Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment 3_Yadegar

            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. 


  1. I agree with your reactions and thoughts about the film. I also used cultural studies and magic bullet as the two perspectives I thought were the most present within Disney movies. It really makes you think when there are no Africans in Africa in Tarzan, and I used that example as well as the hyenas in Lion King. There are subtleties we understand now as young adults, but children won't be able to comprehend these supposedly underlying themes such as we do. Kids will take it how it is, which is where the magic bullet comes in

    I'm glad you made the point of Disney not being the "magical" company many expect them to be and that they are a large corporation that has a heavy influence, especially among kids. In one of my business classes, we dove deeper into the Disney Corporation and while their movies may portray the happiness and warmth they're associated with, the corporate aspect of Disney is just like any other large, powerful and profit-hungry corporation. Disney has the luxury of being connected with the notion of family.

  2. I agree with your questioning of Disney's actions when it comes to teaching kids the right moral values. I think largely what the documentary was trying to show was that Disney in fact does teach values that are racist and sexist and do no belong in Children's media.
    I have to disagree a little though with your comments (and the documentary's comments) when it comes to Tarzan. I may just be biased when it comes to Disney movies but I thought what Tarzan was really about was showing an outsider being accepted into a new community and culture and growing up and learning how to be a part of that culture. It doesn't surprise me that no African Americans are shown in the movie because a large portion on the film, Tarzan is the only human present, an outsider. When they other people come to study/imprison the gorillas I think it was important that they were white as well because it enforces the idea of outsiders encroaching on the gorilla's community. I think Tarzan makes more of a statement as an outsider as a white man than he would have as a black one.
    Even though I disagree about Tarzan, I think you made a valid point anyway on the representation of racism in Disney movies because I do think it is present as well and is shown in many of the Disney movies. Many would argue that these are not messages we want children to be viewing so it's important that Disney tries its best to steer clear of these messages.