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.