Friday, March 17, 2017

Stop Blaming Disney. Start Taking Responsibility

I'm just going to go out on a limb here: Stop blaming Disney & start taking responsibility.  I know, I know.  We live in a super sensitive world these days.  Everyone has a strong opinion, and everyone thinks that their own opinion is the correct one; the only acceptable or logical opinion.  And if you have a different opinion, then you must be an -ist (racist, sexist, ageist, etc.) {{{insert eye roll here}}} It's getting a little ridiculous, don't you think?

Anyways, I digress, today is the release of the long awaited Beauty & the Beast remake.  With this new release the response from people is all across the spectrum.  I have seen many who are about to bust at the seams because they are so excited to see the new version of the film, and I have also seen those that are slamming the film.  Since today is the release, obviously I have not seen it yet, but apparently the main controversy is over the potential for an "exclusively gay" character.
Maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity to have a conversation with your child. Gasp! Yes I know, real, deep, thought-provoking, conversation.....maybe even face-to-face ;-)
I really don't think it matters what your beliefs are, Disney gave you an opportunity to speak with your child about life.  Don't waste the opportunity to speak with your children about real life situations.  Why is an "exclusively gay" character so startling?! What about the talking candle stick having romantic relations with a feather duster? OR, spoiler alert, the giant wolf that turns into a man?! I mean at least the homosexual character is realistic! Should I assume that you were going to talk about the whole sorcery content but not the homosexual?! Do you see why this controversy is, again, a bit ridiculous?  If you use this movie as an opportunity to teach your child how to interact with others or how to disagree with civility and respect, then Disney GAVE you a teaching moment.  It's your responsibility to teach your child, not Disney's or any other TV program for that matter.
If you think about it, honestly, this is NOT the first time Disney has given you teaching moments, think back to:
-Cinderella: Cinderella chose a man based on a shoe. Sexist?
-Lion King: Scar killed his brother....extreme sibling rivalry?
-Aladdin: Jasmine has a pet tiger.....yeah.....I"m just going to leave that at "pet tiger"
-Tangled: Rapunzel taught us that brunettes aren't as pretty....not to mention the maternal figure locks her in isolation for 18 years....like there isn't going to be psychological trauma there?!
-The Little Mermaid: Ariel sells her soul to an octopus  to change her appearance to go on a date with a guy.  So girls have to change who they are to be liked by someone?!
-Peter Pan: Captain Hook is all about killing children
-Alice in Wonderland: That psychedelic caterpillar thing is smoking pot the entire movie
-101 Dalmatians: Cruella wants to skin 101 dogs for a coat.....a coat!
-Jungle Book: A boy is raised by wolves (and lives) and becomes best friends with a bear
-Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs: A jealous mother desires to murder her stepdaughter with a poisonous apple
-Bambi: Is an orphan because his mother was shot
-Lady & the Tramp: Lady is told not to associate with Tramp because he is poor & homeless
-Finding Nemo: The shark has to hide his identity from his father because he is a vegetarian
-The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A man with physical deformities is locked in a tower and not accepted by society.
This is just a SMALL sample of Disney movies, and this new release isn't something new.  Instead of losing our minds over a Disney movie (because really aren't there so many more important topics to converse over?!) why don't we just use this as a teaching moment.  Now, I understand that some children are not old enough to understand the content, and as parents we are to guard their hearts and help them with emotional regulation.  Therefore, as parents we cannot just shelter our children or sit back and passively watch alongside  with glazed over eyes and expect our children to have the critical thinking of an adult.  We have to teach our children those skills, and if you're child asks you questions that means they are understanding more than you are giving them credit for.  Media can be a powerful tool, but only as powerful as you allow it.  For example, we let our oldest, 2 years old, watch an episode of The Lion Guard.  After that ONE viewing he started growling at me and telling me he needed to fight instead of obeying.  This is not okay.  He is a sinful being, just like everyone, and when disciplining I had to get to his heart.  His behavior is an overflow of the heart and that is what I needed to target.  We had to have the conversation about how that was a cartoon, and those were animals, and that he needs to respect mama and be obedient.  Until he understands those concept, which I imagine will take a lot of cognitive and physical maturity, he won't be permitted to watch that show.  BUT I'm not mad at The Lion Guard.  It was a short Disney program that allowed me the opportunity to have a conversation about the heart with my son, and we will continue to have these conversations for years.
So all that said, we can't shelter our children OR expect Disney to be the teacher. Train your children how to be compassionate and to have empathy for others, even when others that are different.  At the end of the day, we are called to love each other, and that's just what I'm going to teach (Matthew 22: 36-40)
xoxo Darby

3 comments :

Anne said...

THANK YOU!!!!!! I have been preaching this for weeks.

Julie said...

Yes, yes, YES!!!

Lindsay @ Trial By Sapphire said...

One of my favorites courses in college was dissecting children's literature (some that were made into films). I never thought I could have so much fun ripping kids' stories apart and talking about the social impact of stories. Disney films were such a tiny blip on the radar, because as you pointed out here, it is too easy to see the issues. TOO EASY! Being a southern Californian whose life holds so many Disneyland memories, I do still love Disney and its creativity. However, I will openly admit that there is a lot of terrible/mixed messaging. I'm not blind. :) All of the uproar over a character's sexual orientation is stupid to me. I'm more concerned about murder, objectifying women, animal cruelty, kidnapping, manners, etc.

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