Media Influencing Youth
THE EFFECTS OF DISNEY PRODUCTIONS SHAPING
ADOLESCENT GIRLS IDEAS OF GENDER
MEDIA TEXT ANALYZED: MULAN
Major Themes of Paper
PURPOSE: To introduce and analyze aspects of a film(Mulan) that speculate real-world issues
within topics of femininity, ideologies, and masculinities in culture; how these speculations
influence audiences(young girls).
The presence of hegemonic femininity in Disney produced animations that are geared
towards young audiences, and how this form of media is greatly overlooked as an influence
on children's early ideas of gender role.
Mulan-one of the first major Disney movies that offered a counter-hegemonic representation
of a young girl.
Breakdown of the main character Mulan; comparing how she is feminized and how she is
masculinized in throughout the plot.
Real-life role of women in traditional Chinese societies and how Mulan accurately portrays
Produced in 1998 by Disney. First
prevalent presence of an Asian
culture in a Disney animation.
Gained popularity for the overall
message it sent to young girls-to
follow your heart for your own self
Showed young girls that you can
overcome structuralized societal
feminine roles and become an
equal with your male counterparts.
Feminization of Mulan
•Initially introduced as sweet, submissive, vulnerable, and helps take
care of her father; all ladylike characteristics
•Family heavily emphasizes importance of Mulan being a perfect
candidate for a wife and home-maker; gives her a makeover with
hopes of greater possibilities to be chosen by a man; “Bring great
honor to us all; tall, work fast paced, obedient”(characteristics of a
•“If I were to truly be myself, I would break my family’s heart; when
will my reflection show who I am inside?” (Feelings of selflessness and
•Never said in the movie what life goals Mulan has, or what she
wants to do in her future.
•“I know my place, it is time you learned yours” (Father says to Mulan
during discussion of the war )
•“You said you trust Ping, why is Mulan any different?”-Mulan says this
to Shang(captain) when she is finally revealed as a woman after she
saved her army. Change of tone from that of praise to
disappointment and anger.
Bring Great Honor to Us All:
•Mulan leaves home and joins the Chinese army for physical
development in preparation for war with the Huns; takes her
•Overcomes a variety of physical trials and tribulations with her
fellow soldiers and even completes tasks the strongest men are
unable to do
•Ping (Mulan’s male persona) is the ideal soldier; saves her
comrades from the Huns with her skills.
•By the end of the movie:
-independently overcomes the leader of the Huns
-gains respect of the Chinese army and the entire
-emperor of the nation offers Mulan to be a
member of the Chinese council for her devotion
to her country
-emperor of China offers Mulan to be a member
of the Chinese council for her devotion to her
•“The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter”
(Father to Mulan)
I’ll Make a Man Out of You: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSS5dEeMX64
Traditional Female Role In Chinese Society
Traditional role of women in China is
centered around the home, as they are
expected to serve their families
“Yin Yang”-used to represent the union of a
man and woman; woman being the “Yin”,
defined as soft, passive, receptive, and
Woman’s duty to care for her father in her
childhood, her husbands during marriage,
and her son in their sons in their widowhood
20th century until present: Chinese women
treated with greater respect from their male
counterparts; entitled to educational and
employment opportunities that didn’t exist in
In Mulan, audiences are given a fair display
of an Chinese culture, which adds to the
authenticity of the film.
Problematic Aspect of Movie/Disney
Mulan was one of the first Disney animations that portrayed an alternate, liberated view of
the female main character, but at the same time had equal reminders of expected feminine
roles in a society.
Disney princesses: extremely feminized, dependent on male
Early childhood is where ideas of gender are unconsciously instilled in children's minds without
them being able to determine if these ideas are right or wrong. Disney films (more particularly
their animated productions) geared towards young audiences; the ideas of gender
portrayed in the movies play a role in shaping children’s mindsets and outlooks.
Not problematic for Disney, because with their admired characters they reel in major profits
and are able to attain the cherished status they have held for so long.
Who is there to remind gullible children that everything they see in the movies isn’t always
true? (referring to gender roles)
Mulan firmly exhibits concepts of feminine competency within traditional
Producers of influential productions should offer further diverse
representations of young women in their pieces, especially Disney, who
created the idealized princess characters that all little girls cherish and
desire to be like.
If more noticeable actions were potentially taken to show young girls a
better variety of female roles, as done in Mulan, they could become
more willing to participate in counter-hegemonic activities and lifestyles
that could eliminate constant circulations of dominant femininity.