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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

Wall Street Journal. (2009.) ‘Hannah’ Movie takes top spot in box office.Vol 253, Issue 85. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from

Waddell, R. (2010.) Touring: Rock Solid. Billboard. Vol 122, Issue 29. Business Source Premier. Retrieved on November 30, 2010, from


Disney’s Puppets: Ex-Mouseketeers

14 Nov

The stars of Disney can many times be viewed as wholesome idols, especially when wearing purity rings and donating to animal charities. Not everything about them is obscene. What is imperative to understand when analyzing the image that Disney’s stars portray is that they are being obsessed over by young teens and tweens, who are willing to do anything to be just like their favorite Disney gal. The mishaps of these Disney starlets have been exhausted by the media and blogs everywhere, but cage and pole-dancing, drugs, alcohol and stripping may be a quick reminder of where these Disney stars have made their ‘mistakes’. Disney did not always endorse such hypersexual images of their young starlets. (1) Here is a look at some of Disney’s famous faces, pre-corruption. Britney, Christina and Justin used to be the epitome of innocent, cute child stars.

(2) Their popularity soared, their clothes came off and things got raunchy

Note Justin Timberlake’s reaction after the kiss. He clearly isn’t on the same page as his ex-Mickey Mouse club peers. He gives an obvious look of disapproval. This goes to show that females are targeted as hypersexualizing their image, and that males are left to judge. After this publicity stunt, Christina was heard saying that she was upset Britney got more attention than her as a result of the performance. Clearly, it was a calculated move, just like all the other pushes for more mature, sexual images. Christina and Britney were willing puppets to a larger force advertising the wrong image. It is interesting to compare both clips, because they represent completely different morals and values, but feature the same exact people.

A sad realization is that the icons that the media is developing for tweens today are only getting worse. When I was a tween, ABC dedicated every Friday night to programming geared towards my age group. I am sure there were some negative images being presented towards me, but nothing like what is aired today. The program was called TGIF, and it included shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Family Matters, Full House and Boy Meets World. There is no comparing Steve Urkel to Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears. It is important to understand the motives behind these messages and mostly, who they are provided by. Who is forcing these teen stars to mature way too early?

(1) oooMERTooo. (2006, August 26). Mickey Mouse Club – (Britney, Justin, Christina). Video posted to

(2) Zukkarella. (2009, April 16). Like a Virgin – The Legendary Britney and Madonna Kiss. Video posted to

Disney’s Beauty Ideal

14 Nov

Disney Stars

Carol Lieber and Temple Northup wrote a very insightful summary of their research on Disney Channel programming, titled, “The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful: Beauty Ideals on Disney and Nickelodeon.” They gathered information on the characters starring in these shows, and what types of messages they are sending to young children –girls in particular. The ways that most of the popular shows are set up reiterate the “beauty is good” ideal. To begin, they found that most characters were white and thin. They did not report even one overweight white character. The creators of the show did not hold African-Americans to the same ideal. (1) Lieber and Northup write, “An exception to this ‘thin ideal’ is found in portrayals of African Americans, with television characters revealing a much larger range in body sizes.” Reflecting on the Disney shows I used to watch, this is completely true. Raven-Simone in the television program, “That’s So Raven” represented a larger African-American teen girl. Aside from this, most of the main characters were roles played by thin, white teens.

Another division of their research included breaking down the characters on these shows into different categories like valley girl, girl next door, brainiac, athletic and classic beauty. Most of the characters fell under the categories classic beauty and girl next door. Both of these categories do not have any valuable positive traits. They are both sort of average, pretty girls. On the other hand, brainiac attributes the person with intelligence and athletic attributes the person with talented physical ability, agility and fitness. These were the two least rewarded categories through the lens of the show.

Of course it is difficult not to be influenced by the images that tweens are being bombarded with today. Lieber and Northup summarized this point perfectly, “in this media drenched world they are growing up in, it is difficult if not impossible to escape certain media messages”. The Disney franchise is especially persistent with cross-marketing and guerilla tactics which make their images of beauty far too available by the most vulnerable people in today’s society. Like everyone else, young girls develop values and ideas of the real world as they grow up. Looks are very important to most people today. It is reinforced by the media; then people internalize the values and spread them. It is a vicious cycle that can be very dangerous. Eating disorders and anti-social behavior can arise from these types of societal strains. For those being marketed to, these images can turn into serious problems because of the pressures to fit in. It is worthwhile to consider the beauty ideals promoted in th classic Disney movies: thin, primarily white, and lacking a dynamic personality. Disney’s beauty images are now being carried through to real, more relatable starlets. The photo featured left shows two of the most popular Disney stars – Miley Cyrus and Ashley Tisdale. They both represent the beauty ideal of being thin and white teens.

(1)   Lieber, C., & Northup, T. (2009). The Good, the Bad & the Beautiful: Beauty Ideals on Disney & Nickelodeon Channels. EMBSCO Host. Retrieved November 14, 2010, from

Disney’s Starlets: Too Much, Too Soon

31 Oct

There has been much controversy surrounding the hypersexualization of Disney’s young stars. Whether or not they are pushing the envelope too far is up for debate. A lot of the material on the web criticizes the teens in a negative way, while the other point of view is that people don’t mind the overdose of maturity. Because of her recent and popular transformation from Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus, the young pop sensation has been the subject of most of the recent ridicule.

This video was leaked this past week from a “friend” of Miley Cyrus’. She is seen smoking salvia, a legal drug in California with serious hallucinogenic qualities.  She appears irresponsible and out of control. This blog response goes to show how much impact this video had.  She is not representing an image that deserves to be idolized by the vulnerable tween youth.


The principles of democracy are somewhat distorted in this research. Many people don’t want young girls idolizing these rated R role models, while others don’t mind. Young girls everywhere are eager to grow up, so this is the guide they enthusiastically follow. They are the majority, and the most important party involved since they are the ones directly effected, but they are too young to make the moral judgment. Who is directing these young stars to grow up so quickly? Why do some follow, while others do not (Raven-Symone)? What is the fine line between naturally maturing and the indecent dramatization of maturation?