The documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly states that although there is no question that Disney is an “important part of American culture, in terms of its identity,” with an adult perspective, Disney can be deeply analyzed so that one can then reveal the underlining meaning of how these movies influence people to create certain realities in the way they think people should be. As the stories that are shown within Disney are focused towards children, they form the imagination of children and ultimately impact their thoughts and actions.
As children watch Disney, they are being affected by media, which provides stereotypes and a large amount of images that shape the way children think about certain belief systems. Within lecture it was discussed that culture is made up of values, beliefs, “myths”, and common sense. Disney is one example within media that produces culture and displays the Cultivation Theory. The Cultivation Theory is said to be indirect and cumulative which allows for distorted perceptions. An example of this within Disney movies is through racism. A specific example discussed by Dr. Alvin Poussaint would be within Tarzan and how this movie consists of no black people at all. However, as this movie consists of a white person (Tarzan), the gorillas that are within this movie have the children in Africa associating themselves with those characters. This creates their belief system in a way that promotes white supremacy. This effect can also be seen within the hyenas in The Lion King as a young white boy associates a group of black kids playing with the bad hyenas within this movie.
The magic bullet perspective on media effects is known to be powerful, direct, and able to incite emotions and actions. An example within Disney that demonstrates the way the media has portrayed certain images to lead us, as consumers, to shape our understandings of reality and act in a certain behavior, would be within Aladdin. This movie displays scenes where it makes it seem as if women need to use their body to get what they want. Jasmine demonstrates this within a scene where she attempts to seduce the enemy in order to save Aladdin. Another example of this is within The Little Mermaid where in order to get the man she wants, she takes away her voice and is left only with her body to get him. Another form that this this theory can be seen as within this documentary is when Dr. Carolyn Newberger discusses how her professional career deals with family violence and when looking at Beauty and the Beast with that perspective, this Disney movie is a direct representation of an abusive relationship. The beast hurts Belles family and mentally abuses her with the way he acts and the way he talks to her. However, this movie ends with Belle forgiving him and reinterpreting his actions in a different way than abusive. This Disney movie not only brings about strong and powerful emotions, but also influences the children to believe that in this specific scenario, they would act as such in real life. One of the younger girls interviewed said that if this happened to her friend, she would be happy for her that she fell in love with the 'beast' and found someone that she truly liked. This dangerous message of finding the prince in all men is enforced within children’s imaginations that it is their job to do that searching, even if it calls for being abused at first, because their niceness will ultimately change them.
I thought this documentary was very interesting and opened my eyes to the many ways media affects our society. Although most of the media today can be analyzed and discussed within this manner as well, Disney is especially interesting as I was once one of the young girls within this documentary that had a skewed view of what reality was and how girls and boys should behave. I think that people should place a more concerning view towards Disney movies as they are mainly directed towards young children’s imaginations that are open to believe anything that they see and hear. I don’t believe that Disney is necessarily a bad form of entertainment for children, but when looked at closely with an adult view, there are many arguments that could be made that Disney needs to be teachers to these children about the world they live in, as much as they are entertainers, which is mentioned at the end of this documentary by Margaret Moody.