We Ruined Disney (RGM JOUR 4250)

By Sarah Copeland

Before I begin I want to make it clear that I am a huge Disney fan. I love everything Disney and I hate to highlight its flaws, but I must agree with the rest of my classmates.

Just to give some brief background information, last class some of my peers presented their first project to the class. Our first project was to analyze some form of media and write a content analysis based on outstanding themes we observed such as sexism, racism, etc.

To be fair, we ruined plenty of other things during the project presentations along with Disney. I chose to reveal the overwhelming amount of sexism present in the 1940s by analyzing the movie “A League of Their Own.” Other students used movies like “Bridesmaids” or cartoons like “Steven Universe” to highlight negative and degrading portions of products that we previously enjoyed. This includes Disney.

If you didn’t already know, Disney can rather easily influence children, especially little girls that just want to be like a Disney princess. This is an important factor when observing Disney movies and determining what disturbing themes are common. The student who focused on Disney movies as the topic of her project opened the discussion on the movie “The Little Mermaid” during our previous class.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of negative themes in “The Little Mermaid” like during the scene where Ursula sings the “Poor Unfortunate Souls” song. One thing that the student did not point out during her presentation that I want to discuss is how Ursula says the phrase: “You have your looks, your pretty face, and don’t underestimate the power of body language.”

This song is packed full of negative instructions to girls. Throughout the song, Disney creators, through the villain voice of Ursula, basically state that girls don’t need their voices to get the guy. Based on this song, a girl’s body is the only truly important mechanism to make a boy interested in them. On top of that horrible implication, the song continues to say that men don’t like girls that talk too much and that girls should just keep their mouth shut anyway because they will be happier that way. Basically, according to Disney, a girl shouldn’t care about how smart or conversational she is but should be concerned about the way she looks because that’s how she will win her man. Not to mention that, to Disney, a happily ever after with Prince Charming is the only thing desirable for a girl.

There are several other negative things I could point out about Disney. These include things like the impossible standards of body image it sets forth when designing princesses. Every princess is a Barbie doll with impossibly tiny waists and flawless hair. I think the most important negative theme I can point out, though, is how Disney creates weak female characters whose only care in the world is her getting her man. Of course, there are exceptions, like Mulan, but most of the old princess movies follow the same exhausted story line.

I still love Disney, and I still think that the old princess movies are great stories. I honestly hope my future children will grow up watching these same movies. However, knowing that Disney has such a high influence, I think it is important for parents to ensure their children aren’t taking everything the Disney movies present to heart.Sorry to say, but Disney isn’t perfect.


Author: Sarah Copeland

I am a Strategic Communications student at the University of North Texas majoring in Public Relations with a minor in European History. I expect to graduate May 2017 and find a career in External Relations maybe focusing on Issues Management. I am also a proud member of my Alpha Delta Pi chapter where I hold the Intramural's officer position. I am also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society as well as the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. When I am not attending classes, I work in retail. I am a former manager at Justice Just for Girls where I worked for over two years until my store closed. I am currently working for Gymboree as a Sales Lead manager. My work is enjoyable most when I am able to help customers and also when interesting conversations arise. In my free time I enjoy reading fiction novels, completing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, playing practically any sport, and eating as much ice cream and and other desserts as possible.

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