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.