Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All things Disney

In the article "Are Disney Movies Good for Your Kids", Henry A. Giroux discusses the racist, sexist, historically inaccurate and anti-democratic themes that seem to occupy all Disney movies. While Giroux's points are valid, his overall argument that Disney films and culture are harmful to children is absurd. Yes, Disney does have racist and sexist subtext in their films, but is that what children are taking away from it? NO. I watched The Little Mermaid hundreds of times as a child (and in all honestly, last month) and it no way changed my ability to comprehend the choices offered to me or think that finding a man is the be all- end all in life. Kids aren't going to go out in the streets and think that Arabs are evil from watching Aladdin in the same way they don't think everyone breaks into song and has magic genies that can transform into elephants. Giroux needs to realize that many different things account for a child's view of life, and watching Disney movies is not going irreparably skew their world view. More than holding Disney accountable for what they may or may not be trying to feed children, he needs to hold parents accountable for teaching kids the difference between fantasy and reality and encouraging them to read/watch all kinds of books/ movies and present them with strong role models.

Furthemore, Giroux only focuses on what he believes to be the negative aspects of Disney. While he speaks at length of Ariel giving up her voice and body and Belle trying to tame the beast, he completely glosses over badass chicks like Flora, Fauna and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty, who took care of Briar Rose and actively fought the crazy Maleficent. And though Jasmine did eventually fall in love with and marry Aladdin, she was not waiting around for him nor her father's permission. As I'm sure you all remember she left the palace gates and struck out on her own, knowing there was more to life than what was presented to her. Plus, Ariel died at the end of the original Han's Christian Anderson tale, in order to protect Eric, so I think Disney got it right with their version.

As for the suggestion that Disney should try harder to present a more realistic truth in their movies, they actually are taking that route. In the newest Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog, the main character's father gives his daughter some great real world advice that, "[the] old star can only take you part of the way. You've gotta help it along with some hard work of your own… Then you can set anything you set your mind to" (watch it here:

I think its common knowledge that Disney may not have the best messages in their films, but as long as adults are there presenting their children with another viewpoint and teaching them media literacy, they'll be just fine. I mean, I watched Disney films all my life and the only "negative" connotation I got from them was an unrealistic expectation of my hair.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite short films: Dysenchanted. It deals with many of themes covered in the Giroux article by following a few fairy tale characters through a therapy session.


  1. i have never seen this video and i think it is great!! where did you find this?

  2. I agree - this video is really clever!