Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Historical Davy Crockett - Part 2

The ideal American male is a political figure. America is an individualist society and therefore the driving narrative of its politics and society is that of the individual's supremacy and sanctity. The individual, in turn, becomes symbolic of the processes of the State (and one can certainly debate the extent to which the myth of American individualism both obfuscates and hinders the collectivization that makes society possible). So through the King of the Wild Frontier character we learn the politics of the King of the Wild Frontier film. Where many of these alterations to David Crockett, from a historical figure to a proxy of 1950's American politics, come into sharper focus are in the film's representations of Native Americans.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Historical Davy Crockett - Part 1

For as impactful a movie as Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier was, it is amazing to consider how little critical thought has gone into it. In Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy, Janet Wasko observes that there is a paucity of academic study on this iconic motion picture. Most studies are humble reminiscences of when 1950's pop culture changed practically overnight and every child wore a coonskin cap, whistling the 28(!) stanzas of the famous tune. The major treatment is The Davy Crockett Craze by Paul Anderson. However, as the "Aeneid" of America's own Virgil, Davy Crockett provides a wealth of material for the student of American mythology.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Feminism and the Disney Princesses - Part II: Tropes vs. Men in Disney

In my original article Feminism and the Disney Princesses, I set out to address specific claims about how the canon of Disney fairy tale films represents its female protagonists. My approach was academic, engaging in a close viewing of the films to determine if these claims had any justifiable basis. While that article examined – and, I believe, ultimately refuted – claims that Disney's animated films present a negative image of women, the other side of the coin is whether they carry an otherwise patriarchal message.

Just as my previous analysis attempted to examine the films without intending to ignite a debate about feminism as a social construct, my discussion of male image in Disney is not intended to ignite debate about male advocacy and men's rights movements. I am a proponent of women's rights, freedoms, and social and economic justice, as well as unequivocally denouncing misogyny, violence towards and oppression of women, and thus am not throwing my fedora into the ring on any particular side. My goal is to employ academic analysis to answer the academic question of how male image is represented in Disney films. Do they reinforce a positive image of male domination and patriarchal power relationships? And more particularly, can the same lens of negative interpretation be brought to bear on them that is frequently brought to bear on Disney's representation of female characters?