Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Online Assignment 3_Mueller

Disney is one of the world’s most recognized and loved brands. The characters and storylines that accompany movies such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King The Little Mermaid, and Pocahontas are all recognizable in a majority household in the United States. Disney movies do have many great morals in their stories, but there are many glaring examples of racism and Because of this, their films have a major influence on those who watch them – children. Keeping this in mind, the question must be asked, ‘Should the company take moral responsibility for its pictures underlying messages?’ Disney shapes the children it reaches through Cultivation Research and Magic Bullet perspectives and therefore needs to reevaluate what types of messages, direct or indirect it sends in their films.

Cultivation Research perspective theorizes that through long-term exposure to media, our assessment of the real world situations can be manipulated or altered. This becomes a concern when examining Disney movies because of children’s early exposure to the company’s films as well as the duration of childhood for which they view Disney films. In the documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” a nine year old, Abigail, is asked to recall how African American characters are used in Disney Movies, she then replies “I can’t think of any Disney movie that has black people that are good, or bad” with a bewildered and perplexed look on her face. This is a major concern because children think nothing of the fact that a race is even left out of their favorite movies until the issue is brought up to them, which is proven by Abigail’s confused reaction. Dr. Poussaint states that all Disney, and media as a whole, has become an indentifying aspect of generations and can define the way groups of people think. Because Disney movies continually discriminate against certain groups of people, the youth who view their movies run the risk of creating distorted perceptions of the world and community around them.

The magic bullet perspective states that direct contact with the media can influence thoughts and actions. Children learn language and actions from movies, whether the film has truth or not. The documentary showed two girls who imitated their actions after princesses in Disney movies act because it seemed to be the way that they should act. What little girl does not want to be a princess? Nancy Eldridge reinforced this same idea only relating it to the way that Native Americans are portrayed in movies. She commented that when children visit Plimoth Plantation, they believe that all Native Americans had the same antics as the in Peter Pan and “hit their faces and go ‘woo woo woo’, wear headdresses with lots of feathers and sit cross-legged with their arms folded.” Children developed certain actions and thought processes based on what they are exposed to in the movies, setting their antics for the future based on direct contact with media. 


  1. I think that your two perspectives are right on track considering what the documentary is trying to portray. The analysis you provided is very specific and correct. That being said, I want to challenge and break down your pseudo-thesis statement “Disney shapes the children it reaches through Cultivation Research and Magic Bullet perspectives and therefore needs to reevaluate what types of messages, direct or indirect it sends in their films.”

    I would agree that the children Disney ‘reaches’ are definitely being shaped. The thought processes of young adolescent minds are being set into a distinct mold that is easy to discern. The imitation of the girls that you mentioned in your passage blatantly demonstrates how their form thought has been shaped. It is somewhat disturbing to realize how much impact Disney and other forms of media can affect how young kids develop their morals and sense of value. It is hard to deny this phenomenon.

    My major issue with your pseudo-thesis is that you say Disney should ‘reevaluate’ their messages which children are picking up on. As I said before, it is true that Disney has an effect on children, but I do not think they should take any measures to correct or change the way they produce their product. Films are a form of art, which can express any idea under the sun. It is a good idea for people to make documentaries like this one to point out its effects on society, but people and companies should be able to create whatever they want. The free-market should then decide what they want to consume and make available to their children. Disney is creating art for profit, it is not obligated to create a moral compass to guide the world.

  2. You were definitely spot on with the examples you chose from the movie. You clearly demonstrated the Magic Bullet effect with the young girls imitating and describing what they saw portrayed in Disney movies. You make some really strong points about the negative effects Disney has on young viewers. I agree that they should reevaluate the messages that Disney sends out, especially in their representations of minorities and cultures.

    The example of how children essentially make fun of Native Americans when they visit the plantation clearly shows how Disney is shaping children's perceptions of other cultures. Disney is responsible for the way millions of children who have grown up watching their movies think about the world. Their first exposure to different cultures is often through the media, and Disney is primarily what children watch as they grow up. In order for children to accurately understand the real world and what minorities are really like, Disney needs to reevaluate the way they portray these cultures in the media they produce.

    While Disney has now put out an African-American princess movie and is expanding their media contexts to include other cultures, there still is not an accurate depiction of cultures in America today. Perhaps to represent race more accurately in media, Disney needs to distribute the power behind the creation of these movies more equally. Maybe if there were more minority races working for Disney and creating the media, races could be portrayed more accurately and more often in media and kids like Abigail wouldn't find it so hard to think of an African-American they've seen in a Disney movie.