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Zoe Copeland '15

Computer Science and Film Studies Double Major; Plainfield, Indiana

On Ethics in Children’s Film:

"Today’s children learn much from the films and TV they watch and the books they read, but is what we’re showing them through these mediums ethically sound? In the case of films, the answer is almost always a no. Some films have better ways of demonstrating the morals behind the movie, but most films are filled to the brim with stereotypes involving race, gender, relationships, class, ethnicity, weight, and the roles the different characters are in (evil villain, villain’s henchmen, the hero, the heroine, etc)."

"We need to rethink how we make children’s film and why we make them the way we do because many children will pick up the morals in the film, but they will also pick up the stereotypes or sometimes even pick up the wrong moral. For example, kids watching Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ pick up a different moral than the film was intended to show. The moral in the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairytale is that looks are not everything and that you should look beyond someone’s appearance before accepting them, and both Belle and the Beast have to overcome this. The Beast has to overcome his own appearance and learn to love himself for who he is rather than how he looks, and in Disney’s version he also has to learn to love period. Belle has to overcome Beast’s appearance and learn to love him for who he is." 

"This is an amazing value, but the way Disney set up the movie had children reading a little more into the moral than what was meant to be shown. Because of Beast’s behavior and attitude towards Belle, the film gives children, especially girls, the idea that if a man is violent towards a woman, the woman can change the man’s violent personality by staying at his side. In domestic violence cases in our world Belle’s approach to changing the Beast would not work."

"We need to supply better examples of people and their solutions to moral and ethical issues, and one way to begin to achieve this is by talking with others about the current way of making children’s films and how they can be improved. Prindle creates the perfect space and atmosphere to have such discussions."

Zoe Copeland is a junior film studies and computer science double major and is a member of the ITAP honors program on campus. She is a member of DePauw's Women in Computer Science, Women in Science and A.S.I.A. clubs and is the Sustainability Captain of the Robotics club.