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“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

 

Is Disney “Anti-Arabs” or are they just Ignorant?

16 Nov

Recent studies have shown Arab advocacy groups fighting against the Disney Company.  This past August a Muslim employee in Disneyland’s Grand California Hotel was sent home from work with no pay because she refused to take off her hijab while working as a hostess in one of the hotel’s restaurants.  Her name was Imane Boudlal.  She filed a complaint against Disney with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose job it is to enforce anti-discrimination laws in the workplace.  Now, is Disney serious? This seems a little rash and racist.  According to Disney sources Boudlal’s hijab did not fit the “Disney look”, so she could either take it off, work in the back where no one would see her or go home (1).

Boudal, along with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) sent a letter to Disney demanding they edit their “look” to account for religious accommodations, which of course, is in the Constitution! What the hell is wrong with Disney?! They have Arab characters in Aladdin wearing their Hijab’s in the movies but a hostess in their restaurant cant wear one for religious purposes? An advocacy group called UNITE HERE represents thousands of employed individuals in hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries throughout North America. Its no wonder Arab Americans such as Boudlal join such groups!!

However, Arab advocacy groups such as The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) are protesting Disney for more than just its unfair treatment of its employees and their “look”.  ADC fights Disney because they feel that Disney portrays Arabs in a stereotypical way that reflects negatively on Arab Americans.  In a July 1966 issue of Disney Adventures, Disney’s children’s magazine, the issue had a story claiming how Arabs greeted one another, which many Arab’s were offended due to its false claim.  The issue stated that to “”greet somebody Arab-style” one must “grab a friend and blow in his face at the same time he blows into yours! Just don’t turn your head to avoid your buddy’s breath.  Arabs consider that a major insult!”” (56)  As we can clearly see Disney is presenting Arab’s in a negative light and making inaccurate claims!

What Disney is forgetting, that these advocacy groups have a problem with, is that young children see and read what they put out, so they may develop negative images of Arabs or find them to be very different from them, which can only propel further racist issues! I mean isn’t Disney supposed to be child friendly and support children, OF ALL RACES?!?  Arab children are offended by these statements made by the Disney Company.

Further ADC along with other Arab-Americans had serious complaints about the movie Aladdin when it was first released.  In the introduction to the song, there is a line that says “where they cut off your ears if they don’t like your face”.  It should not be a shock to anyone how racist and stereotyping and just wrong it is to put lyrics like that into a children movie! The last thing ADC wants is to allow Disney to reinforce such negative stereotypes about Arabs that will leave lasting impressions on new generations of impressionable children.  It took six months of protesting, but Disney finally decided to substitute alternative lyrics to the films video release.  In the Video below, you can see what they changed the lyrics too and why (original lyrics written in RED).

According to Albert Mokbiber, President of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, “We’re not looking for people to portray Arabs as angels. We’re just saying lets have a little balance and a little reality.”  This is reasonable, is it not?? The ADC is working still to petition Disney to remove to word “barbaric” from the offensive song that is the introduction to the movie Aladdin. In the video below, we can clearly see Disney does not portray Arabs in the most positive lights.  In fact, could we even say, “barbaric”??

According to Jack Shaheen, professor of mass communications at Southern Illinois University and author of “The TV Arab,” who was involved in the “Aladdin” negotiations, “When imagemakers portray any group, if they were to think of the group as they would their own, that person as they would someone of their own color or heritage, then we would see different, more balanced films”.  Maybe Disney should take a page out of Shaheen’s book!!!

Lumetta, G. (n.d.). Arab-American Activism: ADC Continues Protests Against Disney Stereotyping. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from http://wrmea.com/backissues/1096/9610056a.html

Shelton, L. (2010, August 19). UNITE HERE: Disneyland Employee Sent Home for Wearing Hijab. PR Newswire, p. 2. Retrieved November 9, 2010, from the LexisNexis database

Strauss, B. (1993, July 29). Protesting the Movies. BPI Entertainment News Wire, p. 4. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from the LexisNexis Academic database.

Strauss, B. (1993, July 25). Interest Groups Rally Their Forces; Movie Stereotype Face Vocal Opposition. Chicago Sun Times, p. 3. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from the LexisNexis Academic database.

Not the Next Einstein After All…..

15 Nov

When we think of Disney, we tend to think child friendly and a company that has a child’s best interest at heart, right?  Wrong! When Disney came out with their “educational” video for babies and toddlers, also known as Baby Einstein, advertisers and marketing executives claimed that if parents bought these videos that it would increase the intellect of their children. According to a New York Times article, Baby Einstein (may need to have a NY times account to open) is “delivered via the non-responsive television screen, providing canned information that includes abstract concepts, useless to the new minds it purports to “teach””(1).

Advocacy groups such as The Campaign for  Commercial Free Childhood filed federal complaints against Disney for false advertising and selling without proof of success.  CCFC asked the FTC to prohibit Disney from making these false claims about their videos educational benefits and to require that the ads and packaging for the Baby Einstein products display the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation for no television for children under the age of 2 years old.  This way, parents who are buying these products are aware that Baby Einstein is NOT approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics and that in fact, it is strongly discouraged for purchase for children under the age of 2.

The problem, as the CCFC claim is that parents want the best for their children, and so through Disney’s deceptive marketing, parents are being exploited and buying these products for their children.  However, in reality, these videos may be putting the children at risk, according to Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and member of the Boston-based advocacy group claims (A14).  There is no research or evidence to support that these videos are helping children develop.  In fact, research has shown that television is actually a poor education took for very young children!

The CCFC in a suit against Disney forced the Disney Company to offer full refunds to everyone who had bought Baby Einstein videos from June 2004 to September of 2009.  The American Academy of Pediatrics claims that screen time for children under the age of 2 is actually more beneficial than any of these videos that claim to increase the intelligence of a child.  Disney, after the suit had the CCFC (may need NY times account to access) forced out of the Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center in Boston, which had housed and sponsored the group for over a decade.  Clearly, Disney has a problem being wrong and wants to make a statement to not be challenged again.  Then again, this seems to be the best information to have! Is this not the reason why we have advocacy groups? To fight major corporations who are harming members of society? As one of the articles writes, “It’s really chilling that any corporation, and particularly one marketing itself as child friendly, would lean on a children’s center,” said Dr. Lynn, a psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School.  “And it’s heartbreaking that a children’s center would cave in.””

So, since we have been talking about these videos, below is a clip from one of the Baby Einstein videos. See for yourself what all the controversy was over…..

Now ask yourself, what do you think of Disney’s Baby Einstein?!?!?

Crary, D. (2006, May 1). Advocacy Group Files Federal Complaint Against Makers of Videos for Infants. The Associated Press State & Local Wire, p. 2. Retrieved November 7, 2010, from the LexisNexis Academic database

LETTERS; A Formula for Smart Babies? It’s Not E=mc2. (2009, October 28). New York Times, p. 2. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE0D81730F93BA15753C1A96F9C8B63&ref=disney_walt_company

Lewin, Tamar. “After Victory Over Disney, Group Loses Its Lease.” New York Times 9 Mar. 2010, sec. Education: 3. http://www.nytimes.com. Web. 8 Nov. 2010.

Is Disney Really “PG”?

1 Nov

Almost anywhere you go, someone, somewhere has seen, heard or talked about Disney and its empire.  Disney is advertised to children, for children and said to be children appropriate.  However, underneath their cookie cutter, family friendly exterior, Disney is actually rather perverted.  We have all heard the phrase “sex sells”, just not usually when it comes to PG content.  As research and images have shown, Disney is no exception to this phrase and has actually placed several “adult” images in children’s movies.  However, much of this “adult” material is not easily seen, unless you know to look for it.  Disney has been accused of placing “hidden” or subliminal messages into their movies in hopes that the images will subconsciously enter the mind and improve sales. However, not all of the images are hidden.  If we look at the images of young Disney stars such as Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, their music videos, attire and even some themes in their music is not child appropriate, though they are two of Disney’s best selling musicians.

Through the use of “hidden” or subliminal messages Disney is portraying to society the notion that sex sells.  Disney has actually recalled over 3.4 million copies of movie sales due to these accusations of inappropriate content in their movies to the youth.  Though Disney will say that these pornographic or sexualized images were placed into the movies in post-editing, their name remains on the video sale and there is no proof of these accusations.  This idea of Disney as being PG and child friendly seems to be an inaccurate statement.  For example, in the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, there is a shot where Jessica Rabbit jumps out of a taxi, and if we slow down the frames and freeze them, we can see a revealed woman with her skirt open.  Though this lasted for only a few frames, it was still a “hidden” message of sex in the movie.  Further, movies such as “The Lion King”, “The Little Mermaid”, “The Rescuers”, “Aladdin”, and others have been found to contain adult content inappropriate for children.  If sex sells and Disney is selling sex, it is no wonder they are such a profitable company.

There are advocacy groups and YouTube Videos both protesting and showing these sexualized images in children’s movies.  There are numerous videos showing, for each Disney video, where the sexual images are and just how many there are that we miss if we don’t know to look for them.  Some have argued that Disney cannot sell sex to kids because kids do not know what the word “sex” means or to look for a phallic symbol or cannot comprehend that an image of a naked women is perverted.  However, there are advocacy groups out there with group discussion pages for those who have issues or complaints about the way Disney films portray stereotypes, racism, classism, sexism, genderism, all other ism’s, and perpetuate prejudice and rewrite history.  Disney it turns out is not PG and has gone from selling hidden or subliminal messages in their DVD and VCR sales to overtly sexual images of their actors and singers.  It has been said that Disney can sell sex to kids through people like the Jonas Brothers, but its okay because they wear “purity” rings and can make more money selling and advertising sexualized images to children.  In case you are not convinced that Disney is selling sex, take a look below.

Lets look at some of the Images from Disney movies that contain these “hidden” messages.

The Little Mermaid – Released November 17, 1989

Is the Priest a little to excited?

As we can see in the above image, the Priest who is marrying Arielle and Eric (the Little Mermaid and the Prince) appears to have an erection, though it has been argued that the bulge is actually the knee of the Priest.  This image was edited out of the new releases of the DVD.

There appears to be a phallic symbol on the Little Mermaid's Castle

On the cover art of the DVD/VHS release of the Little Mermaid, we can clearly see a phallic symbol (male genitalia) as apart of the castle. Not exactly child appropriate.

The Rescuers – Released June 22, 1977

If we look in the window, we see the image of an exposed woman

As you can see in the image above, the movie features two frames of an actual topless model. The can be found in the scene when Bernard and Bianca fly through the city. You would need to freeze the film to see the image.

The Lion King – Released June 24, 1994

The dust spell out the word "SEX" in the night sky

As we can clearly see from the image above, the word SEX is spelled out in the night sky as Simba is looking out over the cliff remembering his father.  However, as YouTube videos have shown, the word sex appears in many of the scenes from the movie.  There are numerous subliminal messages in this movie.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – Released June 22, 1988

Jessica Rabbit Exposed in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"

As we can see here, Jessica Rabbit is exposed.  This image occurs after she jumps from a taxi. However, the image is only a few frames long so in order to see this you would have to freeze the movie to look for it.

These are not the only Disney Movies where Subliminal Messages are shown.  In the movie Pocahontas which was released June 23, 1995, the word “Sex” appears many times just as in the movie The Lion King.  Further, in the movie Aladdin which was released November 25, 1992, there is a scene where Aladdin is on the balcony and you can hear him say “good teens take off your clothes”.

—Now after seeing some examples of Disney’s “hidden” messages, ask yourself, is Disney selling sex to children?—-

Pilkington, Brett , Mike Porowski, Steve Raszka, Haley Rinas, Jami Rosier, and Zack Sams. “Hidden Sexual Messages Found In Disney Movies .” bgsu.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2010. <www.bgsu.edu/departments/tcom/faculty/ha/tcom103fall2003/gp13/gp13.pdf>.

Hannahhhhhhh. “6 Subliminal Messages You Never Noticed in Your Favorite Disney Films.” Cinemaroll | film making, from the viewers’ perspective. N.p., 6 Oct. 2008. Web. 21 Oct. 2010. <http://cinemaroll.com/animation/6-subliminal-messages-you-never-noticed-in-your-favorite-disney-films/&gt;.

SubliminalMessage. “Disney Subliminal Messages.” HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2010. <http://hubpages.com/hub/disney-subliminal-messages&gt;.

Disney’s Influence on Young Kids

28 Oct

Initial research of the Disney influence on young girls made it clear that there is no shortage of information or opinions on the topic.  It is certainly a hot topic among parents and educators, despite its seemingly endless popularity.  Parents are aware of the messages being sent to their daughters; messages of powerlessness, the idea that your “Prince Charming” will save you, and body image standards.  The movies portray minorities in stereotypical roles, teaching children from a very young age what to expect of people who look a certain way or have a certain color skin.  Sure, parents are talking about these issues, but why not the viewers, the kids? They’re the ones watching and absorbing the information, but unfortunately, many aren’t consciously aware of the stereotypical and gendered messages being fed to them.

Devan, a mother who blogs on Accustomed Chaos, notes the lack of positive mother figures in Disney movies.  After watching “Chicken Little” one night with her husband and kids, Devan and her husband started thinking about how many movies lacked a mother – they came up with twelve just sitting there brainstorming on their own (1)!  It makes the involved fathers look good, but what does that lack of a mother teach young girls and boys? Perhaps that they can’t depend on their mother – she’ll either die, leave or end up evil?  Maybe the mother is left out of the story to force the main character into independence and maturity, but what’s the rush? It seems like a harsh theme to reoccur so often throughout Disney films.

A video on YouTube called, “Disney: Harmless Entertainment or Stereotype Perpetuators?” very clearly illustrates the racist characters in seven different Disney movies (2).  There’s Aladdin, the supposedly Saudi Arabian boy with white skin and a very non-Middle Eastern accent.  Sebastian, the Jamaican lobster who implies that under the sea is for lazy people who don’t like to work.  And the black crows in “Dumbo” who are experts on things that are “fly” and are led by the head of the group, “Jim Crow.”  Although subtle to young children, and even parents, when the stereotypes are pointed out, one wonders how they could have ever been overlooked.  The video goes on to show other characters created by a racist mindset in “The Jungle Book,” “Chip N’ Dale,” “Fantasia” and “Peter Pan.”

Pro-Disney parents and individuals claim that when you’re young you’re not picking up on these things, so it doesn’t matter that Disney portrays stereotypical and racist ideas in their films.  However, when young kids acknowledge that they’ve never seen an African-American character in a Disney movie, especially not in a positive light (until the most recent, “Princess and the Frog,” of course), there’s a problem.

Kids are proving to be more intuitive than some adults might believe, and Disney is directing them in the wrong direction.  Girls are taught to bat their eyelashes to get what they want; that big blue eyes, a tiny waist and voluptuous hips are standard and that no matter what, they will always live happily ever after.  On the contrary, young boys are taught to be macho, super-strong heroes waiting to rescue girls.  Disney instilling such extreme gender roles in children can assure us that no progress will be made in the future towards equal living for men and women.

Check out this video for a further explanation on racial stereotypes in Disney films.

 

(1) Devan. (2010, March 18). Disney Movies and Lack of Positive Female Influence. Message posted to http://www.accustomedchaos.com/2010/03/disney- movies-and-lack-of-positive.html

(2) Chapstick82591. (2009, December 7). Disney: Harmless entertainment or stereotype perpetuators? Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuUTdaJ_Obw&NR=1