Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Thinking about The Mouse (Cherie)

Title: The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence
Author: Henry A. Giroux
Pub.Date: 1999
Key Words: Cultural Studies, Popular Culture, Mass Media, Film, Television, Feminism, Postmodernism History, and of course Disney.
Pages: 186
Henry Giroux currently works at Pennsylvania State University. He received his doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1977 and formally held a professorship at Boston University and residency at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He also served as Director at the Center for Education and Cultural Studies at Miami University. His main objective in study is integrating Cultural Studies into to the study of Education.
The Mouse that Roared is a critical look at Disney and how it has become synonymous with childhood innocence, fixed history, and polished fantasy. Giroux presents the argument that Disney is a powerful corporation whose ideology is based ultimately on the control of consumerism and that the altruistic attempts made to give “good clean family fun” are predicated on a false sense of a scrubbed history and controlled environment. Within this text Giroux tackles the subjects of Disney within the public setting, in theme parks, in education, and in film. He imposes that the Disney legacy is a controlling monolith of the marketplace which deteriorates democracy and endangers the unsuspecting youth.
Giroux shows that Disneyland and Disney World have painted an idealized history of the American past. In Disney there is no “other”; no slavery, civil unrest, racial tension or war. It is a controlled atmosphere at the cost of dominance, where regulation and homogenization are par and parcel for the employees as well as the “guests”. Giroux analyses several Disney movies including Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Good Morning Vietnam, and Pretty women. He warns that the stereotypes presented in these films are representative as fact to a child’s mind. For example “bad characters” speak with thick foreign accents, or jargon and are often portrayed darker than other “good characters.” Also there is a demeaning view of female characters; however strong, or independent, they ultimately defined by the men around them. Giroux states that children learn are learning more and more from popular culture and corporate consumerism. This is epitomized in the private town, Celebration, whose link I have provided (http://www.celebrationfl.com). This small town suburbia is nothing more than a Stepford Wives community that markets control over reality. Check out the website if you don’t believe me. Giroux points out the control of this homogenized culture that controls everything from color to education to contract (even buying out the secrecy of its residents).

Giroux presents in his conclusion three easy facts that are hard to establish in today’s corporate controlled society:
• Create a public awareness of controlling corporations and the media they produce – “critical consciousness”
• Close the gap between wealth and poverty
• Link public media spheres in order to create a democratic environment.

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