Mickey Mouse Monopoly
Seen by many as a significant part of America’s cultural identity, Disney has been a part of children’s lives for generations. They are exposed to the characters and icons since birth—they are essentially raised on Disney. Accepted as an institution whose morals don’t need to be questioned because they are so innocent, Disney has unnoticeably shaped children’s perceptions of the world—not always in happy, charming ways. The film Mickey Mouse Monopoly uses the cultivation theory and cultural studies perspectives to analyze the way the Disney industry is affecting children through media exposure.
Whereas primarily families, religion, and the state once formed children’s understanding of culture, television and the media now largely do it. Dominating the medium that is essentially raising today’s children, Disney is shaping children’s imaginations. They’ve created a clear environment of images that children grow up in and become accustomed to, beginning to structure what we recognize and comprehend about the world. Disney is subtly cultivating children’s impressions of the world through long-term media exposure.
The way Disney chooses to represent the world has the power to distort children’s perceptions of things like race, class, and gender. Mickey Mouse Monopoly analyzes the way gender is represented in Disney movies. Females are highly sexualized, with big boobs, small waists, and the long, fluttering eyelashes. They use their seduction and their bodies, rather than intelligence, to get what they want from people (especially from men). If Disney represents heroines like this, it teaches them that all that matters is the way you look. Disney also upholds the idea of women as weak—the female characters in most Disney movies easily get themselves into trouble, and always must be saved by the big, strong, heroic man.
A particularly disturbing point brought up in Mickey Mouse Monopoly was the abusive relationship between Belle and the Beast. I noticed as a child the horrific and violent behavior of the Beast, but I never realized how wrong it was for Belle to excuse it and continue to return to him. Eventually she falls in love with a man, overlooking the abuse and turning him into a prince with just a little love. It’s wrong for Disney to promote these ideas. Domestic abuse is a serious problem, and Beauty and the Beast sends the impression that we should forgive men for abusing their partners, and if we are only nice to them, they will change.
These critiques of Disney’s representations of females display the cultural studies perspective. They way Disney represents gender, race, and culture in our society has a direct correlation to the way children think about the world. Disney has the power to shape the way children think. Yes, most Disney movies have taught valuable lessons to children. But Disney needs to use its power for the better and create positive perceptions of the world for children, rather than the inaccurate and negative cultural representations we’ve grown up on.