NPR’s Diane Rehm asks Michael Eisner about Disneyfication

Yesterday, Diane Rehm, an NPR talk show host, interviewed former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In a wide-ranging interview, she questioned Mr. Eisner as to whether the presense of Disney in the lives of children is too large and too influential. For example, she said the popular Disney television character Hannah Montana encouraged girls to focus on their clothes, makeup and hair, rather than on their studies. She is troubled by such influences on her own 8-year-old granddaughter.

“I think we have to be very careful about how we introduce creatures of culture and what that culture may represent for those young minds and young bodies that do get their influence from the larger world of media,” Ms. Rehm said.

Mr. Eisner acknowledged that he sees the influence of the Disney princesses on young girls, and noted that he has granddaughters, and so may learn more about it over time.

I think you will,” said Ms. Rehm. “I think you will.”
Without acknowledging any extraordinary influence of Disney, Mr. Eisner said: “I think we have to be careful as to what is appropriate fantasy for children and what goes over the line.”
I wanted to share with you this letter that Mindy Holohan, an activist against commercial exploitation of children, sent to NPR yesterday in response to the interview.
As an early childhood educator, mother of 3 children and member of both the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and STOK (Stop Targeting Our Kids) I was thrilled to catch the tail end of Ms. Rehm’s interview with Michael Eisner. Without a doubt, multi-media conglomerates (and their reach into every part of the lives of our children and families) are having a significant effect on the value and identity development of our children. The “disneyfication” of childhood and “princessification” of our girls are very real phenomenons. I invite anyone who doubts this to take one trip to the grocery store or any major retailer without seeing the influence of Disney on everything from food, to clothes, to healthcare items, housewares and even fishing poles for heaven’s sake!

As a grandmother, Ms. Rehm is far from alone in her concerns regarding the commercialization of her grandchildren. I strongly encourage her to pursue such topics in future programming. There are many incredible and knowledgable voices speaking out in support of a childhood that is free from the developmentally damaging effects of highly sophisticated marketing, advertising and media techniques and content targeting children.

Our children are being exploited daily for profit with little concern for their developmental health and wellbeing. This is an incredible far-reaching phenomenon with immeasurable side effects. As one who has felt the effects of the commercialization and commodification of our children time and again as a parent and educator I am tremendously grateful for Ms. Rehm’s acknowledgement of the issues and recognition of the commercialized reality that parents, teachers, schools and children are navigating. And, again, I strongly encourage her to pursue the exploration of these trends in the powerful public forum that is the Diane Rehm Show.

Letter-writing is an effective tool for people to use to communicate their concerns to the powers that be – whether corporate or government. Try it!

Related posts:
What does Hannah Montana have to do with fishing?
Do you want to be a pretty princess?

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