Disney is one of the biggest media corporations in the world. They have the ability to reach a huge number of people, especially children. "Mickey Mouse Monopoly" tries to show just how Disney media affects children and the monopoly that Disney holds over children's source of entertainment. Many people believe that Disney is more than just entertainment though; they believe that Disney is educating children in ways that might not be entirely beneficial. The documentary criticizes Disney on portrayals of sexism, racism, and consumer culture. Two perspectives that help define these insights into Disney's media are cultural studies and cultivation theory.
Cultural studies is a media perspective that believes the mass media portrays messages that can affect the culture of an audience, but also that the culture the media is produced in affects the content that is produced. One example of this is the way the racism is displayed in Disney movies. In the movie "Lady and the Tramp" two Siamese cats are included in the film and can be seen to represent people of Asian ethnicity. The cats are portrayed with stereotypical Asian features such as slanted eyes and their English is noticeably choppy when speaking. In addition to these physical features, the cats are shown as cunning and manipulative. They are set as antagonists against the main character. These are some stereotypes that exist in American culture and are included in the film that most likely will cause people to believe the stereotypes even more, or to at least put them on the audience's mind. Another example demonstrating a cultural studies effect, is the portrayal of sexism in Disney movies. While Disney does seem to attempt to create strong female characters, almost all films involve a women being saved by a man. In "Snow White" Snow White is shown cleaning and being happy doing household chores, and later is saved by a Prince's kiss. In "Beauty and the Beast" Belle is an independent woman who loves to read, but in the end she requires rescuing anyway. Both gender portrayals are skewed; females needing to be rescued and males being the strong, good men that they are doing the rescuing. Again these are stereotypes that already existed in American culture, and now they are being played back in the form of an innocent children's story.
Cultivation theory deals with the cultivation of perceptions on certain groups and behaviors through media over time. The thought behind cultivation theory is that long exposure to media creates a greater impact on people's beliefs and perceptions. One way that Disney is responsible in this theory is the constant portrayal of the same story. While every Disney story is a different tales, many follow the same themes and produce the same end result. For example, a common plot to Disney movies involves a girl who is not happy in her current life and is rescued in some way by a man who she ends up falling in love with and living happily ever after. A couple movies that follow this plot are "Cinderella" and "Little Mermaid." Another plot that is often seen in movies is that of a man vying for a women's attention and eventually getting the girl. "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Sleeping Beauty" follow this theme. By constantly representing the same type of story, Disney is forcing these concepts into the minds of children. Repetition of the same story over time ingrains in children that this is the way life should be; men should always be saving and chasing after women.