Studies show that after watching fast-paced TV shows, children have difficulty sticking with tasks that take longer, like reading, doing puzzles or playing learning and memory games. Children under the age of six years, have difficulty telling the difference between reality and fantasy. Even Children up to the age of nine years, still have some difficulty telling the difference at times. Most children under eight years old believe what the adverts tell them and children between the ages of eight years old and ten years old know that adverts do lie however they cannot tell which ones do lie or tell the truth. The ways in which cumulative exposure to television contributes to viewers conceptions of social reality has been referred to as the theory of ‘cultivation’. Cultivation theory argues that, “those who spend more time watching TV are more likely to perceive the real world in ways that reflect the most common and recurrent messages of the TV world”. I shall be exploring the ways in which Disney acts as a powerful cultivation tool both through its media products and the merchandise associated with the films and TV programmes that it produces. The way in which children are targeted by companies such as Disney potentially has great significance for our consumer culture since children are assuming greater roles in household consumer decisions, making them an increasingly powerful market segment.Children don’t watch things such as Misfits or CSI, but things such as Pepper Pig and Disney movies. But what effect does Disney have on children? Do children believe that everything that happens in a Disney film or television programme to be true? Do they think that it is what life will be like? Does Disney build up children to have false hopes about how everything in life will be, not necessarily easy, but work out perfectly in the end? Does Disney teach children that to be happy they have to be rich and find the love of their lives? Or more importantly does Disney stereotype people, to children just to sell products and make money? I will be exploring these issues in my exploration of Disney as not only a powerful consumer brand but also a transmitter (and creator?) of cultural values.
One way in which Disney can seem to be shaping cultural attitudes and values is in the way in which its fictions represent aspects of ethnic and gender identity. Disney portrays many different stereotypes, from the jealous orang-utan King Louis in the Jungle Book, to Red Indians in Peter Pan. A good example of Disney stereotyping in a racist way would be in Fantasia with Sunflower the Centaur. She is a black centaur and is stereotypically, for that era (1940’s) a “hoof-polisher” for the “obviously”, prettier white centaurs. Disney is no better with their views on women. Who are typically are shown in a position of princess, queen, or homemaker. For example, Snow White, a princess, homemaker, and soon to be queen. Women are also portrayed as either maids or cooks, such as Mrs Potts in Beauty and the Beast or they are the ‘bad guys’ like in Snow White or Cinderella, with the evil step-mothers. They are also always ruled by a man, in one way or another.
Life is a dream
Disney teaches us about happy endings, prince charming, and fairy tale dresses. What Disney claim to teach children, and what they are actually (subconsciously perhaps) are teaching them are completely different things. For example, in Beauty and The Beast, Belle teaches the Beast how to love and respect others the way you wish to be loved and respected. But it also teaches us that abusive men are really loving and kind but struggle to show it. Meaning that children will think that it is alright, if they happen to find themselves in an abusive relationship and will not do anything, or much to escape it. There are so many examples of what Disney teaches children. Another would be in Aladdin, where Princess Jasmine…