For my research I decided to research ‘To what extend have representations of female characters in Disney animations changed over the years? ‘ I referred to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Cinderella (1950), the Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Mulan (1998) as these films seemed to be good examples of how female characters have been stereotyped and how these stereotypes have developed in more contemporary films. I conducted primary and secondary research to complete my project.
Primary research is research that I conduct myself from scratch and I compiled and distributed a questionnaire both to individuals I selected and to random groups over our intranet. Secondary research is research already conducted by other people who have been interested in my topic of investigation; I used sources from the internet via search engines and search words. I started my research by looking at secondary resources. I started with the internet. I went on a search engine www. google. com and firstly typed ‘women in Disney’ and that brought up www.
media-awareness. ca which was an article by Susan Riley, giving a feminist’s view of how women are treated in Disney productions. The author seemed to be writing within a cultural networking site but the article seemed to be a more academic reflection on the status of ‘Disney women’. It was useful because it gave me a feminist view which was what I was looking for to support my own opinions about the representations in Disney: it reassured me that I was thinking along the right lines. A similar site was www. newint. org which I found using the same search words.
It was useful and again gave a feminist deconstruction of the Disney films I was interested in by Kathy Maio. However, she was much more critical of the stereotypes being used in Disney and suggested that even representations that appeared to be subversions of stereotypes were in fact just new models of the same old stereotypes. I found this useful because it extended the arguments of the previous source. I didn’t find the rest of the sites that useful so I thought I might change the key words I searched for. I typed ‘representation of women in Disney films’. The search engine brought up many different sites like www.
surlalunefairytales. com, which I found extremely helpful as all the content on the site was in some way related to my topic. The members only discussed Disney films and ‘sub- topics’ such as the ‘female role in Disney’, ‘how Disney’s messages have changed during time and if they have in what way’ ect. Therefore, the site allowed me to extract all the information I needed about the way my chose films were perceived and the message they gave across to a wide range of audience and also most of the content reinforced my original belief of how women were stereotyped and treated in Disney.
I continue to open the other links that the search engine had found and I came across www. intercot. com and www. britmovie. co. uk . Even though the websites were all forum-based and not factual it allowed me to get a broader opinion on my chosen topic form all ages and both genders where as before all the information I had received was from a feminist’s perspective, and by getting information from both genders made my research a more fair. I was also able to see what men thought of the role of women in film and how they received different female role.
I originally believed that most men only saw women as ‘sex object’ in film, and to some extent my belief was supported by some of the male members, however, the other half didn’t. they agrees that women’s roles as domestic housewife’s was wrong, and women should be given more independent roles. The internet was also very helpful in allowing me to get information on my chosen Disney films. www. wikipedia. com allowed me to find the dates of the production and the details on the plot, characters ect.
This was a change because all the information form that site was factual and all of the information I had received until this point was opinion based. From the site I was also able to find the original cast member and so on, this wasn’t so much relevant to my topic however it allowed me to get a better insight in the Disney films and the narrative behind it. Overall the internet was very useful in allowing me to extract information and use it in my work, the fact that the internet is a massive resource and contains so much information, it needs to be used correctly with correct key terms otherwise you might get miss lead.
The other type of secondary data I used was videos. I watched all of the Disney films that I had chosen to talk about, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Mulan. The films were helpful as well as I watched them in order that they were released and started to see differences in the message that they give out to younger audience. I was able to get a better understanding of all the films and the comment made in the forms, I started to try and figure out why people might have perceived the messages in the way they did.
I tried to compare my view to the feminist’s perspective and I kind of understood why they believed Disney hasn’t let go of the female stereotype, because all of the females in the films that I watched were very beautiful in there own different way, they all seem to marry a man/ prince who is wealthier than them, and I think feminists believe that women doesn’t need a man in their life to be happy or successful, a characteristic Disney has yet to present, but credit to Disney, they have started to changed the role of women, very slowly.
After conducting my secondary research I went on to conduct my primary research. Originally I conducted a questionnaire online and sent it to the entire students registered in my school intranet in hope of replies from both males an females and different age groups. I had also planned to have a meeting with a year 6 class but due to other studies and exams I was unable to conduct it. I got many replies from the student but they were 2 3 word answers, not something that I was looking for. The better replies came from the older students.
My questionnaire asked questions like ‘In your opinion, what was the message behind the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast and why? ‘ I got a variation of answers for example Lydie Prados, 18 answered “that you have to look at the beauty within a person”, which was my original view of beauty and the beast and most of the answerers were in them lines like “don’t judge a book by it cover” by Gagendeep Bassi 17, however I did get other answers like “men have the power to control women by force whatever they look like” by Elmedin Murat, 15.
Also the younger year groups gave immature answers and others didn’t answer at all for example when asked ‘what gender are you? ‘, Dorian Stone,13, replied “im not gonna tell you”, most replies were not very helpful.. That’s when I decided I needed to change the whole questionnaire and my target audience so I made the questions directly linked with my work, I also made the target audience different subject teachers, and the replies I got were more helpful. Mr Collins, (Drama teacher, age group 31-40) answered ‘how do you feel characters in Disney animations should be represented?
‘ “women should be represented as articulate, strong with drive and ambition”, the response was very surprising to me because of the fact that he was a man and I expected men not to care about women feelings. Mrs Melena (Geography teacher, age group 21-30), answered the same question “just as they are. I wouldn’t mind a couple more ethnic differences and cultures”, Which I defiantly agree with because it supported what I believed. I also emailed Professor Dona Iodanova to ask her about “how women are represented in Disney films and the message they perceive?
” in hope of a more factual answer from someone that was in the media business, she replied back the next day explaining how she didn’t study American cinema and I was better of contacting someone that does, I replied back asking her how women in general are represented in films, she never replied. Overall, all the sources were helpful in there own way and the ones that were not so helpful, helped me change the way I conducted the research and allowed me to see where I went wrong.