Disney’s sits at the top of the food chain in the world of media geared towards children. Disney is famous for its magical movies that are meant to warm the heart. Its success is described as “ images of innocence, magic, and fun. Its animated films in particular are praised as wholesome family entertainment endorsed by teachers and parents, immensely popular with kids.” (Mickey Mouse Monopoly). Although Disney is looked at by so many as a family network that instills great morals to kids, are they really as innocent as they seem? Does this media powerhouse (among the top 6 or 7 media conglomerates after buying ABC, according the documentary) do its best to make sure it teaches kids the right morals and values, or does is subconsciously teach kids to view the world in a skewed way?
In the aspect of cultural studies perspective, it seems like Disney is attempting to create stereotypes in children’s heads at a young age. Take for instance the Tarzan example and its relation to white supremacy. Tarzan is set in Africa yet the movie depicts no African Americans, only white males. Doctor Alvin Pouissant does not think that this is a coincidence; in fact he theorizes that it is purposeful. The goal of having only white characters in a movie based in Africa is to promote white supremacy. The only depiction of African Americans in Tarzan is the gorillas (because the gorillas are the only other beings in Africa in the movie from Africa), which is extremely racist, Doctor Pouissant believes that if African American children were to watch Tarzan they would feel degraded and less than the white man.
Yet this is not the only time Disney has done this. Take into consideration the hyenas from The Lion King. The hyenas in The Lion King talk and act like inner-city minorities, that strongly reflect African-Americans. The hyenas are also portrayed in the movie as the enemy. With those two connections, there are bound to be racial stereotypes drawn up in children’s heads, and sure enough it happened. Jacqueline Maloney claims that a friend’s son compared a group of African American kids playing to hyenas. The boy made this comparison because of how the way the children talked and played. The child also associated these African American kids as bad because in his head the hyenas were the bad guys in The Lion King.
These instances of subliminal racism by Disney can be related to the article we read Racial Stereotypes in Children’s Television Commercials but they relate even more with the magic bullet theory. Children are highly vulnerable to being affected by the magic bullet, because they are so easily influenced, thus the media they watch can have an immediate impact on them. Children are to young to know to question what they are seeing on TV, is right or wrong, leaving them so susceptible to subconsciously take in the stereotypes their entertainment is feeding them.