Succinctly, our research question is simply the following: how has the portrayal of female Disney characters changed throughout Disney films over time?
More in-depth, we want to analyze whether female Disney characters have been increasingly or decreasingly portrayed using stereotypical standards of the past (i.e. described using traditional woman’s sphere, etc.). Through analyzing film critiques using program(s), we want to see how the portrayal has evolved over the years, if it even did so.
In order to display change over time, we chose films based on the time frame, analyzing the movies in chronological order. In particular, we cherry-picked well-known, iconic movies with prominent female lead(s), including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Cinderella (1950), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Little Mermaid (1989), Mulan (1998), and Frozen (2013). If you noticed a trend, you’re correct. As the term “princess” automatically confers the role of a female lead(s) upon a movie, Disney princess films were chosen (and yes, Mulan, by Disney standards, is considered a Disney princess). While most movies chosen were released approximately ten years apart, the 1970’s and 1980’s were gap years in which a princess film wasn’t released; therefore, we were unable to choose a film to analyze in those time frames. Nevertheless, we feel that the current group of films is an adequate representation of Disney films produced over time.
Afterwards, we chose websites based on a mix of professional and public reviews from platforms that are prominent in the community (i.e. Rotten Tomatoes, Animated Film Reviews, Roger Ebert reviews, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) and extracted the text. Even if it is unintentional, the reviews will reveal what the audience things about gender. We then ran the information through AntConc and/or Voyant and analyzed the information that was displayed on the program.
All the information we retrieved was displayed on this blog that would be maintained by one of the members of the group.
If you’d like to follow along, here is a list of the reviews we used. They’re available in either a document file or a text file (or perhaps even both).