The documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” describes the way in which the Disney corporation has a monopoly over the content which educates and entertains our children. The documentary featured various academics and writers in cultural studies analyzing the effects of the Disney content as well as the magnitude of the extent to which Disney controls the airwaves. The consensus throughout the documentary was that Disney publishes content that idealizes fair skin and associates negativity with darkness. The documentary also attempts to answer what repercussions this content might have on children as well as adults who have grown up in a culture inundated with Disney.
One implication of Disney’s monopoly on youth content is that it creates a culture that maintains roles in which fair skin is idealized and dark skin is associated with negativity. This cultural studies perspective, which we covered in lecture, refers to how media represents culture in interaction with existing culture. Theses roles established by the interaction between the culture represented in the media and existing culture can stick with viewers outside of the frame of the media. Dr. Henry Giroux argues that children, who have underdeveloped and influential worldviews, are especially affected. He further argues that Disney represents urban/minority culture in an uneducated, incapable and negative light, while fairer skinned characters are represented as the norm. Giroux argues that when children see these roles being represented in the media, it shapes their perception of these roles in real life. This refers to the ritual view of communication, which says that communication functions as a ritual that enforces societal roles. According to Giroux, Disney also does a lot to control their image as a media outlet. In reality, Disney is a media conglomerate that owns many media outlets but still manages to maintain its image as a symbol of innocence. This too, is another way in which Disney represents culture, namely, the culture of Disney which has become instilled in American youth, in a role with existing culture, namely as an innocent cartoon outlet.
Another implication of Disney’s monopoly on American youth content in culture is that it cultivates a culture that our youth grow up with. The concept of cultural cultivation is that our worldview, and the roles of individuals are established over time through culture, such as school, television and art. This means that not only are kids understanding the roles developed in Disney movies but also as they watch an increasing amount of Disney this culture is ingrained in them and becomes their worldview. Furthermore, because of how pervasive television and Disney culture has become, children who watch a high amount of TV are getting their main source of cultural cultivation from Disney. Even if their parents or school reinforces more equal and less detrimental cultural roles, the worldview provided by Disney is so pervasive that youth are still going to be affected by it.