Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment

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University of Texas Press, Jan 27, 2009 - Performing Arts
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In his latest iconoclastic work, Douglas Brode—the only academic author/scholar who dares to defend Disney entertainment—argues that "Uncle Walt's" output of films, television shows, theme parks, and spin-off items promoted diversity decades before such a concept gained popular currency in the 1990s. Fully understood, It's a Small World—one of the most popular attractions at the Disney theme parks—encapsulates Disney's prophetic vision of an appealingly varied world, each race respecting the uniqueness of all the others while simultaneously celebrating a common human core. In this pioneering volume, Brode makes a compelling case that Disney's consistently positive presentation of "difference"—whether it be race, gender, sexual orientation, ideology, or spirituality—provided the key paradigm for an eventual emergence of multiculturalism in our society.

Using examples from dozens of films and TV programs, Brode demonstrates that Disney entertainment has consistently portrayed Native Americans, African Americans, women, gays, individual acceptance of one's sexual orientation, and alternatives to Judeo-Christian religious values in a highly positive light. Assuming a contrarian stance, Brode refutes the overwhelming body of "serious" criticism that dismisses Disney entertainment as racist and sexist. Instead, he reveals through close textual analysis how Disney introduced audiences to such politically correct principles as mainstream feminism. In so doing, Brode challenges the popular perception of Disney fare as a bland diet of programming that people around the world either uncritically deem acceptable for their children or angrily revile as reactionary pabulum for the masses.

Providing a long overdue and thoroughly detailed alternative, Brode makes a highly convincing argument that with an unwavering commitment to racial diversity and sexual difference, coupled with a vast global popularity, Disney entertainment enabled those successive generations of impressionable youth who experienced it to create today's aura of multiculturalism and our politically correct value system.

 

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Filled with basically more opinion then fact, this author goes through great lengths to guarantee the view that Disney was well ahead of his time, but alas, many of his comparisons are based on things he either remembers poorly, or he twists them on purpose to support his claims.

Contents

Disney and the Native Experience
21
Disney and the Civil Rights Movement
49
Ethnicity and Individualization in Disney
79
Disneys Subversion of the Victorian Ideal
113
FIVE If It Feels Good Do It Disney and the Sexual Revolution
139
Disney and Feminism
167
Color section follows page 180
180
Walts Wonderful World of Witchcraft
199
Disney and the Gay Experience
227
In Defense of Disney Part II
255
Notes
271
Index
281
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

DOUGLAS BRODE is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist who teaches cinema studies and popular culture at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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