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DISNEY BEYOND MICKEY MOUSE: DO PRIVATE COMPANIES EXERCISE PUBLIC DIPLOMACY?

by on December 2, 2013

 

Globalisation and new technologies have completely changed the trends of communication, as a consequence some American based Multinational Media Corporations have emerged as key players in the media coverage.

 

Big players such as Time Warner and News Corp are well known as huge conglomerates for media an entertainment, but some others, such as Disney are not recognised by the general public as media corporations.

mediamoguls

 

If the general public were asked about Disney you will get comments on Mickey Mouse, and other characters, some may mention the amusement parks but very few will go beyond that. The truth is that Disney is a highly diversified company with an extensive number of holdings, some may even been considered as contradictory.

The corporation is divided, by themselves[1], in five sections; media networks (that includes from ABC to ESPN), parks and resorts, studios, consumer products and interactive, the last member to join the Disney business family.

index

 

 

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While there is a lot of discussion on the CNN effect, it would also be worth considering the ‘Disney tale’ and how what started with silent films [1] ended being an Entertainment Empire. In other words, it is worth reflecting on the reasons behind the huge success of that established model of princess in despair and brave prince that comes to save her, and it would also be interesting to consider what does this extended model has to say about our society and its stereotypes.

As a parallel effect, the ‘Disneyization of Society’ [2] has created a model in the States, and as extension the western world, of family, of life and, more importantly of living. Disney movies tend to promote the traditional family view, that means, married father and mother with kids, a type of family that is becoming less and less common nowadays as opposed to ‘new’ families such as monoparental families, homosexual parents, divorced parents, adopted children, …

The promotion of traditional stereotypes of families and societies have received strong critics in recent times, while they are praised by the standards they have set, in the opinion of some authors to counterpart the above mentioned negative image.

Some of Disney’s ‘standards’ are more famous than other, for example the rule against tobacco is one of the most famous characteristics of the house, since 2007 scripts are not allowed to smoke. The most polemic case has been Walt Disney’s biopic, given that despite he was known to be a heavy smoker, he will not be smoking on screen. This policy has received many positive critics, including from Dc. Chang, director of the World Health Organisation, who believes is a great step towards non-tobacco education. [3]

Disney policies are not limited to tobacco, they also promote good nutrition for kids, human rights and a reduction in the use of Uzbek cotton for their use of child labour. [4]

disney blog 1

To summarise, although it may not be as evident as similar cases Disney holdings include an immense media corporation with so many assets that the may into contradiction with one another. On top of that, Disney Company has a great influence in society, and has responded to critics implementing policies aimed at the protection of the children against problems as diverse as malnutrition or child labour which leads to the question of whether private companies can use public diplomacy. Given the facts the answer seems to be affirmative, in the particular case we have analyse we can see how their decisions have a direct impact in society, not only at the United States, but globally. Whether private companies should be held accountable when exercising their ‘public diplomacy power’ remains for debate.

 

[1]Thomas, 1998; Lee and Madej 2012; Grover 1991

[2]Bryman, 2004

[3] http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/citizenship/policies/smoking-movies

 

[4] http://thewaltdisneycompany.com/citizenship/policies

 

 


[2] Thomas, 1998; Lee and Madej 2012; Grover 1991

[3] Bryman, 2004

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4 Comments
  1. karo1990 permalink

    It would be great if you looked a little deeper into Disney. It is for example really interesting that the Disney Channel promotes traditional stereotypes for girls, boys, and families and that it`s shows are even slighly on the racist side compared to Nickelodeon.
    The Disney Channel has a huge influence on American children and teenagers and therefore on the development of American public life.

  2. kimchi86 permalink

    I agree with above commenter.
    Also, I think it would be useful if you went into the ‘Disney tale’, as you bring it up, instead of just leaving the concept hanging without any further explanation. What is it? Why is it relevant to look at in the same context as the CNN effect?

  3. I agree with the two comments you have received so far. I think you need to explain the impact of Disney in much greater depth and detail. Please demonstrate how it promotes a particular image of the family as the norm. Please also make more of an effort to link your discussion with the main themes of the module and with the key texts we have looked at.

    There are a few typographical errors (e.g., ‘Multinational Media Corporations’ should have lower-case first letters, as it is not the name of a particular organisation).

  4. carlacds permalink

    Thank you all with for your comments, I agree with your point and have edited the post to include a further analysis of what I originally meant

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