Conclusion
THE CHILD AS VICTIM OF COMMODITIES
ManyviewWaltDisneyProductionsasamediaenterprisecleverlymanipulat-
ingtheintenseaffectthatsurroundschildhoodforitsowngain.Yetotherssee
Disney’sprofitmotiveassecondarytoitsprofoundsocialbenefitandassume
thatanycriticalanalysisofthecompanyisnecessarilymalignant.Forexample,
whenIsharedsomeofthisworkwithapersoninthebankingindustry,hewas
puzzled.Wherewasthecondemnation?Iseemedmerelytobedescribingthe
standard business practices of a healthy, aggressive corporation addressing a
well-defined market. His (mis)understanding was based on some apparently
standard assumptions. He took for granted that anyacademicwriting about
Disneywasnecessarilyhostiletothecompany,andthatIwouldthereforeat-
tempttodemonstratethatDisney’spracticeswereexcessivelypredatoryand
secretly without regard for the well-being of children. In short, he assumed
thatanycriticismof Disneywouldattempttoshowthatthecompanyisevil.
GiventheslantofthebulkofcriticalscholarshiponDisney,theseassump-
tionswerereasonable.MuchcriticalworkonDisneyoperatesfromtheposi-
tion that, for the sake of its own profits, the company cynically trades on
notionsofchildhoodandAmericannessthatthinkingpeopleoughttorecog-
nizeasfalseandultimatelydetrimentaltosociety.Yetonedoesn’thavetoagree
withDisney’sobviousideologicalslanttofindtheimplicitnotionthatitsaudi-
encesexistinafantasylandoffalseconsciousnessultimatelyinsultingtothose
audiences.IntheprecedingchaptersIhavecriticallyexaminedthehistoryof
argumentsabouttheroleofmediainproducingantisocialorsociallyconstruc-
tivebehaviorsinchildren,andthesamelogicobtainsinargumentsthataccuse
Disneyofconservativeideologicalprogramming.Criticalmediascholarscan-
notpickandchoosewheremediahaveeffectsandwheretheydonot.Ironically,
nowhereisthisclearerthanintherecentemergenceofright-wingcritiquesof
Disneyproductsasdeliveringencodedpro-homosexual,pedophilic,andanti-
Christian messages to American
children.1
Both sides of the American ideo-
logical binary undervalue the role of a complex and variegated mainstream
cultureinprovidingasubstratewithinwhichDisneyhasbeenabletoanchor
itsproducts,andtowhichthecompanymustalwaysattendincraftingitsmer-
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