ERIC Number: ED427892
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1999-May
Reference Count: N/A
Disney's "Pocahontas": Conversations with Native American and Euro-American Girls.
This study analyzed girls' reactions to Disney's animated feature film "Pocahontas" in light of conclusions drawn from a previous critical textual analysis of the movie. The research addressed three questions: (1) how do Disney's claims to creation of positive prosocial representations of women and Native Americans in the movie "Pocahontas" hold up or collapse when viewed from a critical perspective which takes gender and class into account? (2) how do girls of different ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds relate to the romanticized story Disney has chosen to tell? and (3) how do the girls' responses to the movie compare between groups and with those of the researcher? Participants, ages 9 to 13, were middle-class Euro-American girls from a midwestern university town, urban working-class Native American girls from a large midwestern city, and girls of working-class families from a rural reservation in the southwest with one Native American parent and one Euro-American parent. Results from the focus groups with participants indicated that although there were points of agreement, in general, the girls' responses and attitudes toward the movie varied widely both between the groups and with respect to the researcher's conclusions about the movie. While the Euro-American girls produced a reading that could be labeled as "negotiated" in some respects, they appeared to accept the colonialist lessons learned about U.S. history and to view the movie as somewhat comical. For the urban Native American girls, "Pocahontas" was an important movie to which they related strongly. The Native American girls from the rural reservation were not as enthusiastic about the movie, perhaps because the culture of their daily lives strengthens their personal and cultural identities in such a way as to make media representations of Native Americans less significant for them. (This report includes background information concerning the story of the historical figure Pocahontas and the Disney movie based on her, followed by a textual analysis of the movie. Contains 19 references.) (EV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Historical Background; Historical Distortion; Historical Fiction; Native Americans; Pocahontas (Film); Walt Disney Studios
Note: Paper presented at the International Communication Association Conference (San Francisco, CA, May 27-31, 1999).