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Final Essay: Myths and Stereotypes in American Film

To begin with, all films have unique stories within the storyline that has different meanings to each viewer. The film’s audience acts upon their feelings of the film by giving critiques, creating parodies and even forming myths about a movie. Society takes their feeling about films to a more extreme level by building cultural myths, which are the extreme assumptions that characterizes a culture. In the media, cultural myths are built to have several beliefs and stories about a certain way the art work is created. In the case of Walt Disney, many people believe that some of his films have messages that aren’t appropriate for children. Disney films are primarily projected towards the younger generation of children but there has been a cultural myth about these films. For instance, many speculated that in the film The Lion King, there are a couple different aspects in which hidden sexual messages can be found. The segment in question in occurs about midway through the movie when Simba, the hero of the movie, plops down and a cloud of dust rises above him. As the dust begins to trail off, it forms the letters S-E-X, with each letter fading as the next becomes clear. “Supposedly this was discovered by an 8 year old child many years ago. Disney tried to clear up this rumor by saying that the letters are actually ‘Sfx’, standing for Special FX” (Tori). Society identifies the hidden messages and make up different stories that aren’t necessarily true. Stories like hidden messages in films are a part of what creates cultural myths.

Another Disney film that has cultural myths is the story of Alice in Wonderland. The cultural myth around the story of Alice is that many scholars believe the author Lewis Carroll had an obsession with young girls and his stories pedophilic. There is a book on it called Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture which examines the myths and icons of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Readers comprehend Lewis Carroll’s books about Alice in two ways. “First, Carroll is a sainted innocent, his books are joyous nonsense and Alice is his muse. In the other, Carroll is a pedophile, his books are dark allegories, and Alice is his obsession” (Brooker xvii). Carroll was seen as a possible pedophile because he use to take naked photographs of young girls in his lifetime but during his time photographs of nude children was very popular and considered to be innocent. To end with, cultural myths have grown to conceal the real and complex reality of the Carroll's true meaning of Alice in Wonderland and other films in media.

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