Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us: Argument

            Before I even get to discuss the argument from this week’s reading which was Unlearning the Myths That Bind Us by Linda Christensen, I have to say that I enjoyed reading it a lot. It was not only that it was easy to follow, or that it was nicely written, but what made me not want to stop reading it was how much sense it made, and especially how it made me reflect on my childhood and how cartoons and the media have influenced me all throughout my life and without me really knowing it. In a way it does feel kind of sad and depressing to see the reality behind cartoons that I used to see as innocent and simply entertaining. Yet, at the same time being aware of and being able to critique the true message behind a cartoon does really help to be informed and to not let them shape me or others as much as they already have.

This author Linda Christensen argues how society especially young children are taught and manipulated on “how to act, live, dream”, think, and form opinions and ideas by the “secret education” delivered through such things as cartoons, movies, and children’s books that teach them “the denomination of one sex, one race, one class, or one country over a weaker counterpart”. This is especially true in a time where most children “learn” by watching TV, and are spending hours and hours just watching cartoons or shows that greatly influence the way they think without them even knowing. Christensen argues how the information that children gather through watching movies such as Peter Pan, become “accepted knowledge” which greatly damages the way that children start to form their own views and ideas about life. The effect of the Disney movies or children’s book is such that even older people or students have a hard time understanding the true message behind these “innocent” and entertaining sources. In order to make a change in the way such things influence us she stated how important it was for people like her students to have the necessary tools “to critique media that encourage or legitimate social inequality”.
In order to help her students understand more about the true message of such things as cartoons Christensen argues how she sets up the “unlearning the myths” unit that has two main objectives the first to have them “critique portrayals of hierarchy and inequality in children’s movies and cartoons” and then have them “enlist them to imagine a better world” with equality. The methods she used are not only important or useful for her students, but to the whole public, in order to help us better understand the reality behind the fantasy. It is necessary to ask and to critique in order to realize how media plays a role in everyday life, from influencing how we dress to how we act. As one of her students stated, "true death equals a generation living by the rules and attitudes they never questioned and producing more children who do the same". If older people like her students, as she shows, had a hard time accepting reality, then her point is proven about how huge the impact must be on us when we are children.

Her style of teaching and especially the way she passes on her argument is just great. She is not the typical teacher to just say what’s wrong but instead she made her students see it for themselves in order to prove her argument right. I think this is important for everyone not just her students since her questions can make anyone reflect on the content of a movie or cartoon. Some of the questions she made were “Who plays the servant? Are there any people of color? [And] How does the film portray overweight people?” Through this exercise her argument was made clear, because as well as her students did I could also notice just by thinking about the cartoons she mentions in the text, how cartoons can really have an effect on us when we are young.  One of the things that her students noticed was the “absence of female characters in many of the older cartoons” which in turn can teach children that women are less important than men (which is totally not true!). Or perhaps how the Cinderella story can teach women that their life can just be changed by getting married, or by finding the ideal man, which again is not true, and we just can’t have young girls grow up thinking that way and underestimating their potential for a better life through their own work and intelligence rather than by relying on a man.

As well as Christensen argues about the manipulation that we as a society go through especially when we are young children, and also how important it is for us to realize that, one of her strongest points is that after realizing it we can’t just stop there, we need to help change happen. Her strategy was to ask her students “to create projects that would move beyond the classroom walls”, and her students surely did. One of her students wanted to “publish her piece in a magazine for young women so they would begin to question the origin of the standards by which they judge themselves” and others wrote articles for local and national newspapers. Her argument was embraced and taken for inspiration to create a better society, one where equality exists and especially one where we can be free of manipulations that sadly change and shape how we end up being as individuals.

Some of the points that I would like to talk about in class would be the effect that cartoons had in my classmates, if any, and then  discuss how they feel about it. Also perhaps to talk about what things we could  do ourselves to help create a society that is less manipulated by the media.

The Article below is called: "Effects of Cartoons on children’s Psychology & behavior Patterns" from the newspaper International:  THE NEWS It talks about the effects that cartoons can have on children.

Finally the link below is the one that Christensen refers to throughout the article




  1. Hey Maritza! You did an awesome job on your blog post, I enjoyed reading it and I am going to be using your blog to do my extended comments post this week! I agreed with everything that you had to say, and great links as well!

  2. hey! you did a great job with this post! I loved all the pictures and how you gave great examples to everything Christiansen said in the article!:) I agree with the points to discuss in class! nice job!

  3. Hey! I really liked how you incorporated the idea that changes need to be made throughout your entire post. Christiansen wanted this lesson she did to show her students how to truly dissect and read into the world around them and make positive changes; and the students showed that they were going to do just that after learning about what goes on in the media. Your pictures really accentuate your post and you made tons of great points! good job:)

  4. Hey! Like Jackie said I like how you gave the many examples about everything that was stated in the article. You did a great job on your post and I love all of the pictures you added!!

  5. Hey Maritza, As always you have great insight. You really got down and dirty with the details. I find these topics often so overwhelmingly huge, that I can get caught in the top layers. As a kid growing up in the 60's, Women's lib. was just a budding movement. I too appreciated how Christensen helped her students develop the tools to actually implement new thought that would "create projects that would move beyond the classroom walls". As an illustrator I have different reasons for loving Disney. But I was/am most certainly affected by the "Myth"