Ally's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘ideological criticism

Ideological criticism is best defined as examining how a text is produced and structured, how it interacts with our life experiences, and helps us to understand the dominant ideas and values circulating in our social world.  There is value in informing and empowering those who are oppressed to strive for material changes in order to improve equality; this is known as counter-hegemony.

This approach to analyzing the media is different from those mentioned in my past blogs entries because it focuses more on the production of a text and the power of the media.

Ideology is a set of ideas that gives some account of the world, usually used to maintain hegemonic power (a type of power elites can maintain over masses, which is enabled by the consent of the dominated).  Some forms of ideology include patriarchy, capitalism, and materialism.

Political economy, a form of ideological criticism, then focuses more on how media institutions, texts, and practices establish and sustain existing power relations.  In other words, political economy is more specific to the ideology and power of media institutions.

Political economists examine the role of ownership in the media industry, the production and distribution of products, the trend of deregulation, and the hegemonic power of conglomerates like Disney.

Today, many political economists are concerned about the amount of commercialization aimed at children.  You can buy your children all the products in the world, but you can’t buy back their childhood!

Friendly Disney Mouse or Economic Power House?

The documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood, and Corporate Power” discusses how many children are raised on Disney movies but how that could be a bad thing.  Did you know that Disney owns most of the media we consume? TV stations, magazines, movies, radio stations, and amusement parks to name a few.

The fact that Disney controls that much media means that viewers and consumers of their products are getting a limited view of the world, only seeing what Disney wants them to see.  Think about it.

The film also reminds viewers of the messages Disney sends through their movies.  For example, if a girl was to kiss a beast, it will become a prince.  This is in turn saying to young boys that they can be the beast or be mean to girls because in the end they will still get the girl so what is the point of being nice and respectful?

Disney is also telling young girls that they will always need a prince to save them.  Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White were all saved by a prince.

This demonstrates the ideology of patriarchy, when we are in a time when women are seeking equality in all aspects of life.  Although they create strong female characters, Disney movies may never give girls the motivation to pursue dreams outside of the role of housewife while they are young.

A Must Watch For Parents.

Another documentary that demonstrates the concerns of political economists is “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood.”  Some words that came to mind while watching this: sad, pathetic, worrisome.  This film made me really think about how to raise my future children.

The film states that “kids are getting older, younger.”  Advertisers are attempting to create cradle to grave brand loyalty, and the scary thing is, they are succeeding.

Imagination is gone, imitation is the new form of entertainment.

My mom always tells this really embarrassing story about how I used to ride my bike around our house and talk to myself.  Don’t judge me.  I didn’t live in a neighborhood and my sister always wanted to play army men or something that didn’t interest me.  I would pretend my bike was a car and I was picking my kids up from school and all kinds of different scenarios.

Today, if kids don’t have the Harry Potter wand, Star Wars lightsaber, or a fully functioning cell phone, they are completely lost as to how to play without those things.  What ever happened to sticks for swords and your thumb and pinky to your face as a fake phone?

There is “a brand in front of the child’s face every second of everyday.”  I didn’t believe this statement but after watching this film I began to pay much more attention to toys, advertisements, and other products.  Everything is plastered with cartoon characters and incentives for kids.  These products are also being sold to parents’ insecurities.

The ideology identified in this film is materialism, the need for products and things in order to have a happy and successful life.

I believe it is important for us to examine a culture that is commercialized because products now consume our lives, advertising is everywhere!  We endorse products without even knowing it.

When cartoon characters, such as those from “Finding Nemo,” are on kid’s cups, diapers, and clothing, we think we are just buying a shirt but we are really advertising and endorsing the film and the company.

It is important to learn and understand these things because then we can learn how to distance ourselves and get back to the way our culture used to be without so much materialism.  This would allow people to use their imagination, which in turn can help ourselves and the planet.  An example of this comes from General Electric’s “ecomagination” campaign.

Creativity allows people to think outside the box and allows kids to learn more.  For example, are kids are not just memorizing information for a test, or do they really learn and remember what they have been taught?

Corporations like Disney and GE can be viewed as hegemonic forces that have an immense amount of power and control over what consumers view and buy.  If we do not learn how to be media literate and examine texts through the lens of a political economist, we will lose all imagination and self-control.

Advertisements