Monday, November 25, 2013

Online Assignment #3, Sawyer Olson

           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.


  1. The cultivation theory, which claims that people's worlds are cultivated through long term media exposure, is a great way to put Disney into perspective. Disney is a corporation that everyone knows about, and we learn from a young age that it is a magical land where dreams and fantasies come true. However, what we don't realize is how we subliminally learn messages that as a kid we don't realize we're learning. One other example they used in the documentary was how Ariel was willing to give up her beautiful voice to be with man, making women seem like they will do anything for men. Disney should definitely be censored because while they might not be trying to be outwardly malicious, the messages they create in peoples minds lead to stereotypes and untrue messages.

  2. very nice reflection to the documentary. You first provide a very detailed and clear analysis of how Disney associates with cultivation theory. I like the part in your third paragraph where you use an example to demonstrate two perspectives on media effects. Because of this I can see that you understand those concepts really well and can relate them with each other. I really agree with your analysis about Cultivation Theory, because from the documentary I feel that Disney certainly portrays women and some "minority groups" stereotypically. and those stereotypical images would influence children's perception towards those groups of people. the examples of Disney's portrayal of Latinos and Indians will also demonstrate this point.