Monday, February 1, 2010

"Unlearning the Myths that Bind Us" by Linda Christensen

"Our society's culture industry teaches them how to act, live, and dream".

After reading Christensen's article, I found myself listening to ideas that I had once thought myself. Growing up, I wondered why there were no colored people in fairytales. Why was there always a happily ever after in every fairytale? Life does not always have a happily ever after. Not all of our dreams will come true. How come dwarfs are portrayed as "weird" or "funny" in The Wizard of Oz and Snow White? Where are the gay couples? How come everyone is beautiful and from that beauty, they get anything they could imagine? Only until the 1990s, did Disney princesses of color appear. Women are portrayed cleaning, cooking, and taking care of their significant other as in Cinderella, but never are they shown holding a career or handling themselves on their own. It seems as if a lot of problems were have in society with stereotyping or judging people all comes from movies and stories we have read as children.

Never in these fairytales are true values portrayed. Never does it say "getting a good education will get you a good job" or "beauty is not everything". They do not have interacial couples that are happy, without issues. Pocahontas and John fall in love, but they are torn apart by their community, having to hide their relationship from others. This teaches young children that forming bonds with people of a different race or culture is bad. This also teaches children of color that they will never be as good as the white people, all which should not be shown in retrospect. Characters such as Ursula show that people of a heavier set are bad people, leading to why the "chubby" kids in school are the targets of bullying among adolescents. I also agree with Christensen when she says that men are portrayed wrongly too. Men in fairytales are always muscular, charming, and save the women in the end. Never are their feelings shown, which makes adolescents mask how they really feel. They want the girls to find them attractive, and obviously they cannot be sensitive or weak as Disney suggests.

Although I do believe the story of Cindy Ellie is good in a sense that colored people should be portrayed in a good way in stories, I do not like how the story still teaches girls that they can only be pretty if they are covered in jewels and fine clothes. What does this teach girls who are brought up in poverty-stricken areas? How are they ever to be happy if they cannot afford such clothes? They should be portrayed becoming happy and wealthy through getting good grades, and putting forth the most effort they have in their schoolwork. In addition, I do not like how for a woman to be attractive she must have the correct body type. Women who have no curves can be just as attractive as women who have a lot of curves. Having nice breasts and a nice butt should not be the focus of attention, especially among young children. This affects their body image as they mature. However, I do like how curvy women are portrayed as attractive, but maybe it's not for the right audience. I wish more cartoons portrayed what life is really like, and how beauty has no boundaries. I think this article is pretty straight-foward, and it did not confuse me. This article definitely relates to out assumptions in class that youth is a culturally construced category, and that media matters. Without these fairytales, people would probably be more accepting to all types of people.