Media Reflection Paper
November 20, 2014
For years Walt Disney Pictures has been a titan in the child entertainment industry, however their role in the development of children, especially girls, should not be underestimated. The importance of beauty, love, and family in Disney films has changed significantly over time to provide more realistic standards for young girls. This can be perfectly demonstrated through the comparison of The Little Mermaid (1989) and Frozen (2013).
The Little Mermaid is based on a story written in 1837 by Hans Christen Andersen and was released in theatres in 1989. The Disney version differs slightly from the original story by adding a light-hearted ending typical of most Disney works. From the very beginning, it is easy to see how gender portrayal plays a large role in the film. The opening scene focuses on rugged, muscular looking men performing difficult work.
These men represent the uber-masculine, especially Prince Eric who demonstrates leadership qualities throughout the first scene. The first instance of feminine imagery takes place in the song "Daughters of Triton". The daughters come across as dainty and delicate while they sing about their beauty and talents. Ariel strays from her sisters in that she is much more driven by her curiosity and does not participate in their activities, despite her father's desires. Ariel is frequently reprimanded for her curiosity and is expected to follow the feminine norms as laid out by her sisters. Ariel's father is painted as an authoritative figure pushing the idea that for little girls, the father, or future husband, should be seen as the dominant factor in their lives. In fact, at no point in the film is a mother figure introduced. Another important part of this film is the emphasis of beauty. When Ariel's sisters...