Ithaca College Professor Talks Disney and Diversity on NPR

By Dan Verderosa, June 22, 2017

Professor Talks Disney and Diversity on NPR

Is Disney doing a good job portraying a diverse cast of characters in its animated movies? That was the question Ithaca College Assistant Professor Chrissy Guest discussed on National Public Radio’s “1A” on Tuesday, June 20.

Guest, whose documentary film “Beyond Ink & Paint: The Women of Animation” will be released in 2018, was part of a panel that included Common Sense Media CEO Jim Steyer, Slate culture writer Aisha Harris and Southern Methodist University professor Sean Griffin.

She commended Disney’s “Moana” for telling an empowering story about a young girl.

“We’ve seen that Disney as a company has really been trying to embrace at least gender diversity throughout not only on-screen, but behind-the-scenes, and that’s evident in ‘Moana’ in the sense that it’s a story about a young girl,” said Guest. “Not only is it about a demi-god, but it’s really about her relationship with her grandmother, with leadership, leadership qualities, and being told over and over again you can’t do something, and still doing it.”

However, Guest acknowledged that many female characters are still stereotypical Disney princesses, and that much progress remains to be made. To that end, Guest pointed out that over 60% of animation students today are women, which may lead to changes in the way that women are portrayed in animated films.

“Those students are in a great position to start identifying where problems lie in representation on screen and in the way that they’re being taught to animate,” she said.

Listen to the full episode of “1A”