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The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence Updated and Expanded Edition Edition

28 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1442201439
ISBN-10: 1442201436
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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; Updated and Expanded Edition edition (April 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442201436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442201439
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Matt McDowall on January 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
The negative reviews of this book here have been fairly typical: It's apparently enough to call Giroux "leftist" and to point out his concern with class, race, and gender inequality. That alone completely impugns his work for many people. If you are one of those people, don't pick up this book. But if you're not, you've got to read this. The book is academic, and is written that way: Giroux packs the ideas in, especially in the beginning. But it is also the best piece of cultural criticism I've yet read.

Contrary to what people have been saying here, Giroux does not simply scream "race class gender inequality" over and over again. In fact I was impressed by how seldom he did make direct appeal to those issues. Instead, he focuses largely on the "public pedagogy" (I love that phrase) at work behind a company like Disney (if in fact there is any other company like Disney). Giroux's central idea is that we need an intelligent, critical populace in order to have a true democracy, and his central claim is that Disney actively works against both intelligence and critical thinking in the populace at large. His claim is well argued, and well substantiated. The consistent move towards "security" in our society is a troubling symptom of the kind of worldview that Giroux ascribes to Disney. And if he's right, it is imperative that we all start to think a lot more critically about Disney and other, similar societal influences.
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By "disneychick" on December 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this collection of essays, Giroux provides readers a good introduction to Disney Studies. Essentially, Giroux's concerns focus on Disney's power to shape the public's understanding of itself, children , and American culture. His main point is that the public altogether too willingly accepts Disney as purveyor and protector of innocence. People allow themselves to be lulled to sleep by a hypnotic Disney whose products are, underneath it all, as dangerous as Malicient and her spinning wheel. Giroux's primarily explores the connection between Disney and families, especially children. He also considers Disney's representations of gender, race, sexuality, and so forth (fairly standard fair for academic critique). His book is supposed to be an activist statement--it offers readers ways with which to think about Disney critically. For those unfamiliar with his work or those just being exposed to Disney criticism, this book is a good and lively introduction. Giroux's examples are brief but numerous and he provides just enough scholarly material to ground his book. In many ways, it provides a representative perspective on most academics' view on Disney, a sort of mini-history of the discipline.
However, the book is is flawed in at least two areas. First, those familiar with Giroux's work will find nothing new here. Much of the material seems rather hastily compiled and updated for a book publication. I much prefer his individual essays on the subject. Second, and this is at the heart of many critiques, I question whether Giroux's portrayal of the public. He claims that the public is an active audience, one which is capable of producing several "readings" that complicate issues of Disney's reception.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Brandi S. Martin on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Once I read my daughter a book. At age 3, she turned to me and said "buy me the movie of that."

There was no movie of that book, but at age three, my child had already learned that a book means a movie, slippers, pajamas, and action figures. Instead of asking me about the book, or commenting upon the character, the only way she expressed her pleasure was in thinking about what we would buy as a result.

Say what you want about leftism and ivory tower this and that. Then look in your childrens' room, and their mountain of toys, and try to pick out which ones emphasize creative activity, and which are needlessly emblazoned with Disney and other characters. Buying is replacing creativity, in all of us. My child has learned this despite my best efforts. This book confirms what I didn't want to know.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn J. Maver on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Giroux takes a look at the sinister, insidious side of the Disney conglomerate, and articulates (in his usual wordy, passive voice fashion) what many progressives are fighting against in our age of corporate oligarchy--the sacrifice of democracy and the public good at the altar of corporate profit. While he makes many pronouncements of how to correct these evils and bring discourse back into the schools and society, I'm afraid it's too little, too late. He doesn't offer any suggestions for assisting the general adult population in gaining the critical thinking skills necessary to combat corporate hegemony. That is one of the downfalls of the book. He also is pretty merciless in his attacks on Disney films. Sure, Mulan breaks role stereotypes, but she does so in a militaristic fashion, he complains. Well, heck, this is a traditional folktale from China and Disney is true to the story here. What does Giroux want Mulan to do? Go join the Peace Corps? Aside from these qualms, I think the book is well worth the read.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Funky Mo-Unky on May 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book at Disney World, while working at Disney World because the clutter of commercialism and profiteering that was abusing my preconceived version of Disney as innocence and imagination was truly starting to make me detest everything Disney. I bought this book to back up what I felt in my gut was becoming a serious problem with the Disney Corporation.

However while I enjoyed sections of this book I found it to be mostly full of academic fluff. I expected it to be academic, and I bought it for that reason, but unlike other authors such as Neil Postman who can fill pages upon pages with words to make a point that could be made in one paragraph....Giroux cannot pull off the same feat. His points in the book are relevant and at times incredibly insightful...but everything in between is drivel. He seems to ramble on and on in between points with irrelevant examples and arguments that are never ending and repetitive. Most of the time the examples and arguments aren't nearly as insightful as the original point which kills his overall argument because he shoots his own credibility in the foot.

Good social/culture books on Disney are hard to find because they're typically dipped in a bias of some sort. The one thing I can say about this book is even though I don't buy some of Giroux's face critiques of Disney....his stance as more of a social critique is more appealing than simply a Disney lover or a Disney hater (although, obviously this book leans more in the hater direction). This has been a great book as a reference because his arguments are good, but it's dreadful to read though as a whole.
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