Friday, November 29, 2013

Online Assignment 3_Kaplan

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.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Online assignment 3_ PJ Feichtmeier

             The Mickey Mouse Monopoly depicted how media can affect the cognitive development of children, starting at a very young age.  The perspective of cultural studies is evident throughout the film.  The film dives into how Disney is able to portray certain races in a positive manner compared to others, and what kind of effect this has on children.  Jacqueline Maloney brings up the fact that in the Jungle book, the characters that most resemble African Americans are the animals such as monkeys, orangutans, and crows.  She argues that since all the characters in the film wish to be human, it is actually projecting the idea that African Americans are worse the white Americans, a stereotype that is clearly untrue.  Dr. Alvin Poussaint points out the idea that the hyenas depict inner city African Americans, specifically in a negative manner.  This affects children dramatically, and Maloney brings up an example of a child that had mistaken a group of black children on the playground as hyenas.  But the association didn’t stop here, the children’s association was so deeply rooted that the child had also made the connection that the black children on the playground were bad, like the hyenas in the movie.  Lastly, Chyng Feng Sun points out that many Asians are depicted with slanted eyes, buck teeth, and are perceived as cunning and manipulative.  All of these associations help children to form the idea of white supremacy, and causes minority children to feel worse about themselves. 
            The video also covered the cultivation perspective of media.  The main component of the cultivation perspective is the idea that it is cumulative, and time is a key part of this accumulation.  The movie looked at the way Disney has portrayed gender and gender roles over the years, specifically for women.  It was interesting to see how throughout its history, Disney has always portrayed women as slender, with large breasts and a thin waste. Dr. Diane Levin states that young girls look up to these characters as role models and examples of what it means to be a true woman and it shapes children’s images about how they are going to look when they are older.  Also, it depicts women using their body to get what they want in life.  Dr. Gail Dines points this out when she brings up the little mermaid.  She point out the fact that the main character gives up her voice in order to get the man of her dreams.  However, this brings up the interesting point that since she has now given up her voice, all she has left to get the guy is her body.  Without children even realizing it, little girls are being shaped to use their body to get what they want, clearly a negative inclination to grow up with. 
            The Micky Mouse Monopoly proved to be very convincing in its findings, showing how the Disney corporation has been able to not only enforce racial stereotypes, but has also had a dramatic effect on how children view gender roles.  But, the most alarming part of it was the way Disney was profits off not only the movies, but the merchandise children play with as well, only increasing its influence.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment 3_Burnham

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary because I found it really brought many of the aspects we have talked about to like through a culturally relevant example that we can all relate to. At one point, almost everyone can relate to Disney as being an influential part of his or her childhood. But no one really pays close attention to the cultural influence that it inflicts on young moldable minds. We see Disney as the ultimate fairytale with good triumphing over evil and the guy getting the girl. But when you look a little closer some of the other stereotypes they include are sending alarming messages to children.

When the magic bullet was in lecture it was described as a direct contact with media having the ability to influence our thoughts and beliefs. This is very relevant in the documentary when talking about how women are portrayed as Disney characters. Dr. Elizabeth Hadley talks about a specific instance in Aladdin when Jasmine uses her sexual appeal to attract Jafar to distract his attention from Aladdin. This is interesting because when watching the movie I never thought of this part had any specific connotations, I just thought that Jasmine and Aladdin were working together to defeat Jafar. But after hearing Dr. Hadley's reasoning I totally agree that the idea that Jasmine can only use her sex appeal is damaging to young girls who are still vulnerable to new ideas. When they see Disney characters like Jasmine using her body to distract Jafar they may think that a women's body defines her worth and beauty. Another important movie that embodies this ideal of women’s worth is The Little Mermaid. In this Disney movie Ariel ultimately gives up her voice to be with the man she loves. She is viewed as a sex symbol through her coy face and unrealistic body. Prince Eric who she loves motivates everything she does. But in the end he is the one who must come to her rescue and save her from the evil Ursula. This just shows how children’s direct contact with media shapes their opinion of what a women should be like.

The other aspect that I noticed relates to the magic bullet effect in the form of cultural studies.  In many Disney movies stereotypes are very commonly reinforced through certain character traits. Dr. Alvin Poussaint talks about how in the movie Tarzan the writers completely eliminated black people from the movie so when African Americans view the film they identify with the gorillas. He argues that this could potentially be promoting white supremacy, because the white male is dominating the animals. This is destructive to children’s views because race is already a very touchy and potentially troublesome issue in culture already. If Disney promotes this view at a young age, then it is even harder for people to over come these stereotypes later in life. Racism and white supremacy has been a common thread all the way through the twentieth century and although our culture works to overcome these opinions, they remain a major part of the gap between different races. I think this is due to our exposure to these ideas so early on in life. When we see Latinos portrayed as Chihuahua dogs who are always making bad decisions, it is easy for this to transfer onto our real life ideas as we grow up.

Online Assignment_Wedge

             The Mickey Mouse Monopoly documentary I found to be very interesting and relevant to the class right now. When I think of Disney, I think about the countless times I flew to Florida to go to the theme parks. It is amazing to look back on that now and realize that Disney is much more than just a few theme parks and movies strung together for entertainment. Upon further research I was able to find out that Disney is a large corporation that regulates and controls much of what is associated or produced in media. In my lifetime, I have just recently heard about the allegations against Disney, mainly over the past four years and through twitter and other social networks. The allegations involve Disney as a corporation presenting cultures incorrectly. These allegations directly relate to the class and what we are currently discussing. Through cultural studies and the magic bullet, Disney influences directly what may already be in place or installing new ideas to media minds.
Magic bullet as described in lecture is that direct contact with media has the ability to influence the audience's thoughts, beliefs, and actions. From my experience as an audience member, I used to pretend that or act like some of the things I saw on TV because they were fun and after all it was just play. Now that I know about the different influences, I see the effect that Disney's shows and movies had on me at such a young age. One of the observations mentioned during discussion is the connection children make towards certain groups of people through Disney movies. Jacqueline Maloney's observation about the child connecting the group of hyenas to a group of African Americans was very compelling. I wrote a research paper similar to this assignment in high school and I used the same observation, but from a different source in my paper. Children are not mature enough usually to distinguish between right and wrong, but as I got older I was able to see the evidence against the allegations against Disney. Disney wrongfully, whether an accident or intentional, displayed this one culture unfairly.
The next aspect almost goes hand in hand with the magic bullet observation. In some Disney movies (such as the Lion King), stereotypes are either established or reinforced through the movie or program. This is the cultural studies aspect of the allegations against Disney. Doctor Alvin Pouissant stated that the movie Tarzan, portrayed the gorillas in the movie as African Americans. I had never even thought about this before, nor the statement Doctor Pouissant made about white supremacy by portraying the people taking over. Connections can be made by both white and African American people, but mostly African Americans. The African Americans may believe that they are viewed as animals in society and lash out. Clearly this is not a fair portrayal if the animals are truly supposed to depict the African American people. Another allegation, one that is very recent, is against Disney's Pocahontas. Some American Indians get offended by the portrayal of Indians and the distortion of real life events. In the movie, the Indians are portrayed as savages that equally lash out against the colonists, when in reality most of violence was from the colonists. This is just another one of the many allegations against Disney's unfair or unequal portrayal of stereotypes of gender or ethnicity. The class is currently discussing the many ways some media companies or corporations mislead audience's and the effects they have on society. 

Online assignment_O'shasky

Joseph O’Shasky


After buying CBS, Disney Corporation became one of the top six biggest media corporations in the world. Because of the large amount of control over what media our society consumes, the influences it has on us and especially our youth are huge. Disney has been called out many times for their portrayals of cultures and genders in their movie. By using the cultural studies perspective and the magic bullet perspective, we are able to pick out specific instances of these genders and culture stereotypes.

The cultural studies perspective is based on the idea that stereotypes may already be present within a person and the films only reinforce these stereotypes. In some cases children chose to continue to believe in these already existing stereotypes or they can choose to ignore them. A specific example of this would be in the Disney movie, the Lion King. In this classic children’s movie the helpers of the main villainous character are the hyenas. According to Doctor Alvin Pouissant, the voices of the hyenas are similar to the stereotypical language of inner city kids, many of which happen to be African American. The resemblance of the hyenas and inner city kids is enforced by the instance where a young white boy who believed that a group of African American children who were playing were bad just like the hyenas in the Lion King was. He was able to make this connection because of the way the kids were playing and the way they were speaking.

Similar to the Lion King, the Disney movie Tarzan also depicts African Americans in a stereotypical way. In this movie, the Apes are voiced by African Americans and are the only instances of anyone with African descent in the movie. This is very noticeable because the movie itself takes place in Africa. Tarzan has been said to have an underlying message that promotes white supremacy to young children. In both of these movies we were able to easily pick out instances where African Americans were either underrepresented or negatively represented.

Another perspective discussed when talking about Disney media would be the magic bullet perspective. This perspective says that contact with media can have a direct influence on people’s thoughts and actions. This is especially true for children. Children have a tendency to act and dress like the characters they see in Disney movies. This may lead them to have false beliefs about certain races or genders. A good example of this is in the instance that Nancy Elridge discussed. In this instance many of the kids who had visited the Plymouth Plantation were under the impression that all Native Americans acted as they did in the Disney movie Peter Pan. Dr. Gail Dines also comments on the influence Disney princes have on young girls. In almost every movie made by Disney, the lead female character is over-sexualized with large breasts and a skinny waist. They also are often in need of the heroic male character to come to her rescue. Children will learn to accept these stereotypes unless someone is able to explain to them that it is just movies and not real life.

Online Assignment 3_Trainor

           The documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly closely ties into what we are currently learning in lecture. I specifically related the video to the two perspectives of cultural studies and cultivation theory. In a broad sense, the cultural studies perspective evaluates how the media represents culture and in doing so, legitimizes it. Cultivation theory deals with how children perceive the world and how their thought processes are shaped by the media that they encounter. These perceptions can often deal with race and gender. The differences between these two concepts is that cultural studies presents a view of society’s current condition while cultivation theory tries to decipher how long-term exposure to this type of media affects the consumer’s perceptions of how they themselves view society.
            Mickey Mouse Monopoly specifically addresses the concept of cultural studies with the presentation of Dr. Gail Dines’ views. Her argument utilizes the first key concept of cultural studies; representation. The messages sent out by media reinforce some notion of society that is present. She specifically points out how gender roles are defined in Disney movies. Female characters are portrayed in similar fashions throughout Disney’s history. The all have slender waists, flowing hair, batting eyelashes, and an overall sex appeal. Time and time again this notion of a female is presented and therefore legitimized because of the exposure and acceptance that Disney media has. Even female animals have similar characteristics in that they display some sort of sex appeal regardless of what type of animal they are. Disney is representing a notion of society that is therefore legitimized and represents American culture. Kids viewing these characters decide that this is the way in which females should act and behave. Consequently young girls will feel the need to fit into this perception of how women should act and behave. Dr. Gail Dines summarizes this argument by saying that Disney has defined gender roles and attributes by developing notions of reality from the cultural mechanisms around us.
            Cultivation theory is also addressed in Mickey Mouse Monopoly by Dr. Alvin Poussaint and Dr. Justin Lewis. Poussaint surmises that media, including Disney, has become an important part of American culture and identity that has been around for generations. This coincides with cultivation research which says that this long-term exposure creates impressions of the world in the minds of children. These impressions can be accurate or deceiving. The ideas expressed in lecture show that deceiving media impressions can produce increased anxiety, fear and anger. Lewis adds on to this argument by saying that stories help children form imaginary perspectives. These perspectives eventually influence the way young people think by displaying images which shape what we know and how come to understand the world. This phenomenon happens over long-term exposure starting at first exposure. Disney has the ability to create a generation that views different dilemmas in similar manners because of the precedent they have created in their media.


      When initially watching any Disney movie, the viewers are unlikely to think about the motives behind any of their ideas. Many are unaware of the subliminal messages that are being thrown at us at a very young age. Disney’s target audience is children and Disney Corporation take advantage of their audience’s vulnerability to instill ideologies in their young minds. These ideas that Disney has created have morphed our society and how people think. After reviewing the ideas presented by Mickey Mouse Monopoly, it was interesting to look back and see how Disney uses different persuasive media techniques in their movies and other media outlets. The two strategies that stuck out most to me were the critical culture studies and the magic bullet technique.
Disney has a particular public image that they are expected, and will do anything in their power, to uphold. What the public is unaware of is how large the Disney Corporation actually is. Dr. Justin Lewis, a Journalism professor, shed light on them buying out ABC, making Disney one of the six largest media corporations in the world. This fact highlights the cultural studies outlook on power. In lecture, we discussed how power works and how elites end to have an overarching control over what is produced in the media. With Disney’s ride in power, the public is expected to be more critical of their products, but because Disney has maintained their golden image few question their leader’s motives. Therefore, allowing Disney corporate leaders to influence their messages. With the production of so many ‘Disney Princess’ movies they are influencing the cycle of creating the public ideology and then reinforcing them with continued publication. This idea was evidently portrayed within the section ‘How to be a girl? How to be a boy?’. Disney has created this idea of what it means to be a woman that has not altered since Snow White. Dr. Gail Dines says this constructs an unrealistic notion of feminity and young girls can’t connect that women they know don’t look like that. Disney princesses are the foundation of what it means to be a girl and it is reinforced in all outlets of media.
                When initially thinking about whether or not Disney is intentionally creating these ideas, it is hard to say. Disney isn't outrightly telling girls to be emotionally submissive and use their bodies to get what they want, for example, but they are so powerful that this is what is being absorbed, even if the viewer doesn’t know it. Disney is so powerful and influential that they are a magic bullet approach to persuade their audience. They have just crafted an attractive package for these negative ideologies, claims Dr. Dines. There is no way to deny that Disney influences every view, at least a little bit. Alison Wilson shares how she sees children play at recess, girls in distress and boys coming to their rescue. The ideas of race that are portrayed in Disney films lead to many premature stereotypes, for example Native Americans and darker skinned individuals in general.

                It is important to remember that Mickey Mouse isn’t writing these ideas himself, there are people writing these ideas for a reason. The public tends to forget that these characters and stories are created by one of the biggest multimedia corporations of our time. Disney has effectively crafted a way to manipulate their audience, while maintaining their golden name.