The documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” discusses many ways in which Disney movies and products affect children around the world. It talks about how racial depictions, gender roles in society, the commercialization of Disney’s products, and other things in the Disney universe affect children’s ways of thinking about the world around them. The media perspectives discussed in lecture which I feel apply best to the views expressed in the documentary are the Magic Bullet, and Cultural Studies.
The Magic Bullet is the idea that media are powerful, direct, and able to incite emotions and actions. After watching the documentary, there is no doubt that Disney has a powerful and direct effect on children. When the teacher is describing how her children play the “damsel in distress” game at recess, this shows that viewing Disney movies has a powerful effect on the way children play and interact with one another. This point is further emphasized later, when they discuss how the commercialization of Disney movies into toys directly effects how children play, because children want to play with the toys as if they are in the movie. This shows just how powerful Disney is in the lives of children everyday. It also shows how Disney can incite emotion and action, as playing is a big way for children to express themselves.
The other media perspective which is clearly shown in the film is Cultural Studies. Cultural Studies deals with how media represents culture in society, and also with how power works in society. This is discussed in depth throughout the course of the documentary, but the main two points that stuck out to me were gender roles and racial depictions. According to the documentary, Disney movies tend to display minorities as inferior or evil in a majority of their movies. This greatly affects children’s views of people of different ethnicities and races from their own. An example of this from the documentary is when one of the professors talks about how a white friend of hers had a child who saw black children playing on a carousel, and referred to them as the “hyenas,” because in one of Disney’s movies there are evil hyenas whose voices sound more like a typical black person’s voice. This also relates back to the idea of the magic bullet, where the Hyenas had a powerful and direct effect on the child that incited emotions. The film also discussed how a child’s view of gender and gender roles is greatly affected by Disney films. They discuss how women in Disney films are always depicted as large-breasted, skinny waisted, seductresses, and this makes children believe that this is what women should look and act like. They also discuss how in many movies, such as Mulan, men are shown as the power figures, and/or always have to save the women in the end regardless of how strong she is. Overall, when you look at Disney movies through both the Magic Bullet view and the Cultural Studies view, it seems as if Disney films are much more harmful than helpful to children.