Linguistics and its relation to popular Westernized media has been closely related since the inception of pop culture. The topic of language has not been in question per say, but the issue of dialect and how it is incorporated to supplement stock characters in children’s movies and shows, has caught the attention of many. How and why do multi-billion industries resort to overly cheesy, and sometimes cringe-worthy, stereotypes? At a very young age, many children are exposed to movies, whether at the theater or on videos at home. One major producer of children’s movies is the Disney corporation. These animated films are often perceived as innocent and wholesome. Given the influence the Disney ideology has on children, it is imperative for parents, teachers and other adults to understand how such films attract the attention and shape the values of the children who view and buy them.
One of the earliest examples of this kind of stereotype is in Fantasia (1940). In one of the scenes of Fantasia, the Sunflower Centaur scene to be exact, there are numerous of African centaurs hoof-polishing handmaidens for prettier, Aryan centaurs. It was insulting enough for Disney to include the smiling servant stereotype to begin with, but, to make matters worse, they started categorically denying Sunflower's existence with the Fantasia re-release in 1960. How does that possibly make things better? It’s as if Disney was saying that in their perfect world of Fantasia, African’s aren’t slaves, they don’t even exist!
Another perfect early example of stereotypes in Disney movies is the classic Dumbo (1941), which has been noted for its near blatant portrayal of African-American stereotypes. In the children’s movie, the protagonist Dumbo is taunted because of his large ears, and his friend Timothy, in an attempt to cheer him up, subsequently gets him drunk. After a night of drunken hallucinations Timothy and Dumbo wake up in a try alongside a group of black crows. These crows...
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