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Disney Animation’s Society Reflection & Influence

Contemporary American values are reflected in movies. Signs and symbols of the changing values get into all the aspects of individual lives in the United States. A quintessential example is offered by the entertainment sector where animated characters are depicted as possessing a powerful impact on our culture and its trends. Animation movies from the Disney world always have the leading characters as heroines. In these movies, the female model has been made to depict an “ideal individual”: a sign of popular trends, attitudes, qualities, as well as the desirable norms that are socially acceptable1.

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One school of thought which states that the societal behavior influences the way that animation movies are created, while another one states that it is vice-versa. Unfortunately, these animation symbols are a far cry from the best values that the current t society possesses and are predominantly targeted at children. The influential bearings of animated films on children can be found in the renowned Walt Disney Heroines. The Disney girls are a true reflection of the dynamic American value and the advancement of the country’s popular culture.

In the year 1937, Walt Disney created its first animated film feature despite the skepticism that the move elicited. When Snow White was premiered, its gross sales were around $80 million. The impact of Snow White was beyond pioneering the entertainment scene as it made thousands and thousands of families to increasingly start to identify with certain characters in the movies. The creation of animated movies continued even after the death of Walt Disney. The vision that Walt Disney created for his company continued to percolate the American culture in his absence. The societal lessons that Americans derive from Disney’s movies is a secondary purpose since it was primarily created for showbiz. Walter’s aspirations projected the influence that the lessons in the animated movies were going to have on the society.

The Walt Disney movies after the World War II have altered the perception that the society had on women regarding their place and role in the society. Andy Griffith’s and the Clever’s is a movie that portrayed the admirable family example. The two women in the movie were portrayed as conservatives who displayed happiness. The two accepted the responsibilities of mothers and wives with gracious innocence. Lacroix postulates examples presented herein may have depicted ‘idealism’ yet the women in this age were satisfied with their homemaking roles2.

Snow White reiterated the “homemaker-role” stereotype that was prevalent during the time that it was produced. She displayed commendable behavior in the way that she interacted with her step-mother. She did all the womanly works in the homestead, a trait that she carried to the dwarfs’ home after escaping the malice of her step-mother. However, Snow White possesses certain vulnerability and weakness, which are accentuated by her behavior to readily accept and submit to others. Consequently, she jeopardizes herself in the process. The depiction of women as weak and vulnerable stoked the embers of the 1960s women movement fire. Since Snow White was a role model to children, they started to interpret the message that Disney sent about women in the movie.

Contradictory marks with related associations also interject to the way that Disney reflects the society. There are promotional animations such as Barbie in one of the Walt Disney’s animated movies. The argument that Cross puts forth is that the animated movie have revolutionized the way the society behaves. In the movie, Barbie is her individual in feminist lexes3. She displays the characteristics of a liberal woman due to her possessions. Women across the United States realized that Barbie represented a break from their traditional roles something that they duly welcomed. The complication of Barbie’s and Disney Heroines world, a standard has been formulated whereby women have now become symbols of fashionable trends as well as changing culture.

Disney animations have also influenced the manner in which children relate to their parents. Ariel shows total defiance to her father’s high-handedness when she screams to him, “I am sixteen years old. I am no longer a child!”4 Further, she registers her displeasure with the world by singing along to a certain song. Ariel, a Disney heroine of the ’90s, is determined to accomplish her dreams irrespective of the perilousness of the same. Mulan, another 90s character from Disney animated movies, displays the influence that the movies have on the society by stating that he can only marry a woman who has gone to school. The two examples indicate the extent to which Disney’s animated movies have influenced popular culture. According to a study, more children are defiant nowadays compared to the period before 1990. Children who were born after the year 1990 are different compared to those born in the 40s, 50s, and the 60s.

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Works Cited

Cross, Gary. “Barbie, G.I. Joe, and Play in the 1960’s.” Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. 3rd ed. Ed. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s (2000): 360-381. Print.

Lacroix, Celeste. “Images of animated others: The orientalization of Disney’s cartoon heroines from The Little Mermaid to The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” Popular Communication 2.4 (2004): 213-229. Print.

Tanner, Litsa Renee, et al. “Images of couples and families in Disney feature-length animated films.” The American Journal of Family Therapy 31.5 (2003): 355-373. Print.

Watts, Steven. The magic kingdom: Walt Disney and the American way of life. University of Missouri Press, 2013. Print.


  1. Tanner analyzes the portrayal of American families in page 358
  2. See Lacroix for the conservative roles of women, especially page 220.
  3. See Cross, especially page 370, for further information regarding feminism in Disney.
  4. On the influence of Disney on the society, see Watts 66.

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