Monday, 7 July 2008

Marx, Adorno, and Foucault, as Illustrated By the Siamese Cats from Lady and the Tramp

I team-taught my class today with the psychology teacher, who ran bias tests on the classes before I taught them to blame it all on Walt Disney. To wit, here are the best (and by best, I guess I mean worst) clips that I showed to illustrate how children might pick up stereotypes about black people, masculinity, and justice in the Middle East.

Fact: The head crow is actually credited as 'Jim Crow.' And the guy who provided the voice was white, but was told to talk black. Classy.

Fact: Beauty and the Beast was supposed to be a feminist film after groups protested the silent, pretty, slightly daffy Ariel of the Little Mermaid. Because of this, Belle can read! Groups still protested, though, because Belle is imprisoned, intimidated, and threatened by the Beast, but eventually changes him into a sensitive male by sheer persistence. People who work on domestic violence have things to say about this. I picked this clip because it illustrates idealized masculinity pretty succinctly - be uncommunicative, punch a couple people in the face, brag about your strength, anger, and hirstuteness, and if you lose at chess, uproot the board. If you're a woman, be an undifferentiated triplet.

Fact: The line about cutting off ears was changed for the DVD release after Arab-American groups protested, and the obvious voiceover is kind of hilarious if you know when to listen for it. I almost used 'One Jump Ahead,' where Aladdin takes an Orientalist spin around the city to piss off a fire-walker, snake charmer, and a guy on a bed of nails as he runs from his antagonists. You can tell them apart by their stereotypically Semitic features, which are conspicuously absent from Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie, and the Sultan.

I didn't show this, because it makes it too easy:

(The highlight was when we broke up the classes so that Keon could give his students a test, and one of my students was like, "Ryan, do we have a test?" and I was like, "um, we're going to go read Marie Claire." Aside from the fact that I can't find a copy of James Taylor's cover of the Beatles' 'I Will' for one of my students' mix tape, I love my job.)

1 comment:

Marcel said...

The weird part is that Umar and his family loved Aladdin. Go figure?