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.