Lisa's Blog

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Final Project

This study is a quantitative and qualitative content analysis on the major female characters in seven Disney animated movies. The focus is on how diverse the major female characters are in Walt Disney movies.

Previous study:
Faherty from University of Southern Maine (Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education; Volume 1, Issue 3 - August 2001; University of Toronto Press; Article number: 9) reveals that there is a high percentage of European and European-American characters, males comprised of 63% and females 28% of characters, and 29.6% of the characters were missing parent(s). The quantitative content analysis studied 19 Disney animated movies and focused on variables of diversity, assigned roles of characters, and social vulnerability. The study uses specific variables and coding categories. These coding categories were most relevant to my study and I used a similar coding scale to report the data.
  • Gender: Male, female, undetermined
  • Age: Infant, young child, young adult, adult, senior
  • Film Role: Hero or heroine, hero or heroine supporter, villain, villain supporter, neutral
  • Race: African, African-American, American Indian, Asian, European, European American, Hispanic, Arabic, Animal or Object, undetermined
  • Social Vulnerability: Present, none
  • Social Vulnerability Specified: Physical disability, speech impediment, low intelligence, poverty, absent-minded, parent missing or killed, single parent, widow or widower, overweight, killed, prisoner, eccentric

Corpus and Method: My corpus is comprised of seven Walt Disney films including: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Cinderella (1950), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), and Mulan (1998). The method is a quantitative and qualitative content analysis, in which the major female characters were first coded on their age, then ethnicity, and also there social vulnerability. Then there was descriptive analysis discussing things such as the situations these female characters are in and physical descriptions that are difficult to code.

Charts and Descriptions:

Snow White: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated film by Walt Disney. Snow White is beautiful, sweet young women who loves to clean. After running away afraid of the evil Queen, she waits for a prince to come and save her and take her away. When she gets to the dwarfs dirty house, she happily cleans it and becomes a sort of mother role for the dwarfs. The evil Queen gives her a poisoned apple which puts her into a coma and the only thing that can save her is the handsome princes kiss. She was a happy women who's life revolved around taking care of people and cleaning until a man came and gave her a new life because she was helpless to change it herself.

Cinderella: Cinderella is a beautiful, orphaned child that is raised by her evil step mother. She is forced to clean all day, but she is surprisingly cheerful as she does it. She doesn't complain and her only friends are mice and other farm animals. She gets a chance to go to a ball, but is forced to stay at home and clean. She is rescued by her fairy godmother and can go to the ball. She falls in love with the prince but is forced to leave. He comes and finds her and rescues her from her evil step mother and again gave her a new life because she was helpless to change it herself, just like in Snow White.

The Little Mermaid: Ariel is a sexy mermaid that has a perfect body and wears a bikini made out of sea shells. The only thing she wants in life is a man and gives up her voice in order to have that wish come true. She gives her voice to gain legs which means she'll be silent, but at least she'll be beautiful. She gives up her family, friends, and whole life just to be with this man even though at the end she does get her voice back.

Beauty and the Beast: Belle is a beautiful young women that loves to read. When she first meets the Beast she is frightened by his bad temper and violent nature. He hits her father and locks her up, pounds on her door and yells at her. Displays very violent behavior, but Belle's kindness and beauty "changes" the Beast and the sweet, sensitive side is shown. Even though the Beast is a very violent, bad tempered person, if Belle is nice to him he will change.

Aladdin: Jasmine is the first women character that is not white. She is a very beautiful Arabic princess. Her father is forcing her to marry by her 16th birthday even though she has not found the man she is in love with. She disobeys her father and sneaks out of the palace. It is not socially accepted for a princess to marry someone of a lower class so Aladdin has to pretend to be a prince to try to be with the princess. This movie however has song lyrics that are very racist. "I come from a land, from a far away place, where they cut off your ears if they don't like your face. It's barbaric, but hey, it's home."

Pocahontas: Pocahontas is a beautiful Native American women that is the daughter of a noble man. Her father is trying to arrange a marriage between her and a powerful warrior in their tribe. The movie of Pocahontas shows John Smith, a white colonial man, and Pocahontas having a secret relationship.

Mulan: Mulan is a Chinese legend and is about a young girl that learns her feeble father must go fight in a war. She decides to disguise herself as a man and go into battle for him. She is almost killed in battle and the man that is suppose to kill her sends her away, so a man, Shang, saves her life. The only thing her grandmother can say after she returns from battle is how she wishes Mulan would've come back with a man instead of a sword. Shang comes back and marries her and they live "happily ever after".

What does this all mean...

Walt Disney has come a long way since 1937. They started out by showing women only as people who lived to clean and take care of people. They were helpless and needed a man to save them. Disney has recently had more women characters be more independent, but there seems to always be a man they end up with at the end. They always have to get married and live "happily ever after." Also, I found that most Disney movies have families with only 1 or no parents. Only 1 out of the 7 movies analyzed had both parents present. There are by far more white women then any other race and yet they all look very similar. The differences are very subtle. They have overall the same body type. In conclusion, Disney female characters, although sometimes portrayed as different races, are still very similar and portrayed in similar ways.

What I've learned...

Today was the last day of class. I have really enjoed this class. It has taught me to be more aware of how damaging ads and dipictions of races/genders can be to society. I never thought of many of the issues discussed in this class and now that they have been presented to me, I see these things all around me. I think that with the knowledge this class has given me, I will be more aware of these issues and it will help in my career in advertising.

Pilot Point Mural

Links to debate about the "pornographic" mural in Pilot Point

Homosexuals in Media

Homosexuals roles have changed drastically over the last few centuries. They went from being seen as the invisible man, as shown in some of the video clips today, to now being cast as "regular people." I have noticed that over time people are becoming more comfortable with homosexuals in shows and movies. I watch Will & Grace and one night I was watching it and my boyfriend came over and was shocked that I would be watching a show about "gay people." He refused to watch it and threw a fit about it. A couple days later we were flipping through the channels and it happened to be on again. I asked him to watch it for just a few minutes and he reluctantly did. He ended up really enjoying the show because he said they showed in a tastefully gay manner. I think it's good that shows are trying to show gays not only in the stereotypical flamboyant roles, but also in roles that break that mold and show people that homosexuals aren't only as we've been shown over the years.

Asian Women in the Media

The video we watched in class over how Asian women are portrayed in movies was interesting. I have never really paid attention to how they are shown, but now that the issue was presented to me I can think of many examples. What I wanted to comment on was on what someone said during the discussion. They said we could pretty much see any stereotypes we want to if we look hard enough and I found that very interesting. I think if we look for stereotypes in media we need to know if the producer or whoever cast the role put an Asian, African-American, white, ect. in that specific role intentionally.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Since starting this class I've found myself analyzing ads anytime I see them. I've been paying attention to the billboards on the way to work to see if there were any highly sexualized ads displayed for anyone, including children, to see. Although the ads in magazines in Cosmo and Maxim are sexualized and portray women and men inappropriately, they are in magazines made for adult entertainment so the images aren't displayed to children. I wanted to see if there were any billboards like the ads in those magazines that anyone and everyone that drives down the highway can see. I drive down 35 and George Bush everyday and the last few days I've been trying to pay extra close attention. I only found 1 billboard on 35 that had an image of a women in a partially clad outfit and it was for a beer company ad; I can't recall which one. I found this interesting because everywhere else I look (tv, magazines, ect.) I find ads that shock me when it comes to how sexualized they are. I do think it is a good thing thought that these images aren't thrown on every billboard on the highway.


I looked "through" the movie "Crash." Although the theme of stereotype was very apparent, there were several things I also found to be very interesting. I started out by making a chart of the different races and genders of the main characters. This movie had many characters with significant roles so it was difficult to pick out the "main characters." I noted 24 characters that I found to have significant roles.

White: [Male - 5] [Female - 1]
Black: [Male - 5] [Female - 4]
Hispanic: [Male - 1] [Female - 3]
Asian: [Male - 1] [Female - 1]
Middle Eastern: [Male - 1] [Female - 2]
Total: [Male - 13] [Female - 11]

There seems to be an even distribution of men and women as main characters, but white and black by far have more main characters with blacks having the most roles. Most of the women in this movie had progressive roles. The only women that didn't were minorities; a black women that did clerical work and a Hispanic women that was a housekeeper. I found the male roles in this movie interesting. The white "bad cop" was very disrespectful to women, but then was very caring towards his father. I think that might have to do with the comment he made about his mother walking out on his family. Also the Hispanic man was very caring towards his daughter which is different from how Hispanic men have stereotyped.

This movie was a great depiction of how different races are seen in society and why these stereotypes can be harmful.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sick Day

I was unable to make it to class today due to being extremely sick. I have been sick for a couple days now, but last night was the worst. There was no way I could've made it to class in the condition I am in and I don't think anyone would've really wanted me there either. I hope I didn't miss much and I hope I can make up whatever I did miss.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Shadow Project

"Clothing Ads for Opposite Sexes"

Two-sentence summary of findings:
Men in clothing ads in Stuff Magazine were mostly depicted in demure dress, while women in clothing ads in Cosmopolitan were depicted as partially clad or suggestively dressed, as well as demure. Even though Cosmopolitan is a magazine for women, the clothing ads still show women in partially clad or suggestive clothing.

Summary of the previous study:
The comparative study I used was the study on Magazine Covers in Men’s Magazines on pages 72-84 in Sex in Consumer Cultures. It discusses the way men and women are dressed on the cover of men’s magazines.

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to your own project:
The most relevant study used by the previous study is the work by Soley & Kurzbard which used a similar coding scale, with the categories: demure, suggestive, partially clad, and nude. I used this system to classify the men and women in the clothing ads in Cosmopolitan and Stuff Magazine.

Corpus and method:
My corpus includes all full-page ads for men and women clothing appearing in the March 2006 issue of Cosmopolitan and the March 2006 issue of Stuff Magazine. The method is quantitative content analysis, in which the main subject in each ad was coded first as male or female, and then was coded for clothing.

Stuff magazine included 11 depictions of main subjects in ads for clothing: 3 of women and 11 of men. 10 men were coded as demure, 1 was suggestive or partially clad; only 1 woman was dressed demure, 2 were suggestive or partially clad. In Cosmopolitan, there were 11 main subjects coded: 9 or women and only 1 man. The man who was dressed suggestively or partially clad; 4 woman were dressed demure, 3 were suggestive or partially clad. Both magazines showed ads that targeted the sex the magazine was geared toward. If there was a member of the opposite sex in the ad, they were mostly dressed suggestively or partially clad.

Even though Cosmopolitan and Stuff Magazine are geared towards the opposite sexes, both magazines show more women than men in suggestive or partially clad clothing. Also, women were showed in more clothing ads in Cosmopolitan and men were showed in more clothing ads in Stuff Magazine. Men are very rarely shown in a suggestive way while women, no matter who the audience is, are shown in suggestive or partially clad clothing

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Youth and Video Games

Today in class we discussed the effects of mature video games on children. I wanted to comment on my cousin and how I think he is affected by video games. I have to watch my 5 year old cousin about once a week and I have noticed him talking about video games as if they were real. He talks about "going into the video game" and actually "killing the people" himself. The fact that he is 5 years old and saying that he is killing people and "bashing their heads off" is quite disturbing. My aunt is a single parent and when she is busy she will have my cousin sit in front of the TV and play video games (no matter how mature they are) or watch "super hero" movies which he also thinks is a reality. I don't think this is good for children and I can see the effect it is having on my cousin. Although he does not have behavioral problems, some of the things he says are very inappropriate for a 5 year old to be saying.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Killing Us Softly Video

I found the video in class today very interesting. I guess I have never really paid much attention to the way women are portrayed in the media very closely. I knew they were showed in risque outfits in suggestive ways but there were many things shown in the video that were very shocking to me. Especially the ads that showed violence towards women. The ad with the dead women in the dumpster was one of the most unbelievable ads I have ever seem. I can't believe they can justify showing someone portrayed like that to sell a product. Another aspect of the video I found interesting was the part about the children in magazines. It shows us that we are shown beginning at a very young age how girls and boys are socially suppose to be. Men dominate and women passive and submissive. I am shocked to see images, such as the violence, being in our main-stream media and being socially acceptable. Although I do not have a solution to the problem, I still know there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Work Salaries: Men vs Women

I have always found it interesting that men make substainsally more money than women that have the same job title. According to a recent study by the US Department of Labor, women are making only 76% of what their male counterparts are making in full time employment positions. The 76% is up from 63% in 1979, but this difference is still unexceptable. I don't understand how a women with equal qualifications can make so much less. The older I get, the more frustrated I get about how women are treated in the workplace by men of all levels (even the same). Even with all the new laws not much has changed for women.