Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Disneyfication


I personally do not think Disney is harmful to children. I am guilty of growing up in a Disney-fanatic world and it did not really have that big of an influence on my social, racial, or political views. (I am guilty, however, of falling into the consumerism trap that made me want, and even feel like I needed, to buy the The Little Mermaid soundtrack) I do recognize, however, that Disney does create a very white-dominated and somewhat 1950s stereotypical suburban ideology. I do agree that Disney should be sensitive to the fact that they are sending these somewhat close-minded messages to the easily influenced minds of children. However, it is ultimately up to the parents to allow these messages to be regarded as truths by children. For example, Disney did not shape my views, I do not believe that "all rulers of the kingdom are men" (Giroux, 60) or that women end up becoming "valued for solving a man's problems" (Giroux, 59) as Giroux suggests it brainwashes us to believe. Instead, Disney just provided a fantastical sense of escape into a land of entertainment accompanied by soundtracks that I still know every word to. What influenced my belief system and view of basically everything were my parents, friends, and teachers, not Disney. Disney's messages were just as effective (or in this case ineffective) as any other message I would receive from an advertisement or commercial. In reality, children are going to be bombarded with millions of messages a day from corporations without any adult supervision or constraint. Giroux says that in "Pocahontas" the protagonist is "converted into a brown, Barbie-like supermodel with an hourglass figure." (Giroux, 61) But when it comes down to it, don't the majority of films, products, TV shows, and plenty of other media (children or adult focused) send the same message? Disney and a provocative Calvin Klein ad ultimately have the same strategy behind them. (obviously one is suitable for children while the other is not) Regardless, it is impossible to filter the messages kids, and people in general, receive. So why should Disney be treated any differently? What it comes down to is the parenting. Parents should be teaching their children what is fantasy (aka Disney) and what is reality (aka John Smith was not as nice as he seems, men do like women who talk, etc..). 
As a side note, I found a picture of Aladdin, and to me it looks like it was redrawn as if he were an underwear model (shown below). The picture that doesn't really support or contradict my article, I just thought it was an interesting spin on the Aladdin we are all used to seeing (shown above). It is a mature/provocative depiction of Disney for the generation that grew up watching Aladdin in the late 80s and early 90s and are now 20-something students analyzing its effect on us. 

4 comments:

  1. e-fucking-xactly. It's the parents job to ensure that their kids are exposed to enough things to realize what is real and what isn't. Disney's great but parents need to make sure that kids have other heroes in their lives, heroes who do not seek a prince or a crown or a spell to save them, but rather a way to save themselves.

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  2. i agree 100% ...aladdin looks hot haha

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  3. Searching for the article by Giroux i somehow ended up here, read your post and wanted to comment on it.

    Television and the mass media in general play a large role of an agent of secondary socialization (Context of family being the sphere of primary) influencing on childrens identities with their representations of realities.

    "...the heavy consumption of media in general and television in particular ‘leads to the adoption of beliefs about the nature of the social world which conform to the stereotyped, distorted and very selective view of reality as portrayed in a systematic way in television fiction and news’ (McQuail 2000: 465). Furthermore, cultivation theorists argue that television has long-term effects, which are ‘small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant’. Theorists distinguish between ‘first order’ effects (general beliefs about the everyday world, such as about the prevalence of violence) and ‘second order’ effects (specific attitudes, such as to law and order or to personal safety) (Chandler 1997)."

    Arguing "objective", at least partly theoretically or cientifically grounded statements with arguments such as : "I am guilty of growing up in a Disney-fanatic world and it did not really have that big of an influence on my social, racial, or political views." and "I do not believe that "all rulers of the kingdom are men" (Giroux, 60) or that women end up becoming "valued for solving a man's problems" (Giroux, 59) as Giroux suggests it brainwashes us to believe.", is only stating mere opinions, it's not really saying anything valid.

    To generalize from personal experience is highly problematic, an to do so would require a profound and detailed understanding of one's personality, way of thinking, opinions and all the factors that have played a part in forming those.

    Plus what you imply that Giroux has said in the article he really doesn't. He just makes a statement that programs such as Disney's, whether ho fairy tale like they be (remember that children used to be educated with fairy tales, which represent fantasy worlds but nevertheless have an educating function, they teach the children how the world is like), give a certain representation of how the world or the society is and have implicit messages built in (the characters, stereotypes, their position in the scheme of the "imaginary" society) and we should be aware of them and not consider these programs as innocent.

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  4. Oh yes, and about the parent's role :)
    I quote the idea from the documentary Consuming Kids, to be found in youtube, that if in the middle of our neighbourhood we would have a road with huge trucks passing all the time with high speed and our children would be needing to cross the road, we wouldn't just say that it's the parents job to teach the kids to cross the road safely, we would do something about the passing trucks to make the road safer to cross.

    We can't expect parents to be able to compete with the multibillion dollar industry of the profit driven media and public relations in "winnig" their children's minds, being able to protect them from the harmful messages...

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