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TOK Presentation: Disney Movies

Characters, settings, and its impact on the younger generation

Samantha Ruth

on 3 June 2014

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Transcript of TOK Presentation: Disney Movies

Disney was a big part of my childhood and, so the movies - especially princess ones - have had a huge impact on my life and also my views on the world. And so today, I will be investigating the answer to the following knowledge question:
Views, messages, and impacts
To what extent do the language & visual arts in the constructions of reality in Disney Princess movies affect the younger generations' stereotypical assumptions and varying knowledge about the world?
Ways of Knowing
- Sense perception
- Language
- Emotion
what we see
what we hear
how we feel
We learn by observing those around us and therefore, what we see/hear/smell is what influences us
Television is a big part of people's childhood and so, by watching movies, it can impact the younger generation, which affects their mindset for the future.
How would it affect us?
Negative impacts
BUT also positive impacts
Exhibit A: Aladdin
Introduction to Movie
This movie (1992) is set in the Middle East and focuses on a young man named Aladdin and his former life as a thief living in the streets and his journey in trying to win the heart of Princess Jasmine with the help of his pet monkey and Genie.
What can we perceive?
Middle East Country
Stereotyping of Middle Eastern people
of women
Aladdin as a thief roaming the streets
We imagine the Middle Eastern world to be less hygienic and old-fashioned when instead, the real Middle Eastern area is very modern and advanced.
Intro Song
"Oh I come from a land, from a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam
Where they cut off your ear
If they don't like your face
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home
It makes us feel like they are barbaric and heartless, as if they are cavemen. This makes us afraid of people of that race.
Main Characters
They have Western traits in terms of appearance and have American accents as well.
They have strong accents and different features such as bigger noses, sharper eyes, etc.
The good people are those with no accent and are similar to them.
While Aladdin is seen as a man with strength and pride, Jasmine is initially only a character who is intended to be married off to a man because that's the role of a princess.
, her character also teaches us to be independent and strong-minded.
She is also intelligent and manipulative.
Exhibit B: The Little Mermaid
Introduction to Movie
Ariel is a mermaid and she's a princess of the sea (1989). However, she's always longed to be a human and fulfills her desire - at the same time meeting Eric - when she makes a deal with the devil (Ursula).
What can we learn?
Representation of women
Representation of men
Moral values (Wrong & Right)
She is presented as ignorant, selfish and irresponsible. This makes her seem very spoiled and pampered.
She's also very gullible and, because of that, she seems uneducated. She's very trusting and this makes her desperate, especially with Ursula.
Ariel also makes women seem too emotionally driven instead of being able to think rationally due to her love-at-first-sight for Eric.
Eric might have been used to satirize people of the upper class society as he is wealthy but he's very naive and not so educated.
Similar to Ariel, he is also emotionally driven and this is perhaps because of his satirical character. Men here are perceived as characters who focus only on looks as he fancied Ariel because of her beauty.
Ariel had to change in order to win Eric's heart and this might have been a wrong moral as, changing into human doesn't mean into changing into someone who's more superior. This might give the younger generation a wrong message about having to change to win someone over.
But, Ariel having that much determination to achieve her goals is admirable and inspirational for the younger generation for their future.
Exhibit C: Beauty and the Beast
Introduction to Movie
Beauty and the Beast (1991) follows Belle, the heroine who loves to read, as she makes a deal that traps her within a castle with the beast, who is actually a cursed prince.
What can we learn?
Representation & Role
of Women in Society
Representation & Role
of Men
How ideas of beauty
affects impression
The only women in society are shown as beautiful, skinny girls, which delivers a message to younger girls about how women are supposed to be. All identically "beautiful" as expected of society.
Belle is different from other women in the movie as she is stronger and more intelligent. Studies show that in 1991, the same year the movie was released, the number of American women attending college exceeded the number of men for the first time in history.
: "This is the day your dreams come true."

: "What do you know about my dreams, Gaston?"

: "Plenty! Here, picture this: A rustic hunting lodge, my latest kill roasting on the fire and my little wife massaging my feet."
Belle is only meant to be the "little wife" and they're supposed to live happily ever after. Women's roles are satirized here to only be a companion for men. Belle represents the modern women who are more independent.
Gaston is the bully in this movie and yet he is the one admired by women and this sends a message to boys that underrating women is the way to win them over.
: "Gaston, you are positively primeval."

: "Why thank you, Belle. What would you say if you and I took a walk over to the tavern and took a look at my trophies."
Gaston may be a representation of certain men. This teaches boys at such a young age that showing off and having a bigger ego would impress women more, even though in the movie, Belle rejects the offer sarcastically.
As shown in the dialogue when Gaston talks about marriage with Belle, it reveals how men are the ones that work and this sends a message to kids from early on in their years that men are the ones who work while women don't. This creates a gender stereotype, even though women these days are much more independent.
The Beast who looks more horrific is viewed as a threat and this represents how beauty impacts our impression of people. However, this movie taught us not to judge someone by their appearance and this sends a more positive message to the viewers.
Gaston is more normal looking, yet he's less admirable to the viewers, but more interesting to the other characters in the movie. However, it also sends out a message to children that attitude matters in order to impress someone. This is a pro of the movie.
is a Disney princess that beats
the racism that people claim Disney
to have. She is the first and only
Asian Disney princess and this

connects Disney to a broader
audience by breaking the
race barrier. Mulan also beats the
gender stereotype as she succeeds in saving all of China despite the fact of her being a

woman and this creates a stronger image for women.
Her dressing more like a man in order to hide also tells girls that it's fine to dress the way we want to and still be able to do great things.
The Princess and the Frog
is another movie that breaks the race barrier as she is a woman of color. Tiana gives hope and teaches children and all women to dream and reach for their goals with
hard work and effort. Tiana also contrasts against Aladdin as
she has an accent yet she is still
the protagonist of the movie.
In contrast to some other Disney
princesses, Tiana is also
more intelligent and
humorous in a better way.
Are they
or regressive?
How do these movies impact young children?
Are these
Although these movies are somewhat accurate in their representation, however, as time passes, roles and representations of different genders differ and so does the gender stereotype and race discrimination.
These movies can be progressive and regressive in impacting the younger generation's knowledge of society depending on how they interpret the characters, settings and morals.
Gaston character quotes:

Article: "Disney movies affect feminism in society"

Website: "Women, Race and Culture in Disney Movies"

Article: "Disney's Influence on Girls"
Ariel gives up her roots and underwater life all for romance and this sends a wrong message to girls, that we should be able to give everything up for love.
Kids on Gender Roles
However, Mulan also shows expectations of society for women when Mulan's priority set by her family is to be married off. Other than that, Mulan is also expected to always act prim and proper.

Real life situation: Girls Inc. released a survey in October 2006 that stated
"school-age girls overwhelmingly reported a paralyzing pressure to be "perfect" : not only to get straight A's and be the student-body president, editor of the newspaper, and captain of the swim team, but also to be "kind and caring"."
Full transcript