Cover image for The mouse that roared : Disney and the end of innocence
The mouse that roared : Disney and the end of innocence
Giroux, Henry A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, [1999]

Physical Description:
186 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN1999.W27 G57 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Today, cultural practices and institutions shape nearly every aspect of our lives. Giroux takes up this issue by looking at the world's most influential corporation. He explores the diverse ways in which the Disney Corporation has become a political force in shaping images of public memory, producing children as consuming subjects, and legitimating ideological positions that constitute a deeply conservative and disturbing view of the roles imparted to children and adults alike. Giroux shows how Disney attempts to hide behind a cloak of innocence and entertainment, while simultaneously exercising its influence as a major force on both global economics and cultural learning. Disney is among several corporations that not only preside over international media, but also outstrip the traditional practices of schooling in shaping the desires, needs, and futures of today's children. Written by one of the nation's leading cultural critics, this book is important reading for anyone interested in education, society, and political culture.

Author Notes

Henry A. Giroux is the well-known author of numerous books and articles on society, education, and political culture. He is Waterbury Chair of Education at Pennsylvania State University and lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The average fan of Mickey and Donald or Simba and Nala won't notice, but readers awed by the broad power of the Disney Company should read this critical examination by an education professor at Pennsylvania State University. The basic complaint about Disney has always been just what makes Wall Street love it: Disney's "imagineers" are so very good at convincing customers they need to see, visit, and own as much Disney product as possible. But Giroux goes beyond this concern (that the entertainment Disney cloaks in innocence and good fun is a constant sales pitch) to examine the varied messages of Disney's films for children and adults; for example, the racial coding in Aladdin and The Lion King and the positions, roles, and values of specific characters in Good Morning, Vietnam and Pretty Woman. Although Giroux charges no conspiracy, he maintains that "challenging the ideological underpinnings of Disney's construction of common sense" is a vital step in understanding corporate infotainment media and in empowering citizens to demand something better and more democratic. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

To many people, the name Disney has become synonymous with childhood innocence and squeaky-clean fantasy. But in this polemical, didactic work, Penn State education professor Giroux (Channel Surfing) charges that Disney is in fact a powerful corporation whose ideologyÄlargely predicated on getting the consumer to buy Disney productsÄis far from innocent. Giroux tackles Disney's theme parks, its recent forays into education and its movies in an attempt to expose how Uncle Walt's legacy is eroding democracy and endangering our nation`s youth. He disparages Disneyland and Disney World for whitewashing history and casting America's past in a nostalgic light, excluding any mention of slavery, civil unrest, racial tension or war. In keeping with this practice of regulation and homogenization, employees are required to dress a certain way, to have their hair a certain length and to adhere to the "Disney philosophy." Disney's movies, argues Giroux, promote sexism and racism ("bad" characters speak with thick foreign accents, or in inner-city jive; female characters, however strong, depend on the men around them for identity) and encourage massive consumer spending while assuming the guise of innocuous family fun. But because children learn increasingly from popular culture, Giroux warns that it is dangerous to ignore the influence of a corporation whose private town, Celebration, dictates the color of its residents' window shades and house paint. The notion of Disney as a corporate, market-obsessed monolith was hilariously expounded last year in Team Rodent, Carl Hiassen's contribution to Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought series. In contrast, Giroux's sustained shock and outrage, buried in thickets of dense, academic prose, quickly wear thin. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

This book illuminates well the particularly important variety of cultural and pedagogical critique that Giroux has advanced during the past 15 or so years. Yet readers familiar with Giroux's work will detect here a slight but significant shift of focus and effort. Giroux brings his critical theoretical analysis to bear on the concrete manifestation of cultural hegemony embodied by the Disney Corporation. The result is a work accessible to the general reader that models the kind of "language of critique" for which he has made the case in the past. Although still interested in exposing the contradictions to be found in cultural productions, Giroux seems less interested in locating expressions of the emancipatory in the Disney onslaught and more concerned with revealing the totalitarian ethos to be found beneath the assertions of innocence, virtue, and middle-class family values. Giroux closely examines Disney's role in shaping consciousness through its animated children's films (e.g., Mulan, Little Mermaid, Aladdin), its general audience films (Good Morning Vietnam, Pretty Woman), its amusement parks, its intrusion into public schooling, its toy stores, and so on. Because the current class of undergraduates was raised on this stuff, the book will necessarily resonate with them. Highly recommended for all levels. T. R. Glander; Rockhurst College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: Disney's Troubled Utopiap. 1
1 Disney and the Politics of Public Culturep. 17
2 Learning with Disneyp. 63
3 Children's Culture and Disney's Animated Filmsp. 83
4 Memory, Nation, and Family in Disney Filmsp. 123
5 Turning America into a Toy Storep. 155
Indexp. 175
About the Authorp. 187

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