Monday, December 2, 2013

Online Assignment 3

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.


Sofie Lenzen said...

Liz, I enjoyed your analysis of the Mickey Mouse Monopoly. I like how in your first paragraph, you used many examples of cultural studies before leading into your main example of Beauty and the Beast. I recall they asked a group of young girls what they would say to Belle if she was their friend and in this relationship with the Beast. Many of them responded that they would feel happy for her because she had changed him, although the relationship was incredibly abusive before. I would be interested to know what you think about those comments, and how they relate back to the cultural studies perspective. I liked your note on the young boy who enjoyed Pocahontas because “it was real.” In many of my history and language classes in high school, we had to talk about what we have learned from Disney movies are blatantly untrue, although their historical movies seem to give us different perceptions growing up. And also how we play out those narrow storylines from the movies with the toys that represent characters, and think that is the only way the story is supposed to be told. This tied in well to your next paragraph on the cultivation theory perspective. One large conglomerate, Disney, that owns a huge share of media is influencing what we view and how we view it. And is especially targeting the youth and their views. I wish you had given more examples with movies in this paragraph, but overall great analysis!

Anonymous said...

Liz, great analysis of the documentary we watched. You articulated well how Disney shapes childrens' the perspectives of society and why exactly that is something we should be concerned about.

They way you incorporated ideas and quotes brought up in the film to back up our course concepts was very illuminating and helped your post flow nicely. I thought it was interesting what you brought up about children acting out the movies that the see because I remember doing the same thing. Every time I saw a Disney film I would act out the role of the main character immediately after viewing and now I see how that is a concerning thing. We really are influenced by Disney's images.

The only thing that I think would have helped this summery a bit more and get deeper into the concepts we learned in class would have been to strip off another layer in the analysis of Disney's influence and look at who exactly the people are writing the script. What does it mean that most of the writers are of the same gender, race, and socioeconomic background? What does that have to do with the portrayal of these "minority" groups?

Overall great summery! I enjoyed reading it and it helped illuminate the main aspects of the film.

Monica Chritton said...

Liz, I liked reading your essay because it was strong, easy to follow and you organized your examples and claims well. You did a good job of incorporating specific examples from the documentary into the essay, which made it really strong. It was nice to be reminded of those moments in the documentary and think, "oh yeah that's right." I had forgotten about the child who though Pocahontas was a real movie. I also agree with you that the Disney portrayals of gender and race are disturbing and now I feel a little weird about the fact that I watched those movies as a child. In your explanation of cultivation studies, I started to think about whether or not the Disney movies I watched as a child affect my subconscious for the long run. I wish you had gone a little deeper in explaining cultivation studies, but I understand the difficulty of dong that with a small word count limit. Overall, though, you did a nice job with this.

Olivia Bruce said...

Liz, I thought it was really interesting how you brought up the idea of how characters are portrayed. I, too, mentioned the highly sexualized woman characters. It definitely makes me wonder how much this portrayal influences young women--and men--today. Furthermore, it also leads into the discussion we had earlier in the year during the Advertising Unit. Specifically, the Dove and Ralph Lauren commercials. We already have so much photo shop and a skewed perception of beauty and reality... Perhaps it all started with Disney movies. Is that too much to assert?

I thought your comment regarding the fact that media should be teachers as well as entertainers, is very spot-on. If kids are going to devote so much time to watching TV and movies, the least companies could do is make it worthwhile in terms of an educational standpoint.