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The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence

The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence

by Henry A. Giroux, Grace Pollock

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This expanded and revised edition explores and updates the cultural politics of the Walt Disney Company and how its ever-expanding list of products, services, and media function as teaching machines that shape children's culture into a largely commercialendeavor. The Disney conglomerate remains an important case study for understanding both the widening influence of


This expanded and revised edition explores and updates the cultural politics of the Walt Disney Company and how its ever-expanding list of products, services, and media function as teaching machines that shape children's culture into a largely commercialendeavor. The Disney conglomerate remains an important case study for understanding both the widening influence of free-market fundamentalism in the new millennium and the ways in which messages of powerful corporations have been appropriated and increasingly resisted in global contexts. New in this edition is a discussion of Disney's shift in its marketing strategies towards targeting tweens and teens, as Disney promises to provide (via participation in consumer culture) the tools through which young people construct and support their identities, values, and knowledge of the world. The updated chapters from the highly acclaimed first edition are complimented with two new chapters, "Globalizing the Disney Empire" and "Disney, Militarization, and the National Security State After 9/11," which extend the analysis of Disney's effects on young people to a consideration of the political and economic dimensions of Disney as a U.S.-based megacorporation, linking the importance of critical reception on an individual scale to a broader conception of democratic global community.

Editorial Reviews

Times Higher Education Supplement
One of America's boldest critics. . . . Giroux's is a voice to which we would do well to listen.
European Journal Of Cultural Studies
Giroux's warning that Disney's main interest is in turning the yonger generation into perfect little consumers remains alarmingly valid.
Democrat and Chronicle
Henry Giroux has long been known as one who relishes digging into the meaning behind everyday social phenomena. That's what makes his exploration of Disney Corp.'s influence—reported in his book The Mouse That Roared—so intriguing.
St. Petersburg Times
Henry Giroux doesn't deny Disney's ability to delight us, but he does debunk the notion that the entertainment offered by the 'world's most influential corporation' is just innocent fun. Analyzing the messages sent by Disney through its movies, merchandasing and attractions, he convincingly demonstrates how insidious the company's portrait of the United States—as white, suburban, middle class and heterosexual—can be.
Cultural Studies
Giroux makes clear that Disney is an extremely important vehicle of education and deserves critical attention by parents, educators, consumers and cultural critics alike.
Readers awed by the broad power of Disney Company should read this critical examination.
Ideal supplementary material for students examining the commercialism of American culture.
Sociological Abstracts
This volume presents an extremely readable analysis of what the Disney empire teaches children. It takes a comprehensive look at the implications of corporate domination of education culture for the democratic politics of culture, desire, and entertainment, without denying the delight that Walt Disney's creation provides, or suggesting that the company's theme parks and other products should not be enjoyed.
Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly
Giroux's book would make an excellent supplemental text in a mass communication and society course and provocative reading for anyone who wants to see beyond the Disney facade.
The Times Literary Supplement
Aims to expose the cultural manipulations of global corporate capitalism, as embodied by the Disney Corporation, and its allegedly malign effects on children and families. Giroux's contention is at once fecund and ironic, and deserves a thorough examination.
Paedagogica Historica
A must for everyone who feels uncomfortable with the actual commercialization of public culture. The dialogue between Giroux's analysis and the reader's discomfort creates interesting insights, especially in the position of the educator towards the signs and images of his own daily cultural environment.
Educational Review
What Henry Giroux offers in his latest book is a take on the relationship between learning to become and the ways in which possibilities are constrained, channelled and directed by forces which lie outside what is normally recognized as the educational sphere.
College English
It does contribute to a writing style that is both informative and easily accessible to nonacademic readerships. Moreover, this book's well-organized, highly readable, and carefully footnoted condensation of a large body of multidisciplinary research on both Disney and corporate culture in general makes it a useful text for both introductory and upper-level courses. Giroux's linking together of texts, practices, and institutions that are usually addressed separately makes The Mouse That Roared a thought-provoking addition to almost any popular culture course syllabus.
Daily Item
Giroux's book is a must for parents and teachers.
New City
The larger point of The Mouse That Roared is a warning not just about Disney, but about a public culture in which the will of the people is increasingly represented and/or dictated by the fight for market share among huge corporations.
Jonathan Kozol
An absolutely fascinating book about our children and commercial culture! A brilliant, lively, and complex analysis by one of the most interesting public intellectuals in the United States—and one that is remarkably fair-minded. Giroux does not deny the real delight that Disney brings our children. What he questions, really, are the ‘uses’ of delight—and, at a deeper level, the misuse of innocence. All in all, a freshly written, unusually invigorating book that even fans of Mickey Mouse will find compelling.
Robin D. G. Kelley
Lost in the vast wilderness of 'Disney studies?' Henry Giroux’s stunning meditation on what the Disney empire teaches children is like having a compass in the enchanted forest. Like all of his work, he never wanders from his ultimate course: a radical democratic vision. Anyone who hopes to challenge the Imagineering of America and the world and promote an educational culture free of corporate domination must read this book.
David Theo Goldberg
Henry Giroux has led the way in contemporary cultural studies in insisting on the need to address the critical question of the effects on children of cultural production and representation. Giroux links the cultural messages promoted by Disney Inc. to the corporate economy, exploitative, and exclusionary practices it at once represents and pushes. In doing so, he faces squarely and analyzes uncompromisingly the implication for democratic politics of culture and desire, education and entertainment, representation and responsibility that most critics fail to register, let alone face.
Homi Bhabha
Henry Giroux’s pioneering spirit of inquiry never ceases to impress. Here he opens our eyes to the messages that consumer mass culture sends to our children, our schools, our homes. What you see is not what you get—read this book and learn what that is.
Douglas Kellner
Henry A. Giroux and Grace Pollock's revised and expanded edition of The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence presents tools, key concepts and analyses, and the context to provide a critical pedagogy of all things Disney. The author's dissection of the Disney Empire shows that it is not only selling entertainment and related products but a way of life and value system that the authors critically unpack. This is a valuable resource for all parents, teachers, and those interested in cultural studies of contemporary culture.
New York Press - Jonathan Kalb
The Mouse that Roared . . . by the eminent cultural critic Henry Giroux . . . is unusually balanced, conceding that Disney's products can be viewed different ways and recognizing the company's occasional good deeds before lowering the boom with an extremely disturbing array of facts gathered from widely disparate sources. . . . Giroux provides invaluable documentation of the company's exploitative labor practices abroad, its censorship of specific authors, its killing of particular ABC news stories and, most troubling of all, its recent efforts to exert influence over public education both within its planned community (Celebration, FL) and beyond.
From the Publisher
[Giroux shows] the danger of the Disney perspective, the vitiating of the impulse to participate in and to question the fundaments of human society and aspirations, suggesting as it does that American civilization has so arrived that its de-individualized participants need only to kick back and enjoy the fantasy of the moment.
Financial Times - Peter Marsh
Disney is masterly at rewriting history to convey self-serving messages. . . . [Giroux] makes the link between the corporation’s use of 'imagineering' and the broad way in which many big companies (through advertising and other promotional material) do all they can to distort either the past or the present in order to make it more likely that people will buy their goods or services.
This book has expanded since 1999 (CH, Feb'00, 37-3408), just as the Walt Disney Corporation has. And, caveat emptor, mirroring the Disney empire's covert maneuvers to turn children into consumers, so, ironically, the publisher and the authors (both McMaster Univ.) would have libraries and scholars acquire this edition, which the publisher announces as 'thoroughly revised and updated throughout.' Alternating in tone between popular and pedantic, the book retains its provocative and compelling original stance: Disney wrote on children's tabulae rasae and shaped the cultural imaginations of several generations of American youth. But the authors include two new chapters, one on militarization and one on Disney's current global influence, which extends even to Shanghai. Giroux and Pollock's argument that Disney edits public memory, channels children toward desiring consumption, reconstructs historical narratives (even turning America into a theme park), and controls pedagogy continues to be worthy of debate, and the authors supply fresh and cogent illustrations (e.g., the Jonas Brothers, Pixar, post-9/11 culture) to bolster their claims. This screed against the monopolistic idolatry of Disney still commands attention. Recommended.
Donaldo Macedo
The Mouse That Roared: Disney And The End of Innocence by Henry A. Giroux and Grace Pollock sets a new standard for the study of Disney and popular culture. It offers new lens to understand the merger between corporate power and corporate culture while unveiling the insidious educational force of pre-packaged culture. This brilliant book should be read by every parent, educator, and youth.
Nick Couldry
Disney productions carry important cultural authority but until now we have lacked sure-footed guides to unpack the consequences when Disney products get embedded in everyday play, learning, and growing up. Now Henry Giroux and Grace Pollock in their revised and expanded edition of Giroux's pioneering study give us the tools with which to talk back to Disney's world. These tools are especially welcome because other ways of talking back to consumer culture have been relentlessly closed down by neoliberals. This book offers a crucial intervention in cultural politics for any place where Disney products sell.

Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
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750 KB

Meet the Author

Henry A. Giroux is the well-known author of many books and articles on society, education, and political culture. He is the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.

Grace Pollock recently completed her doctoral degree at McMaster University and a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Western Ontario. Her ongoing research interests include cultural and media studies, historical formations of the public sphere, social policy, and community development.

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