How Disney is Shaping Our Behaviors

Who gets to determine how boys and girls should act or behave in society? Well, there are many factors that influence children’s conduct and these include family, friends, school, the media and institutions like the army et cetera. These factors can be termed as agents of socialization. Dictionary.com(No Date)defines socialization as a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social  skills appropriate to his or her social  position.

I will be focusing more on the media and Disney in particular as an agent of socialization. You have to admit, the media has had a big influence on how you conduct yourself, how you act and how you want others to see you. So the question is, how does the media define or showcase gender role? Dictionary.com (n.d) defines gender role as the public image of being male or female that a person presents to others. On an internet journal, Brasted Monica. (2010) talks about how the media is bringing about gender socialization through their advertisements. She believes that the commercials depict girls as being more interested in being beautiful and popular, less aggressive and competitive as boys whereas the boys are depicted as being strong, physical and more independent than girls. Brasted Monica goes on to say that although action figures resemble dolls, they have been designed to suit boys because it is unacceptable for boys to play with dolls. This clearly shows the gender stereo types depicted in these advertisements hence leading to gender socialization.

So how exactly is Disney involved in all of this? Well, it’s simple. From an early age, children are taught how act and conduct themselves in society simply by watching their favorite Disney characters. Boys are influenced by characters such as Tarzan, Hercules, Simba, Aladdin and even buzz Lightyear whom they visualize as being brave, strong and powerful men of action while girls are influenced by characters like Cinderella, Snow white, Sleeping beauty et cetera all of whom are submissive to the male characters and are waiting for their prince Charming’s to rescue them from their woes. Marina DelVecchio (2011) says,

“Disney movies are great and fun, but the lessons that come out of them, the lessons that our children acquire about their own gender and the roles they are supposed to play are limiting and untrue. The basic and archaic attributes of femininity and masculinity derived from the beloved Disney characters define not just the roles our children will play in life, but also their potential.”

In the video below, we clearly see Disney’s effect on the society today through its animations and cartoons.

by Allan Lee Kastiro

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