Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment

Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment

Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment

Multiculturalism and the Mouse: Race and Sex in Disney Entertainment

Excerpt

Beginning in the early spring of 1963, the New York World's Fair played host to several attractions designed by Walt Disney's initial team of "Imagineers." Corporate-sponsored pavilions, each in some distinct way, combined Disney's ongoing fascination with showcasing in the pres- ent a vision of where we as a people had realistically been and where we most likely were next headed. However popular The Carousel of Progress and Hall of Presidents were, an attraction called It's a Small World quickly emerged as most fairgoers' favorite. Satisfying tourists from around the globe, and not a little startling owing to then-innovative ideological impli- cations, It's a Small World offered a vision that would not characterize the thinking of mainstream America for another quarter century.

The term "diversity"—exclusive to the vocabulary of a radical minor- ity only ten years ago, in the lexicon of most people today—has become such a staple of our everyday speech that we may forget such an idea did not exist, even among liberals committed to the civil rights movement, during the century's first half. At that time, "integration" remained the key byword. Those of the Old Left called for a full assimilation of ethnics and others deemed "different" into the vast national middle. They were opposed by strict segregationists, the Old Right that reeled in horror at the thought of any mingling of the races. Significantly absent from our ideol- ogy at midcentury, and the popular culture expressing that zeitgeist, was anything akin to what we now consider a preferable alternative to either . . .

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