Becoming Buzz Lightyear and Other Clinical Tales: Indigenizing Disney in a World of Disability

Folk. 2003;45:9-32.

Abstract

Increasingly, anthropologists are investigating the place of mass media in our lives, for we live, as Ortner (1999) notes, in a 'media-saturated world.' This paper explores the role of (globalized) children's mass media - with particular emphasis on Disney - and its influence on one particular community of consumers. The community consists of African American children who face serious disabilities and chronic illnesses, as well as the families who care for them. Disney films and characters permeate the lives and imaginations of these children and parenting kin. While the compelling power of Disney can legitimately be construed as a form of global domination, an emphasis on domination and on the consumer as unwitting victim easily underestimates the agency of the audience.