Seton Hall economics professor Giacomo Santangelo found a thematic commonality among nearly all of Disney’s most beloved animated films, and recently discussed this unwavering theme on the stage of TEDx Talks at Fordham University on Nov. 30.
TEDx Talks, which are independent TED-like events that can be organized by anyone who obtains a free license from TED, feature local speakers presenting to local audiences.
“I feel fortunate that one of the student organizers [for TEDx Talks] contacted me to discuss whatever topic I wanted, related to Modern Popular Culture,” Santangelo said.
Santangelo said he did not find preparing for the presentation difficult, as he believes everyone loves and is familiar with Disney.
“Given that I teach multiple classes a week for more than an hour apiece, making a 10-20 minute speech was not too difficult,” he said.
After watching all 55 movies made by Disney, he found that the company has told the Pinocchio story 54 times.
In Pinocchio, and almost every other Disney movie, the message is that you have to be brave, truthful and unselfish in order to achieve your dream.
Richard Behan, a freshman sport management major, said “I agree with Professor Santangelo’s stance on Disney movies and what they stand for. The last 54 Disney movies have, in fact, enforced the same underlying message. This message of being brave, truthful and unselfish is something everyone needs to understand. Just being yourself is the best way to live life.”
Angelo Maltese, a junior broadcasting major, also agreed. He said the message is all about learning to be yourself.
“I honestly did not know exactly what my topic would be, however, I love mythology, Disney, and the ‘interconnectivity’ of stuff, so I sat down and watched the Disney animated films and the idea came to me,” Santangelo said.
Santangelo has been teaching at Seton Hall for 10 years now, although he has decades of teaching experience.
“I have taught at a lot of schools over the course of many years,” Santangelo said.
Santangelo loves sharing his ideas, such as those of Disney, with others and thoroughly enjoyed his experience doing a TEDx Talk.
“I feel that education is, at its heart, about the dissemination of information,” Santangelo said. “Sharing ideas is what I do.”
Santangelo hopes that people who watched, or will come to watch his appearance on TEDx Talks, will find a deeper appreciation for the films they watch. He also wants people to pay attention to what they see, hear and watch in order to understand what exactly the filmmakers are trying to express. From the opinions of others, it seems he has achieved just that.
“Since the talk, I have had people tell me that the way they view the movies they grew-up with has changed,” Santangelo said.
Santangelo is passionate about what he does and he wants people to remember that economics is an observational science.
Justine Strzepek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.