Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Talking Points #4

Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us by Linda Christensen

     Of all the reading's we have done so far, I enjoyed this one the most so far. It really got me thinking about my childhood and things that were shaping me and my beliefs without me even knowing.
   Christensen, when working with her students and cartoons asks "What would children learn about what's important in this society?" I asked myself the same question and was really saddened by my thoughts. The very things we loved as children are contributing to issues such as the rules and codes of power and the luxury of obliviousness argued by Delpit and Johnson in previous readings.
  Something right in front of your face is often easy to look past.  How is it that all this stereotyping just sort of slipped by in editing? The fact that it did, is in itself the problem. We need to take notice and put forth the effort to change this and the fact that it is so engrained in us to overlook it.

   I really love the Disney princess movies, but I see both sides. The first being where Disney likes to think of the princesses as role models but they're the source of insecurities and they teach young girls that they need a man to be happy (this example being in cartoon form above).  The other side however is that the movies really do teach good lessons.  For example, Mulan teaches girls that courage is often rewarded, Pocahontas teaches girls to never be afraid to lead and be yourself, and Belle teaches girls to never be afraid to explore beyond the limits. Both are valid arguments with much support from all the movies.
     This also got my mind reeling about Disney princesses and race. All of the princesses are beautiful, thin, well spoken WHITE women.  I'll give it to Disney - yes, you did add in Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Esmeralda (who I consider a princess!) but it took them until just recently to have an African American princess. Disney makes many attempts to create cultural diversity in its films and its other products and tries to reach a broad audience and occasionally has marketing campaigns directed towards minorities, but are they really successful?  It honestly still seems like Disney films work to maintain the invisibility of whiteness.
     What made me feel better about this reading though, was that I wasn't oblivious to these things. For whatever reason - I've always noticed the flaws in media and television shows - probably because I would consider myself a victim of the stereotyping of women. As a child, I always remember wanting to look more like the women in magazine adds; thin, white and beautiful - and I never felt like any of those things growing up. I even wanted it to such an extent that for a long time, I would avoid going outside in the sun because for whatever reason, in my mind, I hated getting a tan (being Native American, I get a tan very easily). I'm repulsed by the fact that I was driven to that as a child, not for health reasons like the avoidance of skin cancer but for vanity purposes.
   In class I would like to bring up what I mentioned before about Disney princesses - mainly if anyone else had noticed it before this reading. I could probably talk about this article for days so I'm hoping other people have have as much to say about this article as I do.


Vinny said...

Yo, I am about to argue this on my blog. You have been forewarned.

Sammi Machado said...

I personally agree with you, Heather. I see posts like this all the time, concerning the Disney princesses. Yes, Disney finally produced an African American princess, but she wasn't a princess at first. She was poor and she was still the stereotypical person from New Orleans. I think Disney tried to make up for it by having her work hard, but in the end the moral was you can't work too hard! Although Disney did take me a little off guard by making Charlotte (the beautiful rich blonde, of course) Tiana's best friend. I personally thought she was going to turn out to be a spoiled brat who mistreated Tiana. (Yes she was spoiled, but at least she was still Tiana's friend.) Nevertheless, it took them what, 60 years to create an African American princess, and the final animated Disney princess movie was yet another white woman. Disney (and other media) still has a long way to go to "incorporate diversity"!
I also agree with you about wanting to look like the models in magazines, but where you wanted white skin, I always longed to be tan. I used to have a tan that I was so proud of, until I moved up here where I very rarely go outside now due to my small yard and lack of outdoor activities. I really miss my tan and always feel so pale and ugly when I'm next to someone who goes to a tanning salon or something like that. Women are taught to be self-conscious at an early age, and it does absolutely nothing to help with our self esteem!
(Sorry for the mini essay as a comment-I had a lot more to say than I thought, haha)

Phil kenney III said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil kenney III said...

As a parent we have to let our children know the moral of these stories and watch them as entertainment not a way of life. There are good things being tought in these movies but the underlying things we see as educated people as we critique them they get exposed. They are for fun not a blueprint for life.

kathryn.carr said...

It's so sad that these movies impact us all and make us believe that we "should" look and dress a certain way. I still love Disney movies, but I'm glad I can see them as just movies with characters, whereas some actually look up to the characters and view them as REAL people.