From Publishers Weekly
To many people, the name Disney has become synonymous with childhood innocence and squeaky-clean fantasy. But in this polemical, didactic work, Penn State education professor Giroux (Channel Surfing) charges that Disney is in fact a powerful corporation whose ideologyAlargely predicated on getting the consumer to buy Disney productsAis far from innocent. Giroux tackles Disney's theme parks, its recent forays into education and its movies in an attempt to expose how Uncle Walt's legacy is eroding democracy and endangering our nation's youth. He disparages Disneyland and Disney World for whitewashing history and casting America's past in a nostalgic light, excluding any mention of slavery, civil unrest, racial tension or war. In keeping with this practice of regulation and homogenization, employees are required to dress a certain way, to have their hair a certain length and to adhere to the "Disney philosophy." Disney's movies, argues Giroux, promote sexism and racism ("bad" characters speak with thick foreign accents, or in inner-city jive; female characters, however strong, depend on the men around them for identity) and encourage massive consumer spending while assuming the guise of innocuous family fun. But because children learn increasingly from popular culture, Giroux warns that it is dangerous to ignore the influence of a corporation whose private town, Celebration, dictates the color of its residents' window shades and house paint. The notion of Disney as a corporate, market-obsessed monolith was hilariously expounded last year in Team Rodent, Carl Hiassen's contribution to Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought series. In contrast, Giroux's sustained shock and outrage, buried in thickets of dense, academic prose, quickly wear thin. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Giroux is an author of many books and articles on education, politics, and corporate influence. This highly critical examination of the Disney corporation explores the scope of influence that Disney has over the developing minds (and bodies) of children as it uses the facade of innocence and nostalgia marketing to promote consumerism over values such as reading and creative play, which are known to stimulate intelligence and social interaction better than the passive viewing of television and movies. Giroux asks us to reevaluate the seemingly innocuous animated Disney productions and theme parks, which focus on a safe, sanitized, middle-class white depiction of the American ideal, while promoting racial and sexual stereotypes in films such as Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. He points out the hypocrisy (or is it irony?) of the feature WALL-E, which depicts Earth as a desolate wasteland despoiled by rampant consumerism and an overreaching mega-corporation, while at the same time promoting WALL-E robots, action figures, playsets, apparel, stationery, and other “collectibles” in the real world. This updated and expanded edition (with the help of coauthor Pollock) includes a discussion on Disney's focus on marketing toward the lucrative “tween” segment, as well as two new chapters, “Globalizing the Disney Empire” and “Disney, Militarization, and the National Security State after 9/11.” Well researched and well written, despite the academic jargon. --David Siegfried
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