Thursday, November 28, 2013

Online Assignment 3: Dan Hively

This film demonstrates the immense power that the media holds over society, and how much this can influence children. The media effect that was most prominent was the "Magic Bullet" perspective, and it is seen through how the children played. The Magic Bullet perspective was described in lecture as "being powerful enough to incite emotions or actions". In this case, the media presented through movies influenced how children acted. Disney taught the children what the stereotypical roles in society were, and how they should act. Dr. Justin Lewis, a Journalism Professor at Cardiff University, stated that it goes beyond just acting out the film. He says that Disney influences how children think by ultimately "shaping their imagination". Disney shapes a child's imagination by repeatedly showing images and "influencing how the child sees the world". 

The other example would be how media represents the culture. Society is what makes the culture and the media interprets it and represents culture how they see fit. In the end, this can lead to "loss in translation" when the media creates a stereotyped picture of what society is. In Disney's case, it can lead to a grossly overly generalized layout of society. The examples of racism in Disney can be seen in most of the minority groups. In The Jungle Book, crows and monkeys were portrayed as Black individuals with the way they talked and how they acted. In Oliver and Company, the Chihuahua, Tito,  was spoken by a Mexican individual and is shown as a low life in society and a criminal. The Siamese cats in Lady and the Tramp are given features that go with every Asian stereotype out there. This is dangerous because media has the "power to reinforce or assign new meaning to people and cultural 
objects" (Lecture). This is especially a problem with the children who haven't experienced the real world yet as it paints a false image of what the society is like. Jacqueline Maloney, from the Harvard University, explained a story in which children at a grocery store comparing black children to the Hyenas they saw in the Lion King. Disney has shown kids their definition of a stereotypical black person. This misrepresentation of a group of people taught kids how Black individuals act and talk. It also teaches kids how black people act in society. In movies like The Jungle Book and The Lion King, Blacks are seen as background characters and have very minor roles. Interviewers in this movie asked children various questions about Disney movies, and one asked if they knew a movie in which a black character was the lead role. The children could not think of one. 

This documentary gives a scary picture of how Disney impacts kids. Its hard to imagine a company with a mission to spread the magic could be called a media monopoly. It is eyeopening to see how Disney can use their movies to also market their products. By doing this, Disney engulfs everything children do by always having Disney related products around them. This movie was additionally frightening when realizing that my generation was the one effected by this. It makes me wonder how much I and the people where influenced by Disney. 


  1. Your analyses provided a thorough understanding of class concepts and comparisons between the “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” documentary. The point you made about shaping the imagination of children was very interesting. As Dr. Justin Lewis mentioned, the effects of Disney go far beyond just creating gender roles and ethnic perceptions for children; the idea that Disney films dictate how kids play and ultimately shapes their imagination is very ominous. The use of media as a tool to interpret and represent culture is an interesting point as well. The example within Disney films such as Tito the Hispanic Chihuahua that has various negative stereotypes and the Saimese cats in the Lady and the Tramp provide good support to your overall argument. The integration with Pr. Wells’ lecture points strengthen the media’s ability to assign new meaning to people and different cultures. Your conclusion provides an apt response to the documentary. I too was amazed at the possible implications of this type of behavior from seemingly harmless childhood entertainment such as Disney films and toys. It truly makes you wonder.

  2. I liked your analysis of “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”. You had some insightful thoughts that tied the content of the documentary and that from the class together well. The films that Disney creates definitely stick with children their whole lives, but if the content has unpleasant undertones, children grow up with those, as well. The point that Disney represents different cultures in poor light is a very important concept to consider. Because the Magic Bullet Theory saying these videos have a direct and powerful impact on the children watching them, they will be impacted by the views of different cultures and races that Disney shows them. The characters as Disney portrays them enforce stereotypes that society needs to try and disband. Looking at the examples from Oliver and Company, and Lady and the Tramp, it is clear that they fulfill stereotypes that can have impacts on how children view different races in the future. Being exposed to the types of things that Disney seems to have hidden in their movies can make you wonder whether or not they are truly as innocent as they seem. Regardless of whether or not they impact children’s views in the future does not mean that it is acceptable to portray others in this way. It’s scary to think that something most all children grow up with can have these effects.

  3. I definitely agree with your examples presented. Being older and able to critically analyze the stuff we all grew up with, is quite scary as you showed. As I am taking an ethnic studies course this year, many of the racial representations you describe are exactly what my class goes into much depth about. White dominance is an ever present problem in today's society and what you pointed out proves this. We grow up and are influenced so much individually as well as collectively which extrapolates the issue even more. Your example given of the child comparing African Americans to an animal can only let us guess at the effect generated by multiple children sharing similar beliefs between one another. These children see others expressing the ideas they learned in these Disney movies and grow to accept them as fact.