The film, “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” demonstrates the immense impact of media to shape our worldviews and behaviors. The speakers in the documentary offer opposing views about the influence of Disney movies on children’s development and societal implications. One speaker at the beginning of the film argued that children do not realize the underlying meanings of many of the films messages, and therefore there is no harm in children watching Disney films for entertainment. Other speakers presented much more convincing arguments that the messages of Disney skew children’s perspectives and have a tremendous impact on their perceptions of many aspects of our society. This assertion reflects the theories of cultural studies and cultivation theory.
The film sheds light on the many discriminatory and grossly stereotypical portrayals of different groups. The film points out that females are caricatured as highly sexualized beings who use their sexuality to get them what they want and need to be saved by men. Racial stereotypes are seen across all Disney movies from Aladdin to the Jungle Book, as well. In addition to disturbing portrayals of gender and race, the film also discussed the relationships in Beauty and the Beast. The Beast’s behavior is blatantly abusive, yet Beauty must strive to win him over. One speaker said this sends the message to young girls that “it’s your job to kiss the beast and bring the prince out.” These are all examples of how the media represents culture and portrays how power works within a society. Children are influenced by these false messages, and are vulnerable to letting them shape how they perceive culture. One child even said he likes the movie Pocahontas because “it is real.” The influence of these movies is thought to be especially influential on children as they often try to replicate the script after they watch a movie, and are even given toys that help them do it. One speaker says that this keeps them focused on a narrow plot and causes the lessons they see in the movie to stick with them even more.
Dr. Henry Giroux explains that Disney provides a subliminal education that is absorbed as entertainment. The impact of this media on children is not immediate, but creates “a certain environment of images” that after awhile shapes how we see the world. This is a testament to the cultivation theory. Disney is an enormous conglomerate, owning many companies and forms of media, with a tremendous influence on popular culture. Its presence is everywhere, and the messages it sends are unavoidable. It is extremely concerning that so much of the messages that we receive, especially the ones aimed at children, are produced by only a handful of huge corporations. For this reason, these corporations must be mindful of the messages that they send. I agree with one speaker who asserts that it is the responsibilities of entertainers to be teachers as well, and to educate children about the reality of the world they live in.