Presentation (Project) Title

Pretty Woman (1990) as a Product of the Disney Ethos

Mentor Information

Elizabeth Kicak (Department of English)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

In 1984, Disney CEO Robert Miller created Touchstone Pictures, a distribution label that produced films marketed toward teen and adult audiences. Without the trademark mouse ears attached to these riskier projects, the market flocked to theaters unaware that they were consuming media tied to the characteristically family-friendly brand. With its expansion to teen and adult markets, the Disney company was challenged with maintaining brand integrity while crossing the boundaries of what is considered family-friendly entertainment. My research locates the Touchstone film Pretty Woman (1990) as a Disney entity subject to the influence of the Disney ethos. I perform a comparative analysis of the revised screenplay and the final film in relation to the original, far grittier screenplay $3000 to examine key identifiers of the Disney influence on this R-rated Touchstone film. I identify three core values of Disney ethos derived from Janet Wasko’s Understanding Disney The Manufacture of Fantasy (2020) that I believe are most salient in Pretty Woman (1990): The Fairytale, Traditional Values, and Capitalism. My findings indicate that while the company succeeded in producing far riskier content, the film ultimately upholds regressive tenets of the Disney ethos like patriarchal systems, the cult of domesticity, and an unwavering trust in capitalism. Through this analysis, I emphasize the risks inherent in Disney’s continued proliferation across multiple avenues towards multiple demographics.

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Pretty Woman (1990) as a Product of the Disney Ethos

In 1984, Disney CEO Robert Miller created Touchstone Pictures, a distribution label that produced films marketed toward teen and adult audiences. Without the trademark mouse ears attached to these riskier projects, the market flocked to theaters unaware that they were consuming media tied to the characteristically family-friendly brand. With its expansion to teen and adult markets, the Disney company was challenged with maintaining brand integrity while crossing the boundaries of what is considered family-friendly entertainment. My research locates the Touchstone film Pretty Woman (1990) as a Disney entity subject to the influence of the Disney ethos. I perform a comparative analysis of the revised screenplay and the final film in relation to the original, far grittier screenplay $3000 to examine key identifiers of the Disney influence on this R-rated Touchstone film. I identify three core values of Disney ethos derived from Janet Wasko’s Understanding Disney The Manufacture of Fantasy (2020) that I believe are most salient in Pretty Woman (1990): The Fairytale, Traditional Values, and Capitalism. My findings indicate that while the company succeeded in producing far riskier content, the film ultimately upholds regressive tenets of the Disney ethos like patriarchal systems, the cult of domesticity, and an unwavering trust in capitalism. Through this analysis, I emphasize the risks inherent in Disney’s continued proliferation across multiple avenues towards multiple demographics.