Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Complexity of the Disney Franchise

Overall, the style of Disney movies is changing. Many young children nowadays go quite a long time in their lives without seeing what we would call the "animated classics" like Aladdin and Sleeping Beauty. Moreso, these children are being raised on Disney products such as the Hannah Montana and High School Musical franchise. However, I feel like there has been a shift, and the themes presented in Disney films have become more complex and varied. Pixar films are a great example of this, as they focus on such elements as environmental conservation, as in Wall-E. The animated films that now are being released may not be completely lacking in stereotypical dominant ideology. Additionally, other Disney films, although not animated, have begun to portray strongish female leads, such as The Princess Diaries and Pirates of the Caribbean.

The issue of race in Disney films may be a bit more complex. In a typical elementary school classroom, the ratio of boys to girls is pretty much equal. So, if, for example, a boy were to conceptualize wrongly about girls, he should have a good amount of females around him to eventually dispel his theories. However, with race, in many cases, schools are imbalanced, and one race usually dominates. So, if children of a certain race were to see someone of a differing race portrayed incorrectly in a Disney film, there may not be as much of a chance of this occurring. Using the upcoming film The Princess and the Frog as an example, I bet somewhere, there will be a classroom full of white children waiting for their isolated black classmate to turn into a frog. In this manner, Disney movies can indeed be harmful for children.

Giroux does raise some interesting points in his article, and does a good job with calling attention to the underlying imperfection of Disney films. However, he may be underestimating the power of Disney. It won't take writing angry letters, protesting, and/or "finding ways to make Disney accountable for what it produces" (65)to get corporations like Disney to stop. Instead, I believe it is in the hands of the individual viewer. It would be ideal, in my opinion, if we could teach children to take some of the ideas presented by Disney, such as the submission of female characters, lightly. But I don't think that Disney films will brainwash children into ignorant beings. I mean, I assume that we all grew up on watching Disney films, and we all turned out okay...

So, are Disney movies good for your kids? I would say somewhat. Yes, because let's face it-they are entertaining movies. And if your children grow up without watching any Disney movies, they will probably be picked on to no end. And it isn't just Disney movies that promote these ideologies - there are many other media corporations that produce content that contains similar gender and racial inequalities. So if children don't get their bigotry from Disney, chances are they'll get it from some other multimedia corporation.

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