Everyone remembers those one or two movies and shows that shaped their childhood. The ones they lived by and now, even to this day, still keep values presented by them, Even better so if their favorite movies and TV shows were distributed by the same company. Most of my Millennial peers can relate to growing up on Disney. Classic quantity vs quality, so many movies but all some how the same.
However, there are many different messages portrayed in each movie and most of us never got these subliminal messages as kids! Yeah, as we got older we caught the sexual innuendos but, if like me, most my age never looked THAT deep into racial and sexist messages. Sure, we all noticed there was no colored princess until Tiana in 2009, but Disney shows its true colors in its earlier films.
After watching “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney Childhood and Corporate Power”, I was shocked by all the racial presentations in the films. First off, African-Americans always playing the voices of Crows and Monkeys? Singing about wanting to be a man, but never being able to become one. The Latinos being portrayed as little, always mischievous, chihuahuas! It would be better for them to just not be voiced in the movie at all.
I feel almost ashamed for growing up on Disney and going to Disney world so many times. However, this video has shed light for me. Now, every time I watch a more recent Disney film I am always looking for the subliminal message, or just looking for their usual patterns and themes. Watching this video really hit home and I’m applying my media literacy skills to all the Disney movies and shows I grew up watching.
Although I will continue to love and watch Disney films, I now know what to look for and think about. The common themes are stereotypical gender roles and happy endings. Also, I can look for how a girl always needs a guy and notice how enticing and “beautiful” all the women characters are made to be. I do notice that as time goes on Disney kind of moves with the ages. For example, the difference between the typical “domestic wife” type Snow White of 1937 is very different from the recent rule-breaking, Merida, who also chooses to not have any men in her life(besides her father and brothers).
I would definitely recommend this film to anyone, even if they didn’t grow up on Disney. Although Disney can be broken down by their corporate interests and hidden messages so can a lot of other movies from different corporations. And even if Disney did all these things on purpose, it doesn’t matter because they’re big enough, with enough power, to basically get away with anything. And possibly continue to do it.
Disney typically sends out a bad message and a more noticeable good message. For example, in “Beauty and the Beast“, kids are expected to only see the good in the movie and only learn the “good message” of loving someone for what’s underneath, not what’s on the outside. Other than the “bad message” which is to look past his abusive tendencies and kiss him to turn the beast into a desirable Prince.
I believe all Disney movies have both of these “good and bad messages”. The good news is that kids don’t really see the bad message, they just love the fairytale. Disney hides behind it’s innocence but I think all the innocence can be good for children in today’s world. The bad news, besides the racial slurs that us older fans catch, is the unrealistic way Disney constructs gender roles. However, in certain Disney movies these gender roles can be looked passed and in more recent movies, these gender roles have become a lot more lenient. Thanks to this film, every time I watch a new Disney movie I will be looking for both messages and the same, old common themes.