NEWSFLASH: The newest Disney princess (Anna from Frozen) has eyes bigger than her wrists.
Yep — thanks to work by sociologist Philip N. Cohen — we can now chew on that fact for a while.
While cartoons certainly aren’t the number one source for realistic portrayals of the human form, Cohen’s work finds surprising patterns in the way Disney films portray male and female characters‘ bodies. Male characters boast hands that dwarf female counterparts, and female leads have eyes sometimes twice the size of their male partner — trends that romanticize wide-eyed innocence for girls and strength and dominance for boys.
Mr. Cohen isn’t the only person disrupting our ideas on popular kids’ movies. Last year, TEDxBeaconStreet’s own Colin Stokes gave this fascinating talk on how movies teach manhood, which totally challenged how we look at gender in kids’ movies.
Over at the TED Blog, Colin unpacks the messages he sees in more movies that are favorites for kids — and recommends some great picks for enlightened watching. Here’s a sampling:
Movie formula: The Quest
Typical Version: A boy’s world is threatened by an evil male force. He must train and mobilize other boys to defeat the enemy in a violent conflict. There is essentially one female, who is granted to the hero as a prize.
Examples: Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Lion King
Enlightened version: A boy or girl (or team) seeks to heal an injustice in the world. They must make friends who share their goal to change the culture of an older generation, by modeling a better way.
Examples: The Wizard of Oz, The Muppet Movie, The Dark Crystal, Castle in the Sky (Japan), Spy Kids 1 & 2, Tangled
Read his whole guide here»
(Photo: Flickr user Dollyclaire)