As I have been composing my literature biography to post books I would recommend to others for use in thier classrooms I find myself thinking about the eye-opening documentary we watched in class about how Disney movies are polluting the minds of our children. OK, maybe polluting is a little harsh, I know how many people love Disney in our class and I don't want to offend anybody. But I find myself being alot more critical when I am selecting books now, I don't want to propogate any of the negative stereotypes of minorities or the traditional "damsel in distress" portrayal of women that are so prevalent in these movies that children enjoy so much.
I of course also grew up watching Disney movies and I can remember even from a young age thinking how stereotypical and offensive some of the characters such as the chihuahua or the siamese cats were. After seeing them again I can see why they made me so uncomfortable back then.
Furthermore, there are very few strong women portrayed in Disney movies. Usually they are seen as needing a man to save them, perpertrating the traditional female archetypes such as mother, wife, seductress, witch. It never really occured to me how sexual some of the portrayals of women are, through thier skimpy clothing and actions (Jasmine, Ariel and Pochahontos to name a few). What message does this send to young girls? That they need to act demure and provactive for thier prince charming to come and rescue them? Or that they need to be rescued at all? There are enough of these messages in the media already. Girls need strong female characters that break these traditional moulds that they can identify with.
I would be very careful using Disney movies in my class. I really liked on the documentary when it asked children to talk about these negative portrayals and think critically about issues such as there not being any black heroes in Disney movies. I would use Disney movies in this way with older children in a study of racial and gender stereotypes in the mass media (what is more mass media than Disney?)