Media, Culture & Identities student Madison Benvegnu analyzed representations of villains in animated Disney films, which led her to an exploration of the presentations of overarching themes of right and wrong and the need for villains in a story.
Please describe your project and how you came up with the idea.
My research study explores the representation of villains in the top-grossing animated movies produced by Disney each year from 1993 to 2013, in terms of gender, race, and age. I first became interested in this topic after a conversation with my three-year-old cousin about “good guys” and “bad guys” while watching the movie Cars. Through this project, I learned more about certain patterns of representation within pop culture and the role these patterns play in shaping identities.
What was the most rewarding aspect of your Connecting Experience?
It was rewarding to take complete ownership of a project from start to finish and see how it evolved over time through trial and error. The research I set out to conduct at the beginning of the semester looked completely different from the finished product at the end. I also enjoyed the opportunity to take a deep dive into something that played such a prominent role in my childhood by learning from the work of other researchers and approaching Disney through a critical lens.
In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This Connecting Experience taught me to be more aware of the way groups are represented in popular culture within my daily life. In addition, it reminded me of the importance of learning independently. Even though my time as an undergraduate student has ended, I want to continue questioning the world around me and seeking out answers to those questions; I would love to continue this research in the future.