Wizards of Waverly Place- Everything Is Not What It Seems

15 Nov

Like many other projects that Disney has put forth to expand its racial barriers, Wizards of Waverly Place seems to be making strides as far as racial diversity goes. It follows the story of  three wizards in training who live in New York City with their family. Seems like most other sitcoms on the Disney Channel? The Difference with Wizards of Waverly Place is that the family the show revolves around is biracial, composed of a Hispanic mother and Italian-American father.

 In a scholarly article, Ideologies of Racial and Ethnic Identity in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place, the author, Holmes expresses discontent with the approach the show has taken to ethnicity and embracing diverse backgrounds. She states:

   “It normalizes certain attitudes and beliefs about ways of being in the world and ways of evaluating racial or ethnic identity through the use of stereotyping. These aspects of  identity emerge in a few episodes of the series, but primarily are absent throughout the entire series.”

While the show briefly addresses the two different cultures, it is rarely a priority of the show. The children in the show demonstrate little knowledge of their heritage or express little connection or desire to learn more about it. There is a scene when Alex, the main character shows no interest and very little knowledge about her family’s background saying “I love being half Mexican and half-whatever he is”, referring to her father.

The show could be a platform for Disney to embrace biracial families and incorporate different cultures into regular programming. Disney has stopped short of progress in expanding its racial barriers. While no one is asking for the show to mock or stereotype Hispanic or Italian races, their heritage show be integrated into the show subtlety, either by the food they eat, the clothes they wear or other subtle references that set the cultures apart and embrace the differences. Instead, the show is just another Disney sitcom.

Holmes, S. (2009). Everything is Not What it Seems: Ideologies of Racial and Ethnic Identity in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place. Conference Papers — National Communication Association, 1. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.


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