Susan Douglas examines how the media and popular culture convey conflicting ideas of what is right for a woman in America. She explains the contradicting messages of the strong, free, independent and defiant women and the ditsy, thin, commercial women in the 1960’s.
In today’s media and popular culture, we still see similar contradictions. Many young children growing up idolize their favorite Disney princesses and, to their credit, many of these princesses are strong, independent women who don’t need no man. However, as this Buzz Feed post highlights, animators draw these women with unnaturally small waists, conveying the idea to young children that you can only be a beautiful yet strong woman if you are equally unnaturally thin. The alterations of each character demonstrate that these princesses can still inspire children without causing such an issue with self-esteem and body image.
For years, Disney has tried to produce progressive characters and stories that represent the world’s diversity. I wonder if Disney will soon create a princess or protagonist with an average body who is conveyed as just as strong yet beautiful as the other princesses like her. It would also be interesting to see how that manifests in the lives of young children and how they view themselves.
As noted in Limericks’ article, historically, Americans have always looked for a new frontier, an empty space waiting to be explored no matter what danger or opportunity await. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek TV series epitomizes the futuristic aspect of the frontier and we see clear evidence of this in the show’s famous opening monologue but beyond that, Star Trek expands on the Melting Pot idea.
As a former Air Force and commercial pilot and native to California, arguably one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the U.S., Roddenberry encountered his fair share of other ethnicities. In Star Trek, we see this reflected in the diverse cast. The picture above is of the cast of the first season of Star Trek: the Next Generation. We see in this picture not only a mix of ethnicities but also a mix of gender and age.
Through this, Roddenberry, an American, expresses in an American TV show that the mixing of ethnicities, genders, and ages is easily accepted and can seamlessly work on such pioneering adventures as exploring unknown space. He also expresses his hope for a future America and world where even “aliens” such as Klingons and Androids can be accepted, respected and honored in American society.