I was recently reading a blogger who commented about the negative effects of watching Disney animated movies. It just happens this is a hot button issue of mine so I have decided to bring it up. “What’s wrong with Disney movies?” most will ask, thinking I am some hyper-protective, neurotic mom. Hear me out.
I find Disney animations particularly bad for girls’ emotional and mental health. I have seen too many adult women still trying to live a Disney fantasy and it is destructive! In fact, when my daughter was young I refused to let her watch Disney animations (especially fairy tales) and even got rid of any given to us, and was highly selective of the others. There was only one way it might be permitted – we had to read the original book first (and there always is, because Disney does animation and story re-writes, NOT original work) and then I had to be there and we would talk about the world view, portrayals and assumptions.
If you read the original stories before they got “Disneyfied” (and not those cleaned up children’s books you usually see in stores and homes) you will see something our culture does it’s best to deny and avoid – reality. In the real “Three Little Pigs” the two foolish pigs died and the wise one in the brick house tricked the wolf and later ate him up when he climbed down the chimney after the pig and fell into a big pot of boiling water. “Pocahontas” is so changed it has little to do with reality (pocahontas.morenus.org), and that’s just two.
In the stories told by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, and those collected by Charles Perrault in his various “[colored] Fairy” books (blue, red, green, yellow, etc.) you will find a world of retribution, hardship (sometimes extreme), trickery and counter-trickery, unpleasant consequences due to a person’s decisions/attitudes/irresponsibility, sorrow, death, and more. Women (and men) would ignore warnings and do other stupid things and get dumped or exiled, suffer for years, lose children and family, have toads come out of their mouths, get dismembered or put to death, and so on, but there were (usually) ultimate rewards and sometimes redemption for good character and positive behavior. In short, they were lessons on the benefits of patience, kindness, faithfulness, courtesy, intelligence, resourcefulness, personal responsibility and more. Sure, there are a handful where the story lines sound sort of familiar, but most are not that way.
And so we have women (and men) with “sanitized” and “politically corrected” stories in the back of their minds who then live in denial, wonder why life isn’t “happily ever after,” becoming miserable, cynical, and maybe even embittered, or any combination of those. Oh, and how is my daughter? Seventeen, realistic, down-to-earth, happy and no stupid relationships, yet. I’d say that’s a good start.