Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Online Assignment #3 Eden Willoughby

         In the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly, Disney is under scrutiny for its unrealistic representations of women, instances of racism/racial hierarchy, and commercializing children’s culture (just to name a few). Many accredited individuals are interviewed, offering their stance and insight on the issue, as well as interviews with young children who watch Disney movies. Throughout the film, many opinions and explanations coincide with several theories on media effects, specifically the magic bullet and cultural studies.
            Beginning with the magic bullet, this perspective suggests that media has a direct and powerful effect on people, and is able to incite emotions and actions. Is most strongly demonstrated by the two young girls playing outside in “The Mirror Project.” One of the girls is exhibiting clearly unnatural behavior. The documentary juxtaposes this girl’s behavior with excerpts from Vanessa Williams’ music video of “Colors of the Wind” and highly sexualized images of Jessica Rabbit sauntering around in her risqué red dress. The young girl is singing while dramatically throwing her arms around, and flipping her hair. At one point, the girl even says, “Of course you know how we’re so beautiful…” in a low, airy voice while lowering her gaze and turning her face upwards to seem “coy.” Such behavior was also found in the Payne Fund Studies, in which children imitate movies while playing in desire to look like the images they’ve been exposed to.
Another example of the magic bullet is when the teacher is talking about instances she sees kids playing. Allison Wilson, a teacher, explains the different behavior she sees out of young girls on the playground. She illustrated how one of the girls would be laying on the ground dying while the other would be crying for help, or when one girl would lay against the fence with their hand to their face waiting for a boy to come to her rescue. Such behavior displays this idea of damsel-in-distress romance. This coincides with Payne Fund Studies findings that children imitate romance found in movies, ultimately adopting ideas of what love is supposed to be like.
            The next perspective I found to be prominent within the film is cultural studies. This viewpoint has to do with how media represents culture in interaction with the existing culture, as well as how power works within a society. Dr. Gail Dines talks about this extensively regarding how women are portrayed in Disney films. She explains how in the 1930’s Snow White is the ultimate housewife; she cooks, she cleans, she stays at home, and she’s happy about it. However, with the rise of feminism, Disney had to keep up with themes in society, thus introducing “The Little Mermaid.” Here, the female “protagonist” Ariel defies and argues with her father about her love interest, which is supposed to symbolize female independence. However, it was a rather meek attempt to assimilate with these emerging feminist movements. This gives way to Mulan, who is a powerful, strong character that overcomes male enemies and strength. This timeline of main female characters represents changing views of women in society and how Disney has adjusted to such shifts.
The second example of cultural studies has to do with race and the consistent racial hierarchy within Disney movies that arguably promotes white supremacy. In the film Tarzan, Disney eliminates black people all together in Africa placing stereotypical “black” characteristics in the monkeys and orangutans that look to the white Tarzan as their superior. Dr. Elizabeth Hadley goes on to explain that these animals associate and socialize themselves with white people; they can never actually be MEN. Mulan is another example of white supremacy, but emphasizing the power of countries with large white populations. In Mulan, children’s book author Chyung Fung Sen explains how China is portrayed an incredibly sexist and oppressed society. Such figments of society create a world power structure in which the U.S. and European countries are the social and civilized front-runners, while other countries such as China are full of exploitation and subservience.
            After viewing this documentary I admit I was shocked at Disney’s tactics that I never picked up on as a child. This film provided excellent examples on how deeply the media truly affects children and ourselves via the magic bullet and cultural studies, and I’m interested to see the change in my perception of Disney movies  when watching them in the future.

Online Assignment #3, Chris Picazo

The Walt Disney Company is one of the world’s most successful multinational mass media corporations.  It is the leader in the American animation industry and with the many movies the corporation has released, their cartoons have been able to reach millions worldwide.  In the documentary, Mickey Mouse Monopoly, Disney films were looked at to see how a big of an influence the films play in children.  Two perspectives that appear in the documentary are the magic bullet theory and the cultural studies theory.
            The magic bullet theory appears in the documentary in that it only takes ‘one shot’ to influence children or to create a perspective for them.  Alison Wilson from the Neighborhood House Charter School explains that children learned from Disney films that lead female characters are always shown to be in danger.  They are depicted to be in trouble no matter how strong they are, and they need a strong male lead/character to rescue them.  She explains using examples like The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that children at school are always imitating these roles they learned from Disney movies.  Girls will pretend to be in danger by crying or faking a death and boys will come in and pretend to rescue them.  Wilson says that children are being secretly told that men are stronger than women in society and that women need a male to help them in any situation that arises.
            Another view presented from the documentary is the cultural studies perspective.  This perspective shows a culture is depicted or represented in film and sometimes the portrayals in film show negative stereotypes.  Dr. Jack Shaheen, professor of mass communication at Southern Illinois University, explains that in the film Aladdin, the film negatively portrays the Arabic community and disrespects the religion of Islam.  Shaheen uses the scene from the movie in which the princess takes an apple from a merchant and gives it to a hungry little boy on the street.  The merchant becomes angry because the princess has no money and threatens to cut off her hand on the spot.  Shaheen explains that in Islam, people are obliged to feed someone if they are truly hungry and that devout merchants do this too.  In the country Saudi Arabia, it is only after three warnings or convictions to a real thief, not petty a thief, that the hand is cut off as a punishment, but Shaheen says that this represents a very small population of the country.  Aladdin negatively portrays the Arabic community and disrespected many Arab Americans because children are watching the film and thinking this is how people are punished in Saudi Arabia, when this is not true. 

            Overall, Disney has a strong influence over children because it is the leading animation company in America and their films are easily accessible to watch by many.  The films influence children and their views, and sometimes the influence Disney has is negative.  Mickey Mouse Monopoly depicted the different ways it does using the magic bullet theory and cultural studies to explain that Disney has led children to believe that females are not as strong as males and different cultures are more violent than ours.   

Online assignment #3, Kexin Jiang

Mickey Mouse Monopoly provides a very comprehensive analysis on how Disney affects children’ perceptions of others, of the real world they live in, and also of themselves. As the world’s largest media conglomerate, Disney is so powerful that it has shaped so many images of how children think of gender, race, and other concepts. It not only influence people consciously, but also seeps into our culture and affect people unconsciously. Through the whole documentary, Mickey Mouse Monopoly, there are two perspectives on media effects that can be found: the “magic bullet” perspective and the cultural studies.
“Magic bullet” perspective is described as that media has a direct, powerful, immediate effect on its audience and is able to incite audience’s emotions and actions. This can be seen in Justin Lewis’s talk about the event that Disney bought ABC in the documentary of Mickey Mouse Monopoly. He provides us with knowledge that Disney is one of the biggest media corporations and has most media we now consume; and it also affects children globally and shapes their imaginations. For instance, in the beginning of the documentary, Alvin Poussaint suggests that Disney is already part of American culture in that children grow up with Disney characters and these characters are becoming part of their lives. A good example is that the college student Marc Nowak can still recall the lines in The Little Mermaid. Diane Levin also states that because Disney movies present a great number of images of female characters, even including female animals and female objects, it actually gives the idea of feminism and shapes children’s perception of how women should be like. Moreover, Diane Levin points out that the Disney ads of the replicated toys of the characters in Disney movies provide a big enticement for children to buy, or own the products.
The other perspective on media effects that can be seen in the Mickey Mouse Monopoly is the cultural studies which include two main concepts. The first one is representation which is described as to depict, to show, to present, and also to re-present. In this case, Gail Dines gives us several good examples of the presenting of women in Disney movies. In the Snow White, the main female character is depicted as isolated, enjoying cooking, cleaning, and playing with animals, a representation which is very different from today’s feminism. But the representation of feminism has changed in Disney movies. In the Little Mermaid, the mermaid is portrayed as a brave and kind woman; and in Mulan, the representation of women is powerful, strong, and independent in the war and feminine when returning home. These examples show the presenting and re-presenting of a certain type of person by media. Another main concept of cultural studies is resistance, which means when people get messages that conflict with their beliefs or values, they will resist them. This concept shows in Jack Shaheen’s talk about the boycott of Arab American to the song in Aladdin. Because the song is racist to Arab American, they resist it.

Hence, the “magic bullet” perspective and cultural studies are two perspectives on media effect that I found in Mickey Mouse Monopoly. I also agree with what Margaret Moody says in the end of the documentary: if such a media corporation like Disney has so much power and so much attention of children, it should not only provide entertainment, but also have the responsibility to educate children.

Documentary Reflection- Ken Plaisted

           This documentary uses various media perspectives when analyzing it’s various critiques of Disney.  They complain about how various facets of Disney, from how their portrayal of women is repressive, to how their portrayal of any non-white race implants stereotypes in children’s minds.  They also complain about how Disney makes an unrealistic portrayal of the world, and make a key point about how the story of Pocahontas is not an accurate portrayal of the Indian-American conflict.  The documentary focuses on these critiques for the most part, and they all share one common theme.  From stereotypes to feminine repression, these problems all focus on the Cultural perspective of media influence.  More specifically, they talk about how Disney’s intent was to reproduce existing power structures.  Dr. Gail Dines talks about how Disney’s projections of women and their role cause younger girls to have distorted perceptions about what it means to be a woman.  She says “It is important for us to understand the role media plays in forming certain belief systems”.  These belief systems are not in a religious sense, but more in a worldly sense, and Disney forms a child’s belief systems about culture.  Dines says that Disney’s portrayal of women “Presents people with what femininity is about”.  She continues to examine that in each of the Disney films, the woman always needs a man’s help to succeed.  Another example of this is in Beauty and the Beast, where the beast yells at, is mean to, and imprisons Belle, but Belle still ends up loving the beast.  The Doctor claims that this teaches women to be weak and allow men to be mean to them, because eventually the woman will find the mans nice heart inside his cold, mean exterior. 
            The other perspective this documentary focuses on is the “magic bullet” perspective.  This is best displayed in the example the movie provides about the Lion King.  In the movie the hyenas are evil, and also happen to have distinctly African-American voices.  This caused a child who overheard black children playing at a mall to associate them with the hyenas from the Lion King.  This terrified the mother because the media Disney had made had made such a big impact on how the child views the world.  However the most disturbing part was how the child also associated the evilness of the hyenas with the black children he had never even met.  He thought they were bad people just because of how they sounded.  This shows how Disney was able to form a direct and powerful affect on children’s views of the world.  Another example is how the opinion on the Middle east from Aladdin could affect how a child views that area.  Disney misrepresents the laws of the area, implying that the woman could have her hand cut off for stealing an apple.  This shapes a child’s view of the Middle East as an area much different from what it really is. 

            Overall, through the Magic Bullet and Cultural perspectives, Disney’s misrepresentations of the world and the people in it, as well as their questionable portrayal of feminine inferiority, lead children to have a confused and incorrect view of the world that Disney has showed them.

Online Assignment #3, Ayla Kress

            Mickey Mouse Monopoly analysis the different influences Disney has on people around the world, both political, racial, and their sexuality. Disney is one of the largest influences in a child’s life, from the movies and television shows they watch to the toys they play with and princesses they pretend to be. Disney has a way of influencing the culture slowly over time from the birth of a child until they become an adult and Disney then influences his/her children and the next generation. This influence of Disney media can be viewed in two different perspectives: cultural studies and cultivation theory.
Cultural studies looks at the representation and resistance sides of media as its main points. With regards to Disney you can see the representation of multiple culture that already exist, but in some cases they give a “racist” meaning according to some viewers. Despite these movies being very popular among many different generations and races, they still feel there is a large racist connotation to the movies. This is a perfect example of representation, taking something that already exists and reproducing it with either the same or a new meaning. The viewers that are against Disney and feel it has negative effects on the culture are referred to as the “resistance” the people are not just passive viewers but are resistance messages that conflict with their beliefs or values. Henry A. Giroux could easily be viewed as resistant, the author of a controversial book that examines the innocence of Disney and what’s truly lurking behind it. Dr. Gines agrees that they take what’s already there and “wrap it up in a pretty magical kingdom wrapper” for all the children to view. This can change the way a girl thinks a woman should act or ties the voice of the animals to specific races.
The second relevant perspective is cultivation theory, which is the believe that the repeated exposure to these influence of a long period of times changes the way people operate, their beliefs, etc. This used to be done by family, church, and state but now is increasingly preformed by television. Disney is a large influence on children as it is popular with parent sand teachers and children love the stories created by Disney imaginers.  According to Dr. Poussaint, children have been raised on Disney, many generations now. Disney are one of the top 6/7 large media companies, now owning abc, Disney, numerous magazines, and publishing houses, etc. These small influences across many years through numerous outlets build to create and help form a child’s imagination or adults political views. According to Dr. Lewis Disney has a large power over theses children’s minds as a dominant storyteller and must consider what stories they’re telling the children. Long term exposure to Disney changes how you look at many things subliminally and isn’t always considered a prominent influence by many parents but should be.

Overall the awareness of Disney’s influence is growing but shouldn’t be as analysis or criticized I believe, within the movie you see many example of over analyzing stories and believe the children will develop these horrible social traits however after many generations of Disney influencing the minds of people across the world we are still striving towards equal rights, human rights, and are aware of many social differences within the world around us possibly thanks to Disney, not the opposite.

Online Assignment #3, Brendan Fellenz

            Disney has slowly but surely turned into one of the few major media sources that kids are exposed to today, giving them power unlike an other.  In the film Mickey Mouse Monopoly, a group of experts analyze Disney’s film history and point out negative messages of race and sex, hidden within the confines of Disney’s movies.  This movie also shows indications of Disney’s usage of the ‘Magic Bullet’ effect and cultural studies, and how these two perspectives have shaped both their films and the minds of children and adults today.
            The idea of the ‘Magic Bullet’ effect is that consumers of the media are affected heavily in a direct and powerful way, and that this effect is gained in ‘one shot’.  One major example from the film is when Dr. Gale Dines discusses the portrayal of femininity by Disney.  She talks about the fact that Disney has not changed the appearance of its female characters at all over the years. They make all these female characters very sexual and seductive, both human and animal, which gives girls a constructed notion of femininity, and a false idea of how women look in the real world.  Another major example of the ‘Magic Bullet’ is where Alison Wilson talks about the idea that Disney always has a male saving a female.  This can be seen in movies such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Little Mermaid, and is a very skewed representation of the roles of gender in a society.  She even mentions that she has seen girls pretending to be in distress on the playground at school, and boys coming to save them, meaning that there is a clear development of these ideas occurring.
            Disney is a major offender when it comes to cultural studies.  These studies are meant to look at how culture is presented in the media, and compare it to actual existing culture.  One of Disney’s offenses is the Chihuahua in Oliver & Company.  Marisa Peralta discusses the blatant racism presented in the movie when they make this Latino character steal a car.  This not only gives a negative outlook on Latino people, but it gives the false sense that Latino people will do things that they are not supposed to do.  Another example that is very crucial is Disney’s portrayal of black people in society.  Up until Princess Tiana, Disney’s only “black” characters are portrayed as animals, such as crows and orangutans.  Jacqueline Maloney, a Harvard University employee, discusses how these animals are striving to be more like their human counterparts, who are almost always white characters.  This is a serious issue, because it continues to subconsciously instill race roles in a society that is still struggling to break these false norms today.          
            Dr. Gale Dines talks about the fact that most of the power in Hollywood comes from white men, and that whether their ideas are intentional or unintentional, the media effect are still the same.  So although some of Disney’s blatant uses of sexism and racism may not be on purpose, they have still managed to produce harmful media through the perspectives of the “Magic Bullet” and cultural studies.  Though I still love Disney movies and their roles in my childhood, I will definitely think twice the next time I watch some of my classic favorites.