Saturday, February 19, 2011
Intention vs. Implication
Last week we looked at Disney's Mulan and started to use the tools of media literacy to analyze the song "I'll Make a Man out of You." You raised great points in that discussion about gender, power, language, etc.
One of the issues that really stuck with me was the point Diana was making about "intention." In response to the room of critique, she asked something like, "Is it possible (I am paraphrasing here) that the creators of this text really wanted to give the message that girls can do anything? Could it be that they wanted to make a film to empower girls?"
Many have suggested that Mulan has the most empowering messages for girls produced by Disney. And paired against the princess stories of the past few decades, there is no doubt that this story is different as the images I include here attest. These look like feminist intentions at some level.
But here is the question.... what is the difference between INTENTION and IMPLICATION?
While the intentions may have been pure, what is the "secret education" (to borrow from Christensen) that this text offers? What does it mean that the Diana's point is particularly important. There may have been a big meeting where the Disney team decided to make a story for girls that didn't require heels you can't run in, a dress you can't get dirty in, coifed hair and a sparkly tiara. But what does it mean that only way to be strong and powerful is to literally hide your girlhood and become a boy? What are the hidden implications of the story? Is the message of strength and power undone by the romance in the end? (The final outcome always reveals the most powerful and lasting messages of the film, so what does Mulan leave us with in the end?)
Just some food for thought... comments, critique, counterpoints, accolades, or rotten tomatoes welcome.