Saturday, December 7, 2013

I see you Disney

Meet Lianna Grace and Hailee Susanna. Since I was seventeen, I have had the pleasure of being known as Titi. Although I don't see my niece's often but when I do, I make the most of my time. My brother became a father at a young age and his #1 priority was making sure his children had all they needed and sometimes secondary measure of parenting such as being cautious of what they were hearing and seeing were overlooked. Aware of this he and his wife strived to be more conscientious of what was influencing their young and impressionable girls. They worked hard to avoid music with profanities and television not intended for children, such as my favorites Dexter and the hilarious knew Jackass production, Bad Grandpa. The truth is though sometimes things slip through the cracks. Oh Miley. Miley Cyrus and other famous stars are a product of Disney, the safest network for children, or is it? Not to say that Miley's recent headlines are a direct result of the repression of her years at Disney, but one could speculate.

Now like most 4 year olds, Lianna loves Disney and particularly the princesses. The classics such as Snow White, Belle, and Cinderella are her favorites and she shares a personal connection with the latest Disney product Princess Tiana, as their names of very similar. In recent releases such as Tangled, Disney reportedly strived to "ring the pink" out of their famous production by bringing on a new team in 2008. But anyone who has seen tangled knows that you see many of the same stereotypes perpetuating themselves. The damsel in distress who needs help being saved in this case by the bad boy and not a handsome prince... the end. As quoted by the films producer during production "We're having a lot of fun pairing Flynn, who's seen it all, with Rapunzel who has been locked away for 18 years." 

The reality is things aren't shifting all that much. My barely five-year-old niece already is subject to the negative reverberations of Disney’s gender stereotyping actions. Her dark hair and big brown eyes are not sufficient for mainstream appeal according the Tangled's message, as when Rapunzel’s hair turns brown she after she is saved, it is no longer magical. Is Disney really aware of the consequences of their message? Disney is not the only offender. If you take a look at some statistics for male to female representations in some classic cartoons you will see the wide disparities through the course of a season. According to the same study, there are four major gender stereotypes, the masculine, the inadequate male, the delicate female, and the modern female. The delicate female is thin dressed modestly and dainty while the modern female carries her attitude and tiny waist like a trophy.
The more I researched I learned that the stereotypes were prevalent in so much television deemed safe for children’s eyes. I felt powerless to change the status quo. However I felt I could create something to transform some of my niece’s favorite characters.

This semester during Media Production, like many of you before me,  I got my feet wet with illustrator.I decided on a series of posters which would dismantle the gender stereotypes my nieces were up against. First we have Princess Tiana as a Professor Educating us on the subliminal messages that is Disney is really sending. Next up is Snow White channeling here hero Amelia Earhart as she sets off on another adventure. And finally don't forget to make your appointment with Doctor Cinderella for your yearly checkup. Please print and distribute these posters to a young girl in your life, I challenge you to change the stereotype. Linked is a  Powerpoint   which illustrates many of my points, and the remaining slides are the New Age princess posters I created. 

1 comment:

  1. I like this concept. Disney princesses are always seen as Damsels in distress, with the exception of Mulan. It'd be nice to find more Disney princesses that are independent whether or not with a man. Being a princess isn't necessarily a job, and although little girls will find out as they grow older, it'd be nicer for Disney to give more of a heads up.