Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life Lessons from Disney

"My daughter is NEVER going to watch ANY Disney movie." 

A friend said this to me about a year ago. She was, shall we say, 'disgusted', at how badly typecast females were in their animated movies (granted, they are just animated versions of fairy tales that had been around for eons, but this little fact seemed to be wasted on her).

"There is no way I am going to let my little girl think that if she just sits around and does nothing, that her 'prince' will turn up and take her away to live happily ever after. Real life isn't like that.' And while I get what she is saying, I think she's missing two very important facts:

One: Each of these stories does have a moral and can teach kids (both boys and girls) something, and 

Two: It's a frigging fairy tale.

Fast forward to last week, and this same person is raving about how wonderful Disney's 'Brave' is. Now, I'll give her this much, Merida is a very strong female character, but I'd like to point out a few things here:

- She's a spoilt little girl who thinks everything needs to go her way and when it doesn't she puts a curse on her Mother and turns her into a bear.

- Eventually she learns her lesson, but in the process she's managed to turn her brothers in bears, had half the castle destroyed, scared the crap out of the servants and pushed her mother to almost exhaustion.

- It's a story.

Now don't get me wrong, I love me a good animated flick (I think we own every PIXAR movie ever made, including the shorts), but when people start saying that these things are a bad influence on our kids, I kind of switch off. Yes, I agree, that watching too much of these movies (or any film for that matter) and putting too much 'faith' in them can be bad for a kid's ideals - but as long as they aren't 20 something women who are still waiting for their Prince Charming to turn up, I really can't see the harm. I see them more as a chance to teach your little one something. And that goes for all of them, not just the ones with Princesses in them. There's 101 Dalmations, The Astriocats, Peter Pan, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dumbo, Bambi.... the list goes on and on. I think at last count there are something like 52 animated films in the Disney repertoire.

Kids are going to believe a myriad of things (hello - Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy anyone?) and some of them are going to be helpful and teach them to work those brains of theirs and others are going to just be for fun (helping the imagination along). And there's nothing wrong with that. 

To each their own, I say.

Now you will have to excuse me, I am going to go and put on 'Alice in Wonderland' (now that movie is a trip).


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