Disney, Childhood & Corporate Power

An excellent documentary on mainstream culture and its responsibility towards educating children.  The focus is on the Disney Corporation as one of the most powerful and explores the narrative and characterisation in its films, exposing sexist, racist, historically inaccurate and abusive values.  Contains interviews with cultural critics, media scholars, child psychologists, kindergarten teachers, multicultural educators, college students and children.

For example, the beauty and the beast film, where the male character separates the female from her family, imprisons her, starves her and verbally abuses her.  When this behaviour is described by a social worker she is shocked that the message to children is to stay with this male role model because underneath he is a charming prince and it’s up to you to bring this side out in him.  I was a little sceptical, but once they showed the film to children and their response was to say, paraphrasing, “If I had a friend like Belle, I’d be upset that her boyfriend was so unpleasant to her, but I’d encourage her to keep being nice as she will eventually change him, that’s what happened in the film!”  Normalising domestic abuse?  I certainly don’t want my little girls to grow up thinking like this.  Its not just Disney either.  Recently I watched “Arthur and the Invisibles” which also lacked a responsible attitude.  In one scene a defeated enemy is forced to apologise to the princess.  After apologising the princess turns her back on him and says something like “whatever” with an attitude.  I was really angry at this, its teaching cruelty and a lack of manners to millions of child viewers.  I guess until these corporations change their goals from just making money, to being responsible for the education and well being of children, we’ll continue to see these mistakes.

The following is a video depicting an experiment with black children in America showing the power of cultural racism (from 3 mins 20 secs onwards).  As Steve Biko said, “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor, is the mind of the oppressed.”

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