The Righteousness of self-centred royals: The world according to Disney animation

  • Lee Artz International Communication, Purdue University Calumet


The startling success of Disney animation prompts the perspective for this essay, which explores both a political-economic and cultural studies approach. Understanding Disney animation helps clarify the intimate relationship between ideology and socio-economic practice, (Ricker, 1996; Wasko, 2001). Investigating the construction, content, and persuasive efficacy of animated Disney films reveals that Disney consistently and intentionally selects themes in its commodities-asanimated features that promote an ideology useful to Disney and capitalist society, but at odds with democratic, creative communities. Of course, valid arguments may be made that audiences construct their own varied meanings, often in contradiction to those intended by the producer, but this essay is concerned primarily with the content of the messages constructed and distributed from the entertainment producer, because of Disney's standing in popular culture. Moreover, because social groups use “mass-mediated ‘words and images' to create and sustain social relations” (Ricker, 1996, p. 42), in a society ostensibly committed to democracy, it is particularly unsettling to find that Disney's animated features simultaneously soften and distribute messages of class hierarchy and anti-social hyper-individualism.

Critical Arts Vol.18(1) 2004: 116-146

Author Biography

Lee Artz, International Communication, Purdue University Calumet
Lee Arts < > is Associate Professor, International Communication, Purdue University Calumet. Lee Artz has written on race, culture, and communication, including Cultural Hegemony in US (Sage, 2000) and Globalization of Corporate Media Hegemony (SUNY, 2003).

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-004