Burroughs, Edgar Rice, screenwriter. Tarzan. Directed by Chris Buck and Kevin Lima. 1999. N.p.: Disney, n.d. DVD.
“Tarzan” is a Disney movie depicting the life of a European child born and raised by a colony of apes in “the heart of Africa.” This classic children’s movie perfectly fits into the criteria for our project because it is targeted at a very young audience, meaning it is one of the earliest sculptors that shape the perspective of Africa in the minds of children across the globe. The purpose of this source it to provide us with another example of Africa as depicted by Hollywood, and analyze it for it’s cultural validity and authenticity. The writer of the story is a man named Edgar Rice Burroughs, an American with a very Western viewpoint who never visited Africa before completing his story, “Tarzan,” based off the famous European fable. The directors of the movie are also both white Americans males, hinting at the idea that the film as a whole had very little influence from any African perspectives or viewpoints. Because of this, it is suspected that the movie is not entirely culturally accurate.
Central Intelligence Agency. “The World Factbook: Madagascar.” Central Intelligence Agency. Last modified November 19, 2015. Accessed December 3, 2015. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ma.html.
This is a government issued source on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) website that details recent censuses on the country of Madagascar. This is a very credible source and reveals much about Madagascar. It highlights everything from population to economy. We will use this source as evidence in our claim that Madagascar paints a construed image of Africa. We will use it to show that the “Madagascar” series has thrown Africa back to its old, wild reputation instead of its clearly modern infrastructure.
Erigha, Maryann. “Race, Gender, Hollywood: Representation in Cultural Production and Digital Media’s Potential for Change.” Sociology Compass 9, no. 1 (2015): 78-89.
Maryann Erigha studies the intersections of gender, race, and cultural production at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation work investigates how race and gender inequalities inform the production of culture in major Hollywood studios, making her a prime source to help us explore cultural representation in modern cinema. More specifically, this journal details patterns that Erigha has discovered in the way Hollywood showcases women and racial/ethnic minorities. The author develops a theory that white males have almost exclusively written the cultural myths that compromises cultural production. Her theories are vital to our research as they provide us with a view of how Hollywood depicts certain cultures on a more broad scale, zooming out from our previous focus on the representation of Africa.
Lind, Michael. “Disney Turns Burroughs’ Ape-Man into a Momma’s Boy.” Slate (blog). Entry posted June 25, 2003. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/assessment/1999/06/tarzan.2.html.
Michael Lind is a senior fellow at the New American Foundation, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that strives to write unbiased material. Although the post was made on a public blog, I believe his status at the New American Foundation makes his ideas more valid. This article is an argumentative piece he wrote critiquing the 1999 Disney movie “Tarzan.” More specifically, he analyzes the movie in accordance to its cultural accuracy and compares it to the original European fable that the film was based on. This viewpoint is vital to our project as it provides us with a lens by which to interpret Hollywood’s perception on the story of Tarzan, and see how they changed it to either depict Africa in a more or less accurate manner. This is important because it shows us how Hollywood is attempting to display Africa and its vast culture to the young audience that they are marketing for.
Madagascar. Directed by Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell. Produced by Mireille Soria. Dreamworks Animations, 2005.
“Madagascar” is a movie about four New York City zoo animals that become stranded on the island of Madagascar. These comical individuals must learn to adapt and survive in what they see as the “wild.” This is one of the movies we will be analyzing to show Africa’s portrayal in Hollywood media. This movie is especially relevant because it is a kids movie and is therefore responsible for molding a child’s perception of Africa. We will use it as a primary source to examine how Hollywood can subconsciously embed stereotypical ideas about Africa in western culture. Although it was not intended to deliberately create a construed image of Africa, it does it all the same. It is evidence for our argument that movies can impose skewed understandings about Africa from an early age.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Directed by Tom McGrath and Eric Darnell. Produced by Mireille Soria and Mark Swift. Dreamworks Animations, 2008.
“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” is the second installment in the Madagascar trilogy. It depicts the same four New York zoo animals in their attempt to leave Madagascar for New York. They crash land during their journey and become stranded in an African wildlife reserve. There are many elements in this movie that reveal Hollywood’s racist depiction of Africa; more so than the first movie. We will use this primary source to dig deeper into not only the Madagascar series, but Hollywood kids movies in general. Many of the stereotypes are subconscious and presented as humorous. We will examine the effect of this on adolescence psychologically.
Mordaunt Hall. “Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) Johnny Weissmuller, Crack Swimmer Makes His Film Debut as a Wild Man of the Jungle.” The New York Times (New York, NY), March 28, 1932.
This is an article published by the New York Times in 1932 reviewing the original Tarzan movie: Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). It is written by Mordaunt Hall, a regularly assigned movie critic for the New York Times around the time of the 1930s, making them a valid source of analysis as they have sufficient experience in the field. We plan to use this article to better understand the perception of the Tarzan movie back when the original series was published, and use this it to compare to the reaction of people to the more modern releases. This concept will help us understand how the perception of Africa through Hollywood has changed over time.
Rose, Steve. “Repressed Brits, Evil Mexicans, Arab Villains: Why Are Hollywood’s Animated Movies Full of Racist Stereotypes?” The Guardian (blog). Entry posted April 6, 2014. Accessed December 3, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/apr/06/repressed-brits-evil-mexicans-arab-villains-hollywood-animated-movies-stereotypes.
This is an article written by Steve Rose, a blogger for The Guardian. He graduated from the University of the West of England in Bristol in 2010, majoring in journalism and media. His posts largely focus on issues in Hollywood movies. We chose this article because it covers a large range of movies including “Madagascar” — a film we will be examining. We will use this source to connect what we see in each movie to the larger Hollywood industry. Rose surfaces many of the psychological impacts of these types of movies and uses various examples from movies to support his claims. It is an almost entirely opinionated piece, but creates an argument very logically and rationally.
Casano, Feliza, ed. “Lessons from Childhood: The Lion King and Poverty.” Girls in Capes. Last modified May 2013. Accessed December 3, 2015. http://girlsincapes.com/2013/05/10/tlk-hyenas/.
This is an article written by Feliza Casano, the founder and editor in chief of Girls in Capes, and
explores the racist depiction of minorities in The Lion King. I chose this article because it clearly indicates the questionable characters in The Lion King and how they are portrayed, including the coloring of the characters. More specifically, it deals with the subconscious influence it has on children: the author was only now realizing the underlying racism, yet had seen the movie as a child many times. This article is too, an almost entirely opinionated piece, but also highlights a logical argument and gives a personal perspective.
The Lion King. Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Performed by Jeremy Irons and James Earl Jones. Produced by Don Hahn. Screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton. Walt Disney Pictures, 1994.
“The Lion King” is a Disney animated film about the adventures of a young lion, Simba, who is destined to be king, but must first defeat his evil Uncle, Scar, in order to take power after Scar kills his father. The film takes place in the savannah in Africa and was released in 1994. This is the third of the movies that will be analyzed to depict Africa’s portrayal in films that are focused on a youth audience. The writers of “The Lion King” are all American, and it was the first Disney film to be an original-film (not based on a book). This film will be strong evidence for the racist undertones that were not intended, yet have large impacts on children nonetheless. Some of these aspects include language, the depiction of Africa’s geography, and character portrayal.
Ziwich, Jakob. "The Persistence of Racist Undertones of Disney Films." WordPress. Last modified May 13, 2011. Accessed December 3, 2015. https://jakobziwich.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/the-persistence-of-racist-undertones-in-disney-films/.
This blog piece explores the racist undertones of Disney films, including those in The Lion King. Similar to Feliza Casano’s piece, it underlines the producer’s decisions concerning color, how it is represented and how it reveals racial stereotypes in the film. It also explores the important position Disney has in the transmission of cultural messages to children all over the world. We will use this argument to strengthen our own claim that movies directed towards youth have a particularly strong influence over children's perception of Africa. Although this blog piece is a very personal, opinionated piece, it provides a quality argument with sufficient evidence and a unique perspective.
Giroux, Henry A. “Animating Youth: the Disnification of Children’s Culture.”
Socialist Review 24:3 (1995), March 24 2007 <http://www.henryagiroux.com/online_articles/animating_youth.htm>
The author of this article, Henry Giroux, is an American and Canadian scholar and cultural critic, who focuses on critical pedagogy in the United States. This article provides an excellent basis for the physiological aspects we want to explore in our project: how do films influence children and their worldviews? This article logically highlights the fact that films directed toward youth are “teaching machines,” where a child with few life experiences has little to compare the “fact” in the film. This article provides strong evidence and ideas and will underline the ideas we want to include in our “so what?” perfectly.