The Illusion of Empowerment: A Feminist Analysis of Disney's Hercules

By Kasandra J. DiSessa
2020, Vol. 12 No. 11 | pg. 1/1

Abstract

Disney’s Hercules, which features both a strong male lead and a strong female lead, has the potential to appeal to, and therefore influence, a larger group of child viewers than the more gendered movies, such as the traditional Princess movies. Meg, the female lead, is often touted as a feminist character and praised for her independence from men. However, Meg still lacks agency and acts within the confines of traditional gender roles, thus reinforcing stereotypes about gender while seemingly subverting them. This essay includes a feminist media analysis of Hercules, focusing specifically on how Meg’s physical appearance, personality, romantic relationships, and agency work to construct gender in the movie, as well as how this construction interacts with the idea of post-feminism. It concludes that Meg’s dialogue in the movie is used to characterize her as a strong, independent, and feminist character while her actions simultaneously continue to promote traditional gender roles and expectations, and that this interaction contributes to the creation of a fictional post-feminist world in which feminism is no longer necessary.

The Disney corporation and its characters have become household names that need little introduction or explanation. Disney princesses are especially well-known, and have historically presented very limited and narrow definitions of femininity (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund, & Tanner 2003). Though not a princess movie, Disney’s Hercules is a movie with a prominent female character: Meg. Hercules offers an interesting opportunity for analysis because the lovable male lead and the presence of a very strong and prominent female character allow it to be considered a “gender neutral” film. Thus, this movie has the opportunity to influence both boys’ and girls’ perceptions of gender roles in ways that princess movies may not. Hercules was released in the midst of the “Renaissance” princess era, in which the princess “fights against her patriarchal system” yet “still reinforces many of the same old values” (Higgs 2016, 66). Meg is not restricted by the princess genre and is often touted as an empowering Disney feminist; however, despite her apparent independence, she still lacks agency and enforces traditional views of gender, much like the princesses of her time. Though the gender roles in this movie are “less obviously prescriptive” and are more complex than other representations, Hercules, like contemporary and later Disney films, “continues to portray traditionally limiting images of gender” (Towbin et al. 2003, 35). Meg’s position as both powerful and subjugated establishes her not as a feminist character but as a member of a post-feminist Disney universe in which her quips and perceived agency tell us that feminism has “won” and is no longer necessary while her enslavement to men reminds viewers where women really belong. This essay includes an in-depth feminist media analysis of Hercules with a specific focus on how Meg’s physical appearance, personality, romantic relationships, and agency work to construct gender in the movie, as well as how this construction interacts with the idea of post-feminism.

The Gospel Truth

The movie centers on Hercules, born a god but changed into a mortal and left on Earth by minions of the evil god Hades. Upon discovering his true parentage, Hercules embarks on a journey to restore his godhood by becoming a “true hero.” Shortly after a multiple-year training session with Phil the satyr, Hercules encounters Meg for the first time and saves her from a monster. Throughout the movie, Hercules encounters a number of monsters he must defeat; many of these monsters are brought to his attention by Meg, who has been directed by Hades to lead Hercules into his traps. Hercules and Meg gradually fall in love before her betrayal is revealed, but ultimately Hercules beats Hades and Meg escapes the god’s ownership, allowing the two lovers to be together. Meg sacrifices her life for Hercules, which Hercules in turn does for her, thus restoring his godhood. The movie ends with Hercules deciding to stay on Earth with Meg at the price of his immortality.

There are a number of major changes that this movie makes to the original Hercules myth. Though Hercules is one of few Disney movies that depicts non-western beliefs, it changes the original story in order to “fit into the dominant paradigm of our society,” potentially ignoring the original myth’s moral (Towbin et al. 2003, 39). Additionally, the relocation of this story to ancient Greece implies that the issues inherent in it are not ones experienced in the modern West, which is arguably untrue. The biggest change to the original Hercules myth is the role of Hera. In the original myth, Hercules is Zeus’s bastard child whom Hera despises. Hera unsuccessfully attempts to murder Hercules as a baby—a role assigned to Hades’s minions Pain and Panic in the film—and sends Hercules into a temporary insanity that drives him to murder his wife Megara and their children (Primo 2018). Disney’s Hera, however, is Hercules’s doting mother whose only role in the film is to be just that; this reinforces the idea that a woman’s main role is to be a mother, and that women overall are nurturing, loving, and affectionate. This also removes the capacity for evil from Hera and places it on Hades, signifying that beautiful women are not (and cannot be) evil. Additionally, Meg becomes somebody for Hercules to save rather than a victim of his violence, furthering the trope that women are damsels in need of rescue by men.

The “Right” Curves

Meg’s physical appearance and her overt sexualization align her with traditional gender roles and enable her to fulfill the role of temptress as well as eligible bachelorette. Meg’s appearance is focused on almost immediately upon her introduction to the movie. Though our first glimpse of her is her in the clutches of a monster, it is immediate that she is white and incredibly thin with a tiny waist and a large bust. While Meg is in danger, her bust is accentuated by the placement of the monster’s hands, and we see numerous aerial shots that again emphasize this attribute. While Hercules continues the fight the monster, Phil makes it clear to the audience that Meg is attractive by giving her a slow once-over before slicking his hair back and calling her “sweet cheeks” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). Once Meg is free and Hercules has defeated the monster, his/our reward is a shot of Meg against the backdrop of a glimmering pond in which she is bent over in order to further demonstrate the desirability of her physique. There are numerous similar shots in this scene of Meg slowly bending over before she practically sashays away from Hercules and company, which again draws attention to her “desirable” body. Meg’s physical appearance depicts an incredibly narrow and specific idea of beauty that leaves no room for any realistic-looking women. Additionally, her introduction scene is created entirely through the lens of the male gaze, as described by Laura Mulvey, which is exemplified by the heightened focus on the curves of her body and her overall physical attractiveness.

The sexualization of Meg’s character and the use of her sexuality throughout the film align her with restrictive views of women’s roles in society and imply that her biggest assets are her sexiness and sexuality. Meg frequently uses an incredibly sultry voice when speaking to Hercules, and her earliest appearances are accompanied by a sensual music riff as she literally causes men to do double takes. After being rescued by Hercules, she looks him over and asks if “they [gave him] a name along with all those rippling pectorals” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). Many of Meg’s interactions with Hercules are extremely sexual on her part, though not his—at one point she literally whips her leg into his face before clutching at his chest provocatively. Though sensuality is not a crime in female characters, this degree of sexualization seems out of place in a children’s movie, and again reinforces the predominance of the male gaze. It also is problematic because, at its most overt, it does not come from a place of genuine desire but from Meg’s duty to her master.

The hyper-sexualization of Meg’s character results in her depiction as a temptress. Meg’s sexuality is weaponized by Hades throughout the film; he expects her to win his war “using the sway of her hips” (Primo 2018, 6). Meg uses her initial sexual appeal to trick Hercules into entering the gorge, where he almost dies due to a trap orchestrated by Hades. When it becomes clear to Hades that he can’t defeat Hercules with physical challenges, he bites his lip and stares at Meg before suggesting that “maybe [he] ha[s]n’t been throwing the right curves at [Hercules]” as he outlines her body—her curves—with his hands (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). Hades manipulates Meg into seducing Hercules under false pretenses with promises of her freedom (discussed later in this paper), and much of Meg’s relationship with Hercules consists of her (or the idea of her) tempting him into making bad decisions that will benefit Hades. This sends the message that “…one way for a woman to get what she wants from a man is to manipulate him with her sexuality” (Towbin et al. 2003, 36). This doesn’t empower or embrace sexuality in women but rather implies that women should expect to have to put out sexually to get something they may desire. Additionally, because the movie depicts Meg’s sexual appeal as successfully affecting Hercules’s decisions, this contributes to the idea of post-feminism by appearing to give Meg influence and power over men—despite that influence and power not being hers to control.

Meg’s deceitful involvement with the villain and role as a “bad” woman should, according to typical Disney tropes, correspond to her being unattractive and old (Towbin et al. 2003). However, Meg is allowed to remain a beautiful young woman not only because she must have looks that would be capable of tempting Hercules in the first place, but also because she becomes good by the end of the movie, and goodness is associated with beauty in Disney films (Primo 2018). Thus, the existence of an evil woman who is also beautiful is intertwined with the knowledge that she will either keep her looks and lose her evilness or keep her evilness and lose her looks (examples of the latter include the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves [1938] and Mother Gothel from Tangled [2010]). Meg is not entirely off the hook for her involvement with Hades, however. Her punishment for her badness comes in the form of isolation—from society at large and especially from female company; this movie fails the Bechdel test (Daalmans & van Kessel 2014). The overt sexualization of Meg’s character reduces her to only what the sway of her hips can get her, and her physical appearance continues to uphold traditional, negative gender stereotypes.

Your Basic D.I.D.

Our very first indication of Meg’s existence, even before her sensual introductory scene, is the sound of her scream, which prompts Phil to comment: “Sounds like your basic D.I.D.—damsel in distress!” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). From the start, however, Disney attempts to makes it clear to the audience that Meg is not a typical damsel—or character, for that matter. When Hercules first tries to intervene in Meg’s being held hostage by a monster, she tells him, in an exasperated voice: “Keep moving, junior” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). This line is quickly followed by what is not only often considered one of the most iconic lines in the film but also Meg’s ticket into qualifying as a ‘feminist’ character: “I’m a damsel, I’m in distress, I can handle this. Have a nice day!” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). However, there is nothing in the situation to indicate that Meg can handle it. Though we do see her kicking at the monster and pulling its hair, it seems abundantly clear that Meg is not going to win this fight and does, in fact, need rescuing—which she gets. Thus, Meg drops an empowering and seemingly feminist one-liner that encourages us to see her as strong and independent, even as the movie itself continues to reinforce the trope of the damsel in distress by depicting her in a situation she cannot escape without the assistance of a man.

Meg has numerous other one-liners throughout the film that continue to characterize her in a way opposite to how she is actually depicted. Though just one example of how “Disney [has] often appropriated the rhetoric of feminism” throughout its film, it is a prominent one in Hercules (Stover 2013, 4). A number of these other lines include: “Well, you know how men are. They think ‘no’ means ‘yes’ and ‘get lost’ means ‘take me I’m yours’,” “I’ll be alright. I’m a big, tough girl. Tie my own sandals and everything,” and “[Hercules] comes on with his big innocent farm boy routine, but I can see through that in a Peloponnesian minute” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). These statements clearly demonstrate that Meg is aware of the issues the modern woman often faces and understands how exhausting it can be when society expects you to fall in love and constantly require help. These lines, as designed, resonate with older women and give younger girls the sense that they are capable of doing things on their own.

The sentiments of these one-liners are very new in Disney and, on their own, are positive contributions to the film. However, they are again coupled by actions that are completely contrary to the dialogue. Meg initially doubts Hercules’s intentions and expresses disinterest in falling in love with him, yet ends up sacrificing her life out of love for him. Meg describes herself as tough and capable, yet she has her actions dictated by another man and ultimately needs to be saved by Hercules multiple times to both survive and enjoy freedom from Hades. Thus these lines do not establish Meg as a strong feminist taking back her place in a patriarchal society but as a woman who is in her rightful place only when serving under a man in some regard. The inclusion of these lines in the first place “acknowledges” feminism in a way that simultaneously brushes it aside, something that is typical of post-feminist media. Thus, Meg’s one-liners, often perceived as her strongest personality quirks, are a tool used to further push the idea of post-feminism by indicating that Meg is not held down by patriarchal institutions despite the contradiction of that implication in the actual storyline.

Meg’s perceived “differentness” from previous female Disney characters also comes from the bravery she exhibits when a change of heart leads to her giving up her chance at freedom in order to save Hercules. Though this will be covered more thoroughly later in this paper, Meg tells Hades that she is through and, when he threatens to never free her, states: “I don’t care, I’m not gonna help you hurt him” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). She also overcomes her fear of heights by flying on Pegasus in order to retrieve Phil so he can help save Hercules’s life, pleading with him by saying that “…this isn’t about me, it’s about him. If you don’t help him now, Phil, he’ll die” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). These actions seem to show Meg facing her fears and taking matters into her own hands, despite the constraints placed on her by her debt to Hades. However, these actions actually characterize Meg as the traditional woman that Disney always constructs; through this change of heart and its resulting actions, Meg “…embodies stereotypically female characteristics, such as sacrifice, selflessness, affection, and nurturing” (Primo 2018, 7). The movie explicitly codes Meg’s braveness as done for Hercules, as demonstrated in the dialogue quoted above. Again, Meg’s empowerment is artificial and continues to advance the post-feminist ideal of romance and marriage; though Meg is apparently free to act as she pleases, she acts only in ways that improve her romantic prospects and protect her romantic partner.

Take Me, I’m Yours

Another unique thing about Meg is her relationship with relationships. Meg is practically alone in being a Disney woman who has had more than one romantic partner; Anna from Frozen (2013) comes to mind as a notable exception. Meg’s romantic history is disclosed in a conversation with Hades, where it is also revealed that Meg is enslaved to Hades because she sold her soul to him in order to save her boyfriend’s life. We also learn that she is no longer with that boyfriend because he ran away with “some babe” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). Obviously, Meg’s first partner was not her prince charming; this is a more realistic portrayal of romance that allows for multiple partners before finding “the one” that is not common in many Disney movies—especially princess movies. However, her “choice” to be with Hercules at the end of the movie seems anything if not inevitable to anyone who has consumed any other Disney movie in the past, as these movies almost always end in romance; thus, “…the ability to choose the right suitor at the end signifies post-feminist autonomy” (Stover 2013, 4). Meg’s purported choice, which is actually portrayed as inevitable by the movie’s plot and characterization, implies that women are no longer expected to be married, especially to somebody they don’t love—so if they do get married, they truly want to be. This false autonomy is rampant throughout Meg’s storyline, which serves to position feminism as no longer necessary in light of all the choices Meg is able to make for herself—even though the narrative doesn’t actually leave room for Meg to have multiple options.

Another unique aspect of Meg’s relationship with romance is her (initial) distaste for it. Though Beauty and The Beast (1991) featured a woman who wanted “more” than romance (yet ended up married to a man who had kept her prisoner) and more recent films, such as The Princess and the Frog (2009), Brave (2012), and Frozen (2013), have also featured characters who (at least initially) rejected romance, at the time of release Hercules was largely unique for Meg’s outright rejection of love. Meg reminds Hades that she’s “sworn off manhandling” and tells Hercules that being alone is better because “nobody can hurt you” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). Additionally, Meg’s only song in the movie, I Won’t Say I’m in Love, is full of lines such as: “No man is worth the aggravation / that’s ancient history, been there done that” and “I thought my heart had learned its lesson / It feels so good when you start out / My head is screaming get a grip girl / Unless you’re dying to cry your heart out” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). However, the Muses combat Meg’s vows against love throughout the song, encouraging her to admit she’s in love—which she does by the time the song is over. Though Meg seems to have to have chosen to avoid romance, this song implies that women are bound to fall in love regardless of whether they want to or not—and Meg proves it. Thus, the movie actually removes the possibility of choice regarding romance for women, even as Meg sings that she will choose not to be in love.

Though Meg shows a clear disinterest in being in another romantic relationship after the failure of her previous one, and despite the betrayal inherent in her relationship with Hercules due to her servitude to Hades, the movie not only ends with Hercules and Meg being together but cannot reach its conclusion without the formation of this relationship. Thus, this film “showcase[s] feminist ideals of independence but reduce[s] them to post-feminist ideals of marriage” (Stover 2014, 8). While Meg theoretically is choosing to be with Hercules, again asserting that women are allowed to choose the state of their romantic lives, there is the strong implication that marriage is necessary for Meg’s happy ending. Instead of maintaining the fierce feminist independence Disney has been (artificially) creating for Meg’s character, the movie “…eventually channels her struggle for independence and autonomy into the more traditional, narrow goal of choosing a husband” (Stover 2013, 5). Meg, like her princess contemporaries, “as independent as she initially appears, will always end up in her proper place: by her man” (Higgs 2016, 67). Even though Meg attempts to win her freedom from Hades and swears off love throughout the movie, she cannot achieve her goal of freedom until she has embraced the ideal of romantic love. The false construction of Meg’s romantic relationship with Hercules as a willing choice pushes both post-feminism and traditional gender roles by giving the illusion of romance as optional and voluntary while simultaneously emphasizing the importance of romance to a woman’s happily-ever-after.

Tying Her Own Sandals

Perhaps the most complicated aspect of Meg as a character is her agency; it is not constant throughout the movie. When we first meet her in the clutches of a monster, she doesn’t have much agency, and though we assume Hercules has restored her freedom when he saves her, we quickly learn of her servitude to Hades. Thus, she starts out with very little personal power. She gradually begins to show more agency as she begins to resist Hades’s demands, but she still remains in his power because he quite literally owns her soul; her attempts to work against him are largely unsuccessful and futile. Meg ultimately frees herself, in her most agential act, from this contract when she pushes Hercules out of the way of a falling pillar—but she literally gains her freedom at the cost of her life, which doesn’t give her the possibility to actually exercise the independence and personal power she has finally won. Meg cannot gain freedom and agency that actually mean anything until Hercules upstages her sacrifice and puts his own life at risk in order to save her soul from the River Styx.

Meg’s status as a literal slave makes it quite clear that she has no agency. Despite the aforementioned quips that seemingly characterize Meg as an independent woman indebted to no man, she is entirely under Hades’s control. Hades consistently taunts Meg with her freedom throughout the movie, threatening her with additional years to her sentence when she makes mistakes and promising an early release from her servitude in order to convince her to do things she does not want to do. The status of Meg’s independence and personal power is adequately summarized in one quote said by Hades: “Meg, Meg, Meg, my sweet, deluded little minion. Aren’t we forgetting one teensy-weensy but ever so crucial little, tiny detail? I OWN YOU!” (Dewey, Clements, & Musker 1997). And yet, even though she is voluntarily owned by a man in arguably the most restricting way possible, Meg is often still perceived as being a feminist character. It is interesting that the performative, only-surface-deep agency Meg is granted throughout the movie is more memorable than her enslavement in terms of how her character is perceived—this fact indicates that Disney’s attempts to characterize the world as a post-feminist one is, to at least some degree, successful; we view feminism and its goal of equality as something that has been already achieved (at least in this movie’s universe), despite the glaring evidence that indicates it is still necessary.

Throughout the film, Meg’s agency/freedom is depicted as her main goal. Daalmans & van Kessel (2014) classify Meg as not entirely passive and not entirely active, but in the category of female characters who “are, or want to be, active characters but spend moments in passivity as well, either forced or voluntarily” alongside characters such as Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine (14). This classification acknowledges Meg’s constraints while still recognizing that she wishes to be in control of her own life. However, this goal quickly takes a backseat to romance. Meg initially willingly gives up her independence on the behalf of a man and clearly hasn’t learned her lesson, despite telling Hades she has, because she makes this sacrifice a second time for Hercules. Meg struggles immensely to be freed, yet “would rather remain a slave than be responsible for the downfall of someone she loves” (Primo 2018, 7). This demonstrates that, despite Meg’s stated goal of freedom, female agency is still not as important as romance. Again, the messages of the dialogue go directly against what is being suggested by the characters’ actions, and Disney is able to subtly reinforce the notion that all a woman should strive for is true love. Meg does not escape from the control of a man but rather enters a more acceptable version of it—marriage. In the context of post-feminism, Meg’s escape from Hades is analogous to the “pre-feminist” woman’s successful escape from an oppressive society, while her settling with Hercules enforces the idea of a world where she is not forced to do anything by a man, but chooses to—and therefore no longer needs feminism (Stover 2013).

As mentioned, Meg’s choice to throw herself in front of a pillar to save Hercules’s life is her most powerful moment, and is arguably the only moment in the film where she is truly the only one in control of her actions. This being the peak demonstration of her agency is extremely problematic. Firstly, it occurs in such a way as to assign the importance of the moment to Hercules’s life, even though this is the climax of Meg’s storyline—her most important moment is still only about and done for the male lead. Meg’s decision to sacrifice herself, and the necessity of this decision to the plot’s resolution, “demonstrates that selflessness for women is expected, not extraordinary” (Stover 2018, 7) rather than demonstrating that she has finally achieved real power. Though Meg frees herself through this action, it is not done for herself, thus implying that a woman should act out of love and protectiveness for others, not out of self-interest or with regards to her own safety. This again contributes to the idea of post-feminism because the scene implies Meg has made her own decision, yet still reinforces traditional gender roles in terms of self-sacrifice.

Secondly, Meg is robbed of her life for daring to swap the roles of the rescuer and the rescued. She is only allowed to live when those roles have been correctly replaced to their traditional genders through the restoration of her life by Hercules. Her agency again not only relies on the sympathy of a man but was thrown away in order to save that man in the first place. Additionally, Hercules’s decision to save Meg’s life is an act of heroism that is designed to upstage her own. This is in line with a tendency in Disney movies in which “acts of bravery or independence on the part of a female character are often followed by a ‘twist’ in the plot that places her in a one-down position to a male” (Towbin et al. 2003, 38). Though Hercules’s sacrifice is no greater than Meg’s—they both put their lives at risk for the one they love—Hercules’s is rewarded with the restoration of his godhood. The strength of heart it takes to willingly give one’s life for one’s loved one only matters when it is the man that does it—the gods are more than happy to let Meg die for her sacrifice, yet restore Hercules’s immortality just in time for him to survive the same sacrifice. Thus, the importance of Meg’s agency is underplayed and is characterized as a happy side effect of Hercules’s heroic actions rather than the direct result of her voluntary decisions.

Discussion & Conclusions

Meg is constructed as a feminist Disney character who embodies a fierce spirit and a rejection of traditional gendered expectations, and she if often remembered in this way. However, a feminist media analysis of her appearance, personality, romantic relationships, and agency reveals that even the challenges she makes to these expectations can be made to fit the mold of traditional gender roles. This analysis reveals that Meg reinforces traditional standards of beauty, appropriates the rhetoric of feminism in order to be seen as more relatable and realistic, finds (and chooses) her prince charming despite vowing to never search for him, and has her agency constantly determined by the men in her life. Additionally, Meg’s characterization serves to promote a post-feminist agenda that creates a more positive view of Meg’s status in life in the eyes of the viewer than is actually constructed in the movie itself. This paper supports Daalmans & van Kessel’s conclusion (2014) about seemingly positive representations of women in Disney movies that “while the female leads may appear to be forward thinking and representations of modern women, the traditional stereotypes about female and male roles in society are still incorporated in the narrative” (19). Additionally, it demonstrates that Meg’s narrative continues to promote three of the four tropes of women in Disney films, as identified by Towbin et al. (2003): a woman’s appearance is more valued than her intellect, women are helpless and in need of protection, and women are domestic and likely to marry. This analysis confirms that, despite perceptions of Hercules as a more progressive film in terms of female representation, the movie continues to perpetuate traditional gender roles and tropes. The dialogue of the movie serves to promote an air of progressiveness and female empowerment that is directly contradicted and nullified by the actual narrative and plot.

Analysis of movies, such as Hercules, that are able to appeal to both boys and girls is important precisely because of this extension of their target audiences. These movies, especially when they are also Disney movies, have enormous potential to influence the way children think about the world around them as well as how they fit into it (Towbin et al. 2003, Daalmans & van Kessel 2014). There are multiple aspects of this film that would benefit from further study, including representations of masculinity, the tendency in popular media to queer-code villains, and the portrayal and reinforcement of rape culture in popular media. Disney movies are a portion of popular culture ripe for continuous study, especially as these studies continue to reveal the stagnant nature of Disney’s representations of gender.


References

Daalmans, S. & van Kessel, L. (2014, August 6-9). The Everlasting Damsel in Distress?: Analyzing the evolution of the female Disney character over time. Paper presented at AEJMC 2014 Conference, Montreal.

Dewey, A., Clements, R., & Musker, J. (Producers) & Clements, R. & Musker, J. (Directors). (1997). Hercules [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Studios.

Higgs, S. (2016). Damsels in Development: Representation, Transition, and the Disney Princess. Screen Education, 83, 63-69.

Primo, C. (2018). Balancing Gender and Power: How Disney’s Hercules Fails to Go the Distance. Social Sciences, 7(11), 1-13.

Stover, C. (2013). Damsels and Heroines: The Conundrum of the Post-Feminist Disney Princess. LUX, 2(1), 1-8.

Towbin, M.A., Haddock, S.A., Zimmerman, T.S., Lund, L.K., & Tanner, L.R. (2003). Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature Length Animated Films. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 15(4), 19-42.

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

At Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom, light cascades across the night sky before spiraling down through the stars. The castle that towers within the dark shines bright amongst the fireworks’ sparkling ceruleans and violets. Once the night show rises to a crescendo of color and song, the snaps of cameras coalesce with the symphony... MORE»
Advertisement
“Disney perpetuated a male myth through his fairy-tale films,” argues Jack Zipes (1995, p. 37). He writes that Walt Disney framed “women’s lives through a male discourse” in his films (p. 36), and that he reinforced “nineteenth-century patriarchal notions” and “benevolent attitudes... MORE»
In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in general, women played an important economic role in the pre-oil era (before the 1960s) in addition to their “traditional” domestic... MORE»
I was the wounded soldier in the opening scene of Macbeth, lying spread-eagled on the stage, flaunting my unsightly gashes. I closed my legs self-consciously. Even portraying a hyper-masculine character, I found myself subject to the parameters of feminine performance. Later in the same production, I gave what was,... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow IJ

Latest in Film & Media

2021, Vol. 13 No. 03
AMC's The Walking Dead (TWD) has maintained a dedicated viewership since its premiere in 2010 and serves as a well-known example of zombie media in today’s culture. The zombie genre has long been recognized for its subversive potential, but... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 03
Techno-horror is a sub-genre of horror defined by the use of science or technology as the source of horror, and often, this genre is used to critique modern technology. However, due to the intertwined nature between techno-horror and contemporary... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 02
This article explores the way in which Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds challenges the myth of the American hero and criticizes the glorification of war cinema by satirizing the viewer directly. The particular focus is on the subtly... Read Article »
2021, Vol. 13 No. 01
‘Article 15’, released in 2019 is the first mainstream Bollywood film to focus on caste based atrocities. It depicts several uncomfortable truths about our society and has been successful in sparking conversation about caste disparities... Read Article »
2020, Vol. 12 No. 12
Oliver Stone's filmography has levied an unprecedented effect on the popular understanding of American history, especially of the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. His style has been described as highly... Read Article »
2020, Vol. 12 No. 10
This paper argues that film is a medium defined by its relationship to memory. Building upon aesthetician György Lukács's temporal theory of cinema, I contrast film's inherent relationship to memory with the “eternal present&rdquo... Read Article »
2020, Vol. 12 No. 10
In this essay, I provide a content analysis of commercially and critically successful films that perpetuate popularized Islamophobia, which is often masked as irreconcilable religious and cultural difference although it has in fact been consistently... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

7 Big Differences Between College and Graduate School
Finding Balance in Graduate School
How to Read for Grad School