Instigator / Pro
1621
rating
11
debates
81.82%
won
Topic

Resolved: Disney Should Include Greater Social Diversity

Status
Debating

Waiting for the contender's third argument.

The round will be automatically forfeited in:

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Publication date
Last update date
Category
TV
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Required rating
1500
Contender / Con
1594
rating
11
debates
77.27%
won
Description
~ 232 / 5,000

Full Resolution is as follows...

Resolved: Disney Movies and Shows Should Include Greater Social Diversity (representation of people of color, women, LGBT+ community, etc.)

No semantic arguments allowed.
Burden of proof is shared.

Round 1
Pro
Thanks, Fruit. 

Framework

Representation in media is when a wide and diverse cast of characters is shown. For most mainstream entertainment the main protagonists are usually straight and white. Children will think that these characters are the "default" or perhaps even stronger/privileged. As a result, this perpetuates the racial divide that we still have in the United States. Sometimes it even goes beyond a lack of representation and villainizes the groups. For a long period, we saw the LGBT community as lecherous. We queer-coded many villains in films with stereotypical gay traits. Disney has several: Scar, Jaffar, and Ursula, who did not conform to the standards of beauty for women. The separation of villain and hero implants ideas of gender roles on children [1]. Therefore, for the sake of the future of their development, it is necessary to represent all groups of people in Disney films.

I. Inadequate representation, profit vs equality

As for minorities, African Americans and Hispanic protagonists are much less common than their white counterparts. Things like Black face and whitewashing were common for the industry with films such as The Conquer (1956) in which the white actor John Wayne played the Mongolian leader Genghis khan or in 1965’s Othello in which Laurence Olivier was covered in dark makeup reminiscent of minstrel shows. More recent examples include Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Persian prince in The Prince of Persia.

There have been steps taken to decreasing this divide. After the Stonewall Riot in which the police raided a gay bar in New York resulting in the patrons fighting back against officers, the LGBT+ community fought for more accurate representation in the media [2]. Sows like The Ellen Show gave insight into the coming out process and in 1991 The Roc had the first gay wedding show on television. These were monumental events in changing the perception of the LGBT+ community to a mainstream audience and helped people understand that they were not the evil group that some painted them as. That is why major studios need to push for good representation to help people overcome their biases.

According to Bizvibe the top four film studios in the US are Universal, Warner Bros., Columbia, and Disney [3]. These studios and the franchises they have control over have an enormous amount of influence over mainstream entertainment especially Disney. These studios must lead the charge for good representation in their films. However, Disney has not been as inclusive as you would want people to believe.

For example, Disney owns Marvel's studios. The Cinematic Universe has been building over the course of twelve years. Yet it wasn’t until last year that a woman had the main lead in one of their movies with Captain Marvel (2019). This reaffirms that many films still show more importance to men over women [1]. As for LGBT+ representation, the MCU has only had one instance of showing any kind of gay relationship. In Avengers: Endgame (2019) we see a nameless man talk about losing his partner and going on a date for the first time since he died. This character's short presentation was a poor attempt at representation for the largest box office movie of all time.

Many of the creators at Disney push for representation in the films that they create. The aforementioned gay character in Avengers: Endgame was played by one of the film's directors Joe Russo. However, the studio itself has displayed putting its financial interests over those of less represented groups. For example, in the latest entry into the Star Wars film franchise Rise of Skywalker (2019), we saw the first representation of LGBT+ in the films. Another quick shot of two women kissing in celebration at the end of the film was cut from the film when released in Singapore [4]. The country still criminalizes homosexuality and places harsher ratings on films that display it. Disney infers that profits will come before representation. But it seems absurd that equality is less important than mere profits -- it would infer that we could justify oppression of minorities so long as the majority does not notice and benefits from it.

We have a systemic bias against women, people of color, and the LGBT+. Because of this whether production studios intentionally or not this means that there is an advantage to being white when creators are fighting for a chance to bring their ideas to life. This same bias is seen in the management of studios. Often, white men decide whether to greenlight a production or not. These biases affect all of us whether it’s a conscious decision or not. That’s why it's important to be aware of the inherent biases that we all possess and to seek out new voices and stories to be told.

II. Underrepresentation of Women

The way that we see the world is shocking compared to real-life statistics. Male characters outweigh female characters three to one and the % of women with jobs is a 20% difference. Most shocking is that women only made up 17 percent of people in crowd scenes [5]. If that’s just the statistic for women imagine the discrepancies compared to LGBT+ and people of color. The world is full of perspectives and stories and mainstream entertainment is not showing them.

Disney has made a stride for more representation over the past few years than others. In their tv shows like Amphibia, we see a much greater diverse cast of characters than we’ve seen in past children’s shows with the main character Anne Boonchuy being the first Thai-American lead in an animated series. Another one of its shows The Owl house has its lead, Luz Noceda, being the first bisexual protagonist in a children’s show. This is entire because the show’s creator, Danna Terrace is Bi and wanted to create a character that was also bi. These positive examples of representation are wonderful to see from such an influential studio especially since it is directed at a younger audience. However, this progressive attitude has not carried over to their main line of Disney films. Admittedly, Disney's representation of women and people of color in films has grown, such as Frozen and Moana. However, the same cannot be said for the LGBT+ community. None of the films across Disney’s long history has had an explicitly gay main character. They have tiptoed around the issue but has never been explicit on the issue.

Representation is crucial for developing children. Entertainment's views affect how children view stereotypes, the careers that they can pursue, and the way that they feel about their appearance [1]. These ideas do not match the reality of the world that we live in. The better we represent the real world, the more knowledge we have to change it.

Pre-rebuttal: Finances

Con may attempt to say that film companies will never change significantly due to the profit I laid out in my evidence. However, there is still yet evidence to the contrary. By representing different races, genders, and even LGBT, more people can sympathize and actually increase the economics gain that Disney worries about.

Data shows that more unique films that don’t conform to genre typical narrative arcs are better received by both general audiences and film critics [6]. Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing strategies available to companies and people tend to talk about good and unique films. This could be very advantageous to studios and could be beneficial to both society and profits. That is why I propose Disney set up several programs with the intent of focusing on the stories from creators that are women, people of color, and the LGBT+ community to have a more diverse and equal entertainment industry. 

1. wnywomensfoundation.org/app/uploads/2017/08/16.-Watching-Gender-How-Stereotypes-in-Movies-and-on-TV-Impact-Kids-Development.pdf
2.go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA530045247&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00097101&p=LitRC&sw=w
3. bizvibe.com/blog/top-movie-production-companies
4. theverge.com/2019/12/24/21036427/star-wars-disney-rise-of-skywalker-singapore-kiss-ban
5. mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/addressing-unconscious-bias
6. https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13428-018-1168-7


Con

In saying that Disney should include greater social diversity, there is the assertion that what is currently being done isn't preferable compared to the proposed change. It must be shown then what change should occur, and why the change should occur. As CON, my argument is that Disney has no obligation to make any changes to their current activities or trajectory in order to increase social diversity in movie roles.

What Changes?
PRO's Argument: "Therefore, for the sake of the future of [childrens'] development, it is necessary to represent all groups of people in Disney films."
The proposal is that we need a more diverse representation in characters shown in Disney movies. Specifically, "it is necessary to represent all groups of people in Disney films." If I may ask, what criteria are being used to implement this change? 

Are we basing it on a particular group's representation in the population by percent? As in, if blacks make up about 13% of America's population, then they should be in 13% of character roles.

How far do we go in representing these groups? As in, should Disney pick single identifying characteristics or should they use more? Should Disney seek to properly represent Siberian transgender pansexual 37-year-old first-generation immigrant bank tellers in California?

How should Disney decide what groups should not be represented? I have a feeling that pedophiles feel very underrepresented when they see Marvel superheroes.

Why Should Disney Make These Changes?
PRO's Argument: "Representation is crucial for developing children. Entertainment's views affect how children view stereotypes, the careers that they can pursue, and the way that they feel about their appearance"
This seems to be the main thrust of the argument. But as with the previous section, I wonder what the actual criteria are for representation. It seems that if a villain has any identifying characteristics like gender or sexuality, that automatically makes those identifying characteristics bad. If that is the case, then we should not have any character traits in villains that any child could identify with. Otherwise, if a male child sees a male villain, it will hinder his development according to this hypothesis. Should we get rid of villains altogether, or should Disney have a list of groups that are acceptable to demonize by portraying them as villains?

PRO's Argument: "However, the studio itself has displayed putting its financial interests over those of less represented groups."
PRO's Pre-rebuttal: "By representing different races, genders, and even LGBT, more people can sympathize and actually increase the economics gain that Disney worries about."
The rebuttal defeats the argument. If it is true that Disney could increase profits by increasing diversity in roles (using unspecified criteria), then Disney is not putting financial interests over the interests of those groups. If not including a homosexual kiss in Star Wars actually hindered the profit as PRO asserts, then what is the argument?

Unless PRO is going to assert that he knows what will increase profits better than the marketers and financial workers of Disney, the argument that they ought to change their current course in order to increase profits is untenable. That being said, I do not believe PRO has any moral grounds to prove that Disney has an obligation to do something that potentially benefits society at the cost of financial loss.


Round 2
Pro
Con has decided to ask two simple questions that only address small worries, rather than the overarching argument.

He asks the precise implementation of my plan, and suggests that put to the extreme that it would be 13% African Americans and have to match statistics precisely. Of course, this is not the argument. The significant difference within white males and other ethnicities is incredibly wide as shown in my argument. It is unacceptable for the vast majority of shows to only display the dominance over minorities. I would suggest that Disney continue prominently featuring the diverse cast, using all types of characters, until other companies are inspired too to take action. When most type of characters are relatively equally shown, that is when the equality in representation is displayed. 

Con claims there is no moral obligation for Disney to represent the minorities, yet Disney's current actions in TV shows clearly contradict Con's ideals. In addition, Con claims that my rebuttal defeats my claim, but notice carefully the context. Disney was forced to cut short a homosexual scene in order to continue in Singapore. But in general, most audiences would actually enjoy the unconventional storytelling, contrary to cultural expectations. So the reformation would infer that Disney should normalize the unusual relations in order to influence culture and allow everyone to sympathize with the minorities. Following thus, we can eventually resolve racism and sexism on a bigger level. As more cultures accept the unusual relations, Disney would henceforth kill two birds with one stone and still be able to gain more profits instead of giving in to Singapore's standards; never moving forward in terms of progressive nature.

While entertainment venues' main purpose is to entertain, I argue that they may also form to educate. Disney's primary goals concern is magical nature, its inspirational message for children, its educational value within altruism and other virtues. By raising such virtues along with equality and acceptance, Disney can inspire children worldwide to step up and cause a riffle that would no doubt significantly impact the US. Even if there is no "obligation", the title is not "Disney ought", but rather "Disney should". The moral values seems to be a critique that doesn't matter in the long run. Notice how con didn't address most of my impacts. When we talk about different policies and ideas there does not have to be a moral. Take minimum wage for example. Do we *have* to address worker rights, especially against market competition? Not necessarily. But should we at least consider the possible benefits in the long run? Certainly. Con has not shown that the lack of obligation overwhelms the simple benefits my plan offers. He has failed to address the idea that, through greater representation of people, we respect equality of the different ethics and also influence children to think the same.

And contrary to con's belief, someone like Kant would argue against him, that we *do* all have moral obligation to respect all people. If we arbitrarily barred women and colored people from being shown, this clearly would violate human dignity and go against the categorical imperative. If even Disney, which had begun showing more acceptance of minority, had stopped its mission, wouldn't this lead to a slippery slope where most industries also arbitrarily hire white males over colored people and women? Yet all people should have equal chance to access the job industry. For what reason should we reject this right to work?
Con
Rebuttal
I don't believe a single question that I asked in the previous round was answered. And the reason PRO has dismissed them is because he cannot answer them without defeating his own argument. It has been claimed that there is a disparity in identifying characteristics of roles in Disney movies. However, all that has been presented is a vague solution to an unidentifiable problem.

The Unidentifiable Problem
The problem is unidentifiable as long as it is not specified whether Disney should look at single identifying characteristics in making their decisions, or if more need to be considered. As in, should Disney just find all the characters who can check off that they are black, regardless of other traits? Or do they need to also represent gay black transgenders as equally as straight white cisgenders?

Notice, I did not claim PRO's plan required an exact percentage. I merely asked what the criteria for implementation would be. PRO has not provided any criteria or measurement. He has only provided this vague solution in Round 2:

"When most type of characters are relatively equally shown, that is when the equality in representation is displayed."

Per the quote above, at what point will Disney have successfully represented characters "relatively equally?" If representation is not based on what percentage of the population that a particular group makes up, then what? It seems that PRO is saying that all roles should be divided by the total number of groups. If there are two groups (e.g. men and women), then there should be roughly 50% of each group represented. Four groups would require 25% of each, and so on.

Of course, equal representation is then dependent on knowing how many groups there are. Let's look at a few examples:

  • Gender: Is PRO willing to concede that gender is binary in order to divide roles between men and women equally? Or do we have to include the dozens of genders that are now out there as well. (PLEASE ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING QUESTION IN YOUR RESPONSE) How many genders should be represented "relatively equally?"
  • Sexuality: Should roles be divided between heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals (around 33% of each)? Or should we also include pansexuals, graysexuals, and non-libidoist asexuals "relatively equally?"
  • Ethnicity: Do we only base identifying characteristics on skin color, or do we also include national heritage? What about groups in multiple countries that share an ethnic heritage? Should Disney represent all ethnicities, nationalities, and skin colors of the world "relatively equally?" How is this measured?

An Interesting Rebuttal
PRO's Round 2 Opening Statement:

"Con has decided to ask two simple questions that only address small worries, rather than the overarching argument."

Anyone who has read this far knows that the topic of the debate is whether "Disney Should Include Greater Social Diversity." Allow me to restate my two simple questions and let the reader decide if I have missed the overarching argument:

  • What Changes [Should Disney Make]?
  • Why Should Disney Make These Changes?

If you cannot answer these questions, then you have no argument. 

A Magical Gathering
Perhaps an excessive lack of sleep is driving this, but let me digress from my usual argumentation with a scene describing a meeting between Disney executives to illustrate why the two previous questions are important:
__________________

Robert Iger looks around and says, "We need to make some changes to who we cast as characters. As my executive leadership team, I want to hear suggestions as to what changes should we make, and why you think we should make your proposed changes?"

Latondra Newton, who nearly spit out her Aqua Deco upon hearing the chairman's ignorant comment, scornfully yelled, "You're missing the point Bob! If we are going to end racism and sexism in the world, we can't waste time addressing these minor issues like 'what should we do?' or 'why should we do that?' We need to stop casting so many straight white guys, and replace them with minorities!"

"Alright," Robert hesitantly replied, "but at what point do we stop favoring minorities when casting for these roles? Shouldn't we have some way to measure which specific groups we include, and how to make sure that they are all represented relatively equally?"

Latondra nearly fell out of her overpriced office chair after slamming her fist on the conference table. "YOU'RE NOT SEEING THE BIG PICTURE BOBBY! There's too many white men in our movies! In fact, do you realize that over half of this executive team consists of white men? You're all part of the problem!"

Christine McCarthy, who normally kept quiet during these meetings, decided to interject. "As a woman, I think it is safe for me to say that there could be a danger in not measuring how we cast roles. You all know how much I love numbers." They did. She once made a presentation about the average time wasted by employees using words with four or more syllables in company emails. "If we don't measure how many roles we give to women, we might actually overcompensate. This would cause unequal representation, making men the minority in our movies."

The exasperated Latondra stormed out of the conference room. "How can they not understand?" She muttered to herself. "We need to categorize using group-based characteristics rather than individual uniqueness, and then cater our movie roles to people with those same group-based characteristics. Everyone knows that identifying and dividing people into groups based on the color of their skin is the best way to fight racism! Children have no ability to connect with a character who doesn't look the same as them. And they definitely can't connect with a character who doesn't want to have sex with the same people as them. That's why we need more lesbians! It's for the children!"

(End scene)
___________________


In case the point was missed, it is ridiculous to claim that Disney should carry out a plan unless you can articulate specific details about the plan, and why the details matter. And if you don't have an end goal, it is likely that actors with the perceived hegemonic identifiers (like whiteness) will continue to be passed by in favor of minority or oppressed identifiers, even if equal representation is achieved statistically speaking. This would likely lead to discrimination, the very thing trying to be avoided.

Why Should Disney Make These Changes?
Kant was not the first person to propose some type of objective morals, nor am I in any way attached to his erroneous beliefs. I do have an answer as to why Disney might have moral obligations. But do you? You cannot steal from my worldview to justify your point unless you are willing to concede the existence of the Christian God.

You are trying to argue that this issue does not necessarily need to be a moral issue. However, let me quote your opening argument:

Representation in media is when a wide and diverse cast of characters is shown. For most mainstream entertainment the main protagonists are usually straight and white. Children will think that these characters are the "default" or perhaps even stronger/privileged. As a result, this perpetuates the racial divide that we still have in the United States. Sometimes it even goes beyond a lack of representation and villainizes the groups. For a long period, we saw the LGBT community as lecherous. We queer-coded many villains in films with stereotypical gay traits. Disney has several: Scar, Jaffar, and Ursula, who did not conform to the standards of beauty for women. The separation of villain and hero implants ideas of gender roles on children [1]. Therefore, for the sake of the future of their development, it is necessary to represent all groups of people in Disney films.
Please explain then how this is not a moral issue. If you cannot do so, then I will repeat my previous statement. I do not believe PRO has any moral grounds to prove that Disney has an obligation to do something that potentially benefits society at the cost of financial loss.

Questions Needing Answers
My point about how Disney should decide whether or not to include certain groups like pedophiles went unaddressed. Should Disney include such categories as pedophiles when deciding what groups to represent, why or why not?

It was asserted that children are negatively impacted by seeing their identifying characteristics in villains. Should Disney get rid of villains altogether, or should they have a list of groups that are acceptable to demonize by portraying them as villains?




Round 3
Pro
I see what the problem is. 

Con returns with his "reductio ad absurdum" argument. He claims that the plan will never work because it is far too arbitrary and may perpetuate equality in an opposing manner. He is worried that my greater representation of minorities will lead to the problem of having to represent absolutely everyone and every group. But I argue that the examples he gave are simply absurd. Of course, it would be silly to have the next Disney movie to have a cisgender black woman who is asexual, merely for the "Greater representation". But the steel man would be merely to represent minor races, LGBT in general, and women more in the Disney movies. Sure, adding the cisgender black woman would fulfill my burden, but "woman main character" alone is already fighting against gender inequality. So long as we are fixing some inequality in the structure, does it matter how absurdly generic or how specific it gets? Does it matter to split it equally between homosexual, bisexual, etc? Con's "issue" is a nonissue.

If the majority of people worry that some gay black transgender is not represented, then perhaps Disney should go for it. But if we are not as worried about this, and focus on the bigger issue of our racism against blacks in general, clearly the reductio ad absurdum fails to stop my argument at all. Also, Con's impact is negligible and meaningless. I could forcibly impose a seemingly insane idea of 100% homosexual lesbian black women in Disney films, and Con could not spot a single flaw other than his "moral obligation" theoryCon claims that this perpetuates inequality in the opposite direction, but we still have racism and sexism overall in the country, if only vastly reduced in the entertainment industry. To compensate for heavy bias for white men, it seems only natural to me that we would balance this out by heavily favoring minorities in other industries or ideas. If they cannot find work elsewhere due to our thoughts and bias, shouldn't we give them extra help? In addition to this, my argument is not that ALL Disney films have to incorporate the minority, only that the representation should be in greater amount, to fight against this inequality. 

Con repeats that we have no moral obligation to help enforce equality as a standard in the US, despite my claim that Disney is meant to support a child's thinking, and that the classical films all add onto values such as altruism, virtue, and kindness, all of which Con would claim that has no "obligation" to do. And he has also not upheld his thinking. He infers that Disney follows egoistic moral ethics by only following the financial gain, but also ignores the current pattern where it may gain further critical acclaim by including a diverse cast of characters. He has not provided any moral obligation for his case as well. Why is Disney obligated to follow the money? Why should Disney ignore the inequality that stems from the underrepresentation of colored people and women? It seems far more absurd for a moral obligation to support the con case than mine. So in the end, my net benefit framework should be taken over his moral framework, because "moral obligation to support the status quo" seems even more insane than a moral obligation to support the ideals of equality and rights. Notice how Con FAILED to negate my "right to work" argument that is loosely related to Disney's case. He has FAILED to address how minimum wage is not necessarily a moral issue, yet the net benefits analysis can successfully allow the government to implement a minimum wage. Similarly, the net benefit to fighting racism and receiving greater public support outweighs the seeming impossibility to "include greater social diversity". 

Con asks two absurd questions that undermine his credibility and his entire case. I will answer them here.

My point about how Disney should decide whether or not to include certain groups like pedophiles went unaddressed. Should Disney include such categories as pedophiles when deciding what groups to represent, why or why not?

I believe I addressed this in my statement with how the group of people that represented is a significant amount of the population and enhances our natural rights to express ourselves without harming others. Notice how I continuously supported human dignity and respect, both of which Con seems to disprove. We disregard pedophiles due to their inherent harm, their sexual assault on children, so on and so forth. We even consider it a mental sickness. Is Con saying that homosexuals innately harms others? Is he also being racist and agreeing with the idea that "blacks commit more crime"? Does he think that transgender must be cured, otherwise, they will rape children? By comparing the minorities to the pedophiles, Con's arguments are sexist and racist. He believes that minorities are inherently harmful and should be punished, regardless of their actual actions. Indeed, he compares a loving relationship between two agreeing adults, to preying on an innocent child. We can dismiss Con's entire argument based on this alone!

It was asserted that children are negatively impacted by seeing their identifying characteristics in villains. Should Disney get rid of villains altogether, or should they have a list of groups that are acceptable to demonize by portraying them as villains?

Another absurd question. Villains should be judged upon their actions, not upon their looks or what group of people they are in. If their design included all kinds of persons, whether white, black, grey, blue, then clearly this would be fairer, rather than every villain looking "queer"/"homosexual". 

Conclusion: On a larger picture, Con supports the structural racism and problems in the US. He thinks the implementation will have problems with representing precise groups of people, but misses out on the bigger symbolism that women represent sexism, blacks represent racism, and the LGBT group represents a love that is considered by many to be "unnatural" and hence condemned. Regardless of whom we choose to represent, so long as we are fighting the problem, I do not think that it would be absurd to throw in a cisgender black woman into the mix of Disney films. Also, moral obligation is not a significant issue in this debate -- I have Kant's categorical imperative to back me up, while Con's case increases injustice, as he supports inequality and unjustified oppression of minorities. And remember that con dropped my claim that the diverse cast would increase Disney's financial gains, rather than lower them. For these reasons, vote for Pro.

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