“Christian-Bashing” or Homophobia? Baptists Groups Boycott Disney.

3 Dec

Is Disney anti-family, anti-christian and morally challenged?  Well according to several Baptist Christian groups, they certainly are! Representing the 15-million Southern Baptists convention, Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the 15 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, Disney is “Christian-bashing”.  In fact, Land wanted to make him statement well known to the public, so he decided, along with the religious leaders of other groups such as the Atlanta Church of the Apostles, to boycott Disney.  This of course, according to Land, came after Disney was apparently unresponsive to their expressed dissatisfaction with their movies and television show portrayals.

According to Land, Disney’s “Christian-bashing agenda” include “a scene in the animated film “Pochahontas” that shows Pochahontas as “an earth-worshiping pagan who believes in reincarnation;”, a scene in the animated film “The Little Mermaid” in which the minister allegedly becomes sexually aroused while presiding over a wedding ceremony; the film “Priest,” which portrays some Catholic priests as alcoholics and homosexuals; and the upcoming ABC television show “Nothing Sacred,” which presents “an offensive portrayal of a Catholic priest”” (12A).  Further, Land accused Disney of having a “”Christian-bashing, family-bashing, pro-homosexual, morally challenged agenda”” (12A).  Obviously from this we can see that Disney will not be receiving any profits from these Souther Baptist Church groups.

Similar to Land, Rev. Wiley Drake, from the First Baptist Church in Buena Park, just a new kilometers from Disneyland, is having problems with Disney’s new policies.  According to Drake, “the House that Walt built has degenerated into a den of inequality that openly promotes homosexuality and demeans Christian beliefs” (C1).  In January of 1996, Disney initiated a policy giving unmarried domestic partners, including same-sex companions of gay and lesbian employees, the same insurance benefits as married couples (or employees).  Drake, along with other Baptist Church members feel as though these policies represent a departure from the wholesome, Disney family image.  Boycotts such as picketing, flyers and voicing objections are just a few of the ways that members of the Church’s feel necessary in order to make a statement of their disapproval.

Further, the Church Members were extremely dissatisfied with Disney’s lesbian and gay-themed events at the Disney parks, refereed to as “Gay Days”.  Homosexual couples and individuals were offered discounts and other amenities for the three day event.

Disney, choosing not to respond to the boycott directly did make a statement.  According to Disney officials, “”We find it curious that a group that claims to espouse family value would vote to boycott the world’s largest producer of wholesome family entertainment.  We question any group that demands that we deprive people of health benefits and we know of no tourist destination in the world that denies admission to people as the Baptists are insisting we do”” (C1).  It would appear that Disney not only has a point but that if the Baptist groups are going to attack Disney, then they need to attack almost every other American corporation. Looks as though despite the attempts of the boycott and refusal to help Disney profit, they are doing just fine!!

 

White, G. (1997, August 14). Religious groups are urging members to ‘pledge’ to boycott Disney; Fliers, form letters cite what leaders call company’s ‘Christian-bashing, family-bashing’ agenda. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. 12A. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from the LexisNexis database

Johnson, R., & Gaslin, G. (1996, June 14). Southern Baptists Boycott Disney over Policy on Same Sex Benefits: ‘Not just the gay thing’. The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia), p. C1. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from the LexisNexis database.

Goodwilldrums. (2009, February 17). The Disney Boycott: A Just Cause Part 1 [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUHyFDV8ukw

Goodwilldrums. (2009, February 17). The Disney Boycott: A Just Cause Part 2 [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOxifLU0Avw&feature=related

Goodwilldrums. (2009, February 17). The Disney Boycott: A Just Cause Part 3 [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjzhrfEKcqM&feature=related

 

Exotic = Sex, In Disney Films

2 Dec

While there have been an increasing number of Disney movies featuring characters of color and ethnicity, it is only recently that some of these women of color are portrayed as Princesses. In the rare instances where a women of ethnicity is depicted as a princess, such as Jasmine from Aladdin or Pocahontas from Pocahontas the characters are portrayed to be extremely sexualized compared to the white princesses such as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

 

It is interesting to see that when Disney does depict a leading character that is not blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and fair skin she is provocatively dressed with emphasis on the exotic. Jasmine is depicted as a stereotypical Arabian princess with a belly-bearing attire and long flowing dark hair. Pocahontas is similarly portrayed with bronze skin, scantily dressed, and modelesque stature.  Both these characters are vastly different than the white princesses that were portrayed before them.

 Both these princesses are also depicted as more defiant and out-spoken than their Caucasian counterparts. Jasmine refuses to listen to her father and chooses to marry for love rather than for political purposes and Pocahontas goes against her father and her tribe and chooses to save John Smith. Princesses such as Belle and Cinderella are portrayed as wholesome and demure in the way they dress and act, they are always fully dressed and obedient. Belle is always with a book in hand and Cinderella does everything her stepmother tells her to do.

 So, why is it that these Princesses of color are depicted as over-sexualized? I believe that it is in order to give off that “exotic” effect. Ultimately, Jasmine and Pocahontas have Caucasian features. What sets them apart as being foreign are their darker complexion and their sexualized personas. Disney has built its empire on “Fantasy” and the sexualized exotic characters are an extension of that fantasy.

Disney’s Monopolization of Tween Market

1 Dec

Disney’s monopolization of the tween market is undeniable and unavoidable when considering the entertainment for that age group. Disney selects a few tweens to develop into stars, and shapes them into celebrities that will dominate the market for them to profit off of.

One article depicts this phenomenon in a very concise way. Boorstin and Wheat discuss Hillary Duff’s progression through the ‘Disney machine’ in their article, “Disney’s Tween Machine.” Disney caught her when she was only 12 years old and featured her in a weekly series called “Lizzie McGuire”. Disney also aired the show every Saturday on a sister network, and published twelve books featuring Lizzie McGuire, the character which Hillary Duff played. The television show started to air every day, and Disney put out a soundtrack to the series, as well as dolls, notebooks, writing utensils—everything imaginable. Lizzie was a hit! Lizzie McGuire was also linked to a clothing line featured at Kohl’s. Later, a Lizzie McGuire movie and soundtrack were released. Although it is not completely certain, “it’s reasonable to assume that the amount (Lizzie has earned for Disney) is nearing $100 million.” Hillary Duff became an empire in the tween market. How could anyone compete with ‘Lizzie McGuire’? No other company has the amount of power that Disney does to be able to cross market, and invade every aspect of a tween’s life like that.

The modern day Lizzie McGuire is following right in Hillary Duff’s footsteps. Her name is Hannah Montana, performed by Miley Cyrus, and her franchise exceeds that of Lizzie’s. She put out a movie, through Disney of course, titled, “Hannah Montana: The Movie”. According to the Wall Street Journal, “it opened in the U.S. with $34 million in ticket sales over the Easter weekend.” Disney has also put Miley Cyrus through this tween celeb machine, and succeeding in their main goal—raising profits. In Ray Waddel’s article, “Touring: Rock Solid”, he presents a chart with revenue figures from various celebrities tours. Miley Cyrus enjoyed $34.7 million in total gross, while performing to almost 350,000 tweens in only 23 shows. That smells like a Mickey Mouse monopoly.

Boorstin, J. & Wheat, A. (2003.) Disney’s Tween Machine. Fortune. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from http://web.ebscohost.com.silk.library.umass.edu:2048/bsi/detail?vid=3&hid=104&sid=88fd5d56-79e0-4e3b-90fb-4868bbf78438%40sessionmgr111&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=buh&AN=10856938

Wall Street Journal. (2009.) ‘Hannah’ Movie takes top spot in box office.Vol 253, Issue 85. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from http://web.ebscohost.com.silk.library.umass.edu:2048/bsi/detail?vid=10&hid=104&sid=88fd5d56-79e0-4e3b-90fb-4868bbf78438%40sessionmgr111&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=buh&AN=38126414

Waddell, R. (2010.) Touring: Rock Solid. Billboard. Vol 122, Issue 29. Business Source Premier. Retrieved on November 30, 2010, from http://web.ebscohost.com.silk.library.umass.edu:2048/bsi/detail?vid=10&hid=104&sid=88fd5d56-79e0-4e3b-90fb-4868bbf78438%40sessionmgr111&bdata=JnNpdGU9YnNpLWxpdmUmc2NvcGU9c2l0ZQ%3d%3d#db=buh&AN=52476198

Maybe Disney’s Not So Bad…

1 Dec

It’s not a secret that Disney gets a lot of scrutiny for its virtual take over of our society. Children and adults alike seem to be obsessed with the Disney name and all that it has to offer. Disney is often ridiculed for being too fantastic and overly optimistic, but this may not be such a bad thing. In his article “Disney World as Structure and Symbol”, author David Johnson portrays Disney in a slightly better light than its critics.

Johnson reminds his readers that Disney World is a foundation of shared culture for people all over the world. In a day and age where the world is scary and unpredictable, Disney serves as a safe haven where people of all different ages can go retreat into their own fantasy for a while. The thematic images of work, leisure, and play, that Disney displays in their parks are familiar to the public and allow people to identify to their own lives while still getting the chance to escape. 

Johnson, David M. (March 5, 2001). Disney World as Structure and Symbol: Re-Creation of the American Experience. The Journal of Popular Culture. November 11, 2010. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1981.15412157.x/abstract

 

Can’t Afford It? You’re Not Out of Luck

28 Nov

At least Amanda Coggin knows there’s an alternative to the magical expensive world of Disney.  Save money, introduce your kids to new characters and attractions, and still have fun!

(2)

While cost varies for different sized families and various accommodations, DisneyMadeSimple.com, a site with zero affiliation to the Disney Company, recommends sticking to the $50/person/day plan (3).  Others estimate their vacations coming out to about $1,000/person.  Seems a little excessive for a four year old who might not even remember the trip a few years down the road.  Check out this website for helpful planning tips.

(1) Coggin, Amanda. (2008, August 18). Ditching Disney: Ten Theme Park Alternatives. Message posted to http://www.divinecaroline.com/22213/45807-ditching- disney-ten-theme-park

(2) WellHeeled. (2009, November 25). Paid off My Disney World Trip (aka My Most Expensive Vacation Ever). Message posted to http://www.wellheeledblog.com/2009/11/25/disney-world-trip-most- expensive- vacation-ever/

(3) Budget Worksheet. Disney Made Simple. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from http://www.disneymadesimple.com/disney_world_budget.html

An Anthropologist’s Inside View of Disney

22 Nov

Anthropologist Jean Baudrillard decided to take a closer look at the Disney parks. Digging deeper than just observing how the parks run on a day to day basis, Baudrillard has discovered some important, not so talked about secrets Disney tries to keep hidden. Through her research she has come to discover that the “real” that Disney portrays is just and illusion of real. Disney has the ability to alter human desires, and uses techniques to make us believe that we not only want but NEED them and their products. At this rate, Baudrillard believes that there is no reason why Disney wouldn’t take over the human Genome. However, Disney is not alone in this process. It is part of a much larger conglomerate of society today that tells us how our imagination should work, and instructs which technologies to use and how, and makes us believe that we will not be functional members of society if we stray from this path. According to Baudrillard, we are no longer spectators, but extras in a world of virtuality.

Baudrillard, J. (1998). Disney World Company. Temporary National Theatre. November 9, 2010. http://temporarynationaltheatre.dk/TEXT/DISNEYWORLD_COMPANY.pdf

Is the Suspense Killing You?

16 Nov

Although I have not seen the movie myself, I recently read an article (1) by B. Barnes that went hand in hand with the many complaints I had heard regarding the new Disney movie “Toy Story 3.” The typical story goes like this:

“I was so excited to see the newest Toy Story (since I saw the first one as a kid) that I waited on line for a ticket for what seemed like hours. After a good 45 minutes online an announcement was made that this specific viewing had been sold out. I then left in disappointment and ordered tickets online for a different showing later on. I arrived for the later showing with pure excitement and joy… and then just as Woody and Buzz were going for the great escape… it was over.”

Uh oh. Disney had used a cliffhanger- leaving it’s audience in great frustration and anticipation for a potential “Toy Story 4.” Is this another clever marketing strategy of Disney? I think so.

This example reminds me of the “Disney Vault.” The vault is where Disney “hides” it’s movies from stores and homes around the world until it feels like making a large sum of money on a re-release day. Then, several days or weeks later, it is thrown back into the hidden vault for what seems like forever until the point is reached in which the movie, most likely originally released back in the 1980’s, seems like new again. Everyone is left in suspense for when the movie will be released in stores yet again just like they are in theaters after watching “Toy Story 3.” The suspense kills them… and their wallets.

(1) Barnes, B. (2010) Disney uses cliffhanger to market ‘toy story 3’. New York Times, 5/1/10. Retrieved from the Academic Search Premiere Database