Sunday, December 1, 2013

Online Assignment 3


            In the documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”, which looks at the undeniable power and influence Disney “empire” has gained in our society over the years, the media perspectives we discussed in lecture were illuminated. Two class perspectives that stuck out to me when viewing this enlightening documentary on a media power that we are all so familiar with was the cultivation theory and culture studies.
            We learned in class that culture studies looks at the representations in the media of what is already existent in the society they appear in.  The way that way that media and culture affect and influence each other, snowballing into our cultural ideologies.  One of the ideas behind this concept is that the people who are producing the culture that we are exposed to are all of the same “breed”, white males usually over the age of fifty. These are the people who hold the power in our society because they have the ability to influence our ideas on the world we live in. In “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” Dr. Henry Giroux expresses this idea when he describes how Disney influences the minds of our children.  “That’s an incredible amount of power,” says Giroux in the documentary, “We’re allowing Disney to form our children’s imagines.” Later in the documentary this concept is exemplified when the ideas that children hold about particular ethnic groups and genders shown to mirror those that they see in Disney’s films. 
            One example shown in the documentary is the role of boys and girls as illustrated by Disney’s films. With clips of Disney films shown as evidence, the documentary effectively shows how the representations of females in many of Disney’s films are overly sexualized.  It’s mentioned that while Disney is not the creator of this stereotyped imagery representing females in this way, their power over the minds of children allows Disney to heavily promote this image to young, vulnerable minds.
            This idea is also brought up when exploring Disney’s depiction of racial minority groups in an offensive way. Dr. Gail Dines brought up an underlying concept in cultural studies when explaining that the racist scripts in Disney films “are written by real people who themselves have been socialized in this society [and] are going to internalize those norms and those values and when they produce this work it’s of course going to come out in someway.” In other words, the writers of the scripts are going to write racist and sexist scripts because they have been socialized in a racist and sexist society. 
            The cultivation theory that was discussed in lecture tells us that the ideas about society and its members that we hold are built from an accumulation of the images the media hands us. Long-term media exposure is what cultivates our impressions of the world.  In “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” Dr. Justin Lewis summarizes this idea when describing Disney’s influence on children saying “the way that the media impacts the way we think is much less immediate and straightforward… it’s much more of a question of creating a certain environment of images that we grow up in, that we become used to and after a while those images will begin to shape what we know and we understand about the world.” 
            Disney acts as a prime example of how culture studies and cultivation theory work together to form our impressions of the world. While it is the creators behind the empire of Disney whose ideas our presented to us shaping our own perception of the world, it is the accumulation of these images over time and generations which truly form our societal ideologies. 

3 comments:

Elizabeth Hamel said...

Molly,
I had many of the same observations, and I also chose to focus on cultural studies and the cultivation theory. I watched Disney movies all the time as a little kid and was completely oblivious to the cultural messages I was being sent. I have since realized that many of the messages Disney sends are extremely discriminatory, but the extent to which was shocking when watching the film and again we seeing these problems pointed out in your post. I thought your commentary on how all the people producing the media we are exposed of are of the same "breed"(white males usually over the age of 50) was very interesting. I also find it incredibly concerning how much power these people have in our society. Looking back, I wonder how much these messages have actually shaped my world view. I would like to think that I have not been too influenced by the messages sent in these movies, but it is hard to know how much the accumulation of these subliminal messages have affected me over time.

Monica Chritton said...

First off, I like how the structure of your essay was clear and easy to follow. Your introduction was concise and I like how you used the word "illuminated". While the cultivation and cultural studies can be confusing to differentiate, you did a good job of explaining what each one was. Regarding the powerful group of older white men in media, I think it is worrying to think that so much power lies in the hands of such a small, homogenous group and that their ideas are fed directly to children via Disney movies. I think your other example of racist scripts being written by people who have been socialized in society was good because it blended what exists in society into media and really spoke for your argument. I also liked how you explained the cultivation theory. I only wish you had written more about the cultivation theory, but I understand that it was hard to fit everything in with the word limit. Overall, though, nice work!

Alex Shimony said...

Molly,
Great insight on the theories presented in Mickey Mouse Monopoly. While watching the documentary I also saw the cultivation theory and cultural studies theory most prominently. One of the biggest take aways I got from the film (which you also talked about) was the fact that its not necessarily an intentional goal of media creators to promote these racial and gender stereotypes. However, regardless of the intent the implications are the same. I also watched a ton of Disney movies as a child, and I agree with you that I never noticed the stereotypes being promoted as a child. But looking back on the clips shown in the documentary it becomes immediately apparent that they are there. What I was left thinking about was regardless of the messages hidden in the Disney films, what impact are they actually having on a generation of people. As time goes on, the United States is definitely becoming a more accepting place for people who don't necessarily fit the stereotypes presented in the films, so how is that rationalized with the arguments made in the documentary?