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Linguists Have Studied Disney Movies And Found A Troubling Disparity

What we watch shows us, in part, how to behave. While pop culture doesn’t dictate our behavior, it offers models for us. And in the case of girls, Disney might be letting women down.

Linguists Carmen Fought and Karen Eisenhauer studied both classic Disney movies and modern ones and found a pretty worrying gap: In the classics, women spoke roughly 40 percent to 50 percent of the time. But in modern-day movies like The Little Mermaid, women only got 30 percent of the dialogue. Mulan and Pocahontas can’t even crack 30 percent and those have women as title characters.

Why the shift? Because Mulan and Pocahontas were pretty much the only female characters in those movies. All the other primary roles went to men, and as the casts of these movies grew to reflect the Broadway shows they were stylized on, more men got more roles. The good news is that the percentages have shifted back in recent years. Tangled, Brave and Frozen are all substantially better in this department. Frozen has the lowest percentage, at roughly 40 percent, but then again, it’s got twice as many male cast members as female, so that at least means the ladies got to talk a lot.

That said, before people jump down to the comments to argue, even the researchers don’t think this is intentional on Disney’s part. It’s just that people tend to default to males to fill minor roles. So really, Disney just needs to stick a few more women in the chorus, and it’ll be fine.

(Via the Washington Post )

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