Walt Disney films such as Bambi, The Jungle Book and Pocahontas have played an important role in educating the public about the environment, a new book by a University of Cambridge academic has claimed.
The stories of animated Disney characters, from Snow White in 1937 to the clownfish Nemo in 2003, have built “a critical awareness of contested environmental issues”, according to David Whitley, a lecturer in English.
Here are example of two cartoons and their environmental messages:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
The jealous Queen arranges for the death of Snow White who escapes to the forest and befriends dwarfs and woodland creatures.
The message “The forest’s pastoral setting gives viewers a sense of the integrity and separateness of nature from the world of humans, which is shown as oppressively unbalanced. Snow White is also a role model, showing how humans can protect nature and even bring order to it.”
Finding Nemo (2003)
Nemo, a clownfish, is embarrassed by his overprotective father, Marlin. He is captured and taken to Sydney.
The message: “The theme of letting go of one’s protective anxieties accepts the dangerous aspect of nature, but we are encouraged to tolerate freedom with all the precariousness that entails.”
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