Before you all flock to the comment section to tell me what a wonderful man the late Walt Disney was, allow me to lay down some fundamentals. Pretty please? I'm not suggesting all Disney movies are evil and that people who enjoy watching them are waltzing right through the gates of Hell. I'm also not suggesting that the C.E.O. of Disney is the Antichrist seeking a one world order via cleverly hidden messages thrust upon unsuspecting little kiddie eyes. I'm merely suggesting we be willing to scrutinize Disney movies with less sentimentality and more objectivity.**
Without further ado, here are my gripes with the average Disney movie:
1. Very few full-length films showcase a healthy nuclear family.
Most of the time, only one parent is present. What's with that?!? Dating all the way back to their first full-length feature film, Snow White, the families were presented as dysfunctional. Why the need to normalize broken homes and families?
Speaking of Snow White...
2. The hourglass shape on the lead female characters has gotten ridiculously out of proportion.
Snow White is about the only modestly shaped woman, with a thicker form and a refreshingly contained bosom. We can kid ourselves all we want, but Disney jumped on the "Unhealthy Body Image Bandwagon" a looooong time ago. Aren't our precious little girls bombarded enough with unrealistic body images without adding children's movies to the list of offenders?
3. "Innocent" has been cast aside in favor of "coy and flirtatious".
While I think this trend is waning (at least to a certain degree), some of the princesses have emanated a worldly, almost seductive, charm. Disney is not a dating service for grade-schoolers. There's no need to instruct these little "sponges" in the art of being feminine. ***
4. Boys have preposterous expectations placed upon them.
Starry-eyed girls began looking for their Prince Charming, but few found them. Thankfully, the male species simply does not fit the Disney mold. Wouldn't our children be better served by seeing realistic portrayals of both sexes?****
5. A majority of these movies focus on a romantic pursuit.
A nonsensical one at that. They met, fell hopelessly in love and got married. Amazingly this only took a matter of days. No wonder men and women become disenchanted with the realities of making a relationship work.
6. The Disney mantra is trite and pathetic at best, damning at worst.
"Just believe in yourself and follow your heart" sounds so idyllic. However, believing in oneself rarely produces the desired results. Our efforts are feeble because we are fickle beings. My heart is naturally wretched. Following my own heart will lead to destruction, and I won't have Disney to blame-only myself.
My aim in all of this is not to lambaste Disney films and criticize those who watch them. My aim is to draw attention to the issues we are likely to pass over in our saccharine childhood view of Disney (and other sentimental favorites). These matters will continue to take shape in the minds of children as they enter into adulthood.***** Considering these issues are already pervasive in our society, at the very least, let's be proactive in addressing these (and other difficult) topics.
Weeding Out Old VHS Tapes,
*I may have overshadowed her a little bit, but she still held her own in our duets.
**This really goes for any television programming or movies. It's just more
***I'm pretty sure we ladies are hard-wired to figure it out on our own.
****I know it's a stretch. We are (after all) talking about animated characters...
*****Case in point: The Twilight phenomenon.