How has the American Flag & Disneyland contributed to shaping, defining, challenging, and re-configuring American culture

The American Flag and the Disneyland are two enduring symbols of American culture spanning generations. The American flag is strongly associated with the notions of patriotism and nationalism. The choice of design and color for the flag tells a story in itself. The blue and red colored flag with prominent stripes and stars represent the union of fifty states spanning the North American landscape. Beyond this basic symbolism, the flag has been associated with the nation’s progress in science and technology. For example, when Neil Armstrong and his colleagues in NASA successfully landed on the moon, it was the planting of the American Flag which served as the token purpose of the mission. At that time, the world was divided in two as a result of the Cold War. (Jolene & Couper, 2003, p.328)

The flag also represented the country in its military endeavors. Irrespective of political conditions and arenas of conflict, the flag has always been at the forefront of American military operations going back to the Declaration of Independence (Goode, 2002, p.13). At the same time, it has been used by American citizens to express their dissent. For example, the mass demonstrations that followed American participation in the Vietnam War saw instances of flag burning. The same kind of protestation against American government’s policies is being repeated at present with respect to the issue of invasion of Iraq. In this case, it is an expression of dissent. It will not be an exaggeration to state that the American people are obsessed with the flag. (Jolene & Couper, 2003, p.328)

Disney world is a relatively recent entrant into the collective consciousness of American people. While it was started by Walt Disney to be an amusement park for children, gradually it had metamorphosed into a recreational center for the entire family. A lot can be discerned by studying what it offers to visitors. The most famous of its mascots, the Mickey Mouse, is a household name in America. The numerous animated cartoons produced by Walt Disney Incorporation, including a few iconic series, are a rite of passage for children born in America. The Disneyland is also an exhibition of American hospitality to foreign visitors. (Bryman, 1995, p.221)

Moreover, Disneyland is an economy unto itself, creating numerous job opportunities for American citizens. American people take great pride in their work and Disneyland had been an engine for creating jobs wherever it opens. This icon of popular entertainment also serves as an ambassador to all that is good in American culture. A testament to this is the fact that Disneyland has parks opened in several foreign countries (Bryman, 1995, p.221). The Disneyland also represents American tastes and aspirations. While retaining its core appeal, the Disney parks have also evolved over the years to reflect social and cultural changes within the American mainstream. In other words, a study of the history of Disneyland over the last few decades will reveal parallel changes in the broader American society and culture (Chris, 1995, p.12). Hence, both the American flag and Disneyland will continue to shape, define, challenge and re-configure American culture in the years to come.

Works Cited:

Bryman, Alan. Disney and His Worlds. New York: Routledge, 1995.
Chris, Cynthia. “Beyond the Mouse-Ear Gates: The Wonderful World of Disney Studies.” Afterimage 23.3 (1995): 8+.
Goode, Stephen. “United We Stood: Seven Months after the Attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hundreds of Magazines Carried Images and Art of the American Flag and Other Patriotic Symbols on Their Covers, Reminding Us of That Time’s Parallel with Sept. 11 and Our Own Need for Patriotism and National Unity.” Insight on the News 13 May 2002: 12+.
Chu, Jolene, and Donna P. Couper. “The Flag and Freedom.” Social Education 67.6 (2003): 327+.