Disney Helping Justify Discrimination

Disney’s adaptation of the story The Hunchback of Notre Dame emphasizes Douglas Baynton’s point that disability has become a means to justify particular individual’s ostracism from our society. This movie based off the book by Victor Hugo features a hunchback bell-ringer named Quasimodo who has spent his life displaced from the rest of society with only his imaginary gargoyle friends and his Master as a form of social interaction.

The fact that Quasimodo is portrayed as having a Master who manages him and only having imaginary friends implies to the viewer that he is both incapable of being a normal, self-governing human and engaging in social interaction with normal people.

Additionally, it is intended that viewers of the film simply accept the normality of Quasi’s ostracized life, using the animation of his physical deformity as a means for justification. We are not left wondering why he is not welcome at the annual festival, since we see his character portrayed clearly as a cripple– as if that were justification enough.

Would you say that the idea of “normality” has been used in society as a means of managing and categorizing populations?


4 thoughts on “Disney Helping Justify Discrimination

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I think some of the Disney films do justify discrimination which affects people a lot. This movie shows how people set boundary between the normal people and the disabled which is directly linked to the concept we have learned in the lecture. ‘Normal’ people assume that physically disabled people are different from them, and cannot be in part of their society.
    However I thought this movie actually is against the discrimination of the disabled. In the movie, it shows Quasimodo as a warmhearted person who can give helps to other rather than who needs help. The movie points out that he has no difference compared to the ‘normal’ people but the master is the one who defines Quasimodo as a person who cannot be part of the society and cannot be welcomed to the ‘normal’ people. Also the cruelty of people was revealed throughout the scenes. It seemed to me that the movie was criticizing the people’s attitude toward the disabled not making a justification of the discrimination.


  2. I like this example you used because I would never think of The Hunchback of Notre Dame as applying to our themes in class. I can agree with the idea that be ing “normal” has definitely categorized populations. I feel like in today’s society if you have a physical disability (such as Quasimodo) it automatically puts you below others who are “normal”. I do not believe that it should be this way of course. Society has used disability to put people into different classes, like able and those who are unable, which needs to stop.


  3. The portrayal of Quasimodo in this video clip holds strong similarities to the concept of disabilities discussed in class. Quasimodo had to level himself below that of his “Master” and obey everything at his command, making Quasimodo in a very subordinate, inferior position. Disney’s portrayal of Quasimodo as a cripple being so looked down upon is popularizing the idea of ostracizing those with differences, while also enhancing the idea of white supremacy. Rather than allowing Quasimodo to do as the rest of the townspeople do, he is confined to being on his own because of his set differences. In response to the question at the bottom of this post, I feel that normality hasn’t necessarily been used to “justify” societies, but it has been used to shape the identity of what the society projects.


  4. I would say that the idea of normality has been used to categorize and manage populations. If you do not fit into society’s definition of “normal” then you are excluded and identified as abnormal and weird. This has been used to manage populations because laws, policies and social expectations are all built to accommodate “normal”, leaving the “abnormal” left in the dust. This is shown by the exclusion of disabled people from receiving equal rights, until the Americans with disabilities act. And it is also shown by the historical exclusion of gays from receiving equal treatment and certain rights, just because they did not fall into the category of normal, they were and still are, discriminated against and categorized into a sub-level of society.


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