June 10, 2008

Wonderful World of Disney

Currently, I am taking a class at The Ohio State University entitled “Media Ethics.” I won’t complain about the course, or the professor, because that is not what a blog is for. However, I have begun to work on my final paper for the class. My topic, you ask? My task was to find a book that analyzes some sort of media and then find criticisms of said book. My assignment is to write an 8-12 page paper about what I discovered from all of this research. Here are a few opinions that may change as I read on, but for now… this is where I stand.

Disney is obviously a very influential source on children. The book entitled Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film by Annalee R. Ward discusses this topic in depth by looking critically at the films The Lion King, Pocahontas, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan. Ward’s argument is that Disney films can teach and impose ideas upon children. The idea is presented that Disney films instills moral values that are normally instilled by parents and society more effectively.

While to a degree there is no way to doubt that Disney’s versions of stories effect children. I wasn’t a child all that long ago, and I still long to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I’ve got the red hair, just need the tail, the beautiful singing voice, and um… other certain assets that Disney has always been very generous with giving its heroines. But that is what Disney instilled in me a child: that women should voice their minds, be smart, tell the truth, and be beautiful. Perhaps I’ll get some hate mail by saying this, but I still believe that the perfect woman would be like that.

But Ward take everything to a completely different level. She doesn’t mean that morals are shaped as innocently as mine above. For example, did you know that the The Lion Kingis a very religious story? No? Allow me to explain. In the beginning everything is perfect at Pride Rock(paradise), where Mufasa (God) oversees the happiness of all. Then there’s the tragic fall (Mufasa dies). After the fall, there’s the desert wondering of Simba through Africa having been run-off by his evil uncle Scar. Scar takes over ruling Pride Rock (the reign of Satan). Of course, that calls for needing the return of a savior (Simba’s childhood friend Nala seeks him out to save Pride Rock). Immediately following is the destruction of the Earth (here, Pride Rock is slowly being destroyed by Scar’s hyennia sidekicks). But finally, the rightful king returns and takes his place as the savior and regains the thrown, thus making everything peaceful once again. Needless to say, SImba returns and everyone is happy.

If you ever had an English teacher in high school that looked for God in every book he/she assigned, this will cause those memories to come screaming back. Yes, I believe that Disney attempts to teach children valuable lessons. Are they preaching about the rise and fall of God and Satan? I really doubt it. Is it possible that Disney was simply trying to get the message across that being a good person and doing the right thing will always prevail over being a bad person? That’s how I always pictured it. Something tells me Disney would never force religious views upon children.

Can’t we all just watch Disney without looking for God references?

No comments: