Archive for March, 2010

Disney: It’s More Than Just a Company– It’s a Way Of Life
March 30, 2010

If you had asked me what my favorite movie was when I was five years old, I undoubtedly would have answered, “The Little Mermaid,” or “Pocahontas.” If you ask any other little girl today, her answer would probably be very similar.

There is nothing more typical than a little girl fantasizing about being a Disney princess, buying all of the latest Disney merchandise, and begging her parents to take her to Disney World. A kid today is practically a walking advertisement for Disney products!

It’s clear that Disney has become a huge part of our society. The animated Disney movies have become such classics, and I get the feeling that they are going to stick around for quite some time.

Growing up during the time when the animated Disney classics were being produced was the best thing ever for a little kid. The movies provided an exciting world of imagination, an opportunity for adventure, and an outlet for creativity.

Take a minute to think about the basic story behind many of the Disney movies, like The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Aladdin. The plot of most of the movies were generally the same, with a princess playing the damsel in distress, hoping for her prince charming to come save her, eventually living happily ever after.

When you think about it, the story lines seem cliché, but they really did make for great movies. Regardless of the plot, each movie always taught its viewers a valuable life lesson.

It is interesting to look back on the classic Disney movies now with a more critical eye. There are clearly gender stereotypes portrayed in the movies, for example how the strong man is always saving the weaker woman.

The women in the movies are idealistic; they are attractive princesses, with exaggerated hourglass figures, long hair, and beautiful singing voices. The characters in these movies are so stereotypical, and those stereotypes can influence the mind of a small child so easily.

If you have any doubts about the stereotypes in these movies, take a few minutes to look at this video! It does a great job visually illustrating just how apparent these stereotypes are in many of the most famous Disney classics.

Just as viewing violence in movies influences children to be more aggressive, seeing all beautiful women certainly influences a young girl to be self-conscious of the way she looks. It’s the same for young boys as well. Seeing the overtly aggressive, masculine figures in these movies undoubtedly effects them, too.

Children are like sponges, and the things that they see in movies can have such profound effects on their perception of themselves and the world around them.

Even today, as Disney produces newer movies that differ greatly from those old Disney classics, the same concepts hold true.

As newer movies and television shows are produced, it appears as though Disney is branching out from the traditional character types and story lines. Regardless, Disney is still producing movies aimed towards young kids which are very influential, like Hannah Montana and High School Musical.

I can see the effects of these new movies in young kids today. I work at a daycamp during the summer, working with a group of four- and five-year-old girls. When I ask them what their favorite movies are, I am disappointed to hear answers like “Hannah Montana” or more often than one of the classic Disney princess movies.

Although the most popular Disney movies are always changing, my campers are still decked out in all of the latest Disney gear just like I was, wearing Camp Rock T-shirts and carrying The Jonas Brothers backpacks.

With everything from The Disney Channel, Radio Disney, and Disney World, Disney is an incredibly successful and overwhelmingly powerful company, and it has a huge influence over the youth population of the past, present, and future.

It’s On Television, And It’s Also On The Web
March 30, 2010

You feel like you’ve wasted an hour of your life after watching it. Most of the time, it’s a little trashy. It has no plot, and it most likely isn’t even real. But for some reason, we all find ourselves watching it.

What is it? Reality TV.

I know it may be mindless entertainment, but I can’t help but get sucked into the world of reality television. I really don’t watch that many shows, but I’ll admit that I have loved, and will always love, The Real World.

As I read this blog assignment, it hit me; I missed this week’s episode of The Real World: Washington D.C.! I immediately went to the show’s website and began watching the episode online.

Almost every television show has a website associated with it these days, but MTV has one of the best websites in my opinion. They play full episodes of all of their television shows online, which is fantastic if you’re busy (or maybe just a little absentminded) and tend to miss your favorite show every week like I do.

Just for starters, the website is very visually appealing. There are so many colors and textures everywhere you look. The site features photo slide shows on every page, paired with attention-grabbing slogans and descriptions that focus on the highlights of the show.

There are also a ton of links to click on, lining the edges of the website and everywhere in between, which makes the site very interactive and user-friendly.

Much like myself, other users can watch full episodes of The Real World that they have missed online. Another benefit to watching the show online is that there are bonus clips, after shows, recaps and sneak peeks right there at your fingertips, providing extra entertainment for those reality television junkies that just can’t seem to get enough.

There are also features which allow users to leave comments, download music, and blog with other fans about the show.

One suggestion that I would make would be to find a way for viewers to interact with The Real World participants themselves. Even if it were just through an e-mail or blog, some sort of direct communication with the actual people that are living in The Real World house would be really cool.

The website also includes cast photo galleries, links to other seasons’ episodes, and a schedule of upcoming airings. Anything related to The Real World that you could possibly want is only a click away.


Social Networking: Is It Efficient, Or Just Entertaining?
March 29, 2010

Social networking is a major part of life in today’s society. It’s pretty clear that social networking has become more than just some trendy fad, and it’s here to stay.

Aside from the mindless games, virtual socialization and numerous opportunities for procrastination, we have to take a step back and realize the immense potential that these sites bring to our world.

There is an article on NewScientist.com called “Innovation: How social networking might change the world,” which addresses a selection of innovative ideas, created by businesses, that take advantage of all that social networking has to offer in a practical, useful way.

The article mentions how the skeptical founder of O’Reily Media “challenged the Web 2.0 community to come up with something more productive than time-wasting Facebook applications.”

Taking him up on that challenge, Barack Obama’s election campaign launched the “Obama ’08 iPhone application,” which made it possible for campaigners to quickly and effectively reach out to the public with information about the campaign.

There are several other networking sites that are taking on the challenge. For example, a London social networking site called “Accesscity” is currently in production, aiming to help users to find the simplest travel routes across cities. (They have a wordpress.com blog, too! Check it out.) Another network called We20 enables people from all over the world to meet and share thoughts on today’s leading economic issues in groups of 20. There is also Zimride, which helps people to carpool with others who they may never have met without the site.

Even our class website is an example of how social networking can be used in a very practical, beneficial way. It makes distributing assignments so easy and efficient, while keeping the students connected even when class is not in session.

The NewScientist.com article focuses in on the idea that social networking users should be “working for the greater good, rather than for their own amusement.” I think this is a great idea, though it is a bit idealistic.

Regardless of the productive possibilities that social networking sites bring, the pure entertainment that people derive from these sites is overwhelming. It’s obvious that there are people out there using social networking for smart, practical reasons, but there will always be an endless stream of people simply using social networking as a form of recreation.

You can’t deny that social networking has undoubtedly opened up a whole new world of potential for our society. It is up to the people–up to us–to choose what we do with these networks, to choose whether efficiency or entertainment ends up dominating the field of social networking.