Mickey Mouse Monopoly provides a shocking dissection of Disney’s power and influence on children’s perceptions of themselves, others and the world. The critical-cultural perspective and the cultivation theory are the most commonly present perspectives in this video.
It appears all of the professionals who are interviewed in this video agree with what Dr. Justin Lewis of Cardiff University states. He says, “Disney stories influence the imaginations of children on a global scale.” Because of this, many people believe we should be cautious about letting Disney shape our children’s imaginations. Disney power and influence on children can be seen through the Cultivation Theory. This theory claims people’s impressions of the world are cultivated through long-term media exposure. For example, Dr. Alvin Pouissant states when students write about other races and peoples, they almost always include stereotypes because that’s what they pick up on from the media. So Disney is essentially shaping children’s views of the world and the wide array of diverse people who inhabit it.
The Mean World Syndrome is also a part of Cultivation Theory. Mean World Syndrome claims that perceptions of certain groups and their behaviors are cultivated by mediums. Numerous professionals in Mickey Mouse Monopoly draw on examples from Disney films and how they portray different groups of people. Dr. Gail Dines of Wheelock College emphasizes it is important to understand how media socializes us into certain belief systems. A professor of gender studies, Dines focuses on Disney’s portrayal of men and women in their films. Women play a rather needy role in the movies; acting seductively to get what they want and often times becoming endangered like in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Dines also provides real life examples of how these messages translate into children’s behaviors. She says, at recess, the girl will act like a damsel in distress and all the boys will rush to save her. This example not only shows how the medium is cultivating a perception of the world, but it also exhibits the Magic Bullet perspective which states that media is capable of inciting emotions and actions.
The critical-cultural perspective is most apparent in how different races and ethnicities are portrayed through the characters in Disney Films. Dr. Alvin Pouissant points out that Disney’s Tarzan is inherently racist in that it doesn’t show any black people in the African jungle. The reaction, therefore, of African children who see the movie is that whites rule the very jungle they inhabit. The documentary provides numerous examples of Disney’s stereotyping. For example, Marisa Peralta of Hernandez School points out that Mexicans are always portrayed as Chihuahuas in Disney and media in general. In addition to being manifested as dogs, the Mexican characters seemingly always are starting trouble or stealing things.
The myriad examples brought forth by the professionals who speak out in Mickey Mouse Monopoly make one wonder if Disney films and products should be censored for the stereotypes they have been shown to contain.