Friday, October 17, 2008

Just a Spoon Full of Interpellation Helps the Hegemony go Down

What do you think of when you see this symbol? Well, if you’re like me, having grown up loving Disney movies, and not afraid of admitting to still watching them, you think of magic and wonder. This Disney logo has come to symbolize a childhood innocence. This sign has a hegemonic meaning; no one would mistake it for symbolizing evil, and it brings us back to an innocent age where animals could talk and there was always a prince charming.

In many ways, we were all interpellated by Disney. In simply seeing this symbol, everyone makes an instantaneous identification, perhaps of their favourite Disney movie or their best childhood memory, but always a positive one. Disney has called to us, and we have responded with a sense of joy. Because of this, we are now a subject to their ideology, and the beliefs of Disney become our own. If there beliefs are that everyone can be a kid again and the world can be magical, then why is that something to be concerned about?

The answer lies in the fact that few people perceive of Disney as a very powerful corporation. Disney holds a lot of power, both in its influence, and in the vast amount they own. The way that they hold on to this power is through their illusion that they don’t have any; that they are there to create joy in children. This association with their symbol as something positive is intentional on the part of Disney. “The mythical signification, on the other had, is never arbitrary; it is always in part motivated and unavoidably contains some analogy.” (Barthes, 126)

Disney doesn’t want the public to fear them so the fact that they’re a multi billion dollar corporation who owns a lot of things is pretty much hidden. What does Disney actually own? I had no idea, so I used my newly developed Internet research skills (HOLLA Internet Survey and Research Class) to find out.

“ABC, ABC Family, ABC Kids, Walt Disney Distribution, Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Disney Channel, ESPN, Jetix, Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Walt Disney Television Animation, Walt Disney Records, Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films, ABC Studios, Playhouse Disney, Disney Consumer Products, Pixar, Soapnet, Disney Interactive Studios, Muppets Holding Company, Disney Store, Toon Disney, New Horizon Interactive, and Hollywood Records also owns Disney Cruise which they have their own a private island called castaway cay. They also have their own radio station network called radio Disney which is distributed in Canada, Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and of course United States” (WikiAnswers)

That’s a very long and impressive list, and it’s definitely not finished. This definitely isn’t the first thing anyone thinks of when thinking of Disney or looking at their logo. Media conglomerations such as these put the power for a lot of different organizations into very few hands. If conglomerations such as these keep existing, eventually everything we see or hear will be controlled and moderated by one group. Those small groups will, in effect, control public opinion, and more importantly, have the largest influence on consumer habits, generating a large profit.

“As the media conglomerates spread their tentacles, there is reason to believe they will encourage popular tastes to become more uniform in at least some forms of media. Based on conversations with Hollywood executives, Variety editor Peter Bart concluded that "the world filmgoing audience is fast becoming more homogeneous." (McChesney, 3)

I’m pretty sure we’re not all going to become robots, but the possibility of tastes becoming more uniform is so very real. With all of these media companies interconnected, they will be telling us we’re supposed to like the same thing. With all of the messages the same it creates an enormous hegemony in media ideas that is virtually invisible. Different symbols, such as the Disney logo, make this conglomeration appear to not have the power that it does. No technology is neutral, and with conglomerations, their influence is magnified until it reaches many more people.

“with a few notable exceptions, the journalism reserved for the masses tends to be the sort of drivel provided by the media giants on their US television stations. This slant is often quite subtle.” (McChesney, 3)

Disney and other corporations like it with media hegemony use this subtlety in their slant to hide their power. This relatively meaningless information reaches a large number of people, and it holds little evidence of any censorship. Disney isn’t some evil corporation and it truly makes people happy; but it has a certain aspect of control over the media that can’t be ignored. It may be a small world after all, but it’s a world full of big conglomerates with lots of power.

Works Cited

McChesney , Robert. "The New Global Media - It's a Small World of Big Conglomerates." The Nation 11 Nov 1999 1-3. 17 Oct 2008 .

"WikiAnswers." What does Disney Own? 17 Oct 2008 .

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies . 1. New York: Hill and Wang, 1972.

1 comment:

Isabel said...

This has to be the best blog entry title - ever.

Way to make me scared of my childhood friend - now foe? - Disney. You raised a bunch of good points though...but I can't help but look back at some of my memories wearily now...

And "holla, internet survey!"!! :P

Way to go! You're a great writer :)