Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
The film “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” describes various issues featuring the Walt Disney Corporation’s control over culture and media and its use of that power. It offers various professional opinions regarding both Disney’s monopoly of the media and its profound ability to shape reality through children. The opinions towards the Walt Disney Corporation that were presented in this film were mostly negative. Many were of the particular opinion that the representations of femininity and racial/ethnic minorities were poor and wholly offensive. Though in some cases I agree with the interpretations presented in this film, I disagree with the film’s opinion as a whole. There are several bits specifically mentioned in the film that I would like to counter; the Siamese Cats, the idea that Pocahontas portrays Native Americans as savages, and the entire portrayal of femininity throughout the franchise as discussed in this film are all, in a sense, both over and under analyzed.
The Siamese cats in the film “Lady and the Tramp” are described in the documentary as obvious racial stereotypes because of the slanted eyes, the teeth, and the manipulative personalities. I believe this interpretation is entirely overanalyzed. “Lady and the Tramp” was produced in 1955, the middle of the 20th century, when Siamese cats became popular in Europe and North America. Siamese cats originate from Thailand and many do have somewhat slanted eyes as well as an elongated, or protruding, top jaw. The owner of the cats was a well-to-do, presumably upper-class, elderly woman; so in that time period it made sense for her to have Siamese cats. As for the cunning personalities, I believe that was more of a feline representation that an Asian one. It is very common for films featuring canine protagonists to feature feline antagonists.
Another racial misrepresentation mentioned, which is brought up quite often, was “Pocahontas”. The documentary specifically featured the “savages” scene, in which both the Natives and the white men are preparing for battle and singing about the opposing group being “savages” and untrustworthy. The problem with this interpretation is that it focuses entirely on the lyrics, that Native Americans are savages and bad and that the Natives think the white men are evil. It completely ignores the images of the scene, meant to show that the two groups are not as different as they think they are and that their similarities are actually quite profound. Both use drums in declaring war, both are preparing for war in very similar ways. It teaches the important lesson that focusing on differences between people blinds one to the similarities and only when the differences are set aside do the two get along. Even with the cultural inaccuracies, I think Pocahontas is a very important film for teaching acceptance.
The final main bit I want to discuss is the representation of femininity in Disney films. On this topic I simply wish to bring the documentary up to date. The film provided and discussed many poor examples of true femininity from various Disney films; though I agree that the female gender may have been poorly represented in the past, Disney is definitely getting better. Several new films have been released since this documentary was produced, namely: “Brave” and “The Princess and the Frog”. In both of these films the female lead did not need any help from a “prince” to solve their problems. In fact, Merida in “Brave” actively fights to avoid the traditional marriage of her land for the right to choose her own husband in her own time and is never once assisted by any male other than her three little brothers.
Overall, I found that I disagree with the vast majority of the opinions presented in “Mickey Mouse Monopoly”. Perhaps it is a deep set childhood love of Disney movies; I felt that my childhood was being personally attacked. However, some of the bits presented did get me thinking. Now that I’m older I recognize the racial stereotyping and female misrepresentation more clearly but am able to set them aside for the deeper message; it makes me wonder though, how much those things shaped my life as a child.