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Media & Communication Studies
This research sought to determine the presence, extent and impact of verbal bullying in animated feature films. This study reflects a new approach to analyzing children’s media by focusing on the dialogue between characters, and the language used to create a bullying culture, rather than just the physical violence that is so often studied (Everhart & Aust, 2006). Exploring the more aggressive dialogue used in children’s films introduces a new perspective on how bullying is represented in film. Verbal bullying was defined as name-calling, threatening, excluding and taunting language (Olweus, 1978; Willard, 2007; Nansel et al., 2001). A sample of seven films released by Pixar between 1995 and 2015 were analyzed to represent the time period during which our society’s growing awareness and concerns about bullying and cyberbullying escalated. These films included Toy Story (1995, dir. John Lasseter), Monsters, Inc. (2001, dir. Pete Doctor), The Incredibles (2004, dir. Brad Bird), Ratatouille (2007, dir. Brad Bird), and Inside Out (2015, dir. Pete Doctor). Findings suggest that these Pixar films include a variety of interpersonal bullying behaviors, which occurred in multiple types of relationships. Interestingly, among these interpersonal relationships, bullying primarily took place in workplace environments, came from father figures, was used to frighten and oppress peers, and impacted the self-esteem of characters who were targeted by bullies.
Davis, Rowan, "Pixar: A Bully Culture?" (2017). Media and Communication Studies Summer Fellows. 13.