What does it mean to be a boy or a girl according to Disney? That is a topic that I have focused on for the past month and have found the results to be surprising. Many children may not be conscientious at a young age of some of the themes that Disney has. However the children are soaking these themes in inadvertently.
Disney has a certain mystique in which the manor that they do an approach towards children. They allure children with the ideals of finding a prince to whisk their pretty perfect princesses off their feet. This ideal is giving children the idea that they either need to be the perfect prince or a perfect princess. This leads to what it means to be a Disney girl or a Disney boy.
First to be explained will be what it means to be a Disney girl. Many Women in Disney are shown as having ultra-feminine tendencies and being very delicate. For example many of the princesses are groomed, wearing gowns, usually in the color pink and falling in love with the male hero. Such as Snow White, she is a Disney princess that is perfectly groomed and is protected by seven men and then is whisked away from peril only by her perfect prince. Peggy Ornstein only explains this further in her New York times Best Seller, “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” , and her New York Times article, “Whats Wrong With Cinderella” . The article and book essentially talk about how Disney princesses has affected some of her daughters choices and how Peggy Ornstein sees choices also affecting other children that her daughter goes to school with. Peggy has an excellent quote that explains one of her shopping experiences. It explains how certain stores will plaster pink all over their walls to attract the girls and boys to certain sections. “It’s hard to imagine that girls’ options could truly be shrinking when they dominate the honor roll and outnumber boys in college. Then again, have you taken a stroll through a children’s store lately? A year ago, when we shopped for “big girl” bedding at Pottery Barn Kids, we found the “girls” side awash in flowers, hearts and hula dancers; not a soccer player or sailboat in sight. Across the no-fly zone, the “boys” territory was all about sports, trains, planes and automobiles.” Peggy Ornstein also explains a trip she had going to the dentist office and how there was Disney princess drill and how her daughter wanted Disney princess stickers over no name stickers. Girls believe that they in order to be girly and special that they need to be making the same decisions as a princess.
Secondly, I will explain how Disney is affecting Boys. Boys in Disney movies are showing very hyper-masculine traits. For example, they are shown as Being strong, showing no weaknesses and saving the women from their current horrible situations. Disney has shown to repeat the same five basic gender stereotypes.
” Adventure –“The man will undergo a fulfilling purpose”(Shiota 2011) Such as SImba in the Lion King. His father,Mufasa, was killed by his uncle,Scar, therefore, Simba finds himself then avenges his father.”
“ Chivalry-“..extremely one-dimensional and portray no character development aside from slaying the dragons and saving the princess.”(Shiota 2011) Such as Prince Charming in sleeping beauty his aim was to just save the dragon and Aurora falling in love with him was a plus.”
“ Body image- “The male characters with chiseled abs and bulging muscles are heroes and societal winners, while those who are short or fat are often outcasts.(Shiota 2011) Hercules and Tarzan are all very chiseled characters that people love but Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame was out casted.”
” Sexism-“The men in the movie, often of royalty or riches, look to the women to serve them.(Shiota 2011) Basically every prince in all the movies has money such as in The Princess and the Frog,Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.”
” Dominance- “The climactic scene in many Disney movies, such as “The Lion King,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and The Beast” is a battle between two men fighting for status or the love of a woman.”(Shiota 2011) The men are very barbaric in a way that they feel they must use their hands to settle all situations”
These stereotypes can be found in mostly all Disney movies that involve a Princess and a prince. Therefore, since the themes are habitually reoccurring then many young boys believe this is how I can obtain a girl when they get a little bit older. Disney is also affecting the minds of young boys in another approach when they bought out Marvel in 2009 for $4 million.This allows for Disney to spread to an even larger target audience. By buying out Marvel Comics Disney allows for themselves to become an even larger conglomerate than they already were. Therefore, they can take a synergistic approach to promoting themselves. For example, if a new Spiderman movie came out then they could use product placement and have a Lady and the Tramp movie laying on a table or a big sign for The Lion King in theaters. This will resonate not only in the boys but also in the minds of the adults that may have taken the young boys to go see this movie.
In conclusion, Disney is strategic in the ways that they approach the marketing of how they want boys and girls to act. They do not come out and say it flatly but the themes that are reoccurring are there and therefore, is subconsciously staying with many children. If sure if we ask many children a question of if they notice a certain theme they will certainly say that they remember it.