Being a Disney fan since a young age, I never would of thought to look too deeply into the meanings of different things that may be represented in a few Disney productions nor did I ever think that anything Disney related could ever have anything less than pure innocence.
One of the things that really interested me was the portrayal of different minorities in a few of the most popular Disney movies such as The Jungle Book, The Lion King, and Oliver & Twist.
It was interesting how in “The Jungle Book” African American people were portrayed as monkeys who were singing about wanting to be human and equal to everyone else.
What I also found interesting was how these monkeys sang with a lot of soul, making the song “I Want To Be Like You” a very bluesy song, identical to those back in the 40’s what were sung by mostly African American artists.
They used lyrics such as:
Does that mean that these writers believed that African American people could never be anything but animals who could never be men and are only capable of “monkeyin’ around”?
Another thing that I never noticed was that the hyenas in The Lion King were almost poking fun at people who lived in more urban setting and making fun of how they talk.
It completely outrages me that children (including myself when I was a child) watch these movies and have no idea of the hidden meanings behind these things until they get older.
The sad part about all of this is that the people who created these movies were socialized and obviously had thoughts and beliefs of black people, or people of different minorities being monkeys, or loud hyenas who speak ebonics and want to be “human”.
“Media influences the way we think.”
Disney has so much power in society, what this means is that they have the power to do whatever they need to do in order to save their image of innocence.
Another thing that shocked me was Disney’s portrayal of women as being seducing with long eyelashes, small waist and curvaceous (yes, even the animals).
When young children watch movies like this, it presents to them what femininity “supposed” to look like.
“What does it mean to be a woman? What does it look like?”
It also tells young girls that it’s okay to use their bodies as objects in order to get what they want and that they need to be rescued by men because they are incapable of saving themselves.
This false image of what a “real woman” is, is ultimately hurting us, as women and as a society.
With newer movies such as the Princess and the Frog and Frozen, women are beginning to be a little more independent, but the “ideal” image of what a female should look like remains the same, and so does the idea of needing or wanting to end things with a man and live “happily ever after” is still existent.
Overall, I thought the “Mickey Mouse Monopoly” opened my eyes to a lot of things that I’ve never noticed before and I can honestly say that I will never see Disney the same again.