Disney: Any scenes that shocked you as a ‘child’?

The Disney brand stands for pleasure and entertainment across the globe, but could it also be responsible for the youth’s character development somewhow? 

Since the 1930s, Disney became the symbol of values such as joy, magic, entertainment, and family through the loveable stories, characters, and unique experiences. The cartoons, films, comics, books, toys, theme parks, among other Disney products, have become key actors of the entertainment industry, thus our everyday lives (Wasko, 2020). Strengthening even stronger the bonds with the fans the current approach of Disney (2014- “The Disney Renaissance of Live Action Remakes”) promises a nostalgic tour with the beloved and long-missed figures of our childhood. At the centre of the campaign (and its success) stand the children – both current and ‘Peter Pan-like never growing up adult’ ones whose first point of contact with the big wide world was probably one of these tales, where they experienced and learned ideas and values from Disney that may last a lifetime…

Disney character building

 

Image from Unsplash.com

The Disneyization of Society (Bryman, 1999)

The Disney magic worked back then and works even better nowadays when people are desperately looking for joy, positive feelings, and the comfort of the past: the pleasant childhood memories when everything was nice and easy accompanied by the parents and, of course, Disney. Even in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic recently Disney generated $1.17 billion at the domestic box office in 2021, the most of any studio in the industry. This means nearly 26% of the total box office in North America (followed by Sony 23%, Universal 16%, and Warner Bros. 15%) (CNBC, 2022). Today beyond Walt Disney Studios (Pixar) and Disney Theme Parks Disney owns the rights of Marvel Entertainment, Lucasfilm Ltd, Twenty-first Century Fox Inc., ESPN Inc. National Geographic, ABC, and Disney Channel, where literally everyone can find something for their taste from the wide Disney portfolio. 2021 Disney films related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Black Widow, Eternals) each generated more than $100 million at the domestic box office, and then we haven’t talked about other sources like merchandising. As Edgerton and Jackson (1996:90) put it:

“Disney is the film industry’s exemplar for creating blockbuster motion pictures, fuelling the releases with highly sophisticated advertising and marketing campaigns, and then maximizing profit by licensing literally hundreds of ancillary products”.

Tell me your favourite Disney

Image from Unsplash.com

Large multinational companies such as Disney inevitably influence our everyday life through their power to shape the forms of producing, circulating, and exchanging information. This can be quite problematic for those among the young who are more vulnerable during their journey of self-discovery to the camouflaged messages and campaigns of profit-hungry companies which are “shaping human meaning and behaviour and regulat(ing) our social practices at every turn” (Giroux & Pollock, 2010:1). 

 

With the newest technologies “someone is always smiling at us”, however in most of the cases driven by selfish ambitions, endangering what is supposed to be a “safe space” in popular culture where youth have the chance to get to know themselves, form bonds, and discover their goals in the big world, and turning them instead into an easy target, an easily reachable, influenceable new customer group with a promise of lucrative profits (Giroux & Pollock, 2010). 

 

However, the aim of this article is not to criticise nor to decide whether our beloved Disney is intrinsically “good” or “bad” but instead to remind the reader for the aspects of the stories they may have seen and heard from early childhood and consider their possible effects on young people’s character development.

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Author:

Griszbacher Norbert

Article Writer & Content Contributor

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The opinions expressed in this article/publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of GiLE or its members.

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