The lasting impact of stereotypes - Deepstash

The lasting impact of stereotypes

Disney's portrayal of women is divided into distinct eras.

  • First came the domestic era, where characters were portrayed as homemakers, often cleaning and in need of rescue by a man, like Snow White or Cinderella.
  • Then came the rebellious, new-age phase of Ariel in The Little Mermaid and Princess Jasmine in Aladdin. Disney's women strove to free themselves from the bonds of society. The female characters in the five subsequent films started to speak less, and the male characters in the same films tended to boss the female characters around.

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  • Disney received criticism over its portrayal of mental illness that is aimed to denigrate or set characters apart. Some psychology researchers warned it could lead to learning prejudicial attitudes among child viewers.
  • The team also warned that the many references to evil in Disney's films could lead children to demonize people who engage in perceived 'bad' behaviors.

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Disney films are rich in behavior such as sharing, helping, and encouraging others. One study showed watching Disney characters help one another inspired children to help their friends.

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Do you prefer to just keep swimming or whistle while you work? If you recognize these phrases, you are likely raised on Disney.

The Little Mermaid first came out 30 years ago and shortly after were released on home video. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Pocahontas, and the first two Toy Story movies followed in the 90s and were also released on video a year after their cinema release.

These home videos exposed kids repeatedly to Disney's cocktail of morality, stereotypes, and magic, and is bound to have an impact.

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Early films used to portray work as horrible and nasty. Disney's response was to 'whistle while you work' as you wait for a prince to rescue you. This is a dangerous view in a modern workplace - if you allow yourself to be exploited and think it will all work out.

More recent Disney films have a marked change. Female characters in Frozen and Brave represent a new independent and free-spirited era. They are strong and in control and don't need male characters to save the day.

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These cartoons may seem like harmless entertainment, but some researchers have raised concerns about the underlying lessons in Disney's films.

The most common criticism is the gender, racial and cultural stereotypes.

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