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Poll: What is your level of concern regarding Disney's portrayal of "proper" gender roles in their full-length animated films?

High: Disney has a lot of media control. 18 (32%)
Some: Disney has the right values most of the time. 10 (18%)
Little: Disney's movies are among those I screen for my family. 5 (9%)
None: Disney's family values match mine. 0 (0%)
Other: Please explain/expound. 23 (41%)
   Discussion: What is your level of concern regarding Disney's portrayal of "proper" gender roles in their full-length animated films?
Starfox · 16 years, 2 months ago
I don't care? Anyone who takes their tips on the proper roles of genders in society from Disney and an animated film deserve what they get?
Zach Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
I think the argument is more about the development of children than people taking their tips from the films. For example, if a little girl watches movies that send a message that she should be searching for a man, depending on others for rescue, etc., she would grow up believing that she's somehow inferior. That's the argument, anyway. Personally, I think it depends on a huge variety of factors. Besides, I'd be more concerned about historical inaccuracy that leads to embarrassing (and sometimes dangerous) ignorance. Seriously, have you seen Pocahontas. :shudders:
Wintress Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

Pocahontas was a HORRIBLE movie!  I borrowed it from the library for my project and WOW am I glad that I didn't ever see it before.

And, yes, it's more along the lines of how children learn gender behavior from the films, not so much parents taking tips from Disney on how to teach gender to their children.

There ARE a lot of factors out there.  Does Disney reinforce old-fashioned roles?

Kate Leahy Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

Well, at least one of the historical inaccuracies in Pocahontas actually counteracts the deleterious effect criticized in the poll -- in the Disney version, Pocahontas stays with her community to help defend it.  In real life, Pocahontas followed John back to England where she died.

Honestly, like most movies, the way Disney movies portray women and their "proper" roles temporally tracks women's roles in general society.  Belle in Beauty and the Beast and Mulan, for instance, portray women as defying societal expectations (Belle rejects the stupid stud) or directly flouting a pre-defined role to save a family member (Mulan joins the Army to spare her father).

The values portrayed by Disney movies should be evaulated critically like they should in any other medium.

Bender Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Actually, it's heavily disputed whether she actually knew John Smith at all. Many think he invented it to save face. Pocahontas would have been twelve at the time.

She married another Englishman, a tobacco farmer, a few years after Smith mentioned the incident. She did go to England, though. You're right, there.
nate... · 16 years, 2 months ago
I have no idea what Disney's "family values" are.

Wintress Back · 16 years, 2 months ago


I think it's deliciously ironic that a lot of Christians (Southern Baptists, in particular, if I'm not mistaken) have taken to boycotting Disney and its infinity products because of certain gay-rights stances.  Especially since there's even a book out there titled something about the "Gospel according to Disney" -- showing how even though it's not "Christian," per se, there are many instances of Christian-like behavior in Disney movies that should be shared with their children.

goovie is married! Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
it's interesting. there's been a trend in the last five-ten years or so, of books about "the gospel according to"/"spirituality in"/"philosophy in" [insert pop culture phenomenon here. disney, harry potter, the simpsons...
100% dainty! · 16 years, 2 months ago
I wasn't sure what to answer, because I didn't know if the question implied I wanted them to portray the "proper" (i.e. traditional) gender roles or the "proper" (i.e. better, more feministy) gender roles. I picked other, because I don't believe in gender roles, so I don't think Disney should go at lengths to portray one set of roles for how girls or boys should behave.

I think the best solution is to expose children to a wide variety of tales and movies, and then talk about it with them. You're not gonna scar your child for life if you read her, "Cinderella," but if those kind of passive-roles are all she is exposed to, then they might influence her life. Best to couple all that with parent-child interaction. Your kids will learn a lot from your examples.
Wintress Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

I don't believe in gender roles.

It's hard to get away from them, considering it starts as soon as a newborn is swaddled in pink or light blue clothes.  I don't know if there is a "right" or a "wrong" amount of gender training, for a lack of a better phrase.

Kate Leahy Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Well, that's a little general . . . but it is true that studies show that people speak to and handle male and female infants differently.  As far as the pink/blue thing goes -- that's more anachronistic than anything else.
Wintress Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

Kind of a catch-22 there, with the different treatment for male/female infants and making sure we know which is which.

Talcott · 16 years, 2 months ago
They're movies.
If we were talking about a documentary that went into how gender roles "should" be, then there might be an issue, but I don't feel any concern about the way they are portrayed in films.
That doesn't mean for a second that I agree with them, but there's a huge gap between "I disagree with the statements made about gender roles here" and "I am concerned with these gender roles".

In the end, getting worked up about this is the same as parent groups getting worked up over "witchcraft" in Harry Potter, or violent video games. No one seems to give kids any credit to tell fantsay from reality anymore.
lawrence Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
They can tell fantasy from reality, especially as far as things like magic go. But in a lot of fantasy stories, there are plenty of elements of reality that kids will pick up on and will not be able to separate, because they do exist in the real world.

Certain stereotypes do make an impression on young people - don't tell me you don't think that, for example, fashion magazines and hollywood films aren't a huge part of the problem when a 12-year-old girl has a severe eating disorder.

Kids see an image and they want it. They want to have it, or they want to be it. And when the result, even in a fantasy story, is "happily ever after," they'll see nothing at all wrong with wanting that for themselves - who doesn't want to live happily ever after?
Starfox Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Then it is up to the parents to teach the children between a fictional movie and the facts of the real world.
lawrence Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
That's true, but why should the movie industry not at least have some responsibility to its audience? I'm not saying they should do the parenting - you're right that that responsibility lies with the parents, but I still think that movie makers should at least think about the potential social impact of their movies before making them.
Starfox Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
But why? If people don't like their portrayal of societal stereotypes, then they can simply not purchase their product, or not let their kids see it. Then Disney would be hit where it hurts, in the pocketbook.

I don't disagree that movie makers should at least think about what message they are sending (but then again we are talking about Hollywood), but they shouldn't be forced to do so.
lawrence Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Can you point out where I said they should be forced to?
Starfox Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Wasn't trying to say you did, just expounding on my point.
Bender Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Did you listen to everything your parents told you?
Talcott Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
No, but I didn't listen to much of what movies told me either.
Bender · 16 years, 2 months ago
A girl who has her own ambitions and thoughts is labeled "headstrong" (I swear, how many times do you hear that word in Disney films?).

She meets a man, leaves behind her "headstrong" ways, and is tamed by her prince.

I mean, that's how it should be, right?
Starfox Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
Well, if so, I'm still waiting for when my wife gets "tamed".

Actually, I love the fact my wife is so-called "headstrong".
hkath · 16 years, 2 months ago
I chose "little", because I think Disney's changing. They're progressing. OK, so they might be years behind the times, but I cheered when they put their first animated pregnant woman in a movie. And that character, although not the protagonist, was not "tamed" in that traditional Disney-princess way. They're trying.
Bender Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
that was in Hunchback, right?
Kris 'engaged' Bedient Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
um, how about Emperor's New Groove? Pacha's wife was pregnant and spunky.
Bender Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
oops. you're totally right.

I had such a crush on that character, you have no idea.
Mamalissa! · 16 years, 2 months ago
Of course my kids will watch Disney movies. I'm concerned about their portrayal of gender, but that's not the central message of these movies, nor will these movies be the main place I expect my kids to learn about gender rolls. It's not one of the battles I choose.

Hakuna Matata.
Wintress · 16 years, 2 months ago
It's an interesting topic, I think. Interesting enough to write on, anyway.

It's not so much the idea that Disney is telling kids straight up how to be little girls or boys. It's the stereotypical stuff. The "my prince will save me" stuff. The "she's feminist because she READS" stuff. Or the "Don't kill him, daddy! I love him!" stuff. How about the "if I'm patient and polite, I can retrain him to not be such a beast" stuff?

Sure, it's entertainment. It deliberately pokes fun at certain things.

Should we worry? I don't know. That's what I'm curious about.

It could be argued that if children watch enough of these movies (and, face it, kids tend to watch the same stuff over and over and over and over...) they will develop at least some of their "real world" views based on what they see.

At first glance, I thought that the movies were just entertaining. At second glance, I saw a lot of subtle nuances regarding the characters and the way they interact. *shrug* I'm sure I'll find plenty to pick on if I dig deep enough. When it comes down to it, it's just a movie, right?
iPauley Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
That reminds me of a story Kevin Smith tells about the protests regarding his movie Dogma. He was in a production deal with Miramax at the time, which is owned by Disney. He and the Miramax staff were fielding protest letters from uber-Christian groups and even death threats about the movie, even referring to "you Jews" who were running it (referring to the Weinsteins who run Mirimax).

Eventually the movie was set to be released not by Miramax, but by Lions Gate Films. Apparently, some of the protesting groups started cheering this, saying "We Win! We Win!"

"How do you win?" Smith asked. "The movie's still coming out."

"Yeah, but Disney's not distributing it."

*shrug* I've lost track of whether this still applies to anything even remotely close to what you all were talking about. Nothing to see here, move along.

-- Pauley
Wintress Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

Disney owns one of the biggest 6 or 7 media conglomerates in the world.  We're talking movies, music studios, cable, radio networks, music labels, magazines, books, etc, etc.  They have a pretty big reach - I don't imagine much of the world is neglected by the Magic.

I guess that the uber-Christians could then legitimately watch the movie, since it was produced by *Lions Gate Films* instead of Disney, which they were actively boycotting.  :D  (And, yes, I'm being facetious right here.)

Agent Scully · 16 years, 2 months ago
The Only one who hates Disney movies? All of them except the Pixar ones.
Starfox Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
No, I dislike them too. Except the Pixar ones which I enjoy on a geek level.
hkath Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
but how could anyone hate The Emperor's New Groove?
Talcott Back · 16 years, 2 months ago
I don't like it all that much. Although I know I'm rare in that ;-)

I like a lot of the older Disney movies. Back when they were all hand-done with detailed backgrounds. The new ones I don't care much for.

I do love the Pixar movies, but then I don't consider them to be Disney. They distribute them, and have a bit of say in production, but those are almost completly Pixar. As I understand it, except for the words "Disney presents" before "A Pixar film", Kevin Smith's (non-Dogma)movies are more tied to Disney than Finding Nemo was.
sheryls Back · 16 years, 2 months ago

or the sword in the stone?? <3. i'm with 'cott. i like the older ones too. sword in the stone and robin hood in particular.

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