Indirect Aggression and Violence in Disney media

It is not unusual in our generation today for children to come home from school and watch television or spend their weekends watching their favorite show instead of going outside and playing with their friends. TV is easily accessible to most children in the United States and is somewhat of a national past time. Not only is the obvious lack of exercise an issue, but also the content of TV shows can have potentially negative effects on American youth. What they are watching tends to influence their behavior on a daily basis as they grow up. Studies have been conducted for years on end about children being heavily influenced by media especially when it comes to violence. For the most part, children learn from both experience and social learning or role modeling. Therefore, when young children see violence on television, they have difficulty differentiating what is real and what is make believe and they tend to copy what they see (Gross 1). Today’s media has a negative effect on young children because of its violence and vulgarity, and action should be taken to reduce media crudeness.

What people usually do not realize is that there is also indirect aggression on famous children shows. Indirect aggression is defined as any behavior that is intended to hurt another person by using psychological or social means. In television examples of indirect aggression include gossiping, spreading rumors, social exclusion, etc. (Coyne 1). Many studies have been done on media violence effects on children, so of course; Disney cartoons may influence young children’s behavior toward real-life situations.

In a study performed by Coyne and Archer, they counted 584 acts of indirect aggression in the Disney films. The most aggressive were Aladdin, which had 20 acts of indirect aggression per hour, Cinderella, which had 19.17 acts per hour, and Pinocchio, which had 18.35 acts per hour (Coyne 7). The types of indirect aggression that they recorded include, dirty looks, gossip, leaving to make someone feel bad, embarrassment, practical jokes, blaming, imitating others behind their back, and much more.

This video clip below is from the movie Cinderella, and is a perfect example of indirect aggression that occurs in Disney films. The two step sisters make fun of Cinderella right in front of her face. They make her sound like she is not good enough to go to a ball, and mimic her as a maid. On the outside, Cinderella shows that their cruel acts do not effect her, but everyone knows that words hurt inside. When girls see this several times as they are growing up, the behavior sticks with them and they perform these indirect acts of aggression to their peers without thinking twice.

“Cinderella Diamond Edition “By Royal Command” Clip.” YouTube. YouTube, LLC, Disney Movies Anywhere, 22 August 2012. Web. 28 November 2014.

Although indirect aggression is a big issue going on in Disney films, physical violence has also been an ongoing problem. Children will watch Disney movies and not realize how much violence and use of weapons takes place every other minute. Multiple studies have been conducted to count how many counts of violence are shown in several films. Males are more likely to inherit these violent habits opposed to females. 

Palombo, Alexsandro. What Kind of Man Are You? 2014. Web.

This image shows famous Disney star, Snow White with a black eye. It does not say anywhere on the picture that the man gave her this injury, but it is highly implied. This is just giving another example of how Disney is portraying violence as much as they can. The amount of violence in Disney films and shows is at an all time high compared to the past decade. In conclusion, violence in the media must be stopped especially for those with young eyes.

This tweet/Gif, was found on @DisneyPixar’s official twitter page. It is a clip from an animated movie, again, with more violence shown. Children are oblivious to these acts until they start acting like the characters without hesitation. Although these violent acts may be intended to be humorous, in the long run they are not funny and may cause serious issues. Disney needs to censor what they put in their films and especially social media because children are on social media almost as much, if not more, than they watch TV.

Browne, Kevin D. “The Influence of Violent Media on Children and Adolescents: a public-health approach.” Lancet 365.9460 (2005): 702-710. Web.

Coyne, Sarah M. “Indirect Aggression in Animated Disney Films.” Journal of Communication 58.2 (2008): 382-395. Web.

Everhart, Kimberly. “What is your child watching? A content analysis of violence in Disney animated films.” Kentucky Journal of Communication 25.2 (2006): 101-125. Web.

“Violence on Television: What do Children Learn? What can Parents do?” Carnegie Mellon University. American Psychological Association. 1999. 20 November 2014. Web.


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