Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Disney CopyCats and Culture Industry

Image result for disney
The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" from their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer conceptualize power as an absolute, all-encompassing force, driven at unrelenting speed by the engine of capitalism. 

If one of the first companies you think of isn't Disney then you must live under a rock. They are one of the top five companies that control today's media. From ESPN, ABC, A&E, Marvel, Buena Vista, Pixar, Lucasfilms and more. With that Disney has been able to grow fast and rise to power in a relatively short time from when it was created, Disneyland did just barely celebrate their 60th birthday and Disney was founded 93 years ago.

Image result for companies disney owns

"For the first time a civilization has reached a point where most people are no longer preoccupied exclusively with providing food and shelter ... There was a time when only the rich had much leisure. Then came mass production and automation - and suddenly what used to be the small leisured classes became the big leisured masses." says Steven Watts the author of The Magic Kingdom. 

Something that Disney has been known for is their highly loved movies. From the new and improved movies to the lovable originals and classics. Before Disney was the multi billion dollar company it is now they were making their films on a budget and doing little things to make the animation process easier.

                                             Image result for disney reusing scenes

One of those processes were reusing old animation. This is no Disney secret as Life, Time and other big name articles have wrote about this. Just like in most industries, piracy is a issue facing companies like Disney. You would never guess though that it could be within your own company.

After the Great Depression (1929-39) and then World War II (1939- 1945). Companies like Disney did very well because of the fairy tale stories were those that people were wanting to hear because they had been longing for happy stories.These companies were able to mass produce their commodities like movies using techniques like the film reproduction or rotoscooping technique.

                                                 Image result for disney reusing scenes

What the animators would do is take the basic sketches of scenes and then go in and redraw over them to create the new movie scenes. This was very common for dancing scenes or ones with lots of movement. This is because the animators would make work easier and because of budget restraints it was more convenient.

                                                    Related image

In the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction it talks about how all art based is reproducible. Anything man made like movies and film can be imitated. Granted the Disney films are being reused and then redone. 

Now days that is not the case and with the help of compute and digital animation aids it is no longer a short cut for films. 

List of Disney Movies with Re Production

Robin Hood (1973) VS Snow White (1937)
Robin Hood (1973) VS Aristocats (1970)
Robin Hood (1973) VS Jungle Book (1967)
Sword and the Stone (1963) VS The Truth About Mother Goose (1957)
Sword and the Stone (1963) VS 101 Dalmatians (1961)
101 Dalmatians (1961) VS Jungle Book (1967)
Winnie the Pooh (1977)VS Jungle Book (1967)
Sleeping Beauty (1959) VS Beauty and The Beast (1991)

You can see an extensive list here

Discussion Questions:
1. What are the pros and cons of having power companies like Disney?
2. Should Disney be remaking the old movies because of the reproduction?


  1. I love that you looked into this concept. I have found an issue with companies through Disney creating repetition or lack of uniqueness between each of their movies or storylines. I think a con of Disney being a power company has become a major issue with rather than new and enlightened ideas, we have become more grasped into replicating the same or similar story lines.

    I would love to say studios like Ghibli have broken away from the Disney replication, but in it's lead females I find very similar faces and structures. This takes away from character or story individuality.

  2. Breanna,

    I'm so glad someone brought this up! I've seen those video clips on facebook of all of the clips that are the same, and it's quite astounding. I don't know if I'd ever been able to pick up on it had I not been shown.

    I've thought about whether it is done out of laziness or sneakiness or what, but when I saw the clip and read this article, it made me feel like some of those positive nostalgic feelings were being abused. I loved Robin Hood as a kid, and to realize that even the animation isn't even original betrays a bit of that love.

    This is a great bit to lead to your first question of the pros and cons of having such a power company. I knew of Marvel and Star Wars but had no idea about some of those others being owned by Disney. I think one of the biggest cons is the originality to their primary products. Like mentioned before, I felt my love for it was betrayed a little, but now, realizing that they are raking in the money by just remaking all of these Disney movies but live action kind of just seems lazy and not creative at all (I want to look at see if they recreate the same recreated scenes from the animations). What was once a company that created magic for children is now just a company who does what they can to make money. It just produces more difficult questions for myself like "Aren't we letting them market off/pander to our nostalgia (Star Wars VII)--Is our nostalgia killing creativity because we are so wrapped up in the past to care to look to new futures? I don't know, but your post definitely makes me ponder some of these questions; thank you!