Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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.


  1. Very solid analysis, Ken. You pretty much touched based on the exact same perspectives and examples as I did. The cultural approach and magic bullet were quite noticeable in this documentary, and I think it is something that parents should not overlook when their kids are watching Disney. I was most impacted by the Hyena story and how direct of an effect The Lion King had on this little boy; definitely powerful stuff. In addition to those two effects, I think the cumulative theory can be tied in as well, as a lot of these behaviors are reinforced over an entire childhood.

  2. Well done, Ken. I agree that Disney misrepresented the world using both the Magic Bullet and Cultural perspectives. I found the Latino representation with the chihuahua that always was getting into trouble was very frightening. It's amazing how little children can instantly draw correlations such as being Latino and being a trouble maker just from a Disney movie. Overall, very well done analysis, Ken!

  3. Wow!!! Awesome analysis!!! Perfect in every sense!

  4. Nice work, Ken! We pretty much saw the same perspectives supported by similar examples. I thought the perspectives seen in the documentary stood out very clear and the examples supporting these were so strong and really proved the points. I also found the example about how certain races are represented (you used Aladdin and I used Chihuahuas) SO interesting! I had never thought about it before, but once I was aware of it, I thought of many other cases where this was seen. Children are so vulnerable and I think we both agreed that we need to be aware of the impact Disney has and the messages that are subconsciously being taken in.

  5. Good points, Kenneth. I'll have to disagree with you on a couple of things in saying that the example of the boy who associated some black children's voices as evil because of the hyenas in The Lion King is an exception and not the rule. Is it acceptable that even one child has made that false correlation between the two? Of course not, but we are unaware of any other influences or cultural aspects which may have led this child to this assumption; we are missing information needed to decide cause and effect. I think it is also noteworthy to mention that Disney's portrayal of femininity has slowly progressed with the times. Although in istances like Mulan, she saves a country but is still chastised for not bringing home a man, we now have examples like The Princess and the Frog in which the male and female role work together to overcome their struggle of being frogs and wanting to again be humans. Beauty and the Beast though, that movie is a poster child of who not to date so Disney has that going for them. Not really, though.

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