Dangers of Disney and Cautions of Conglomerates

Blast From the Past 

JacksTake a stroll down memory lane with me for a second. Think back to your childhood. What did you and your friends do for fun? What kind of games did you play? What kind of toys did you have?

Your experiences will vary based on the year you were born. Generation X babies, like my mom, were born between the 1960s and 1980s. They have memories of simple, cheap toys like jacks. They spent most of their time playing outdoors instead of watching TV.

Millennials, like myself, were born between the 1980s and early 2000s. We watched a lot of TV growing up and had an increased amount of toys to bug our parents about.

Today’s generation of kids are consumed heavily by the media and latest technologies. There’s a current trend of increased commercialization and deregulation. This means kids have easier access to an increased amount of toys and products because of the media and advertising.

Ideological Criticism

If you’re reading this blog post then it’s safe to say that you are old enough to understand the dangers of commercialization targeted at today’s generation of kids. However, kids are gullible. Unfortunately, advertisers take advantage of their innocence. Bottom line is kids don’t understand that they’re oftentimes victims of the media.

Time for some terms!

Ideological criticism is the study of how ideologies are produced by institutions. More importantly, how these ideologies go unnoticed and unchallenged. Ideology is a means of exerting power. It’s an instrument dominant elites use to control others in hopes of maintaining existing power relations. Please note that this power isn’t overt or violent. In some ways it’s worse than that. It’s subliminal power that’s just accepted as natural and normal. The next term is hegemony, which is the type of power elites exert over others.

Political economists look closely at the social role of ownership in advertising and marketing practices. They’re concerned about the growing power of global media conglomerates in advertising and marketing.

Still having trouble understanding? No worries! Let me explain more in detail.

Dangers of Disney

espn-disney-abcDisney is a huge conglomerate! They own a variety of assets. The companies I was most surprised about Disney owning are ABC Television Network, Marvel Studios and ESPN. So you’re probably thinking so what if Disney owns these companies. What’s the big deal? It is very dangerous for a company to have many assets. When one company has control over a lot of assets then only one set of values is circulated in our social world.

The huge problem with Disney is that its main target audience is kids. Therefore, Disney has a huge influence on children’s values. They don’t teach children different values, but only one set of values. Mickey Mouse Monopoly examines the role Disney has in kid’s lives.

The film looks at how important Disney characters are to children. These characters are so important that kids form emotional attachments. Synergistic practices makes these attachments stronger. Synergy is a huge concern of political economists. Lets use myself as an example. How embarrassing!

I was obsessed with Pocahontas as a kid. I would pretend to be Pocahontas in the waterfall scene (1:26) while taking baths with my cousin. Not only did I own the movie, but I had a Pocahontas blanket, kitchen dining set and puzzle. Cross-production, cross-promotion and cross-advertising are becoming increasingly common.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only girl who has every thought she was a Disney princess. Many girls have probably acted out their favorite scenes from a Disney movie. However, some things in Disney movies like, gender role stereotypes, shouldn’t always be imitated.

Original_eightEarly Disney princesses such as, Cinderella, Snow White and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, embody outdated gender role characteristics. These princesses were all helpless and needed to be saved by men. Pocahontas, Mulan and Rapunzel from Tangled are more adventurous, brave and strong-willed. However, they ultimately need assistance from men as well. Also, they end up with their male counterparts in the end of the movie.

This ending that we continuously see in Disney movies makes it seem as though females’ main purpose in life should be finding true love and being desirable to men. Kids are constantly being exposed to these ideologies. What’s worse is they don’t even realize the exposure, which is why ideologies are dangerous.

Consuming Kids

motorola-razr-originalConsuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood is another important film to examine when discussing ideological criticism. The film really illustrates the amount of influence and access advertisers have in relation to children.

On my 13th birthday, I was given a cellphone. It was a flip phone that only made calls, not texts. Can you believe it?! Some would argue that I was too young for a cellphone I wonder what they think today when they see 6-year-old first graders with iPhones, iPads and iMacs.

Today’s generation of kids have the latest technologies, gadgets and products. Companies are marketing kids like never before! The big issue is that commercials aren’t just about products, but instead about values.

How many times have you heard a commercial telling kid’s that they have to have the latest backpack, lunchbox or shirt? This is placing a value on material items. Oftentimes victims of bullies are kids who don’t have the latest products. What’s seen as the latest trends is mostly determined by the media. Therefore, the media play a big role in the increased amount of bullying seen in schools.

Let’s look at a back to school JC Penny commercial as an example.

The commercial is placing value on looks and fashion instead of education. The girl talks about the importance of the first day of school outfit. Then continues by saying that she’ll look fashionable every day by shopping at JC Penny. So a girl’s main concern every day of school should be her outfit choices? I wouldn’t want fashion to be part of my child’s priority list.

Children are growing up under the impression that what they have, buy and own are the most important things about them as a person. I’m scared to see how these children will function once they become adults.

Next Steps

I’m sure many of us have kids we care about in our lives. It’s important for us to protect them as best as we can. We have a role in protecting our kids from the media, but we can’t do it all on our own. It’s vital for us to speak up. We need to ask marketers to be more socially responsible.

GoldieBlox is tired of ads playing the worst stereotypes of girls. They want girls to know that they don’t have to be princesses. Instead they can work towards becoming architects, engineers, etc.

If GoldieBlox can take a stand, so can we. I accept the challenge. Do you?


One Response to “Dangers of Disney and Cautions of Conglomerates”

  1. yuanyuanlexiwang Says:

    Hi, Cierra.
    I knew you first by your cute photograph at NBC 5 Chicago. You have a beautiful smile.

    Your work on blog is impressive. Your use of the Disney films at this blog is very good. You talked about the dangers of Disney and the cautions of conglomerates. What is especially good is how you made them connect to our generation. I also like how you structured, your analysis, by giving your reader subtitles and then going on to illustrate your media text.

    The Hardee’s Print Ad was a very good choice. That post discusses about gender roles in 1950s. You described in much detail each sign, such as blonde hair, and its potential meaning. However, the “Semiotic” part on the second blog, “Importance of Understanding the Big Picture”, may be a little confused to some readers without media criticism knowledge background. As far as I am concerned, it would be more readable and pellucid with more explanations.

    With all that said, I was expecting more uses of hyperlinks to outside sources to give audience like me more additional information about some concepts and theories.

    Overall, I think your blogs are very insightful and the writing is really good.
    I really enjoy reading them:)

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