Turn on the TV
I really enjoyed the reading for this week. I found Steve F. Anderson aritcle “Technologies of History” very interesting just because the subject of history and how it is told after passing from one generation to another, why is it that we remember some parts while other are forgotten? and also it is very interesting to me how we choose to fill the gaps and why we choose to fill it with that specific content.
I found Lynn Spiegel “The Domestic Economy of Television Viewing in Postwar America” alot more interesting. In the article Spiegel examines how TV that came into people’s homes influenced their everyday lives and led them to make changes in their homes and their lives.
Personally while reading the article I could not stop thinking on one of my all time favourite TV shows “Married with Children” and especially about the bonbon loving character of Peggy Bundy. While growing up I watched the show numerous times and I ended up thinking that this is a parody of sitcoms from the 60’s such as “The Brady Bunch”, and other shows that showed the “perfect family”, but instead during the 90’s we get the most disfuctional family we have ever seen.
After reading Spiegel’s article I think I have a better understanding on “Married with Children” and how that show is actually critical towards the whole idea of TV. I have no idea what is the percentage of the scenes that happens in their living room infront of the TV or how many references their are to other shows but it seems like alot. It seems like all they want is to focus on the screen and not come in contact with one another. And after reading Speigel’s article I find that very interesting becuase it seems to me that, that is the message of the show: how we transformed from “The Brady Bunch” into “The Bundy Bunch”.
Your application of Spiegel’s article to Married With Children has given me a new level of appreciation for the show and what it stood for. I used to watch that show and the Brady Bunch with my dad when I was younger, and never quite understood how the Brady Bunch could have done such a terrible job of representing domestic life while Married With Children was so much more believable and entertaining. I later realized the shows were a depiction of the “average” American family from two entirely different time periods, and now have a better understanding of what occurred between those periods, and how it relates to Spiegel’s writings.
In the reading by Lynn Spigel, I was under the impression that the essay would be about the effect’s of television on the American housewife. Upon further reading I began to suspect that it was directed towards a specific audience, and that is the upper and middle class housewife, contributing to a classic nuclear family structure. This essay to me, seems to be assuming that its audience already has the luxury to not have to perform a job outside of the home. It also seems to blame part of the problems of female isolation to a “radical reduction in the number of domestic servants.” This part seemed problematic for me in the way that is seemed to marginalize workers who may be of a lower class and without the luxury of maybe not even owning a television in the first place. This is something that I would not mind about looking into further in a class discussion.
Aside from that, I found the essay to be interesting in the way that is shows a way in which the television went from just being an entertainment devise to a machine that the entire house would cater through spatial arrangements. I was also fascinated by the way the author describes the way in which women’s magazines were translated through television with adds and the style of the soap opera to appeal to a specific audience.
I have always enjoyed speculative or alternative historical narratives in new media and or the reenactment of moments in history from a unique perspective. As Steve Anderson observes in “Technologies in History” such narratives and spark or revoke awareness and conversations relevant in modern culture.
I noticed just the other day that the History channel is showing the World War II global conflict as it would have been seen from space which will, in my opinion introduce this history to a new generation in a way that they will better relate to. I am curious to hear from the rest of the class of other historical TV narratives on TV that they feel do this as well.
I really enjoyed this weeks discussions – given the chance, I can spend all day in front of the TV, but I have never understood the ‘beginnings’ of the TV, and how powerful it was in consumerism.
I found it amazing how much the television redesigned the home (Spigel, ‘The Domestic Economy of Television Viewing in Postwar America’ 1989); architects actually changed the design of family homes for one item within the home? This indicates how powerful an item the television was going to be from the beginning, and architects and advertisers were going to ensure they were ready to utilise this new tool. They knew there were advert breaks during shows, and so they could promote products to make TV watching ‘easier’, e.g. the TV dinner. Consumption of TV lead the viewer to see these new products advertised, they may have purchased these items, which made TV viewing easier, and thus the cycle of consumerism was started.
I was also really interested in the ideas raised regarding the exploration of historical events in the ‘Technologies of History: Visual Media and the Eccentricity of the Past’ reading. The repetition of the historical events seen as part of the healing process can be opposed by considering an idea that Roland Barthes raises in his book ‘Camera Lucida’. He states the ‘potential to loose lost loved ones twice over’ through photographs, and undoubtably this can be applied to the repetition of historical events. Are we really learning to accept past events, or is this repetition indicative of another practice we are using (subconsciously) surrounding shocking events?
I realized when I got home that my comment did not post, so I’ve reposted it again.
I really enjoyed this week’s readings. I felt like they acted as a catalyst/’ah-ha!’ moment for the direction I want to take my research and general scholarly interests. Mass media and communication and “proper” scholarly disciplines such as history, literature, and art history seem to have a schism between them. My own personal research interests lie somewhere in between – bridging this gap so to speak.
I enjoyed the Gray/Lotz piece and their discussion of theory and methodological approaches. The information they gave reminded me a lot of a quote by Henry Glassie, an American folklorist who taught at Indiana University, Bloomington – and it also kind of helps to bridge the gap between telelvision/film and history/art history in my brain.
“A method based on the document is prejudiced; fated to neglect the majority of people, for they were non-literate and, within the boundaries of literacy, to neglect the majority of people, for they did not write. Even today in societies of almost universal literacy it is a rare soul who bequeaths to future historians a written account of his thought…How can you study a society if you attend only to the expressions of a small and deviant class within the whole?”
Glassie, Gray, and Lotz make a good point with television (or in Glassie’s case material culture) being a legitmate source in which to study society, and one that has potential to represent contemporary society (arguably better than the written document).
I enjoyed the break down in Gray/Lotz of the areas that needed more study. I was particularly drawn to the section on aesthetics and television (as well as fan culture). I think it would be cool to write a paper on horror and the sublime using the television show American Horror Story. There is the part where they mention how an aspect of studying television will encompass how television is viewed and disseminated – this made me think of internet memes as something that could be studied as a sort of compact image of these mass media images from television, film, video games, etc.
Spigel’s article on how television programming was created to appeal to and reinforced gender and domestic roles was very interesting. Studying how viewing practices of television has changed over time and what this reveals about the society in which the viewing takes places is an interesting mode of inquiry. I don’t own a television, but I frequently watch a variety of television shows on my laptop. I wonder how this change will impact television studies, audience studies, and film studies.
I agree to an extent that television is a “legitimate source in which to study society”, but at the same time, there are some constraints. It’s difficult to study television as though it is a means of looking at society rather than just another aspect of society. The culture shapes the programming, and in turn the programming shapes the culture. At some point it becomes so ingrained in the society’s consciousness it’s hard to tell if you’re looking at the effects of television on society or vice versa.
I especially enjoyed Anderson’s article this week, science fiction though seemingly prone to outlandishness does serve as a forum to discuss social issues, concerns, and angst within society. I went so far as to watch a clip of the Star Trek episode mentioned in the article, and I very much appreciated the creativity of that episode’s approach. However, like Anderson I must concede that filmic presentations of history are primarily concerned with their stories’ arcs rather than with presenting realistic accounts of the past.
That causes me to question whether or not that is a bad thing. All historians are prone to the same sort of structure in their tellings of the past. It seems as though we are programmed to desire a story with conflict and then closure. Why though? Why do we so desperately search out a nicely packaged account of facts in our lives? We see throughout our world’s religions and even our understandings of history this desire to see rising conflict, climax, and resolution. Is it possible that we are too uncomfortable with the less structured reality with all of its foibles?
In Steve Anderson’s first chapter from, “Technologies of History: Visual Media and the Eccentricity of the Past,” I found that the material ranging from the description of the Star Trek episode (properly titled), “Patterns of Force,” to the idea of history, “in order to be ‘lost,’ history would first have to be ‘found,” very intriguing. This article had me hungry to read more and simply created a desire in me to do more research.
Similar to what Jay stressed, I find the line between the director’s desire, or whoever is in power’s desire, and presenting accurate accounts of history problematic. However, I find it beautiful that through fiction one might find the liberties to more easily articulate or express their thoughts on past, present, and future to bring about forums of discussion within one’s own mind and within a fan base or whatever that result in examination of history, medium, present, and future. I liked this idea of, “making our own ‘history future’ at every moment.” It puts power back in the idea of one’s attempted choice in how they live, in how they research, how they create, and how they think.
Turbo arguably tries to have a diverse and positive set of characters, but manages to be blatantly offensive. A lot of the offensive characters are intended to be sympathetic, but employ derogatory stereotypes. Also, the interaction the have constructs some horrible implications on race relations.
Turbo on one hand is supposed to represent the underdog, being out-casted from his community for being an individual. On the surface this is a good message about individuality and being who you are despite norms. But at the same time, it is ludicrous in that the “outcast” is a hyper-masculine character that society in general celebrates and pressure men to be. Also, the victory and glorification of the character comes in the form of him becoming hyper-masculine.
Chet is a caring brother but also one to support social norms. While it is good that Turbo is depicted how heroic for living dreams his brother placed limitations on, that it is the non-hyper masculine character that is the holder of social norms seems to ignore our own cultural and historical reality. People like Turbo are already shown favoritism.
Tito seems to exist in order to make Michael Bay seem subtle in his racist stereotypes. He is a Mexican character that is fat, ignorant, and vocally constantly reminding you of his ethnicity. While the mutual kindness between him and Turbo can be seen as a message of non-discrimination, it is a glaring flaw that Tito’s dream is simply to provide Turbo the proper service so that he may live his dream. He lives in servitude of Turbo. The same message is given with group of snails this consists of various races. They hold a friendship with Turbo, but live to serve him.
Tito’s friends/family are don’t follow the idealized constructs, but also does nothing to develop them. Paz depicts a physically robust woman, but can only really be identified as this. Kim-Ly is most notable for the fact that she is an Asian stereotype, yelling in a thick accent and doing manicures. His brother Angelo is a Mexican that can mostly be identified for wanting to sell tacos and shutting down Tito’s dreams, thus a “Mexican-ized” equivalent of Turbo’s brother. To their credit, they can all be caring characters, and a non-traditional notion of family, but it is equal parts damaging how forced their race is.
Guy is the foreign villain for Turbo to defeat, and that is about it. Maybe he is good in that he, the foreign character, was the idealized character, but that was only to give the white character in the film initiative. It also is to make Turbo’s rise against him all the more powerful and heroic. He also is a fawp archetype, presenting the notion of the feminine European man.
Again, this film does seem to try, but it obeys to many stereotypes to be successful. How the creators cannot notice these flaws absolutely floors me. Friendship is depicted bonding races, but stereotypes and ethnocentrism stand out strong.
I really hated having to sit through Turbo. The high point of that experience was when I was trying to sneak back to my seat quietly, tripped over something, and smashed my shins. I agree completely with your critiques. I especially like your jab at Michael Bay (high five!).
It almost seems that creators are at the point that they are aware of the stereotypes, but chose to avoid adding them. I try and think of how I could change the characters to avoid that, such as how would I portray Tito. Making him slimmer, with a fitted shirt, and selling hamburgers at a place called Two Brothers would take away some stereotypes. At the same time it would eliminate some heritage I feel like. I think stereotypes are harder to avoid when trying to portray a cast of multicultural characters than it looks.
Your thoughts on how races are depicted in Turbo are interesting. I didn’t think about how the characters such as Tito were so very typecast. I agree that Tito is steteotyped to some extent but not in a negative way. I mean Tito is a caring and friendly guy. I feel that Titos motivations for helping Tufbo go beyond him blindly serving Turbo. Tito wants Turbo to help bring business to him and his brothers fledgling restaurant. There seems to be mutual benefit in their friendship.
So this weeks’ article on Disney was pretty interesting but I have have a couple of points I would like to make that diverge a little from what the author was trying to get across. For starters I thought her argument was a little weak. I didn’t quite get the point she was trying to make about animals not displaying human characteristics? I guess she meant that in a movie like Bambi the creatures actually looked like creatures instead of say Robin Hood where they are walking around and wearing clothes like people. But my point is even though they were drawn like animals they still acted like people.
Also the Little Mermaid is an abomination. I think she is a really terrible role model for just about anyone. The message I take away from that movie is being yourself is not good enough. She not only had to change her personality but her species to get Prince Eric’s attention. Also, when Prince Eric finally gets to de-flower her how is that not beastality? She’s a fish/human hybrid.
Which brings me to my next point Disney movies are sexual. Sure they may not show it nor even mention it but all those Princes cant wait to bump uglies with their lady counterparts. Prince Eric couldn’t wait for Ariel to get legs so he could get between them, and all I’m saying is it’s a good thing the guy from Sleeping Beauty wasn’t in a frat because he probably wouldn’t have waited for her to wake up otherwise.
Also, the article seemed to want to make the point that Pocahontas was the most positive Disney princess and I would have to whole-hardheartedly disagree. If you know anything about American history you know how brutally Native Americans were treated by the white man and Pocahontas is no exception. The real Pocahontas ultimately turned her back on her rich ancestry to move to England and change her name to Rebecca of all things.
I liked reading the part of Furniss’ chapter about Disney re-using gags in a lot of their productions. I can’t help but wonder if this is what inspired Seth McFarlane to beat jokes to death on Family guy 70+ years later.
I also liked reading about Snow White because somewhere along the line I heard that was Hitler’s favorite movie ever. I don’t know why but that cracks me up for some reason and now I can’t help but make that association. Also, the chapter goes on to say that Joseph Goebbels (another charming character) was inspired by the movie as well.
Finally, I have to remark on the use of Disney’s prolific racism in their movies. Furniss casually mentions a memo that talks about removing the phrase “Ol’ darky” from a movie because it’s objectionable. Really? Ya don’t say? (that’s sarcasm)
I agree with your argument about Disney adding sex to their films, however I think all media does in some aspect. Growing up I never really thought of any of the Disney movies as sexual, but when pointed out, sure it can be found. I also think Disney movies add too much death to their films. I get that its a simple way to show a strong amount of emotion in a short amount of time, but all I can think of from Disney movies growing up is that someone is going to die.
Ya know whats funny here is that I had just got done ranting about Frozen and you mention both Pocahontas and the little mermaid.
One of the 3 writers for Frozen was Chris Buck. Buck just happens to have gotten his feet wet with The Little Mermaid, and Pocahontas. Maybe the problem isn’t Disney per say, but the outdated way of thinking employed by their writers? I also agree about the Pocahontas message, may we all marry off into white culture and finally be at peace…
I was always a fan of Mulan when it came to princess movies. It was probably due to the fact that she had such a masculine role with her sword and what not. The sexism seemed to be present in that movie, but at least it was within a more appropriate context.
Yeah, the animal thing annoyed me to, for they still have expressive qualities that can be attributed to being human. Agree whole heartedly on the issue of racism and the problems with Pocahantas, and like that your were able to compare Walt Disney toe Seth Macfarlane. Well done. I wish I added what you had to say about Ariel having to change who she is to be with who she wants. Though a strange possibility ticking in my head is that maybe in a way she is Disneys first trans heroine. She doesn’t change sex but she does change body to what she identifies more with. That being she still has to change a lot to get a guy. And yeah, Sleeping Beauty is creepy that way, which while Eric’s “rescue” is not sex, it is still a form of sexual intimacy with a conscious girl. Also, that did happen in some of the early myths. And yeah, Disney is not always good in portrayals of race. In fact, there is a scene cut out go Fantasia that demonstrates this.
Your post was hilarious, I enjoyed reading it. But since I posted about Ariel being a good role model, I thought I might try to offer a different viewpoint. What if it’s not that Ariel can’t be herself to be happy, but rather that she is trying to change a situation she is not happy with instead? She’d rather be “a part of that world,” the human world, and that means she’s just going to have to change her form of locomotion. She’s still Ariel, just as you are still Zane without your beard. She only wants something better for herself, and I think she came into being who she was always meant to be by the end of the film.
The animals in Sleeping Beauty were pointed out, and I think that is because they are probably the furthest from human like of all the Disney films I can remember. They do not look, move, or even talk like humans like in most Disney films. However they still show emotion towards a human which gives them a human quality.
The rare moments I do not see a human quality in a Disney film is when the animals are strictly pets and the story has no focus on them at all. In Toy Story the family dog was portrayed as a dog and I don’t see any human qualities at all. I think a Disney movie following animals without giving them human characteristics would just feel like the Discover Channel.
I have always wondered what makes Disney movies involve so many animals to their films. Is it the because the general audience loves animals, or is it more interesting to see animals have emotions and problems like humans? I think its mostly due to the dynamic possibilities of adding animals. There are so many different species which makes character possibilities endless, as well as environment. Its weird to think back at all the Disney movies I’ve watched and take the plot and story lines and add them to human characters only.
Going back to what Furniss wrote about Aesop’s Fables, it seams that Disney just followed the lead here. Furniss wrote that the fables used animals to save face from the actual people being referenced to within the tales. Perhaps Disney too has a few undertones and hidden intentions within their animal cast?
I think we as human beings know that we have more intelligent minds than animals. So when we see animals acting in a more human nature like in the Fox and the Hound, we understand that those messages are really meant for us. That whole premise is about still being able to be friends even if the world says you are to different.
Regardng why animals, one of the reasons would have been you can get away with things regarding animals that you can’t with humans, such as Thumper’s love interest’s flirtatious gestures. Also, if Minnie was a human, those strange amounts of panty shots would be scandalous, at least for Disney anyway (there was Betty Boop after all). Regarding animals covering up people, yeah, Dumbo is a case in point of that. Two different stories. Some say Walt Disney made it in part to shame the workers (in the film, the clowns) for trying to screw him over. Also, I can not remember who wrote it, I’ll have to ask, but there was an essay about how the people behind it slipped any messages against Disney.
I think one of the coolest parts about animation are the world’s you can make come to life that you can’t with live action. For instance, it wasn’t until the Incredible that Pixar made a movie just about humans. It had the ability to make toys, ants, monsters and fish come to life first, so it did that. And I’m extremely glad for that. Just another movie about humans when you have this awesome new way of bringing something to life would’ve been boring, and even the Incredibles was about superheroes. This has always been my favorite part of animation, as this is the one thing that only it can do.
I did enjoy the section Furniss wrote on story telling. The way fables are more of a lesson to be learned compared to folk tails. Legends of history made separate from myths to explain the great mysteries. What puzzles me here is that besides Aesop’s Fables, Mother Goose, The Brothers Grim and Hans Christian anderson, there really hasn’t been any recent original stories or lessons. Children s books have been attempting to keep up with recent times with books like ‘Dot,’ Written by Randi Zuckerberg, Marks sister, about a girl who uses electronics. One of originality that does come to mind within the last 50 years is Shel Silverstien. Shel did have some amazing tails, hell, he wrote the song ‘A Boy Named Sue.’
What sets shell apart from Disney is the way he could write an all encompassing message. Here is one of his poem’s called the ‘Musn’ts.’ “Listen to the mustn’ts child, listen to the don’ts, listen to the shouldn’t s the impossibles the wont’s, listen to the never haves then listen close to me, anything can happen child, anything can be.” Though Shell is a Jewish male, the message here transcends any gender stereotyping. Disney on the other hand is still stuck on outdated traditions.
This brings me to what Davis had implied about the female role in disney films becoming progressively independent and strong willed. It would have been nice for Disney to support this theory but having viewed the most recent animation, ‘Frozen,’ it shows that there is still room for improvement. Not only is frozen incorrectly adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘Snow Queen,’ but it also takes away from female independence by having Anna set out on a brave mission on her own only to find herself incapable without a males support. I would also like to add the overwhelming emphasis on the need to get married. If Disney was not this mecca of tradition and story tales forming morals and lessons for children around the world, this may have not been as disappointing as it was.
Disney is pretty messed up. I still can’t get over how the studio has been around for a zillion years and it was only recently a black princess was in one of their movies. In addition, I don’t believe there have been any Hispanic princess despite their numbers in society.
Also Grimm’s fairy tales are pretty disturbing. They don’t really have happy endings, and if they were made into Disney movies accurately they would probably shake up the status quo quite a bit haha
Well early fables were really about trying to scare the crap out of children so they would not be bad. I would hardly think that the Brothers Grimm stories about Little Red Riding Hood would be a great tale for children. Because their story is far different than the one we know today.
Well as a child I loved movies like the Lion King from Disney, I did not think at the time that these were animals and not humans. I guess from a young age even I realized then that animals can not talk. But this week’s article about Disney really made me think about why I did not care that they were animals, because they seemed more like people to me. I felt bad for Simba that his father had died, because I could not fathom at the thought of my own father not being around. But when I watch a film like Pocahontas and we see the funny animals there, I know that those are just animals. Like what Furniss talks about story-telling, those animal characters in Pocahontas or more or less supporting characters and have no real emotional depth to them. I guess that I agree that when animal characters are turned more human that we sympathize with them more.
It was interesting to read about Pocahontas being the most positive Disney princess to be created, and I would have to agree. I mean she is not perfect, especially if we are going to talk about the 2nd film that came out. But I won’t because direct to DVD movies hardly count for me. She is strong character for growing adult girls as the movie tries to deal with destiny and what path Pocahontas should take. She also stands up for what she believes to be right by saving John Smith from execution. It somewhat reversed the whole allegory of the damsel in distress, as this time it was John in need of rescuing.
One of the things that does trouble me about Disney is their somewhat reluctance to talk about their past racist behaviors in their animations. Especially during World War 2 when they made some really racist propaganda cartoons. At least the looney tunes and Warner Bros had a disclaimer and talked about on their DVD’s that some of their material was wrong. They at least try to explain their history and apologize for it.
I found this weeks chapter in Furniss was a good read. Anyone familiar with popular culture knows the conventions and style of Disney animated features. When most people think of animation their mind instantly thinks of the Disney classics. This is an example of how very influential Disney is in the arena of animation.
What kept my attention in this chapter are the tidbits of Disney animation studios history that are not well known. I had no idea that Disney started in live action/animation hybrid and switched focus to complete animation because it was easier. Who would have guessed! The section that talks about how the growth of the studio led to unionization efforts and strikes reminded me of how many Corporations of today try to resist unionization. (Wal mart). Strange to know that Walt Disney was often a ruthless businessman as well as a visionary.
I also thought it was interesting that Disney stuck more to live action back in its earlier years. It’s hard to picture them emphasizing in anything that isn’t full-animation nowadays, mostly because it seems as though more time and budget goes towards their animations, except for maybe Pirates of the Caribbean.
Furniss’s and Davis’s articles on Disney shed some interesting light on a few topics that I had previously not given much thought to, but now have a new perspective and appreciation for, mainly regarding the use of anthropomorphic animals either in place of humans or alongside humans. If the main character is an animal, then it has to be identifiable as both an animal and a “person” or else the audience cannot relate to it. An animation would scarcely be successful as a feature length if it only depicted animals going about their normal business, lacking sentience and eating grass. Even films that attempt to show animals facing actual animal problems such as Watership Down have to personify the characters in some way in order to create a narrative. An animation surrounding an rabbit just sitting around and sniffing things would lack a plot, which would be fine if you were going for experimental, but that was not the goal of classical-era Disney. This is why Watership Down, though not a Disney film, features rabbits struggling with totalitarianism, starvation, industrialism, and refugee life. Those are topics humans understand, and we can follow a story featuring those themes. If the animals exist as the main characters, they need to be personified to fill the void left by humans in the film so the audience can connect to it. If the animals exist alongside humans, like in Pocahontas or Babe, they need to predominantly exhibit animalistic traits so as not to draw the audience connection entirely away from the human characters. Outside of your normal reality, it’s easy to identify with Simba as he copes with the loss of his father. Within the constraints of farm life, however, if Babe were to speak directly to the warden from the Green Mile, it would shatter our connection to that reality. We can tolerate animals communicating with each other as long as the humans can’t understand them, because that’s how we perceive animals in the real world. If they were to cross that barrier, however, it would be too jarring to be taken seriously in the same way, and if you began to think about it too much, you would struggle to identify with the film as fantasy or reality. Case in point, think about why Brian Griffin talks and yet none of the other animals in Family Guy do. The viewer can still identify with the character, but their animalism can’t be believed in the same manner.
Studying films at SIUC I never really found myself applying what I’ve learned from classic cinema and apply it to Disney films it really has opened my eyes to this wave of story telling. So after this reading it was interesting this week the story of women role through time period of 89-05 was dramatically changed, originally characterizing them as content housewife to being women who not only were content for being a housewife but being sexy and owning that translating it to the audience that’s how women should “carry” themselves. Begging of films with Disney are rather suspicious covering this topic and watching the film Turbo really shows the stereotypical portrayal of races and gender. But as time has gone by Disney as diverted from typical princesses story where they wait for the male character to come and sweep them off their feet.
It all really ties into this past week’s discussion in class Disney really feeding down young girls throats that this is the way they should dream etc. When Doc. Leigh showed the website of princess and everything Disney and other studios approach advertisement. Her comment about all Disney stores really gravitating towards young girls or teen’s, when she said that it really did comeback to me when I was impressed with Disney and there characters going into the Disney stores there was never really any merchandise that I could really get. One really important fact I can contribute to this topic (I feel most of us could) could be that growing up I was fortunate enough to visit Disneyworld I was at aw with everything taking boat ride to the island looking at all Walt Disney had created, paradise periodically throughout the day and if I remember correctly one was only dedicated to princesses that really captured the true spirit of Disney and the audience they try to obtain. Finally concluding the day with fireworks over the Disney castle, what more could an impressionable young girl as for, fireworks, prince, and glowing castle.
So I do feel that Disney has change through time with there approach a princesses carried themselves but they still entreating the idea that every girl should have a prince to sweep them off there feet.
Furniss provides an interesting look at Disney that would make a great Sorkin and Fincher collaboration…not that Disney would ever allow it. You do feel bad for Disney at first, having been the little guy trying to do his own thing with plot development as opposed to nothing but gags. However, going seeming from Wallt Disney to Walter White on us, he becomes a tyrant, giving himself a sense of centrality that he didn’t really deserve. A lot of brilliant peoples work went imperatively unrecognized, not only within the studio, but historically in terms of credit for ones contributions to animation. This is not to say that as the executive of an production company important in the advancement of cel shaded animation he deserves no credit, but a clear imbalance starts to become clear. It also goes into the issues with censorship and does so in a way that feels fairly balanced. On one hand we see laughable twin bed rules that were pushed on the Hollywood industry, and its attempt make sure that a limiting idealized notion of “family, government, and church” exist. At the same time, we see reasonable and needed requests, such as asking Disney not to make a film that portrays the glorification of slavery. The differences between legends, myths, fables, etc. also interested me. I do feel like this begins to blur though, for even though fables have a moral statement at the end, couldn’t a moral be implied by the events that transpire in the other forms of storytelling? Or this the difference simply in that it is stated? That being said a show like MLP: FiM might be considered a modern set of fables, based how in each episode the moral is at work throughout and stated at the end of the stories through their letters to Princess Celestia.
Davis gives a fairly well balanced look at Disney’s animated depictions of women from the 1989 to 2005. The only thing that bothers me is that she didn’t go into some films because the characters were not human. That doesn’t mean they do not have depictions that are valuable to us for study. For a brief example, The Lion King is a mixed bag with Nala in that, while she is physically proven throughout to be more capable than Simba, there is an annoying necessity and centrality for that male piece of the puzzle in order to defeat Scar. That being said, what she analyzes, she analyzes well. She notes that Disney did eventually realize you can be sexual without being morally questionable. I found the categories she breaks them down into interesting, and fairly accurate. I like how she celebrated Ariel’s independence in carving out her own path and the idea that she triumphs in a gender privileged society with her voice, but critiques issue such as her risking her life to possibly find true love. Belle I have gone from thinking is the most (in a looses sense of the word) feminist to one of the least progressive of this era. She critiques the societies norms and has intellectual pursuits, but ultimately lives to serve patriarchal figures, that even being her closest thing to a selfless act. Mulan seems to be one of the strongest, critiquing the limiting roles we expect of women and how damaging to those that do not fulfill them, being capable and playing a masculine role, but in the end not being exclusively either gender, but being herself, the best possible answer to this issue. Esmerelda, while at the end is the damsel-in-distress, is at oce heroic and fulfills the important role of reflection that the demonization of sexuality by people such as Frollo is not because she is an immoral deviant, but because of his sexual hang ups as a xenophobic villain. She is in fact extremely moral, brave, and sexual all at once. One could question though how much of her sex is for independence versus “the gaze” Lauara Mulvey discusses. Meg is similar in her sexuality, but is left bitter and hurt by a society of men they feel they own her. Again though, she is the damsel. You also have very different variants such as Lilo and Nani, who are sisters who care for each other and are trying to make it financially. Not to mention Lilo is her own character very different from traditional notions of girls. One character that really stood out to me was Kida because in the end she is not a princess, which makes me wonder, why hasn’t Disney done this more and why has she seen the same amour of market as the characters that did stay princess? I don’t think it would have to be a grand corruption to character to make more princesses into queens. Also, if the issue is financial, such as Atlantis not making enough money, I don’t think Nadia would crash the entire princess line. And if the fact that she is a queen makes her sell less, than that gives some insight on what our media has taught about women taking positions of power. To end this on a fun fact, Princess Celestia in MLP: FiM was supposed to be a queen. Hasbro would not let it happen on grounds of queens being evil.
Regarding viewings, having seen Turbo really put into perspective the issues with The Backyardigans (sounds like a punk band). Tito made me better understand the problems with the depiction of Pablo (though far less extreme than Tito). Not only is there the attachment the attachment body shape to race, but the soccer ball and name are forcing his race. It is more subtle but they are still pushing it on us. Uniqua forces the idea of one of these kids is not like the other” by making her a mysterious creature and forcing the idea of race based on name and literally physically alienating her. One could argue it is good to make her stand out, but for what? She stands out visually, not so much for character. They should all stand out for who they are, not race. Now also, this is not to say that can’t be visually different either, but to focus on race by making one the obvious black character is not a good way. Thats limiting them to a notion of race and not appreciating them a full human (in this case, anthropomorphic) beings. Rather, we should give characters there own styles, and species if they like, so long as they are not overt attached to notions of race. There can also be acknowledgments of race for the good purpose of diversity, just not so forced.
I accidentally missed a week. Not sure how and sorry it’s so late.
Furniss talks about how Disney became a standard of animation especially when discussing “traditional” animation and how it influenced storytelling in the beginning. Walt Disney’s choice to make his first full length animation be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is interesting because it shows, at least to me, that he was more interested in making cartoons seem lifelike. I mean this in the sense that the film is composed of mostly human figures and could be read fairly straight forward. The sexism at the time was being worn on its sleeve too considering that Snow White is a naïve, quiet girl who is considered ideal because of her youth and beauty and the evil queen is prideful and considered ugly due to her long slender face, something that is used often in animated films to easily make someone evil.
That Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the first full length animated film and it depicted women in such opposite polarities, neither of which are actually desirable or possible in real life and it took Disney around sixty years to come close to making a female character that is more realistic, or at the very least, motivated by her own intellect and feelings. Davis talks about a variety of films in her essay but Beauty and the Beast is one that stuck out to me because I’ve seen the film several times and never noticed how sexist the film was. I realized that Belle wasn’t interested in Gaston (for obvious reasons) and therefore assumed she was more independent. She chooses to sacrifice herself to save her father and then falls in the love with the beast and saves him from his fate. Davis points out though that Belle never has her self interest first, which is obvious after reading her argument but it becomes clear that Belle is protecting everyone but herself and then doesn’t even receive credit for saving the beast from his fate.
A character like this is what girls my age grew up watching. It’s strange just how sexist Disney and other entertainment forms can be and how much they influence our perception of women (as men) and how women should act (to women?). I am completely against photoshopping ads and making girls feel bad about themselves before they even grow up but I didn’t realize that even when it isn’t a directly negative thing, sexism extremely limits the perception of the world for an individual. It makes a film like Pocahontas that much more special considering she chooses her people over true love because it is better for her. This contrasts with something like Tarzan because Jane and her father give up everything they have known to stay in the jungle and when I saw this the first time I thought it was silly but after Davis’ reading, it further points out that Jane will have literally no independence in this new environment and will be dependent on Tarzan in every imaginable way.
Does this make Tarzan a sexist film? I’m truly not sure because her father will also have to depend on Tarzan to survive although he seems to have a Mr. Magoo safety in the world. Distracted and somehow surviving through catastrophes. Still, eating, etc. will be reliant upon Tarzan entirely. The film Atlantis, which I am watching right now as a matter of fact, is the story of Tarzan but with gender reversal. All the way to the point that Milo decides to stay in Atlantis, which isn’t quite the contrast of Jane staying in the jungle but it’s still foreign in every way and so it is a nod in the right direction that men and women should both be willing to compromise and work together for a common goal. Disney has come a long way since it’s first feature length film but to assume that all the kinks are worked out would be foolish. Depictions of women in media still aren’t honest yet but in the last 20 years there have been efforts to correct this finally.
Disney has always been about pure story. They do the art thing to – but I feel like they are going more for a fine art then film art within their films. Like most people coming of age in the early 90s, I grew up on Disney films. I loved them, and didn’t become critical of them until much later in life. I felt Davis’ article on the women in Disney films was a good analysis, but I didn’t feel Davis was bold enough – I think she could have called Disney out more than she did. Disney films are a mess in terms of representation – from gender, to race, to class, to sexuality, and everything in-between. They take these fairy tales – stories that were supposed to be learning opportunities for children to grow and understand the world – and they turn them into a paradisiacal utopia of goodness and happily-ever-afters. Disney has become the modern folktales and legends – but they are soulless. Perhaps we’ve inherited the stories we deserve.
People are constantly harping on Disney for their representation of women – which is a fair critique and one that obviously needs to continue (i.e. Frozen), but I think it is just as important to talk about how Disney represents men. They purport an unrealistic male body type and character and demand a set of personality types (or lack thereof). So many Disney princes don’t even have a personality. They are flat. Boring. Only want to get the princess. Nothing else exists for them. There are exceptions, but they are few and far between. I think it would be interesting to do some research on the Disney prince and the young queer viewer. Disney princess’s have an effect on young girls – do Disney prince’s have a similar effect on boys? This isn’t merchandized the same way as girls – boys become the targets of Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and the Incredibles.
I’m a little unclear by what Furniss meant in her chapter with anthropomorphic animals and lack thereof. Disney’s appropriation of the animal as a character varies so widely from film to film – I don’t know if it is fair to say that the animals weren’t made to act like people or vice versa. I agree with some of the previous posters – I think Disney is VERY much referencing Aesop’s Fables and using animals to do/say things he can’t do with people or using them as a stand in. Some of the films that come to mind for this would be Dumbo, Bambi, The Great Mouse Detective, and The Rescuers.
Furniss wrote an interesting piece on the art of storytelling that focused on how fables function to create a message for their audience. What I feel what makes fairytales so universally acceptable is a mix between their ability to interlace historical myths with intuitive fantasies to produce a message or theme of human improvement.
Disney seems to take a different approach with the main presentation of fairytales by straying away from the historical aspect to modify the story so that it’s more appropriate for children. Although Disney has it’s political downsides, I do think that their animated features are appropriate for children, especially their releases from the 80’s and 90’s before media conglomeration started to get too far out of hand.
In the modern decade, it seems as though Disney has started to neglect what’s better for the child’s development and has instead began to focus on what sells the most without getting in the way of lawsuits. Disney movies that didn’t drive on “finding true love” such as “The Hunchback of Norte Dame” that taught children that it’s important to focus on what’s on the inside a person rather than what’s on the outside were ideal in my opinion for child presentation. Hopefully Disney will stop this teen idol fad that it’s perusing for the past decade and go back to providing healthy viewing material for children.
It’s great when you not only learn something new, but when you can look at something well established in a new light. I had always thought they were good, strong role models for young girls. I would’ve loved to share them with my daughter if I ever have one, or even my son, as their themes of independence and surmounting obstacles can appeal to everyone’s drive for a full life. But as you can probably tell by my use of the past tense in my last few sentences, that might not be the case anymore. One section of the paper by Amy Davis really outlined some negative aspects of a certain princess that I admit I did not notice before, although I have also not seen the film for a long time either.
Ariel, the female protagonist of The Little Mermaid, dreams of leaving her underwater world and becoming a part of the human world instead. But Davis points out that this “…notion of moving from a position of female inferiority to an alliance with male power has a similar aspect to the kind of social mobility one thinks of in terms of moving to a higher class.” and therefore subliminally paints Ariel’s “class” and gender as inherently inferior, also since the human world is “predominately male” as Davis also identifies. Not to mention the fact too that Ariel has to give up her voice to a part of it. But as she goes on to say, it is Ariel’s voice that Eric, the prince she falls in love with, remembers about his first encounter with her, and values highly.
But how can this be a film of bad influence? Its main male character often values his mate’s literal and metaphorical voice. Indeed it has many positives as well. Ariel’s unhappiness in her life is met by her effort to overcome it, and she does. Her “willingness to gamble, her determination to make her own choices, and her tenacity in working toward what she wants out of life…” definitely puts this film ahead of the princess movies that came before it. I may not have noticed some unfortunate aspects of the film, and Disney’s princess movies aren’t perfect, but even if they aren’t I’m still going to show them to my kids. Because whatever flaws they have don’t have to be taken as a direct influence, but rather as an opportunity to learn something new, or to look at something in a new light.
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