Client Server Essay Research Paper The Mouse

Client Server Essay, Research Paper The Mouse Trap // It seems that’s everyone’s angry with Mickey, from the left and right. But the anger is really centered on the way the Walt Disney Co. reflects our culture and the values we all say we uphold.

Client Server Essay, Research Paper

The Mouse Trap // It seems that’s everyone’s angry with Mickey, from the left and right. But the anger is really centered on the way the Walt Disney Co. reflects our culture and the values we all say we uphold.

Star Tribune; Minneapolis, Minn.; Jan 10, 1998; Martha Sawyer Allen; Staff Writer;

Sub Title: [METRO Edition]

Column Name: Faith & Values

Start Page: 05B

ISSN: 08952825

Abstract:

Religious conservatives decry what they say is the Walt Disney Co.’s move away from "family values and family entertainment to promote a homosexual agenda." Liberal women’s-rights groups have been angry for years at what they say are the stereotypes of women in the cartoons. And politically liberal social-justice advocates decry what they say are the poverty-level working conditions in many Disney plants in the Third World.

Experts say that Mickey and Co. are targeted so often because they mirror our culture – too well. Disney isn’t ahead of our culture – it is our culture. And don’t forget that more people visit the Disney "motherhouses" – Walt Disney World and Disneyland – than any other theme parks in the world.

However, all those groups also display some ambivalence about Disney, and that says a lot about values issues in this country. How do you attack a company that has created so many enduring and endearing cultural icons? For better or worse, entire generations of American children have worked out many issues by watching Disney films. Disney has the dubious achievement of making entertainment as important in society as work, faith, politics and family.

Full Text:

Copyright Star Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Jan 10, 1998

Sometimes crusades make the strangest bedfellows. Consider the coalition of folks who have found a common American-values ground: From religious conservatives to liberal social-justice advocates many are arguing that Mickey Mouse has, as one said, "turned into a rat."

Religious conservatives decry what they say is the Walt Disney Co.’s move away from "family values and family entertainment to promote a homosexual agenda." Liberal women’s-rights groups have been angry for years at what they say are the stereotypes of women in the cartoons. And politically liberal social-justice advocates decry what they say are the poverty-level working conditions in many Disney plants in the Third World.

Experts say that Mickey and Co. are targeted so often because they mirror our culture – too well. Disney isn’t ahead of our culture – it is our culture. And don’t forget that more people visit the Disney "motherhouses" – Walt Disney World and Disneyland – than any other theme parks in the world.

What makes this particular fight more interesting, many experts add, is that it doesn’t follow any ordinary culture-and-values war script. Everyone’s angry with Disney.

"Probably no value-laden group hasn’t criticized Disney for not representing its concerns – adequately, or justly," said Brenda Brasher, who teaches about religion and popular culture at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio.

The Southern Baptist Convention approved a boycott last summer of Walt Disney Co. to protest what it says is the entertainment giant’s move away from "family values" and its endorsement of "immoral ideologies" for accepting homosexuality in its employment policies.

Other religious conservatives, including the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene and the Catholic League, also are involved, including James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

At the same time the United Methodist Church has confronted Disney for what the church says are Disney’s near-slave wages to foreign workers, compared with the astronomical amount paid to its head, Michael Eisner. (Think in terms of roughly 50 cents a day vs. $500 million in a onetime stock payment.)

The denominations represent more than 50 million Americans.

That doesn’t begin to count women who are upset with the role models exemplified by most of the female leads in Disney cartoons. You know, helpless Barbie dolls, or evil, witch-like stepmothers.

Emotional images

However, all those groups also display some ambivalence about Disney, and that says a lot about values issues in this country. How do you attack a company that has created so many enduring and endearing cultural icons? For better or worse, entire generations of American children have worked out many issues by watching Disney films. Disney has the dubious achievement of making entertainment as important in society as work, faith, politics and family.

Even Richard Land, whose Southern Baptist organization is pushing the boycott, admitted in a video that Disney is the "custodian of powerful emotional images that we grew up with – Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the Magic Kingdom." Because of that, he continued, "our guard is often down."

But, sadly, he said, "The mouse has turned into a rat."

How do you boycott a company that controls so much? If you’re upset with Disney, do you also then withdraw from ABC-TV and radio, ESPN and E! cable channels, Hyperion books and Miramax Films? While it may be easy to avoid Disney theme parks, you might be the only family on the block not to go. How do you avoid the outlet merchandise stores and the other 200 Disney subsidiaries? They’re even buying sports franchises now.

The Rev. Paul Wellinghoff has found a partial solution. His son and daughter used to watch "Cinderella," "Bambi," "Snow White" and other Disney films over and over again.

No longer. Now they get their entertainment from NEST Entertainment and features distributed by Focus on the Family. Wellinghoff, who is pastor of Crystal Lake Baptist Church in Burnsville, said, "We just explained to our children that in a Christian family we try to do the things that Jesus would want us to and we don’t want to support something that Jesus wouldn’t support."

Besides, he said, "We’ve introduced them to a lot of other new things. There’s more to life than Disney."

Is that you, John?

The Rev. John Tanner of Southtown Baptist Church in Bloomington said he wore a set of Mickey Mouse ears to a meeting with his fellow Southern Baptist pastors recently. "I got what I wanted," he said with a laugh. "An immediate barb."

However, Tanner and Wellinghoff say that they support the effort to bring to the country’s attention the fact that a conglomerate that purports to be a family-friendly company has all kinds of entertainment that would not be welcome in many homes.

At the same time both men say their congregations have conflicting feelings about the boycott. While people are not happy with the content of many Disney films and other entertainment items, they’re split on whether an economic boycott is the way to go.

Neither man has preached from the pulpit about the issues, but they have both heard – and led – informal discussions about it.

Tanner said, "We want to take a moral stance. It’s like a public statement that we don’t like the direction of morals in the country."

Even though Disney, for many, exemplifies what’s wrong with American moral values, "going to Disneyland or Disney World is the same kind of pilgrimage for many families – the number one destination – similar to cathedrals for pilgrims in Medieval Europe," said Mount Union’s Brasher. While medieval pilgrims wanted to touch religious relics in cathedrals in an attempt "to touch the transcendent," modern-day Disney pilgrims journey to places of pleasure. "It’s an internally directed goal now," she said.

Tanner and Brasher see little wrong with Disney theme parks. "I just can’t say that Disneyland or Disney World are bad places," said Tanner, who has gone to both.

Brasher said, "What impressed me about Christianity when I was a child was that Jesus welcomed little children. I felt good about that. I wasn’t so sure about the church, but Jesus was clear. Today, we talk about `family values,’ but so few of our public places are child welcoming. Disney, to its great credit and market orientation, is child embracing. In a child-unfriendly society, that’s very appealing."

Cultural values

Karal Ann Marling, a University of Minnesota cultural historian who has taught classes about Disney, said, "There’s a whole species of Disney films that have cultural values embedded in them strongly. Cinderella is aspiring to be a 1950s housewife. She’s desperate to trap a husband. She doesn’t want to go to college." "Cinderella" was first released in 1950. Films like "Cinderella" work out the cultural preoccupations of the day, Marling says.

Also, much like the Brothers Grimm fairy tales of earlier generations, the films work out difficult and painful things for children – things they may not feel comfortable talking over with their parents. For example, Bambi loses his mother in a terrible fire. Snow White and Cinderella have evil stepmothers. Dumbo’s mother is taken from him and jailed.

But one thing the experts remind us of is that in those movies the "children" survive. Bambi makes friends and does all right. Dumbo learns to "fly" on his own. Cinderella and Snow White "get" prince charming. The movies assure children that life often works out for the best.

Marling adds, if the protesters "are going to blame anyone it should be the culture at large and not Disney."

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, said in a video, "We’re not attempting to wound or hurt people who are homosexual or lesbian. We’re talking about the agenda of a movement that we must oppose. It’s anti-Christian from top to bottom."

The Disney Co., for its part, does not seem too cowed by the boycott. In a statement it said, "We are proud that the Disney brand creates more family entertainment of every kind than anyone else in the world. We plan to increase our leadership role."

The Rev. Bruce Forbes, who teaches religion and popular culture at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, said popular culture is like a "funhouse mirror. The basic assumption of popular cultural analysis is that popular culture both reflects us and shapes us. Disney would not be central to the culture if we weren’t responding to the extent it reflects us. It’s not a pure reflection, however. We see ourselves, but not exactly."

Cultural ambivalence

A new survey of Baptists in America reported that less than one-third agreed with the boycott and, of those who supported the boycott idea, only 48.8 percent reported avoiding buying Disney products.

The poll was conducted by the Southern Research Group of Jackson, Miss., for the Associated Baptist Press, and was a random sample telephone survey of Baptists in the 14 states where most of the Southern Baptists live. The survey reported that support for the boycott was weak in almost all groups surveyed.

Among those Baptists who said the Southern Baptist Convention stand best represents their point of view, 14.3 percent said they agree with the boycott, while 15.8 strongly agree. But 26.7 percent disagreed and 28.2 percent strongly disagreed. The rest were neutral.

Patrick Anderson, former vice president of the Florida Baptist Convention and a sociologist at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, said, "I travel a good deal, and it’s interesting that major airports have a Disney store. All the malls do. It’s an incredible multinational corporation, and truly a diverse company. You can’t help but find something to be mad at, whether you’re on the left or right. But is a boycott going to work? Of course not."

Tanner said he wishes a more positive way could be found to talk about the values in our culture and the ways they are reflected in Disney.

"As Christians we are not to approach the world in a negative frame of mind. We have the limits Christ taught us, but we’re world affirming. It’s God’s world. We’re here to be the salt, the light, the leaven. For us to sit in a reactionary position and then attack is not Christian."

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