Investigating the Gendered Behaviours Displayed by Influential Disney, Marvel and Star Wars Protagonists and Examining the Link Between Children’s Engagement with these Franchises and their Play Behaviour.

Clarke, Lucy Louise (2023) Investigating the Gendered Behaviours Displayed by Influential Disney, Marvel and Star Wars Protagonists and Examining the Link Between Children’s Engagement with these Franchises and their Play Behaviour. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Abstract

This thesis reports a programme of research that explored the gendered messages
within influential Disney feature length animations, a Star Wars animated television
series, and a Marvel animated television series. It also examined extent to which
engagement with these franchises statistically predicted children’s gendered
behaviour and weapon play. The first study of this thesis was a quantitative content
analysis of thirty-nine Disney protagonists. The results showed that some of the
‘earliest’ female Disney protagonists were the most feminine analysed, although
almost all were more feminine than masculine. The male Disney protagonists
seemed to adhere to less stereotypes, and were, generally, more feminine than
masculine overall. Study two investigated how gender was portrayed in Marvel’s
Avengers Assemble and Star Wars Star Wars Rebels animated television series,
utilising Thematic Analysis. This was important as the Walt Disney Corporation
recently acquired these franchises. The results revealed that stereotypical
masculinity was portrayed by the male protagonists within each series, however, the
female protagonists in Star Wars Rebels seemed more genuinely valued than the
female superhero in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble. The third study of this thesis
utilised parent report methodology to investigate whether engagement with the
Disney, Marvel and Star Wars franchises statistically predicted children’s level of
gendered behaviour and weapon play, as well as whether parental mediation and
exposure to television violence moderated any established relationships. The results
indicted that although each franchise did predict gender stereotypical behaviour and
weapon play, there were some unexpected gender differences in the relationships. It
was concluded that the producers of Disney, Star Wars and Marvel media should be
made aware of the relationship between the gendered messages within their content
and children’s behaviour. Additionally, parents and children should be educated on
this topic, with the aim to reduce the relationships that were found. Chapter seven
summarises the results of each study and considers the implications of the current
findings.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Film and television
Social sciences > Communication and culture
Psychology
Depositing User: Marc Forster
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2023 08:01
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2023 08:01
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10382

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