Media have become a pervasive part of everyday life.
Our highly networked, global and interactive world means that the way that media is interpreted varies across audiences. Therefore, the use of race and stereotypes in the media, affects our attitudes and beliefs towards cultural diversity massively. In many Western media contexts, whites have historically been portrayed as superior to other races. Race and ethnicity do not only define one’s physical appearance or cultural background, but are also a part of a bigger picture, a system of groups, or stereotypes. In this ideology, certain groups have more privileges and superiority than others. Disney uses this ideology in its animations by portraying the general western stereotypes that were current at the time of their release. It is often found an unperceived topic that Walt Disney has systematically convened traditional stories and retold them in a controversial way, “the problem is that Disney appropriates and reinterprets stories and legends with a significant meaning and importance to specific cultures without acknowledging that they are doing so.
” (Lippi-Green .103) These traditional stories were told by travellers for entertainment purposes and were not pinpointed a race; this was for the audience to decide. However when Disney began producing feature length films he, “created a roadblock for children of color to connect with the white princesses.” (Gleaton, 2015) For Disney animation, children are most vulnerable to these depictions, being the primary viewers. One of the main areas children are taught stereotypes and pick up prejudices is through the media and research indicates that children do indeed take in what they see and put it to use. Furthermore, because these sociocultural values are homogenous from film to film, there is a cumulative affect on how it is interpreted by the younger generation. Animations such as Snow White are rated ‘General’ by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), defined as ‘nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.
‘ However, because of some racial symbolism, the rather equivocal term of ‘innocence’ here is challenged.