The purpose of Disney videos was to transport it's viewers to a mysterious world of enchantment and never-ending opportunity. Disney offered a meant alternate paradigm where there is the promise of any "Happily Ever After". It aimed at appealing to audiences young and old and hoped to find universal viewership.
Walt Disney once stated that "Of all of our innovations for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally grasped language. " And although it performed reach audiences far and wide, for a young Indian girl enjoying The 1937 Disney version of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, it gave her hardly any to recognize with or relate with.
Snow White, the first on-screen Disney Princess was rendered "With lips as red as rubies" and "skin as good as snow". Blatantly epitomising Traditional western ideas of femininity and beauty, videos like Snow White alienated the Non-western audience. They created a illusion that was centred on fixed archetypes of beauty and desirability which catered to the white, european population and had no room for those who else.
Eventually, the industry was criticised for its focus on a singular ethos and limitation to the First World. Consequently, the last decade of the 20th century observed Walt Disney Pictures release movies which were now targeted at broadening its ethnic spectrum.
Alladin, debuted as Disney's first try to explore some other cultural terrain. Released in 1992, it was later followed by other culture specific movies like Mulan and Pocahontas which opened up in cinemas in 1998 and 1995 respectively. These movies signalled a distinct departure from films which were pivoted around Western protagonists and their lived experiences.
Although this new make of films hoped to establish a feeling of ethnical inclusivity by venturing beyond the, THE BURKHA, what became evidently evident in the process was much reliance on racial stereotypes and caricatured depictions of culture.
Elena Di Giovanni, in her article "Disney Films: Reflections of the Other and the Home", areas that Disney's selection of certain cultures which it chose to portray, was not a decision "that was arbitrary and unplanned. "
According to Di Giovanni, the reasons for selecting these civilizations can be "ascribed to precise ethnic and ideological strategies. " The civilizations depicted in these motion pictures are either conventionally regarded as somehow "inferior" if juxtaposed with modern American Civilisations and also to the "narrating" American culture specifically, as recommended by the Saudi Arabian-born scholar Ziauddin Sardar.
Edward Said was one of the first scholars to examine the complex romantic relationship between the Orient and the Occident, one that he found to be "a romance of electricity, of domination of differing degrees of a complicated hegemony. . . " In his 1978 publication of Orientalism, Said
One of the first scholars to give a sharp profile of the biased cultural encounters was Edward Said in Orientalisrn(1978). Despite the fact that primarily worried about tracing the history of the Orientalist attitude by the West in literature, Said does not fail to consider the importance of new solutions and the media in the proliferation of this unjust traditions: "One aspect of the electronic, post-modern world is that there has been a support of the stereotypes where the Orient is viewed. Television, films, and everything the media's resources have obligated information into more and more standardized moulds".
More recently, Ziauddin Sardar has echoed similar ideas in his 1999 publication of Orientalism, a booklet he writes, as assort of tribute to Said's work, therefore titling it the same. The primary interest of Sardar's booklet, whose way is even harsher than Said's, is based on his comprehensive reflections after the new, modern ways where the Orientalist attitude manifests itself and is still spreading nowadays. By using release to his work, Sardar declares that even though the project of Orientalism has way handed its "sell by date", it is colonizing new territories, "such new territories "being related to the new geographies that are molded - and manipulated - by contemporary means of mass cornmunication like the movie theater. " A complete chapter of Sardar's work is specialized in Orientalism in movies, where the writer models out to explore the treatment and manipulation of other ethnicities within the discourse of theatre, across different genres, including cartoons, and where he makes sufficient reference to the American hegemonic control of the cinematic medium. Sardar state governments that otherness is generally cured as "a structure book from which strands can be studied" to draft ethnic representations which provide the purpose of entertaining followers while reinforcing, in comparison, the superiority of the narrating culture. Thus, the " the commodification of culture" occurs whereby visible and verbal elements belonging to a faraway world are considered and made suitable for easy reception within more powerful socio-cultural configurations.
Aladdin, which was based on the Arab folktale of Aladdin and the special lamp in one Thousands of and One Nights, became the most successful films of 1992, grossing over $502 million worldwide. However, almost instantly, it was achieved with criticism from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The movie quite literally translated into an Orientalist illusion. With glaringly distorted depictions of Arab culture, and a few pointedly offensive remarks, the movie has truly gone down ever sold as one of Disney's most controversial films.
The film, which is defined in the fictitious kingdom of Agrabah, presents an ensemble ensemble of heroes: Aladdin, a neighborhood urchin, Jasmine, a jaded princess, Jafar, an avaricious minister of Court and Genie, the ebullient prisoner of the lamp. Even though film appears to concentrate on the people as individuals, it is difficult to dismiss the entire denouncement of Arab culture, as is evident in the treatment and presentation of Arab modern culture in the film.
The vilification of Arab men in the film can be observed quite obviously through their portrayal as thugs, sorcerers, pick-pockets or beggars. Their physical capabilities also seem to be to echo the ethnic bias, with their descriptions coloured by "thick mouth, missing pearly whites, heavy, menacing brows and connected noses". However, what's interesting to see, is the decidedly different treatment afforded to the central protagonists. Both the hero and heroine are offered as almost exact counterparts to the white, suburban youngsters of the west. Aladdin seems fairly content in disinheriting his Arabian heritage, as he's cleverly christened 'Al', and exhibits American mannerisms through his design of speaking in the film. In the same vein, the type of Jasmine is similarly americanised. Jasmine, though showing off dark flowing head of hair and with darker epidermis than her counterpart princesses in early on films, still retains blue eye. Though Jasmine must represent an Arabian image, the film's suppliers seem to think it is essential to leave at least a vestige of tangibility that European audiences can relate with.
What some may be left to ponder is whether these characters would have appealed to western audiences, experienced they not been endowed with these traits?
This example recalls Said's own observations on Orientalist behaviour.
Bring in said here. And Elena di Giovanni A complete new world then move to another melody that is at reality more noteworthy.
Most noteworthy, however is the opening series of the film, which was later revised anticipated to tough criticism and protests.
Aladdin opens with the expository music "Arabian Nights" which includes the lyrics
PEDDLER: Oh I result from a land
From a faraway place
Where the caravan camels roam
Where they take off your ear
If they don't really like your face
It's barbaric, but hey, it's home
The blatantly unpleasant final line had to be eliminated from the house video tutorial version of the film because of the many protests the Disney Company received after international release. However, all the other subtle and indirect ideas at the American culture's position of supremacy over the narrated Other, which is intentionally retained ambiguous and undefined in historical-geographical terms, stay untouched, and continue steadily to carefully form the viewer's notion.
One of the subtle instances in the movie can be seen in the same opening collection. The first words that are uttered by the peddler contain an unmistakable, normal reference to the culture portrayed: "PEDDLER: Ah, Salaam and good night to you deserving friends".
The worldwide-known Arabic greeting is, however, immediately followed by "good evening", as though to compensate even for the faintest sense of estrangement the audience might feel after hearing "salaam".
Orientalist preconceptions find their way into the Disney adaptation of the Chinese tale of Hua Mulan. Walt Disney Pictures released Mulan in June, 1998 and it was the thirty 6th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics.
Mulan, that was once more infused with orientalist imagining of culture, runs on the sponsor of long-established, worldwide-known stereotypes - on the visible as well as verbal levels. As Elina Di Giovanni highlights, "cultural metonymies are very often related to specific domains such as food, which gives universally identifiable socio-cultural referrals and ensures easy, if strongly stereotyped id of different nations and individuals. " In the case of verbal stereotypes, recommendations to other civilizations' clichd words and expressions have a tendency to get from common categories such as greetings, exclamations and headings. Greetings and exclamations, though not necessarily linked to the stereotyping of ethnicities, can nonetheless be frequently used to support cultural representations as they ensure simple and immediate id.
In the beginning sequence of Mulan, the 1998 film which portrays the Chinese language culture at the time of the invasions by the Huns, the aesthetic and verbal cultural stereotypes applied do not contain any derogatory research, however they are equally highly conventional. An example of this can be seen in the portrayal and dialogue of the emperor of China - who, incidentally, is definitely shown with the image of an gold dragon at his back again - to address his army generals in a situation of emergency. He is shown to show a typical characteristic which is often from the Chinese culture, using words of intelligence to spell it out the destiny of his country: "EMPEROR: single grain of rice can hint the range" Moreover, you can note that the mention of typically the most popular component of the Chinese language culinary tradition does not seem by coincidence in the emperor's brand. The shot which immediately comes after features a large bowl of rice in the foreground with a pair of chopsticks lazily picking at the rice. This image is used in the film to add the protagonist herself, who will be very little by little revealed to the audience beginning with her hand possessing the chopsticks.
But even more noteworthy, is that fact that the bowl of grain which alluded to initially by the Emperor, and used in the introducing of the protagonist, Mulan is then later appropriated to provide American cultural pursuits by updating the articles of the dish(rice), with porridge and rashers of bacon and fried eggs, which make up Mulan's breakfast time. The bowl which contained grain in the starting scene has been deprived of its typical, if also highly typical, Chinese language content to be changed by what looks more familiar to the American viewers, although totally distant from the eating habits of Chinese military.
Moving from visible to verbal cases, the use of language is an obvious vehicle for further consolidating the occurrence of American culture. It really is worth pointing
out that the main characters in the films, although belonging to distant and
exotic worlds, speak with perfect American accents. Moreover, they are really very
often seen as a the use of non-standard, colloquial or local varieties of
This is the situation of the dragon Mushu in Mulan, whose dialogue is generously punctuated with modern day, casual American expressions. Similarly, in Aladdin, the most attractive, informal and modem use of Ameriean English is usually to be within the lines uttered by the genie of the lamp fixture, appearing in various guises and often mimicking famous American personalities. His lines are filled up with colloquial expressions as well as references to the modern day American world.
Pocahontas, which exposed in cinemas in the year 1995, shown a thoroughly revised picture of a historical physique, appropriated suitably to appeal to western viewers.
Modelled on the historical Indigenous American amount, Matoaka, who's more popularly known by the nickname Pocahontas, the film revamps and restructures the storyline of Pocahontas and showcases it as an account in which a culture under siege by British isles Colonialism, eventually ends up being rescued by the "White Messiah". The film clearly distorts historical facts and produces a tale that is made palatable to european audiences, with the White Settler rescuing the local tribe from a terrible fate, which, interestingly enough, could have been carried out by his fellow men.
The movie Pocahontas deviates from the true historical story in lots of ways. The most significant deviation is Pocahontas' era and the nature of her marriage with John Smith. Inside the movie, Pocahontas is portrayed as a twenty year old woman who falls deeply in love with John Smith, and he with her. "From what we know of the historical record, she [Pocahontas] was a child when they fulfilled, probably between 12 and 14, and Smith was about 27, " says Thomasina Jordan, the head of the Virginia Council on Indians, and herself a Wampanoag Native-American.
However, it is not just her age that has been transformed in the film version. Even her physical appearance is rendered definately not factual. The on-screen Pocahontas was created to be a large, attractive amount, with dark, flowing hair and distinct features.
This depiction in the film has been evidently designed to cater to the "male illusion" of the young, unique girl. Moulded from the Orientalist point of view, she is seen as the enigmatic princess, who captivates the young John Smith with her "soothing spirit and spectacular beauty. "
Moreover, the partnership between John Smith and Pocahontas, was that of a young girl and an older man. The relationship that the two share in the movie is totally fictitious and completely inaccurate. Another deviation is John Smith's attitude towards the Local Americans. Within the movie, Smith defends the Native-Americans, and dons the mantle of the "White Messiah". Abandoning his fellow men, Smith advocates the reliable right of the natives to have their own land. He claims that the English will be the "intruders" and have no power to colonise and usurp the land of the natives. This heroism, is however absent in factual accounts of the story.
In reality, Smith thought that the British had a right to the land and he was not an advocate for the Native-Americans. Disney also distorts the facts about Governor Adam Ratcliffe. Within the movie they portray him as a villainous character. By the end of the movie he tries to shoot Key Powatan, but shoots John Smith instead. After he does this, his own men make him a prisoner and send him back to England. However, this is not verified in the historical bank account.
Thus, it is visible, that even through Disney's attempt to create a more panoramic view of Society and the world, by retelling tales rooted in several socio-cultutal contexts, it struggles to rid itself of omniscient American ideals which dictate the ways that Non-western ethnicities are received. The non-western ethnicities can only just be known when either juxtaposed with european customs or appropriated to charm to a traditional western audience.
The appeal of a non-white prince must be countered with distinctly Americanised mannerisms. Tales from the East appear only to be tangible if indeed they propagate long position stereotypes and reinforce Orientalist preconceptions.
While Disney paints portraits of social landscapes and attempts to traverse in to the world of "The Other", the question remains concerning whether it is easy for the West in order to tales of the Non-White civilisation, without all the trappings of stereotypes and exoticism. Can a Media Large like Disney truly showcase different ethnicities, without insinuating European Supremacy over all of them?
Can they truly 'color with all the current colours in the Wind?"