Why I Won’t Let My Children Watch Most Disney Movies

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I have a real problem with Disney.

I genuinely don’t understand how so many people can take their kids to see Disney movies, get excited when Disney movies come out of the “vault,” and spend a ton of money on Disney costumes and toys.

First of all, the race issue.

Disney can be absolutely and utterly racist. I won’t even delve as deeply as I should into “Song of the South” since it’s so difficult to find and has pretty much disappeared from the public eye. You may not even remember it, but you probably know the song “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Quick synopsis: a boy moves to his mother’s plantation where he is regaled by stories from an ex-slave. Voices are arguably stereotypical and the black workers are, what comes across as, happily subservient. This one won’t be coming out of the vault any time soon.

But then there’s “Dumbo.” With his friend “Jim Crow.” We know our history, right? Again, with the stereotypical voice of what blackface could only mime.

Also, the Siamese cats in “The Lady and the Tramp” who parade around to Asian music, have slanted eyes, and come across as sneaky. All this in a film made in 1955, shortly after the end of the Korean War. More stereotypes.

And then there’s “Aladdin.” Potentially the worst offender with lyrics like, “Where they cut off your ear/If they don’t like your face… It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.” Obviously, Arab-Americans weren’t exactly pleased by this depiction. And the first line was changed for home video due to protests, but not the second, leading an opinion piece in the NY Times to write, “To characterize an entire region with this sort of tongue-in-cheek bigotry, especially in a movie aimed at children, borders on barbaric.” – “It’s Racist, But Hey, It’s Disney”

Second of all, the whole kill the mom thing

Where are the mothers in Disney? These are just a few of the more famous films where the mothers, and in some cases both parents, are missing or deceased.

Cinderella?
Snow White?
Aladdin?
Pocahontas?
Bambi?
The Little Mermaid?
Pinocchio?
Peter Pan?
The Sword in the Stone?
Beauty and the Beast?
Lilo and Stitch?
The Jungle Book?
The Fox and the Hound?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame?
Tarzan?
Finding Nemo?
Frozen?

And the mothers who are left, the step-mothers, are all evil. As a mother, I’m thinking this may not be the message I want my children to receive.

Third, the whole damsel in distress needs a man thing

I don’t want my daughter OR son to get the wrong impression here. Most of these films depict girls who spend their whole lives waiting for the prince to rescue them. I don’t want my daughter to think she needs a man to rescue and protect her, and I don’t want my son to have an inflated ego thinking that women are naive, delicate flowers without opinions who need him to tell them what to do and how to act. Thankfully, Frozen was released, and while Anna still falls in love at the end, at least there is a little bit of poking fun at the whole Prince Charming scenario Disney is famous for.

So no thank you, especially to the worst offenders:

The Little Mermaid
Cinderella
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White

I suppose one could argue that I could use these films as conversation-starters.

And maybe one day I will. But right now, they are too young. I realize I won’t be able to avoid the Disney phenomenon forever, especially once they start school, but for now, I worry that the acceptance of these films in mainstream culture will make it too difficult for my children to see past the singing and dancing and bright colors. So we don’t watch them. But we will talk about race, gender, discrimination, family dynamics, and all of the other tough subjects. Just not with singing and dancing, pomp and circumstance.

Do you let your kids watch Disney films?

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. Stop being so defensive. My sister is adopted and she doesn’t think our mother is evil just because she watched a Disney film.

    You are totally the type that would make your kids paranoid about everything. Talk to them! It’s so sad that they have to grow up telling people that their “mom” doesn’t allow them to watch Disney movie because it’s evil. That’s not very healthy for their social life.

    They are just stories. Your kids will read and see many types of stories as they grow up. It would make more sense for you to teach them what is right and wrong. GUIDE THEM, NOT SHIELD THEM.

  2. HELLS NO! and I love you for your honesty. I do not feel that it is shielding my child whatsoever! I am raising and only child, a girl. When she was four, I went out on a limb and we watched ‘Frozen’. My empathetic child almost fell off the couch in shock when they cut off the parents in a quick 30 second scene.

    There are a million wonderful experiences, books, subjects that i have guided my child to. Sitting my child in front of a movie is not exposing her to reality and that seems to be such a lame justification.

    My child chose not to get into DIsney at four on her own when she was turned off by the part of the parents dying.

    I will raise my child without all the commercialized bells and whistles. She is now going to be 9 and is well rounded. Well read, and knows a lot about the world. We watch world events, some of them are horrific as you all know. She loves documentaries, and can tell you everything there is to know about bees, and why bees are so important for the planet and its people.

    She has a great social life, and we are in tune with a lot of mothers who are on the same page as me. She loves Korean Cartoons, and is highly artistic.

    Some of these comments crack me up, because people just do not want to admit that the status quo is grimey!

  3. It’s an old thread but, every kid is different. I have a highly emotional, highly sensitive 4 year old that stops cold at every siren out of extreme anxiety and concern for who is hurt. She’s had a lot of medical trauma in her life and watching just one Frozen video of a song put her into severe emotional distress and caused nightmares for months. You know your kids, while I could watch disney as a child and maybe it went over my head or I was older when I first saw it, I certainly will not be letting her watch any more disney films until she is older and i think more emotionally capable of things like parental death. The racial undertones are just bad subtext at any age. There are much better media sources for child entertainment! I still love disneyland as a fantastical place, but they can keep the movies we can do the soundtrack without “depriving them of social interaction”.

  4. We have a no Disney policy in our home. I have years of studies about the hidden msgs of Disney that started in high school, and continued in one of the top universities in the US. It’s not pretty! If the masses only knew..!
    To the author: I commend and admire you!

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