History Of Disney Animation Cultural Studies Essay

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Walter Elias Disney (founder of Disney), born in 1901, started his work at the Kansas City Slide Company after finishing School, producing films he named "Laugh-O-Grams" which he then turned into a corporation. 1n 1923 Walter Disney, declared bankruptcy and moved to Hollywood with plans to become a director. After signing a contract with a New York cartoon distributor, Walt and his brother Roy open the "Disney Bros. Studio" (later becoming Walt Disney Studios) where they produce the first Disney cartoons to reach theatres.

Disney's main iconic character Mickey Mouse was developed by Walt Disney in 1928 and they started using him in cartoons. By 1931 the popularity of Mickey Mouse became global. In 1938, the release of 'Pinocchio' did not meet expectations due to the outbreak of World War II...

Walt took a film making and goodwill tour around South America in 1941 and as a result, devised the idea of the films "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros which were both successful in North and South America.

The idea of adapting Disney to an amusement park came from Disney wanting to invite people to come and 'see' Disney. Plans were then made to build an amusement area called the 'Mickey Mouse Park', which later changed to Disneyland when the first park opened in Anaheim, California in 1955, 6 years later.

In September 1964, President Johnson presents Walt with the Medal of Freedom at the White House, which was the nation's highest civil honour.


Assimilation: the process of change that occurs when an individual or group adopts the characteristics of the dominant culture and is fully incorporated into that culture's social, economic, and political institutions. http://www.understandingrace.org/resources/glossary.html

Civil Rights movement: legal and other efforts led by African Americans against racism and segregation and for the enactment of legislation ensuring their full civil and human rights. The modern Civil Rights movement dates to the mid-1950s and proceeded in earnest throughout the 1960s.

Ethnicity: an idea similar to race that groups people according to common origin or background. The term usually refers to social, cultural, religious, linguistic and other affiliations although, like race, it is sometimes linked to perceived biological markers. Ethnicity is often characterized by cultural features, such as dress, language, religion, and social organization.

Ethnocentrism: the deeply felt belief that your own cultural ways are universal, natural, normal, and even superior to other cultural ways.

Racism/ Racialism- Set of beliefs, ideologies and social processes that discriminate against others on the basis of their supposed membership of a racial group. (Jary & Jary, 1991). In Europe, varieties of racist ideology have been used to justify colonial exploitation, aggression against nations and oppression of minority groups.... (Jary & Jary, 1991)

Racist - a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others

Race: a recent idea created by western Europeans following exploration across the world to account for differences among people and justify colonization, conquest, enslavement, and social hierarchy among humans. The term is used to refer to groupings of people according to common origin or background and associated with perceived biological markers. Among humans there are no races except the human race. In biology, the term has limited use, usually associated with organisms or populations that are able to interbreed. Ideas about race are culturally and socially transmitted and form the basis of racism, racial classification and often complex racial identities.

Racial classification: the practice of classifying people into distinct racial groups based on certain characteristics such as skin colour or geographic region, often for the purpose of ranking them based on believed innate differences between the groups.

Racial identity: this concept operates at two levels: (1) self identity or conceptualization based upon perceptions of one's race and (2) society's perception and definition of a person's race.

Racialization: the process by which individuals and groups of people are viewed through a racial lens, through a culturally invented racial framework. Racialization is often referred to as racialism.

Social class: a social grouping of people based on common economic and other characteristics determined by society and reflecting a social hierarchy

Social mobility is the movement made by an individual or groups as they move between different positions of status hierarchy or social class.

Slavery: an extreme form of human oppression whereby an individual may "own" another person and the rights to his or her labour. In the colonial Americas, a form of racial slavery evolved that would eventually distinguish only persons of African descent as "slaves."

Pocahontas- The American Frontier

The European colonising power devalues a nations past...

The Europeans colonised North America, expanding and settling in different places across the continent. A few thousand French migrated to Canada and to small villages on the lower Mississippi and Illinois Country. The Dutch set up trading posts in the Hudson River valley. However the English colonies pursued a more systematic policy of widespread settlement of the New World, for cultivation and exploration of the land. There were conflicts between the Europeans and Native Americans over who would rule which lead to the French and Indian Wars in the 1760s, resulting in complete victory for the British.

The American Frontier is often identified with 'the West' because the expansion of the European settlement was largely from East to West.

In the early 1600s, Pocahontas, ruler of the land the English named Virginia, kept the remaining colonists from starving to death during the first winter by visiting regularly with plenty of food.

Colonist, Captain Argyle, discovered that Pocahontas was staying with the Patowamekes, and captured her on June 4, 1613, intending to trade her for concessions from Powhatan. During her captivity, leading colonists worked to convert her to Christianity. One of those colonists, John Rolfe, fell in love with her, and she with him. Pocahontas was baptised as a Christian, and married John Rolfe in 1614. This marriage created the "Peace of Pocahontas", six years of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan's tribes.

The origins of racism in the United States are directly traced to the European conquest of the Americas, to a rapidly expanding capitalism in Western Europe and the British colonies that were to become the United States seeking cheap and growing supplies of food, beverages, tobacco, and increasingly, cotton. These needs were met by a system of production in the Americas based on land seized from its inhabitants the American Indians. http://academic.evergreen.edu/b/bohmerp/marxracism.htm

The Frog Princess- Social Mobility

The frog princess is a fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans.

New Orleans as of 2000 shows the proportion the population being black or African American was 67.25% http://neworleans.areaconnect.com/statistics.htm

From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws (legalised segregation between blacks and whites). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated. for example; http://www.sju.edu/~brokes/jimcrow.htm

Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for white and coloured races. (Alabama)

Intermarriage: It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person. Any marriage in violation of this section shall be void. (Georgia)

Promotion of Equality: Any person. who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and Negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine or imprisonment not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both. (Mississippi)

It was not until after World War II that an assault on Jim Crow in the South began to make headway.

Martin Luther king was part of the civil rights movements of the 1960's- quote from speech- In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The Declaration of Independence's fundamental principles are liberty, equality and self-government. The founding fathers of the United States "…held certain truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

It s time to get real about race and the persistence of racism in America. The very visible and social and economic progress made by some African Americans can no longer obscure the increasingly dismal demographics that reflect the status of most of those whose forebears in this country were slaves. Statistics on poverty, unemployment and income support the growing concern that the slow racial advances of the 60's and 70's have ended and retrogression is well underway. (Delgado & Stefancic, 2000)

Thomas Jefferson- expressed the view that blacks should be free, but he was certain that "the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. He suspected blacks, where inferior to the whites in the endowment of both body and mind. He warned that " if legal barriers between the races were torn down, but with no provision made for their separation, convulsions would ensue, which would probably never end resulting in the extermination of one of the other race. (Delgado & Stefancic, 2000)

Aladdin- Orientalism

(Aladdin was released in 1992 just after the first gulf war, is this why the depictions of the east are skewed)

Orientalism- is "a manner of regularized or orientalised writing, vision and study dominated by imperatives, perspectives and ideological biases ostensibly suited to the orient" it is the image of the orient expressed as an entire system of thought and scholarship

The oriental- is the person represented by such thinking. - The oriental is a single image, a sweeping generalisation, a stereotype that crosses countless cultural and national boundaries

Edward Said- The discourse and visual imagery of orientalism is laced with notions of power and superiority, formulated initially to facilitate a colonising mission on the part of the west and perpetuated through a wide variety of discourses and policies

Said argues that orintalism can be found in current western depictions of "Arab" cultures. The depiction of "the Arab" as irrational, menacing, untrustworthy, anti western, dishonest and prototypical, are ideas into which orientalist scholarships have evolved. These notions are trusted as foundations for both ideologies and policies developed by the orient

Said also suggests that to write about the Arab oriental world therefore is to write with authority of a nation (the Disney films are based on the American ideology - judgemental of the west because they do not understand the culture- outsiders looking in)

Said suggests, the west has created a dichotomy, between the reality of the east and the romantic notion of the orient. The Middle East and Asia are viewed with prejudice and racism. They are backwards and unaware of their own history and culture. To fill this void, the west has created a culture, history and future promise for them.

Said argues that "orientalism, whatever its explicit claims, offer us not a true picture of the orient but a representation , a re-presentation of it, a reconstruction, in effect a colonising knowledge, created by the conqueror to comprehend the concurred, and designed to confirm the west's own distinctive identity, and to enhance the west's political hegemony over Asian peoples" (Clarke, 1997)

Power relationship between east and west