Linda Christensen has penned quite an interesting read with this 2003 article that delves into the controversy not only surrounding the inequalities of race and sex, but how these inequalities can be traced back to cartoons, and how the mass media played a pivotal role in shaping and manipulating the minds of children. I found this particular article to be very interesting, because I think I can speak for a majority of the US population when I say that many of us grew up watching cartoons.
Cartoons were the pinnacle of every Saturday morning in my household. I would always wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed to turn the TV on promptly at 8am to where I would be graced by the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other rambunctious characters that made any five year old's Saturday special. However, at an age now where I can look back at certain cartoons such as these, and going through the various topics we are currently discussing, it turns my mind on for analysis and discussion, wanting to poke at the meaning behind the characters, the roles they played, and how this can tie into reality. I truly enjoyed Christensen's viewpoint of how media can truly sculpt the minds of the young so easily. A piece of the article I truly enjoyed came on page 128: "Many students don't want to believe that they have been manipulated by children's media or advertising. They assure me that they make their own choices, and that the media has no power over them--as they sit with Fubu, Nike, Timberlands, or whatever the latest fashion rage might be." I believe this is such a crucial point; it shows that the students truly believe that they aren't manipulated by the media, but they are wearing the latest fashions advertised by it! When we truly think on it, the media is one of the most influential communicators in the known world today. Everything from cartoons, to commercials, movies and the news are broadcasting 24/7. It is truly a phenomenon, how we allow the media into our homes on a daily basis for entertainment and information. It also shows the influence it has upon us. Most children these days are glued to the TV screen, looking for their favorite shows or films. The media, whether we would like to recognize it or not, plays a massive role in our daily lives, and has molded many of us into the people we are today. We take obscure social cues or hints from watching movies, or attempt to replicate an act only a superhero or secret agent could perform. This idea of mass media, especially today in 2014, has definitely taken over many of our lives. Even looking at students on our own campus at RIC, almost everyone you see walking by is on their phone or laptop, browsing Facebook or texting, or just looking for the dress they saw someone else in about 10 minutes prior. This ties into Christensen's main point(s), how we need to take action to prevent this from happening, otherwise this mass media will become part of Lisa Delpit's idea of culture of power, or will become a "safe space" for some looking to get away from life, such as Gerri August describes. The media is a powerful weapon, one that can mold the minds of anyone watching. We, as a people, need to learn to control it, and not have it control us. TV, especially from the 20th Century can certainly establish gender and race roles in a way that would be unacceptable by today's standards. When we think back to cartoons, we must take up Christensen's points: are there female characters; are there non-white characters' what roles do they play; are they important to the story; are they looked upon as different? All of these questions play a key factor in how cartoons have been shaped over the years. Think back to shows like "Bugs Bunny" or "Tom & Jerry". Were there black or female characters? Many a time, Bugs Bunny would actually dress in drag, and while this got a massive laugh (from myself included), it shows a stereotypical representation of Drag Queens or even women in general. There was a male character portraying the female. Again, I believe this also ties into numerous points Christensen has made. The changes cartoons have brought about over the years constantly are trying to adapt with the ever changing reality we find ourselves in, and not just cartoons but media as well. The more updated media becomes, the less manipulated I believe we will become.