Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This essay was very well written. Your introduction was very straightforward and created a nice understanding of the documentary for the reader to follow. Your two examples of the cultural studies perspective were very clear and concise.
    I believe your essay would be stronger if you added evidence for your claim of children dressing and acting like what they see in movies. It seems as though it is common sense, however, we went over in class that someone came to this conclusion through a study. Additionally, a concluding paragraph would be a good addition to your essay to help wrap up your thoughts that you discussed throughout your essay.
    I do not agree with your final sentence, that someone needs to explain to children that these stereotypes are only in film and not in real life, in order for children to not accept them. It is not sufficient to just have someone explain that it is only in movies and not in real life. I believe a greater notion needs to be taken. Disney and other corporations need to stop portraying racism and sexism in their media. Like you said earlier in your paper, because children do learn from the movies they are watching, we need to not portray these stereotypical ideas so that we can control these negative views.

  3. Reading your post was very enjoyable for multiple reasons. To start off you were very clear and concise with what you were going to address in the essay. You did a really great job breaking up the essay into multiple parts, which made it flow well and also made it easier to read. If it were to just be one big block it would have more boring. I also really like how you not only used quotes from people in the movie but you used examples from Peter Pan, The Lion King, and Tarzan. This really showed that you had a great understanding of what the documentary was saying and you did a great job of articulating the essence of the movie. Everything was tied together really well. I think you picked the two perspectives that applied the most. Not only did you do a great job of explaining them, you also tied them to the examples from the documentary very well. You showed that you took time in doing that by going beyond two examples and including the Peter Pan example. The multitude of examples deepened my understanding of both the perspectives and the documentary. In terms of criticism, I'd have to agree with Harper, that it goes beyond someone explaining to these kids that what they are watching are stereotypes; instead Disney needs to change its ways.