With great power comes great responsibility. Standing as one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, Disney Corporation must better understand what this means. After watching Mickey Mouse Monopoly, my opinion of this magical, fantasy-inspiring company has been altered. The effect that Disney has on our society is significant and wide-ranging. There are several perspectives with which we can evaluate the effect that mass media has on our culture, and more specifically, our youth. The various interviews and examples provided in this documentary suggest that the magic bullet effect, cultural approach and each apply to the impact that Disney has made over past decades.
There are multiple perspectives to evaluate the effect that media representations have on our society and citizens. One of these is referred to as the magic bullet effect. Under this idea, it is believed that media has a direct and powerful impact on those who consume it. The name is derived from the assumption that it only takes “one shot” for a noticeable effect to occur. One example of this effect in action is that children learn from movies and imitate what they see in their play and behaviors. According to Elizabeth Hadley, the seductive tendencies of Jasmine in Aladdin gives young girls the notion that you can use your body to manipulate men and get what you want. Learning these tactics at a young age can certainly effect the behaviors of girls as they grow up. Also noted in the film is the old “damsel in distress” story, whereupon the female cannot save herself and relies on a heroic male to save here. The direct effect of this can be seen in the playground actions of very young children, when a girl acts as the princess who lays on the ground waiting for her 8 year old “hero”.
Our culture is increasingly effected by media content that is shaped by a considerably small elite. A handful of powerful media conglomerates are responsible for producing “culture” by reinforcing certain values, myths and beliefs. This structure results in serious side-effects, most importantly the presence of stereotypes in the media. Marisa Peralta, a teacher, comments on the use of Chihuahuas in several films. This dog breed seems to always be Latino, and will often be depicted as a lower class individual who will end up doing something that he is not supposed to do. Jacqueline Maloney describes the racist undertones involving the hyenas in The Lion King. The depiction of these animals as bad guys who use “street-language” caused a small child to refer to a group of African-American kids on a carousel as “those hyenas”. Clearly, this stereotypical representation had a significant effect on the thoughts and behaviors of a young mind.
After viewing Disney through the magic bullet and cultural perspectives, I certainly feel that they must become more sensitive when producing content. The messages that they send to children result in direct alterations of behavior as well as distorted long-term perceptions of reality. Disney needs to act as not only an entertainer, but as a teacher, who correctly and faithfully informs our youth about the world around them.