In addition to spreading the gospel of Princesshood, Disney is now being accused of elevating heterosexuality to "powerful, magical" heights.
In a paper in the latest issue of Gender & Society, University of Michigan sociologists Karin Martin and Emily Kazyak report that Disney films (emphasis ours):
"…depict a rich and pervasive heterosexual landscape," despite the assumption that children's media are free of sexual content. The movies repeatedly mark relationships between opposite sex lead characters as special and magical.
"Characters in love are surrounded by music, flowers, candles, magic, fire, balloons, fancy dresses, dim lights, dancing and elaborate dinners," the researchers observed. "Fireflies, butterflies, sunsets, wind and the beauty and power of nature often provide the setting for-and a link to the naturalness of-hetero-romantic love."
When you take into consideration that thirty percent of children under the age of three have a TV in their bedrooms — many with a VCR or DVD player (and that the number increases with a kid's age) — you have a potential problem. At a very young age, children are learning that heterosexuality is normal, and homosexuality is abnormal, unusual and unexpected. Something that requires explanation.
Obviously not every kid weaned on The Little Mermaid grows up to view homosexuality as an aberration; but it is interesting to ponder that these G-rated films (and the toys associated with them) — supposedly without sexual content — actually expose children to cues about sexuality, gender roles and feminine beauty. The researchers looked at how the movies depicted bodies, kissing, jokes, romance, weddings, dating, love, where babies come from, and pregnancy.
It's worth noting that in our opposite marriage, post Prop-8 world, DisneyWorld is one place gay people have made a point of making themselves visible: Gay Days are when thousands of gays and lesbians visit the theme park — a tradition started in 1991. Lately, there have been protests from organizations like the Florida Family Association, which argues that Gay Days (emphasis ours) "offend[s] tens of thousands of unsuspecting guests… regular patrons who expect a normal day at the Magic Kingdom."
"Normal," huh? Sounds like someone was raised on Sleeping Beauty.
Disney Elevates Heterosexuality To Powerful, Magical Heights [EurekAlert]
Disney World Gay Days Protest Letter [Orlando Sentinel]