Media has the capacity to capture an audience’s attention and influence someone’s thoughts and ideas. Due to their growing and innocent minds, media can be very influential to children, in some cases it can stick with them as they grow into adults. Recently, this idea has been more concerning because as the world and society changes, the messages these movies are portraying have not. Through their films, Disney uses gender to their advantage, to portray a false sense of what it means to be a man or woman. More so, in portraying princess characters in their films, Disney is affecting how young girls feel about themselves and how their life is going.
Though this film might first appear as if it doesn’t follow the conventional stereotypical ways of Disney’s movies, further analysis of the movie does indeed reveal that it is no different from its predecessors. This movie contains stereotypes relating to gender roles, social hierarchy and race. Most academic and parents are challenging Disney to rectify the confusion it has instilled in children concerning appropriate gender roles and since they are the ones with the most influence over children’s imaginations it is therefore their duty to ensure that their films are free of all these
Subverting the princesses’ norm clearly shows that Disney is listening to the remarks from parents. Despite this push forward, in Frozen, Anna and Elsa’s wrists are still smaller than their eyes which is unconsciously promoting the definition of beauty among young girls. Disney also has caused a major disappointment among parents through the changes made on princess Merida look in a toy form. In the online website, Disney has sold Princess Merida products with an alteration in her body image with curvy waist and big eyes. Sperling (2013) states that the changes are aligned with the idealization of beauty in most of previous princesses.
Blasphemy! How can parents possibly choose to make their children watch Disney movies? Disney movies have been a part of millions of people’s childhood. All the adventurous stories, “innocent roles”, and happy endings may seem harmless, but they are affecting the audience’s mind by sending the wrong message. Disney movies are negative for the viewers, and aren’t beneficial to children because they represent historical inaccuracies, send subliminal messages, and promote sexual activities.
However, it is important to note that not every child would pick up on this strange occurance. In their eyes, children may see a young girl who is, in the end, successfully in accomplishing her goal. It is safe to assume that perhaps the majority of these children would overlook to consequences of Ariel’s actions and to not be able to recognize the riskiness of her decisions. Similarly to Ariel, Jasmine uses her good looks and revealing outfits to save Aladdin from Jafar. She distracts Jafar by seducing him with her revealing outfit and flattering words.
The media plays a huge role in informing children on how to behave. Hollywood as an industry has a history of sexism. Movies may often have limited female roles, or show girls to be docile and subservient. The “Disney princess” phenomena arguably encourages young girls to be overly concerned with their appearances and, sadly, not much else. Young girls may grow up watching popular Disney animated features, such as Cinderella, which center on female protagonists who are obedient, passive, domesticated, and accept the status quo.
Children have an unparalleled view of the world, one that is very innocent and magical. Unfortunately, as children grow up they often lose this wonder. However, some adults do keep some aspects of their childhood wonder and happiness. Throughout the film Mary Poppins, as directed by Robert Stevenson, there is a noticeable difference between the adults that preserved their sense of wonder and those who have lost it. Through the development of the characters, Bert and Mr. Banks, Stevenson illuminates the need to preserve some of the childlike wonder, as one grows up, in order to be happy within their adult life.
Women in history were often thought of as feeble and nurturing figures, whilst men were always strong and showed little emotion. Gender roles need to stop being taught to children, every child should be given the right to explore any aspect of their personality that they may want to explore. Too often, it is seen that boys are restricted from playing with dolls and girls are often restricted from sports because they are historically associated with the opposite sex. This is just the start of how gender roles are taught, children are also taught certain mannerisms that associate them with a certain gender, such as crossing their legs or walking in a certain way. These may seem like small factors, but these all contribute to the way gender roles are dispersed, these factors have an influence on the way the child grows up and learns.
Disney portrays characters or use voice overs on actors of colored and often small derogatory roles. The appearance of someone that is dark skinned is not enough to appease the need for real representation. This can lead to make a child think that in all social situations, the less generous represent person automatically will be included in a less important category which will cause the child to have a negative effect on their self esteem in a sub conscious level. Disney treat these films as subtle without explanation and shown as entirely natural behaviors. Most of the Disney movies holding the theme for a strong female lead with seeming individuality and strength is reduced by the end of the story to have no more than interest than to earn a handsome man.
There have been several informative researchers that address gender role portrayals in children’s media. Through the years, Disney has received criticism for their gender interpretations and absence of color diversity (May, 2011). But that scenario changed after the release of Princess and The Frog 58 years later. However, as gender roles have changed, the female characters in Disney animations have also changed with gaining more importance in their roles (Yerby, Baron, & Lee, n.d., pp. 1-11).