Are Disney's heroines all happy homemakers?
Does it matter?
Do his villains have racist overtones?
Learners get a chance to react to a feminist critique of Disney's animated movies.
This activity is based on the article, Women, race and culture in Disney's movies. It works best for learners who have seen at least one of Disney's full-length animated movies. (The movies discussed in the article are: Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan.)
- Warm-up (small group brainstorming/discussion about Disney movies)
- Reading on the Web (looking for the writer's point of view/criticisms)
- Reporting back (checking information; discussing reactions)
- Giving a response (group presentations in a later class period)
Disney movies & characters - warm up
Any visual you have with a Disney movie character on it will be a good starting point for this warm-up.
- Brainstorm in small groups - learners write down as many Disney movies and characters as they can think of in 3 minutes;
- Learners exchange views about the movies:
- Which of the movies do they particularly like? Why?
- Are there any movies they don't like? Why?
- Then learners find examples of heroes, heroines and villains from their lists:
- Which ones do they think are particularly good characters? Why?
- Are there any characters that they do not think are well done? Why?
Don't let this discussion go on for too long - learners will have plenty of time to discuss more, later.
What does the writer think? - reading on the web
- Prepare learners to read by telling them that they are going to look for the writer's point of view;*
- Learners individually read the article, Women, race and culture in Disney's movies;
- They make notes about the writer's criticisms of Disney's characters & stories, with regard to:
* If your learners will find this difficult, you may want to key them in to the fact that the writer is taking a feminist perspective, before they start to read.
Learners' reactions - small group discussion
- Learners report back and check that they all agree about the main points THE WRITER was making;
- Learners talk about their own reactions to what she said:
- What do they agree and disagree with?
- To what extent?
- Do they think her criticisms are important?
- What factors SHOULD be taken into account in making a film for children?
Learners do NOT have to try to agree about these things.
Our response - small group presentations
Learners form small groups and make a presentation to the rest of the class.
(Learners can form new groups, according to what they want to do.)
The presentation will need to be in a later class session, as learners will need time to prepare.
Give learners these options:
- The Alternative ________ (name of movie)
Take any Disney animated movie that you think is not (completely) appropriate for children:
- Explain what you think the problems are (if possible rent the movie and choose a short extract that shows some of the problems);
- Suggest how you could change the characters, story, and so on, to make the movie more appropriate.
- A Good Movie for children
Choose a movie that you think is a good movie for children to watch:
- Explain what the movie is about and introduce the important characters;
- Say why you think it is a good movie for children (if possible rent the movie and choose a short extract that shows some of the movie's good points).
- Defending Disney
If you disagree with the what the writer said in the article, make a presentation defending a Disney movie:
- Consider the criticisms the writer makes and explain why you disagree;
- Say what you think are the good points of the movie (if possible rent the movie and choose a short extract that shows some of the movie's good points).
© Chris Doye 1999
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Last Modified: 18th July 1999