Prior to participating in this discussion, revisit Harro's "Cycle of Socialization" and take note of where media falls within this cycle. Though it is undeniable that forms of media and media companies play a significant role in shaping and influencing young children – it is essential to remember that those working in the field of media are themselves being socialized by a much larger system. Media, and the large companies that create it, often keep stereotypes firmly fixed in place. However, in general, it is not the media that are creating stereotypes. In other words, due to collective confusion with regard to the overreaching power and influence of bias, companies are often vilified for creating stereotypes rather than "passing on" bias that is deeply interwoven into society. For true long-lasting change to occur the views that we all have and perpetuate need to change at the individual level as well as within the institutions that continually shape our views and that our views continue to shape.
In preparation for this Discussion, explore the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) website as indicated in the Learning Resources and familiarize yourself with the mission. Also review 2–3 of the organization's current social action campaigns. (Note: You can locate the current campaigns on the home page listed under "The Latest" or from the home page selecting "Get Involved" followed by "Take Action.") Also view a classic or contemporary animated film marketed to children and/or families such as one produced by Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks. In particular, one of your (or your families) favorites. As you critically view this film do so from the perspective of a child and pay close attention to messages embedded in the film that relate to social identifiers such as class, education level, gender, ability, body size, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, accents, hair color, skin color, and age.
By Day 3
- The title of the animated movie you viewed
- The characteristics of the hero heroine
- The characteristics of the hero'sheroine's sidekick
- The characteristics of any villains
- Which social groups were represented and which were missing from the movie altogether? (For example: did you see varying abilities, different racial groups or ethnicities? How were various social-economic classes represented/presented? What about ages? Body size? Gays and/ or lesbians? Same-sex couples? Transgender individuals? People of different religions?)
- How you might feel if you resembled the hero, sidekick, or villain. How this might shape your worldview of those types of people?
- Ways can adults help young children critically analyze these stereotypes