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PSY 355 Psychology & Media in the Digital Age

This page was last modified on April 19, 2021

The Wonderful World of The Walt Disney Company

DEI  Complete the American Film Institute Top 10 of Top 10 which I sent to you by email
  • How many films in total have you seen at least once?
   Disney Experience Inventory (which I sent to you by email)
Count up the number of films you have seen at least once
• Count up the number of films you have seen 2 or more times
• Have you ever visited a Disney theme park or vacation resort?
• What did you like about those experiences?
  Background: Intellectual Property & US Copyright Law
Intellectual property = "the legally recognized exclusive rights to creations of the mind. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs." {W}

vs. Real property: non-movable assets, i.e., buildings & grounds

vs. Personal property: tangible/movable assets (e.g., jewelry, clothing) and intangible assets (e.g., bank accounts, stocks)

Legal rights associated with intellectual property (grounded in US Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 8)
  • Trademarks: valid for as long as the trademark is used or the term is ruled generic, that is, part of everyday language (cellophane, aspirin, thermos, trampoline) by the US Patent & Trademark Office
  • Patents: at the expiration of a patent, the invention moves into the public domain
  • Copyright: if a work is not covered by copyright, it moves into the "public domain" and can be used by anyone

CGP Grey: Copyright - Forever Less One Day (YouTube)

   Law Length

  • 1790: 28 years
  • 1831: 42 years
  • 1909: 56 years (with © affixed to publication)
  • 1976: 75 years or 50 years after author's death
  • 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (colloquially "Mickey Mouse Protection Act")
    • Personal author: 70 years after author's death
    • Corporate author: 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication
    • Applies to anything published after 1923
    • © doesn't need to be affixed to publication

  Modern Corporate Media Conglomerates

   Control of the content of ca. 90% of modern mass media in 2010 resided in five companies

  • Charter Communications/Spectrum (formerly Time Warner • 2020 revenue: $48.1B; profit: $3.2B  (2017 revenue: $31.3 B; profit $3.83 B)
  • ViacomCBS (formerly Viacom) • 2020 revenue; $25.3B; profit $2.31B (2017 revenue: 12.5 B; profit $1.4 B)
  • Vivendi • 2020 revenue: €16.1 B; profit €2.0B  (2017 revenue: €10.8 B B; profit €1.3 B)
  • The News Corp [FOX, Wall Street Journal, et al] • 2020 revenue: $9.0B; loss $1.55B (2017 revenue: $8.1 B; profit: $1.2 B; equity in 2012: $ 24.7 B)

  Copyright law Historical

  • Rise of media companies in the 1900s-1930s
  • Hollywood: Rise of the great studios (Warner Bros., MGM, etc.) including film production, distribution, and theater ownership (vertical integration)
  • The Hearst Corporation in the 1920s & 1930s: magazines & newspapers + Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) film company
  • NBC (RCA) & CBS as national radio networks which later became in the 1950s (with ABC) the great TV networks

1. Appearance of the corporate than than individual author

2. Legally protected intellectual property owned by corporate authors becomes the foundation of an almost endless series of republication opportunities as new technologies provide new outlets

3. The value of media corporations resides in protecting the ownership of their creations. If they cannot be protected against use by others, the corporation value decreases.

What does Disney own in 2021?  (partial listing)

In 2016 Disney began seasonal or "tiered" pricing:

Year    Regular • "Peak"
2016:   $107 • $119
2017:   $115 • $124
2018:   $119 • $129
"Regular" tickets in 2018 were $119, but "Peak" season tickets were $129
  • A $3.50 ticket in 1971 is equal to a ticket price of $21.37 in 2018
  • The rate of inflation between 1971 and 2018 was 611% (average: 13% annually)
  • But, instead of costing $21.37, a regular ticket in 2018 costs $119.
  • Hence, the REAL cost of a $119 ticket to Disneyworld in 2018 (that is, the price over and above the inflation rate) went up 557% in these 47 years or an additional 11.9% annually.

However, during the pandemic, Disney World Orlando now charges
per person age 10 or older:

One park/day:
More than one park/day after 2:00 pm: $169
More than one park/day anytime: 

What about the income of Americans to pay these price increases?

Real Median Household Income in US

Characters in the Disney World

  Discussion Focus:

In small groups of 3 or 4 persons, accomplish the following:
  • Each person should come up with the favorite or two favorite Disney characters
  • For each character, discuss 
  • When you have done this for each group member, find out if there are any commonalities or similar character traits that arose?

Whole Class

  • Each group should share a summary of their discussion
  • Questions/Issues for the entire class


       Disney Princesses Eyes vs. Stomachs The "Princess" role (England et al., 2011)
  • The actual selling of "Princess" merchandise by Disney Consumer Products began in 2000
  • Originally 9 (now 11, actually 12 with Moana in 2016) films, 26,000 products ($4 billion in sales in 2008 & 2009)
  • Before 1990s, high levels of stereotypical gender role portrayal & no attention to non-White females
  • After 1980s, more nuanced gender role portrayal & wider attention to non-White females
  • Note, BTW, whenever the Disney Princesses are shown in a group, none of them look at each other or acknowledge each others' presence. Each is staring at something in the distance, but none are looking at the same thing. This is deliberate. It is meant to preserve the "individual mythology" of each princess.

Male stereotypical characteristics: Curious about princess, exploring, physically strong, assertive, unemotional, independent, athletic, engaged in intellectual activity, inspires fear, brave, physically attractive, gives advice, leader, rescuing

Feminine stereotypical characteristics: Pays attention to physical appearance, physically weak, submissive, shows emotion, affectionate, nurturing, sensitive, tentative, helpful, troublesome, fearful, ashamed, collapses crying, physically attractive, asks for advice, victim

Disney princes

  • High in shows emotions, affectionate, physically strong, assertive, athletic
  • Low in paying attention to appearance, being ashamed, crying
Disney princesses
  • High in affectionate, fearful, troublesome, athletic, assertive (esp. toward animals)
  • Low in being unemotional, leadership, inspiring fear, performing a rescue

Physical attractiveness

  The Beauty = Goodness Stereotype (Bazzini et al. 2010)


Disney Heroes



Five Worlds of the Imagination

Disneyland 1958 map

Maceline MO

Disney Worlds

"landscapes" of the imagination

Main Street USA






Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D. (2010). Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2687-2809.

England, D. E., Descartes, L., & Collier-Meek, M. A. (2011). Gender role portrayal and the Disney princess. Sex Roles, 64, 555-567.

Stark, S. D. (1997). Glued to the set. New York: Delta Books.