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The Mouse Trap // It seems that\'s everyone\'s angry with Mickey, from the left and right. But the anger is really centered on the way the Walt Disney Co. reflects our culture and the values we all say we uphold.
Star Tribune; Minneapolis, Minn.; Jan 10, 1998; Martha Sawyer Allen; Staff Writer;

Sub Title: [METRO Edition]
Column Name: Faith & Values
Start Page: 05B
ISSN: 08952825
Abstract:
Religious conservatives decry what they say is the Walt Disney Co.\'s move away from "family values and family entertainment to promote a homosexual agenda." Liberal women\'s-rights groups have been angry for years at what they say are the stereotypes of women in the cartoons. And politically liberal social-justice advocates decry what they say are the poverty-level working conditions in many Disney plants in the Third World.

Experts say that Mickey and Co. are targeted so often because they mirror our culture - too well. Disney isn\'t ahead of our culture - it is our culture. And don\'t forget that more people visit the Disney "motherhouses" - Walt Disney World and Disneyland - than any other theme parks in the world.

However, all those groups also display some ambivalence about Disney, and that says a lot about values issues in this country. How do you attack a company that has created so many enduring and endearing cultural icons? For better or worse, entire generations of American children have worked out many issues by watching Disney films. Disney has the dubious achievement of making entertainment as important in society as work, faith, politics and family.

Full Text:
Copyright Star Tribune Newspaper of the Twin Cities Jan 10, 1998

Sometimes crusades make the strangest bedfellows. Consider the coalition of folks who have found a common American-values ground: From religious conservatives to liberal social-justice advocates many are arguing that Mickey Mouse has, as one said, "turned into a rat."

Religious conservatives decry what they say is the Walt Disney Co.\'s move away from "family values and family entertainment to promote a homosexual agenda." Liberal women\'s-rights groups have been angry for years at what they say are the stereotypes of women in the cartoons. And politically liberal social-justice advocates decry what they say are the poverty-level working conditions in many Disney plants in the Third World.

Experts say that Mickey and Co. are targeted so often because they mirror our culture - too well. Disney isn\'t ahead of our culture - it is our culture. And don\'t forget that more people visit the Disney "motherhouses" - Walt Disney World and Disneyland - than any other theme parks in the world.

What makes this particular fight more interesting, many experts add, is that it doesn\'t follow any ordinary culture-and-values war script. Everyone\'s angry with Disney.

"Probably no value-laden group hasn\'t criticized Disney for not representing its concerns - adequately, or justly," said Brenda Brasher, who teaches about religion and popular culture at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio.

The Southern Baptist Convention approved a boycott last summer of Walt Disney Co. to protest what it says is the entertainment giant\'s move away from "family values" and its endorsement of "immoral ideologies" for accepting homosexuality in its employment policies.

Other religious conservatives, including the Assemblies of God, the Church of the Nazarene and the Catholic League, also are involved, including James Dobson\'s Focus on the Family.

At the same time the United Methodist Church has confronted Disney for what the church says are Disney\'s near-slave wages to foreign workers, compared with the astronomical amount paid to its head, Michael Eisner. (Think in terms of roughly 50 cents a day vs. $500 million in a onetime stock payment.)

The denominations represent more than 50 million Americans.

That doesn\'t begin to count women who are upset with the role models exemplified by most of the female leads in Disney cartoons. You know, helpless Barbie dolls, or evil, witch-like stepmothers.

Emotional images

However, all those groups also display some ambivalence about Disney, and that says a lot about values issues in this country. How do you attack a company that has created so many enduring and endearing cultural icons? For better or worse, entire generations of American children have worked out many issues by watching Disney films. Disney has the dubious achievement of making entertainment as important in society as work, faith, politics and family.

Even Richard Land, whose