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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 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

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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 http://web.ebscohost.com.silk.library.umass.edu:2048/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&hid=107&sid=fb8508ac-f31b-4b60-89d7-17acec080af8%40sessionmgr104

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?