The Mickey Mouse Monopoly (2001) documentary is a cultural eye-opener! It angled the spotlight on various racial, cultural and gender stereotypes in ways the average person may not care to see Disney in. It also allows us to experience Disney movies in ways that we have not been able to see before. Whether it was Disney’s intent to relay those stereotypes or not-and it was definitely not just a black and white issue-they truly depicted humans in a way that the American and foreign culture was familiar with and accepting of. The documentary also touched on ways that Disney not only monopolizes what our children experience, but also how it affects adults. ‘Tabula rasa’ –a blank slate. That is what many children are when it comes to how they arrive at an experience…a place or thing that is capable of leaving an impression on them. Without being able to rationalize the imprints that are left on them, we may never know how Disney has affected their gender socialization processing skills. Once they reach a certain age, they may refuse to admit that by simply watching Snow White, they believed that a prince would sweep them away to live happily ever after. Disney children movies did not keep up with the feminist movement when it came to depicting women and their roles in society. Never did I connect Beauty and the Beast with domestic violence, especially not having lived with domestic violence as a child or as an adult. So is it possible that if a little girl watched Belle over and over be belittled by the Beast and is told by the cute teacup and teapot to ‘kiss it to make it better’, that she may very well start to believe that this is the way to deal with violence in a young relationship that is new to her? We have been warned that violence in young relationships start earlier and earlier. If it is already studied in middle school, why wouldn’t it exist in elementary school? As for the racial and cultural depictions, that was a given. The documentary was done in 2001 and we are just now getting our first Black princess, yet some of us still are not happy with the way she was depicted. Yes, we snickered when the Chihuahua was depicted as the hot- blooded lover or the car thief-we accept that. No, we never batted an eye when the maid was short, round and black- we expect that. We smiled when we saw the beautiful white princess-we accepted and expected nothing less! Poor people were always depicted as ill-treated citizens who only dreamed of moving into the castle. And yes, that prosperity was short-lived for a few of the poor young girls lucky enough to be chosen to become a princess. Disney’s depiction of the changing roles of women in society changed slightly. Women were allowed to be more adventurous and assertive, but they were always tethered to a man or needed to be rescued by a man. Some had to pretend to be a man in order to ‘make something of themselves.’ With as many single moms in our society, the young woman was very often attached to a single father figure. As consumers, we are hearing Disney’s message, but are we really listening? We buy into it hook-line and sinker and will argue that what we NOW see, is not what they are really showing us. Disney is innocence right? They can’t be racist, right? Disney is family oriented, right? And Disney is out to make a ton of money, right? The monopoly that Disney has over our society, American and foreign, is astounding! Even with the first amendment, you have adults afraid to voice their opinion openly because the field that they work in is heavily monopolized by Disney. I am not ashamed to say that I failed to see the hidden and incorrect messages which were often not hidden at all. Because of this documentary, one cannot look at another Disney movie the same again. If you can, you are just the consumer Disney is looking for.
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