerate has "unprecedented control over what we consume." While some appeals to children may be direct, Disney's media is much more effective by creating its own "world" and penetrating our culture through movies, television, toys, decorations, and family experiences (DisneyWorld & DisneyLand; Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade). "Disney" is a household name, and one of the first that children know. Through this vast context, Lewis argues that the way media influences how we think is by creating a certain of images, of which a slow accumulation is more subtle and powerful than a "whiz-bang" effect. 

As consumers, we should find this is disturbing. The film references an anachronistic Hercules store, which emphasizes "shopping and all the excitement of products." By having our youth watch these movies and immersed in this culture, they are learning a very consumerist ideology with little regard to the side effects of their actions -- because in movies, there are no side effects. 

Dr. Gail Dines argues that the images we see in Disney movies create "coded immediate ideologies. " These stereotypes do not take much time to build up in our minds, building inaccurate schemas of gender roles and race relations. According to Professor Wells' lecture on  Payne Fund findings, it follows that these harmful ideologies are picked up by children, even if they are untrue stereotypes: "Children accept the information in the movies as correct unless it is flagrantly incorrect." According to Dr. Alvin Poussaint, "what you pick up from the media is stereotypical." The more a child watches, the more he or she will attempt to act like these impossible stereotypes in appearance, during play, and in interacting with others. This is indicative of media that is "powerful, direct, able to incite action": the premise of the magic bullet theory.

These movies have very real effects on our society. According to Dr. Carolyn Newberger, the perpetuation of abuse in The Beauty and the Beast is "horrific... This is a movie that is saying overlook the abuse, overlook the violence, there's a tender prince lurking within...." In Snow White, there's a young female completely isolated, enjoying cooking and cleaning and her friends, the animals, and she's happy. Ariel perpetuates giving parts of yourself up for "your man." Tarzan casts African - Americans as jungle animals, and The Lady & the Tramp casts Siamese cats as having typical Asian features. Perhaps our culture loves these films too much so that we overlook these discrepancies. But for a conglomerate that has "no obligation to make art... history... or a statement," and when "Money is our only objective," perhaps we should hold Disney, and our media, to a higher standard.

My mother, recognizing and outraged by these stereotypes,  never allowed me to watch Disney movies growing up. In middle and high school people would make Disney allusions, and I wouldn’t be “clued-in”. My high - school English teacher even attempted to use a Disney film I can’t remember to explain Romeo and Juliet; while this made sense to every one else, I was even more confused. From the outside looking in, it’s interesting (and creepy) to see how much Disney is still a part of our culture.


Maddie Peters said...

Chali, your essay was really great and identified great examples. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that you chose two completely different theories than me. It just goes to show how interconnected all of the theories really are. I like how in you essay you even identify two somewhat opposite perspectives simultaneously working together to produce an extreme and additive effect. In your argument regarding two-step flow, I liked how you tied the commercialization of Disney merchandise into a component of the two-step flow. I hadn’t quite though of it like that before. Especially since Professor Wells introduced it in terms of other people fulfilling an opinion leader role. However, it is very true that the things we buy and see in commercials are secondary sources that indirectly affect our opinions. I could also see some of the indirect influences of the movies being attributed to the cultivation theory instead of the two-step flow. Some of the effects accumulate over time and lots of TV viewing. Also I agree with your assessment that many effects mimic the majic bullet theory. I think some effects are definitely instant. I like your example by Dr. Gail Dines that some images create “coded immediate ideologies.” This is a threatening idea that watching a movie once, you could have altered some idea you hold of society, gender roles, or race. Finally, it is really interesting and abnormal that you have seen few to no Disney films. That does give you a particularly valuable perspective from the outside looking in. I guess I never realized just how often Disney comes up in day-to-day life. Overall, you had a fantastic essay. You really thought about the theories and applied them in insightful ways.

Elizabeth Hamel said...

I enjoyed reading a post from the perspective of someone who never grew up watching Disney movies. I watched probably every single Disney movie multiple times growing up and never realized until years later how outrageous and disgusting many of the messages are. I also found your post very interesting because two-step flow and the magic bullet theory were not the media effects that I gave much though to when writing my response. I instead focused on cultural studies and the cultivation theory. It was interesting that you chose both the magic-bullet theory and the two-step flow, which are often presented as contradictory arguments, but you did a good job backing both of them up. My only confusion is how you described types of media as a step in the two-step flow (such as toys). My understanding of the two-step flow was that one of the steps had to be opinion leaders, but maybe this is a narrow understanding. Anyways, you're paper was very insightful, and I enjoyed reading your perspective!