Critical Literacy in Practice Podcast #71 – Disney Babies

Posted on Friday 4 March 2011

In this show:
Disney Babies


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Produced by Andy Bilodeau

Show Transcript:

The Disney Baby has been born. By now you have probably heard that the Disney corporation has launched a new line of products geared towards newborn babies. In doing so they claim to and I quote “create magical moments from the start.”
The center of the website for these products reads,

“We just love to see the way families connect and grow. But it’s those special moments with Dad and your baby (your baby!) that we hope to make even more magical.”

To the right of the text is a box with the heading Meet Other Moms.
Given this little bit of information I have given you what discursive practices are holding in place which dominant systems of meaning? Clearly the target audience is new moms in conjunction with the dad or father figure, inspite of the growing number of families with two moms or two dads.

You can imagine the flurry of responses to the new line that range from delight to disgust from excitement to being horrified.
So the question to Disney or not to Disney comes up once again and I urge us to consider one more time the ways in which the perspective from which you enter into any event or experience impacts what you come away with. Not buying Disney products in and of itself is not critical literacy. The critical piece comes through being able to unpack the hidden ideologies that stem from the world of Disney and therefore not buying into those ideologies. The critical also comes through understanding the position from which you enter into readings of Disney and so forth. It comes from the recognition that the language you encounter is not natural or neutral and that it does particular life work.

But this is not just about Disney of course. A short time ago for instance my family and I visited a store where we discovered a barrel full of stuffed toys. These furry creatures were particularly interesting as they had no body or legs. I’ll post a photo in my show notes. This is how the toy is advertised. “Inspire your child’s imagination by adding a new friend to the playroom or bedroom wall! This Plush Deer Wall Head mount resembles the real thing, but its soft fur and harmless stuffed rack makes it much more approachable! Perfect for the young outdoorsman who wants to become a hunter like his dad or mom! Makes a fun gift for the hunter-to-be! I’m glad to see mom added to the advertisement. Note that the toy is geared toward the young outdoorsman who wants to be like his mom or dad. Not so glad to see the camouflage baby bib or camouflage onesies located right by the stuffed wall mount animal heads. I haven’t heard much resistance or disruption of this text in spite of the fact that like Disney this product works to induct children into particular ways of being, into a particular lifestyle.

So the issue at hand goes beyond to Disney or not to Disney. What do you think? What are some things we can do in schools and at home to disrupt dominant ideologies and discursive practices? Weigh in by leaving a comment on the clip homepage at .

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