You were tricked into believing that everyone could have a happy ending....
Linda Christensen author of Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us, discusses how cartoons and children's literature unknowingly create stereotypes within children from a very early age. We have all grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons, and Disney stories and we probable enjoyed them, and some of us still enjoy them. So how do these cartoons, fairy tales, and animations create stereotypes?
"Our society's culture industry colonizes their minds and teaches them how to act, live, and dream".
The culture of our society relishes" feel good stories" and happy endings because the world in which we live can be a challenging and scary place, and this is a way to escape our everyday lives and enter a world of magic. However, what we are unaware of is that the "magic" is designed to only depict one certain way of happiness. For fairy tales, it is always a beautiful young, white princess who meets her prince charming and they live happily ever after. you might be asking your self " What's wrong with that"? Well, what about the young girls who are not White, are viewed as " pretty" by the standards that society has set; where are they represented? How can a young African American girls or Latina girls relate to the story of Cinderella for example. We[ society], have created a world in which only "whiteness" is represented in the mainstream media. The media and the entertainment industry think they are doing a good thing by promoting stories of "happily ever" after scenarios, which is a great image, yet they marginalized the rest of our diverse society.
~The "Secret Education" is a concept by Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman depicts " the domination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart"~
When I was reading this article I kept thinking about Peggy McIntosh and her article, and SCWAAMP, and how our culture is defined by the people of "privilege". I think this is absolutely true, unfortunately. We have segregated ourselves into categories and unrealistic ideals regarding our culture. As another source within Linda Christensen's article is Beverly Tatum who writes about race and children. She says " the impact of race begins early. Even in our preschool years, we are exposed to misinformation about people different from ourselves.... Consequently, most of the early information we receive about " others"-people racially,religiously, or socioeconomically different from ourselves- does not come as a result of first hand experience" We are TAUGHT our prejudices and beliefs from society, parents, and our friends. We are molded into thinking, believing, and acting the way that we have been taught. So how do cartoons and the media promote this theory? Well, first they exploit the marginalized by placing them in a "less important" or a having a mainstream stereotypical role within the cartoon or story. For example:
|Tom Lu King, South Park|
|Clancy Wiggum, The Simpsons|
|Apu, The Simpsons|
|Consula, Family Guy|
| Peter stereotyping that all Asians are good at math|
As we can see our modern day culture reinforces the stereotypical roles in which certain characters play, of course there are many more of these types of examples, and we can see them everywhere as long as we are willing to look for them. Using these examples how can these stereotypes mold the minds of young impressionable children?
~Fairy Tales Fail Women ~
Disney movies are made for young children. There are animated, clever, and amazing to watch. However, Disney movies promote and underlying theme of alienating those that do not fit a certain mold within society. As illustrated in Linda Christensen's article, " Women who aren't white begin to feel left out and ugly because they never get to play the princess". For many years Disney only has white princesses, therefore showing little girls of color that being a princess is something that they were unable to achieve. Not only do the princesses lack diversity but they are also depicted as objects for men. I found this image that shows precisely what I am talking about.....
Beauty and sexuality are defining characteristics of the Disney Princesses, as you can see the timeline shows decades of princesses that fit a certain mold. In 1992, Princess Jasmine was introduced, at this time she is the only one represented women of color. It took years for Disney to finally create a princesses that every little girl could identify with....
Hooray!! All women are represented equally, or are they? Look at the positioning of the princesses, notice anything? The original princesses are in the forefront while the princesses of color are in the background... Interesting, don't you think??
To learn more about how our culture influences are ideas, opinions and values check out this website about Pop culture.... The more that we become aware of the negative effects that it can have on our youth, the faster we are able to move forward in equal representation for everyone in our society.