Online Assignment #3
The media is an incredibly influential force in both society and individual lives. Children are the most susceptible to the effects of media as they are still developing and trying to make sense of the world around them. Watching “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” was a fantastic insight into just how powerful the effects of media can be. Of all of the different perspectives used to analyze media effects, the cultural and cultivation perspectives were the most evident in this film.
The cultural perspective of media analyzes how media represents culture in interaction with the existing culture. With the amount of influence it exerts, media has the ability to shape someone’s beliefs/values and establish cultural differences and identities. As Doctor Gail Dines explains in “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”, “one of the most important cultural mechanisms we have today is the media. It gives us a whole array of images, stereotypes and belief systems about race, class gender…” An example of this would be the gender differences Disney has displayed for the role young girls play in society. Women are consistently portrayed as seductive, weaker characters, using their physical traits to get what they want and being unable to get out of trouble without the help of a man. Young girls viewing this content are being shaped into believing this is how all women in society should act. Racial stereotypes and differences are also commonly seen in Disney films. In the movie Tarzan, the protagonist is a white male, despite the movie’s location in Africa. In fact, there is not a single Black character in the film, they are instead portrayed as gorillas. This image of portraying the Black characters as animals creates a sense of Caucasian superiority, something that even children will not fail to recognize. Disney is very clear in its support of Caucasian superiority and the subordination of women. Children, who may not have formed these opinions yet and are trying to figure out their place in the world, are easily influenced by these strong assertions. Considering Disney has been consistently run by wealthy, Caucasian males, these ideals and their prominence in Disney’s media are not surprising.
The second perspective of media seen in this film is the cultivation perspective. This perspective argues that media have a long-term effect on citizens that is “not instantaneous, large or direct, but small, indirect and cumulative.” Doctor Justin Lewis supports this perspective by saying “after awhile those images will begin to shape what we know and what we understand about the world; that’s a slow, cumulative effect and it’s much more subtle.” What makes Disney fall under this perspective is the consistency of its content. Very similar themes, content and stereotypes are found in numerous Disney films. Children could be considered “heavy viewers” of media, making them much more susceptible to the on-going, cumulative effects that Disney delivers. When they see an image/message over and over again, they are likely to adopt it and bring it into their own lives. Disney becomes less of an entertainment spectacle and more of a teacher.
All media affects us in one way or another. “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” highlights how the cultural and cultivation perspectives of media influence their viewers. At such an influential stage of life, children are very susceptible to the effects of Disney’s media. It is crucial that Disney and all large media outlets not only recognize the power that they have, but use it in a responsible and effective way.