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Disney's Affect On Our Children And Culture

1527 words - 6 pages

It can be argued that culture provides the foundation for persuasive forms of learning for young children. For proof, one doesn't have to look any further than down the aisle of the children's section of their local video store. What you will find are numerous animated titles, many of them Disney films. Most people unconditionally accept that these movies are good for children, that they promote stimulation of the imagination, and contain them in an aura of innocence. The relevance of these films, however, crosses the boundary of being just entertainment. They are teaching children certain values and roles at least as much as any other traditional institution of learning such as ones family, school, or religion might. And the ideological messages presented in these films have a negative effect on children.Children's films are especially good at catching the attention of their audience and are far more memorable because kids enjoy watching movies more than enduring the serious reality that is school or church. It allows them to escape into a fantasy world where adventure and excitement are moderated and consumerism can be fully suggested upon them.The image that Disney portrays of itself, as a non-threatening, fun, family oriented icon of North American culture is steadily emphasized through the corporation's massive public relations department and seeps out of almost all the pores in every aspect of social life. Disney is affecting and influencing children through so many facets that it is impossible for a child not to be inundated by it. In an article by Henry Giroux (1997) he reveals that Disney is present in home videos, malls, classroom instructional films, the movie theater, popular T.V. programs, family restaurants, advertising, displays, and use of public visual spaces.What is important to note here is that we no longer have Disney simply producing films that allow children to experience adventure and fantasy where their imagination can be experienced and affirmed. We now have a company that is producing prototypes for identities, communities, and families that have a stranglehold on children who view Disney as upholders of outstanding civic image. This is especially scary when the boundaries between entertainment, education, and commercialization crumble under the weight of Disney's omnipotent reach into diverse spheres of everyday life (Giroux, 1997).Still, many people disregard any link that might arise between films made solely for 'entertainment' purposes and popular ideology. Others though, see Disney feigning such an innocent image only to cover up its aggressive marketing strategy and the blatant fact that they are programming children to become good active consumers. Eric Smoodlin, whose critical book which deals with Disney's role is popular culture, argues that Disney is constructing childhood to make it entirely compatible with consumerism (1994). Even more frightening is the fact that Disney's widespread reputation as innocent...

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