Animation is at the heart of Disney’s success as a global media giant. From 1992-2002, Disney sold more than $2 billion in toys based on animated films and cartoons. Profits from animated feature films have fueled Disney’s acquisitions of ABC, ESPN, A&E and AM radio stations.
Cultural critics, such as Purdue University’s Lee Artz, have raised questions about the implicit stereotypes in many of Disney’s animated features. In an article published in the Global Media Journal, Artz claims that certain Disney films have had the effect of “animating” race, class and gender stereotypes.
In his analysis of five Disney films, Artz writes that each film includes “a Westernized elite hero [who] combats a privileged anti-social over-sized villain, while cute animal sidekicks and thuggish rebels knock about in front of a shapeless, faceless humanity.” Here are some other questions Artz raises:
• Why did the Lion King choose black (Whoopi Goldberg) and Latino (Cheech Marin) voices to play the role of the evil, malicious hyenas?
• Why do male patriarchs hold ultimate say in Lion King, Pocahontas, Tarzan and Aladdin?
• Why does John Smith seek to ‘civilize’ and ‘rescue’ the indigenous Pocahontas?
• Why doesn’t Aladdin use the magic lamp to feed children, aid the poor or disarm Sultan’s army?
Read the article here.