Historical evidence for nature disconnection in a 70-year time series of Disney animated films

Anne-Caroline Prévot-Julliard, Romain Julliard, Susan Clayton

The assumed ongoing disconnection between humans and nature in Western societies represents a profoundly challenging conservation issue. Here, we demonstrate one manifestation of this nature disconnection, via an examination of the representation of natural settings in a 70-year time series of Disney animated films. We found that natural settings are increasingly less present as a representation of outdoor environments in these films. Moreover, these drawn natural settings tend to be more and more human controlled and are less and less complex in terms of the biodiversity they depict. These results demonstrate the increasing nature disconnection of the filmmaking teams, which we consider as a proxy of the Western relation to nature. Additionally, because nature experience of children is partly based on movies, the depleted representation of biodiversity in outdoor environments of Disney films may amplify the current disconnection from nature for children. This reduction in exposure to nature may hinder the implementation of biodiversity conservation measures.

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