STUDY: ‘Disney elevates heterosexuality to powerful, magical heights’

Recent findings – published in the latest issue of Gender & Society – confirm what we’ve been considering. Disney can be a breeding ground for heterosexuality.

Researchers studied top grossing G-rated children’s films from 1990-2005, and their findings challenge the belief that seemingly innocent movies are without sexuality. And the research could help to explain why kids think being straight is the norm – by the time they enter elementary school.

Analysts determine films relegate homosexuality to the “abnormal, unusual and unexpected”. Heterosexuality is not only the norm in such films, but it’s “also depicted as being exceptional, powerful, transformative and magical”.

According to co-authors Karin Martin and Emily Kazyak, “The media are an important avenue of children’s sexual socialization because young children are immersed in media-rich worlds.”

3 thoughts on “STUDY: ‘Disney elevates heterosexuality to powerful, magical heights’

  • June 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    It’s a good article and sexuality in children’s movies definitely needs to be studied, but most Disney movies are retellings of fairy tales from long ago.

    Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and others were written long long ago by people like Hans Christian Anderson, in a time when fairy tales were intended for adults. Even the Lion King is a retelling of an old fable. And of course, that long ago, alternative sexuality would not be addressed.

    I was born in the 60’s when rock and roll was decadent and for adults. Now, you go to a kids play area and songs like Rockin Robin will be on the loudspeakers. What was for adults then is for children now. Same principle.

    I doubt there is an agenda there on Disney’s behalf and to be fair, other companies do it as well, Pixar’s Shrek and Cars all had love interests. I was shocked when I watched Pixar’s Wall-E with my daughter and the pivotal relationship was in the heterosexual attraction of one robot to another. I just think the people that make these movies don’t even realize how they take sexuality for granted.

  • June 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Unfortunately, Disney’s goal in making movies is not to be socially responsible and awareness-raising, it is to make money. A movie with a gay plot for kids simply would not sell as well as a movie without gays. But by refusing to make those movies, it reinforces the norms that lead to the prejudice that makes people not want to see the movies. (How many commercials can you think of with a mixed-race couple, or where the man is doing the house work?)

    I think people – all people – have a reasonable desire to see reflections of themselves mirrored back through the media. I think it is important that, at long last, Disney is having a movie with a black princess. Because what message does it send to children when they see all these movies with only white royalty, only white heroes and heroines? So similarly, children get a message if the only depiction of love they see is heterosexual love. But the industry will always lag behind social progress because they want to appeal to the greatest number of people, to maximize their profits.

  • June 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I just realized that too when watching Beauty and beast with the niece.

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