Content: Write an analysis of the films on Disneys The Littl Mermaid. Complete the readings for the week, and draw on the readings you have done for previous weeks. Focus on the following elements: gender, race and/or ethnicity, economic class, sexual identity (hetero, lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, transsexual, queer), nationality, and religion – and think about the following questions in relation to the film:
1. What types of characters/people are represented? Who is absent (and could have been incorporated, given the storyline)?
2. How are the abovementioned categories of social identity presented in the film?
3. What are the explicit and implicit messages in the film about each of these categories of identity and their places in the world?
4. Who is strong? Self-motivated? Smart? Capable? Independent? A leader?
5. Who is weak? Needs the help of others? Stupid? Incapable? Dependent? A follower?
6. Who is brave? Who is afraid or unsure?
7. Who creates a problem? Who solves a problem?
8. If the film includes animal or other non-human characters, how are they assigned gender, racial, class, sexual identity, nationality, or religious features?
9. Read the original story or folk tale, if there is one, and compare it to the Disney version. What did Disney writers change? How and why?
10. How does the Disney storyline compare to historical accounts (if applicable), or how is it related to the time period in which the film was created? Put the film in historical context. How did Disney writers represent the events and societies in this time period?
11. Do research on the marketing, box office sales, reactions by film critics and the general public, and the sales of merchandise related to the film. How much money did Disney make? How did a concern about making a profit shape the way Disney writers told the story? What were the commercial repercussions of the film?
12. Write an analytical conclusion, drawing together your key points from above.
First, use the readings for the week and for previous weeks to deepen and strengthen your analysis. What patterns among Disney animated films can you also see in the film you are analyzing? Then, develop your own analysis of additional features of the film that support your points.
Readings for the week:
Ross, Escape from Wonderland
Stone, Things Disney Never Told Us
Towbin, Images of Gender Race.
Trites, Disney Subversion of Little Mermaid.doc
Andersen, “The Little Mermaid” (original folk tale): http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html — read the story completely. Take notes on the differences between the original tale and the Disney story.
Disney wiki, http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/The_Little_Mermaid_%281989%29
From Mouse to Mermaid, essay by Sells, “Where Do the Mermaids Stand?”
In addition to Disney films, use and cite at least 6 ACADEMIC articles or essays in your paper (these DO NOT include blogs, popular websites, or media websites that lack background research and citations for the sources of their information). Use MLA-style in-text citations and a Works Cited page (see http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/). Four articles should specifically address the film you are analyzing, and 2 should address OTHER Disney films (making connections to trends and patterns in Disney films more widely). You may use the articles assigned for the course and/or find additional essays and books about the film you are analyzing. Academic sources include books and articles written by scholars, rather than information posted on websites by the general public.