Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film

Front Cover
University of Texas Press, Dec 1, 2002 - Performing Arts - 181 pages

Kids around the world love Disney animated films, and many of their parents trust the Disney corporation to provide wholesome, moral entertainment for their children. Yet frequent protests and even boycotts of Disney products and practices reveal a widespread unease with the sometimes mixed and inconsistent moral values espoused in Disney films as the company attempts to appeal to the largest possible audience.

In this book, Annalee R. Ward uses a variety of analytical tools based in rhetorical criticism to examine the moral messages taught in five recent Disney animated films—The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan. Taking the films on their own terms, she uncovers the many mixed messages they purvey: for example, females can be leaders—but male leadership ought to be the norm; stereotyping is wrong—but black means evil; historical truth is valued—but only tell what one can sell, etc. Adding these messages together, Ward raises important questions about the moral ambiguity of Disney's overall worldview and demonstrates the need for parents to be discerning in letting their children learn moral values and life lessons from Disney films.

 

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Contents

Disney Film and Morality A BEGINNING
1
DISNEY AS MORAL EDUCATOR
2
CONCERN FOR MORALITY
3
A UNIQUE AUDIENCE
4
METHOD OF RESEARCH
6
READING THE TEXTS
8
MORAL EDUCATOR THROUGH MYTH ARCHETYPE AND RITUAL
10
MYTHIC NARRATIVE
11
VIRTUE ETHICS
67
CONCLUSION
76
Hercules A CELEBRITY HERO
78
IDENTIFICATION THROUGH NARRATIVE STRATEGIES
82
CONCLUSION
92
Mulan EAST MEETS WEST
94
FILM BACKGROUND
95
INTERCULTURALISM
96

ARCHETYPE
17
RITUAL
21
COMMUNICATION TOOLS
25
THE LION KING AS MORAL EDUCATOR
27
POCAHONTAS THE SYMBOLIC BOUNDARIES OF MORAL ORDER
33
DISNEY AND HISTORY
35
SYMBOLIC BOUNDARIES OF MORAL ORDER
38
CONCLUSION
55
The Hunchback of Notre Dame COMICALLY FRAMING VIRTUE AND VICE
57
FILM BACKGROUND
58
INTERPRETIVE FRAMES
62
MORAL TENSIONS
107
CONCLUSION
112
A Disney Worldview MIXED MORAL MESSAGES
113
A DISNEY WORLDVIEW
114
IMPLICATIONS OF THE DISNEY WORLDVIEW FOR CULTURE
128
CONCLUSION
133
NOTES
137
BIBLIOGRAPHY
153
INDEX
173
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

ANNALEE R. WARD is Chair and Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois.

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