Some believe that the Disney Corporation holds an image of innocence and magic through entertainment. Others believe that Disney is much more than that. They are masking their power behind this innocence they portray. Regardless of which side is correct, Disney media plays a significant role in our society. When they bought ABC, they became the second largest corporation in the world. Today, they remain among the top six companies who control media in our society.
Disney is a prime example for using many different perspectives on media effects. One is the cultural studies perspective, where the content that the media is representing comes from within the culture. The representation of these cultural ideas has the power to reinforce ideas or objects that are being depicted. Doctor Gale Dines discusses the stereotypes and the gender representations that Disney movies portray. For example, she comments on how the representation of women in Disney media has not changed over time. The women continue to be portrayed with large breasts, small waists, as well as being dependent on male characters. Specifically, in the Beauty and the Beast, Bell is dependent on the Beast even after he is abusive towards her. The construction of what femininity is and selling the message to children is harmful as they learn from what they are watching. Disney is clearly selling an idea as to what it means to be ‘feminine.’
Another cultural studies perspective that was relevant in the film was about the film, Tarzan. In Disney’s Tarzan, the story is about a white man surrounded only by other white people in Africa. Furthermore, the representation of the gorillas as being black is extremely racist. Doctor Alvin Poussaint claims that this film is representing white supremacy to the black children in Africa who watch the film. Tarzan is therefore, reinforcing racism to a younger generation.
Cultivation is another perspective of media’s effects, regarding television taking over the cultural environment whereas cultural context used to be created by family, state and church. This perspective is cumulative, in how television exposure builds up this cultural environment slowly over time. Following this perspective, Doctor Justin Lewis, claims that Disney has an enormous amount of power all over the globe. He believes that Disney has created an environment of images that we get used to and will find them impacting us directly later in life. This is evident, as the college student’s that were interviewed in the film continue 15 years later, to discuss the effects of growing up with Disney’s films.
A specific example of the cultivation perspective of media’s effect is how it has affected the way children play. This was a common topic among those featured on the film. A teacher, Marisa Peralta, claimed that the way that children are encouraged to play by Disney through the business’ commercialization, they are depriving children of their natural inclination to play the way that the children would want to without influence from Disney.