Practicing APA format with Disney
Below you will find a literature review I wrote based on research examining the impact Disney‟s
fantasy films have on children‟s perception of the world. There are four goals for this
assignment. The first is to give you an example of a literature review that is used to argue a
thesis. The second is to give you practice finding the important research findings in an article to
use to make your point. The third is to give you practice in-text citation in correct APA format.
The fourth is to give you practice formatting full references in correct APA format at the end.
You will need to download and read the APA format document (the references section) I have
posted on my web-
page to complete this assignment.
Step one, read the literature review below. I have left a blank space where there should be a
reference. Your job in step one is find the research finding in the article it came from (so you will
need to look through all four) and then cite it correctly in text. Although this is not a requirement
of APA format, so that I know you are reading through the articles and learning how to locate
research findings rather than repeating the authors‟ own literature reviews – place the page
number for each citation as well as the author(s) last name and year. Be sure to put the authors
names in the same order they are listed in the reference to be corrected at the end. Use only the
author names who actually wrote the article, do not use any names they may have cited in their
Step two, requires you to retype the three references provided at the end into correct APA
format. Two things to remember for the references: (1) within each reference, the authors should
be listed in the order they are provided and (2) the reference list is in alphabetical order by the
last name of the fist author in each reference.
I have included the format for a full correct reference as a guide for the four full references and
cited one of the four articles in text as an example and as a guide for the other three articles in
This assignment is worth 25 points (1 point for each correct full ref; 1/2 point for each correct
in-text citation; 1/4 point for each correct page # from the article).
The Effects of Disney Generated Fantasy on Children’s Development
Maureen C. Smith, Ph.D.
San Jose State University
Every year, untold numbers of children watch animated Disney cartoons. These are some
of the best loved movies ever released – from the earliest (i.e., Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs) to the most recent (i.e., The Princess and the Frog). Parents happily take their children,
sometimes as young as toddlers, to the theater releases and either rent or own both the classics
and the modern releases to be watched over and over again. As such, Disney films and related
products make a lot of money (_____, & _____, year; pp.#). Parents inherently trust Disney to
provide family friendly entertainment. The reality is that Disney “films inspire at least as much
childhood authority and legitimacy for teaching specific roles, values, ideals than more
traditional sites of learning such as public schools, religious institutions, the family” (_____ &
_____, year; pp. #). However, recently, people have begun to question the idea that Disney
movies are always healthy for children to view, at least to view without parent guidance. Thus,
the early research on Disney animated movies explores the actual content of the movies. This
brief paper will review some of the most recent research on this topic. Specifically, this paper
will review how princess movies portray girls‟ identity development, presentation of families
and couples, death themes, and the presence of smoking and alcohol use in Disney movies.
Gender Identity and Male-Female Relationships
One of the most popular kinds of Disney animated movies are about princesses or girls
who become princess (Snow White, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Jasmine, Cinderalla, Aurora,
Ariel, Belle). Little girls re-enact these stories, make up their own stories as they assume the role
of these princesses, buy the costumes, buy the dolls, the accessories; the list goes on. The
research question one must ask is do these movies have an effect on young girls‟ gender role
identity? To answer this question, Wohlwend (2009) analyzed literacy play in a kindergarten
classroom with 21 students and one teacher. After noting all the sub-groups of children that
naturally formed based on play interests, Wohlwend focused on the Disney Princess Players.
These children (two boys and three girls) from transnational backgrounds, used small dolls to act
out Disney stories and they drew on Disney stories in their class writing/literacy assignments.
Repeated observations of this group of children, especially the girls, revealed that nearly
half of their observed activity involved animating dolls /toys to be characters or subjects in
imagined scenes (Wohlwend, 2009). These dolls adhere to a familiar set of beauty norms for
women that cuts across ethnicity and culture: long lashes, heart-shaped face, glossy hair, hour-
glass figure. Moreover, as Wohlwend points out, the dolls are designed to appeal to children:
They have a clear princess identity: satin gowns and sparkly tiaras. Princesses also act as the
“prize” and fulfill their duty to marry the hero. In fact, in _____, ______, ______, ______, and
______‟s (year, pp. #) thematic analysis of 26 feature-length classic and more recent Disney
animated movies, all of the couples were heterosexual (pp. #). Most often, these couples formed
because they fell in love at first sight in 78.3% of the cases (pp.#). To be fair, ____ and
colleagues (year, pp.#) did note that in more recent movies the characters have taken some time
(e.g., friends first) or overcome obstacles (e.g., language barriers) before falling in love.
However, once the characters fell in love, they were married shortly thereafter with the
assumption that they lived happily ever after (____ et al., Year; pp.#). The message is generally
that love does not usually require any work is common in these movies.
Wohlwend suggested that at the beginning of the year, the girls‟ doll play reflected the
movies‟ illustration of couple‟s relationships. Wohlwend (2009) places these dolls and play with
the dolls into the context of the extant literature on the discourse of emphasized femininity and
observes that gender expectations such as boys having the power are present in all Disney films,
even if the heroine is independent to some degree. This assertion is supported by ____ and
colleagues (year; pp. #) who found that in 34.8% of the movies with romantic couples, there is an
uneven distribution of power in their relationships. Unfortunately, Only three of the 23 movies
with couples showed couples in an egalitarian relationship (pp. #). Despite these strong
messages, Wohlwend (2009) noticed that over time, through play and writing, the girls directly
experienced the social limitations of „passive femininity‟ and slowly began to redefine the role to
overcome the gendered obstacles present in the original stories.
Families in Disney
Wohlwend‟s (2009) observations also indicated that for the Disney players, the essential
theme was princess family mini-drama. For example, one little girl created a puppet story for
four puppets: a princess, a queen, and two kings. _____ and colleagues (year) found some very
interesting trends with respect to the portrayal of families in the Disney films. First, traditional
family structure was present in 30% of the movies, whereas „alternative‟ family structures were
featured in 61.5% of the movies. These „alternative‟ family structures ranges from step to single
parents, to adoptive homes, to community as family. Extended family members as individuals or
as community also were present in 23% of the movies. In well over half of the films, family
relationships were shown to be very important (pp. # or #s). Interestingly, only 17 of the 26
movies depicted how the family came to be: The most common theme was marriage and/or
children were the expected life course for couples (_____, et al., year; pp. #).
Another interesting finding was that 42% of the movies presented both parents, although
36% of these depicted marginalized fathers and central mothers. Single parents made up 38.5%
of the movies and were a persistent theme from the earliest movies to recent releases (_____ et
al., year, pp. #). In contrast to movies with both parents, in the movies with just one parent, 60%
included a father and the few with mothers were some of the earliest films released. In most
cases, characters became parents by giving birth. However in 30.8% of the movies, characters
adopted children who were not their own biologically – this was more prevalent for fathers
(87.5%) than for mothers (62.5%) in these particular subset of Disney films (pp. #). In the three
movies that described remarriage, two involved evil step-mothers, whereas the only step-father
was portrayed in a positive light.
_____ and colleagues‟ (year, pp. #) analysis also showed that, aside from step-mothers
and step-fathers, of the 12 movies that portrayed mothers, seven had the mother act as primary
caregiver and five had mothers act as caregiver and protector. Mothers were shown to love their
children unconditionally and from the moment she becomes a mother. The earliest released films
were more likely to depict mothers as both caretaker and protector. Conversely, of the 15 films
with descriptions of fathers, fathers were presented in a more diverse way. Some of the fathers
were controlling, aggressive, protective disciplinarians who expect their children to earn their
love. Other fathers were nuturing and affectionate or self-sacrificing (pp. # or #s).
One aspect of family life, and really of all life, is the experience of death. Even Disney
movies portray the death of a character. What messages do the deaths that occur in Disney films
send to children about death? _____, ______, and ______ (year, pp. #) analyzed 10 classic
Disney animated feature films that contained a death or had death as a theme in the story. Only
three movies with death as an element were released prior to 1970.
____, _____, and _____ (year, pp. #) found that there were a total of 23 death scenes in
the 10 movies, equally divided between antagonists and protagonists. Overall, death was implied
in 43% (10) of the deaths. However, of the deaths involving protagonists, 64% were explicit,
whereas antagonists‟ deaths were more likely to be implicit (pp. #). “Sleep‟ death was less
common than real death as well (pp. #). Most deaths (74%) were shown as permanent and
irreversible. Of the six reversible deaths, four returned in their original form and two in altered
forms (pp. #).
Negative reactions to the deaths were most common. These negative responses included
grief, crying, fear, anger and frustration over a loss (____ et al., year, pp. #). The vast majority of
negative emotional responses were for the death of a protagonist (pp. #). Seventy percent of all
deaths were on purpose and of those, 62% were justified. Accidental deaths made up the other
30% of the deaths and of these, 71% were justified (pp. #). Interestingly, ___ and colleagues
(year, pp. #) found that all of the deaths that were purposeful and justified were deaths of
antagonists, whereas all of the deaths that were purposeful and unjustified were deaths of
protagonists. The same pattern of justified and unjustified accidental deaths was found as well.
Smoking and Alcohol Use
Perhaps most troubling, with the least amount of information about how children may be
affected by watching these events in Disney movies is the portrayal of smoking and alcohol
usage. To explore this issue, ____ and ______ (year; pp.#) did a content analysis of 24 Disney
animated films released between 1937 and 2000 (ranging from Snow White to the Emperor‟s
New Groove). All the movies were G-Rated, full length features, and had at least one human
character (pp. #). .The focus of the analysis was on both use and presence of alcohol and tobacco
products and included personified alcohol and tobacco products (see Beauty and the Beast for an
____ and _____ revealed that there were 381 incidents of alcohol and tobacco exposure;
106 for tobacco and 275 for alcohol (pp. # or #s). The incidents ranged from brief exposures to
chain smoking (see Cruella DeVille) (pp. #). Only the Jungle Book, Mulan, and Fox and Hound
did not have any alcohol or tobacco present (pp. #). Also interesting was the finding that over
time, the exposure to smoking decreased but the exposure to alcohol increased and that the types
of products changed (e.g., beer was common in movies from the 1980s) (pp. # or #s).
Perhaps of more interest is who uses the alcohol and tobacco and how was it responded
to? It appears that supporting characters (76%) were the most common users in the movies (____
& _____, year; pp. #). Of these users, 57% were humans and 67% were adults (pp. #). However,
there were child uses of cigars, pipes, beer and champagne in Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Oliver
& Co (pp. #). More disturbing is that most (91%) exposures were accepted. The rejections were
minor and could be easily ignored and all but two were for tobacco (pp. # or #s). There were no
rejections for alcohol and/or tobacco in films released between 1970 and 2000
It is certainly too soon and there is certainly too little research to determine if Disney
animated movies are benign or pose a risk to children. The few research studies that are available
to date have focused on content of the movies. The next step is to examine any potential impact
repeated viewing of these movies may have on children‟s development. What is the most useful
conclusion to draw is that parents need to take a more active role and guide their children
through the film. They need to discuss the content: emphasize places where the film is fantasy
(e.g., returning from death), presents things that are stereotypes of people (e.g., step-mothers are
evil), or conflict with their family values (e.g., smoking). Parents need to determine what
messages their children are picking up from the Disney movies. Below are some more specific
conclusions that the individual authors reached.
With respect to the theme of princess identities, Wohlwend (2009) believes that children
may be avid fans, but they are not passive consumers and allowing active play and writing may
facilitate children‟s ability to resist some of the pervasive media messages about gender.
However, it should be noted that children are not immune to the messages and can not always
sort through the messages easily. Wohlwend argues that “play is not only an undervalued symbol
system of transformative practices but also a power-laden site that shapes children‟s texts,
identities, and participation in classrooms” (pp. 78). This may be necessary as ______ , ______,
_______, ______, and _______ (year, pp. #) believe that Disney films tend to present very
traditional and stereotyped presentation of couples. There is only one life course path – love,
marriage, and a baby. This may be especially problematic for girls who receive conflicted
messages: One set of messages tells girls love and marriage should be their goal in life but the
other set of messages are that in the marital relationship mothers are powerless and marginalized.
However, according to ____ and colleagues (pp. # or #s) Disney has done a good job
emphasizing the positive side of family relationships that is consistent with most families‟
values. Disney has also done fairly well with presenting diverse, if overly simplified, family
structures and is beginning to present more ethnically diverse characters and families. What is
missing are families with members of the LGBT community and a more balanced picture of
step-parents. Additionally, when a parent is absent, there is no explanation for the absence or any
sense that the absent parent has stayed involved with the children. These latter omissions may
impact children‟s expectations about families, especially in cases of divorce.
____ and colleagues (year, pp. #) concluded that children watching Disney animated
films receive the message that even good characters or people we like may die. The use of real
deaths (not implied) of the protagonists suggests that children may learn to cope with death but
that parents should be involved as those scenes may also be quite upsetting. Moreover, the
implicit deaths of the antagonists suggests to children that these deaths are unimportant relative
to the deaths of the protagonists (pp. #). The finding that most deaths were portrayed as final can
also be viewed as a positive theme as it provides children with a more realistic concept of death,
but for younger children parents need to guide children through the scenes (pp. #). Additionally,
the negative emotions expressed after the death of the protagonist may provide children with a
model of the emotions and reactions associated with grief (pp. #). However, the message about
the dearth of the antagonist was that it was not worth commenting on at all. Given that all deaths
of antagonists were justified in the films, it appears that Disney makes the antagonist so „evil‟
that they deserve to die (pp. #). In contrast, all unjustified deaths happened to protagonists
suggesting that good people never deserve to die.
Finally, what can we conclude about the use of alcohol and tobacco in movies? _____
and ______ (year, pp. #) suggest that the exposure is done in a highly comical way, with an
almost complete absence of anti-use messages. Moreover, the use or presence of alcohol or
tobacco was not really necessary to the plot (pp.#). Children also watch these movies multiple
times. However, what is missing is information about whether children notice the presence
and/or use of tobacco/acohol? Children certainly notice and re-enact the way women, men, and
families are portrayed. Similarly, children certainly notice a death scene (particularly ones like
those shown in Bambi and The Lion King), but do they notice, understand, and want to model the
use of alcholol and tobacco products? _____ and ______ (year) argue that it is a risk we do not
want to take.
1st Author last name, 1st initial, 2nd author last name, 1st initial, etc. (year). Name of the article.
Name of the Journal, volume (issue), full range of pages.
HINTS: Every line after the first one is indented; do not include the abbreviations VOL or pp;
use only the first initial of the author‟s first name; Italicize the journal name and vol #;
Be sure to put the list in alphabetical order and within a reference, keep the authors‟ names in the
Wohlwend, K. (2009). Damsels in discourse: Girls consuming and producing identity texts
through Disney Princess play. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(1), 57-83.
Death in Disney Films: Implications for Children's Understanding of Death. Cox, Meredith;
Garrett, Erin; Graham, James A.; Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, Vol 50(4), 2004. pp. 267-
Images of Couples and Families in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films. Tanner, Litsa Renée;
Haddock, Shelley A.; Zimmerman, Toni Schindler; Lund, Lori K.; American Journal of Family
Therapy, Vol 31(5), Oct, 2003. pp. 355-373.
Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide: Smoking and Drinking in Disney's Animated Classics.
Ryan, Erin L.; Hoerrner, Keisha L.; Mass Communication & Society, Vol 7(3), 2004. pp. 261-