First off, may I just say, Disney has been my childhood, my fantasy, my inspiration on many occasions, and a joyous part of my life. Children grow old, people can bash, but Disney will always be something special for me.
Even if it is a multi-billionaire franchise. Even if it does leech money off every parent in the world by hiking up Disneyland’s entry pass price every 2 years. Even then, Disney films and stories forever rest in a special place in my heart.
With my stance on Walt Disney’s legacy made clear, I shall proceed.
I’ve had many bits of thoughts and inklings of Disney over the years, but they only began solidifying into more critical observations once I hit college. After all, when you’re young, you merely watch the movie, not really getting the reference to Greek mythology in Hercules but thinking that Pegasus is pretty cool (and you want a flying horse too. Mommy please?).
And admittedly, Disney movies don’t seem to hold much philosophical content. As they rightly shouldn’t – let little children enjoy movies about princesses for a while! Before they learn that princesses don’t actually exist in real life (at least, not the fairy tale kind. I hear there’s still some princesses surviving over in England and Lithuania, but meh). I mean, I’m sure I once believed that I could become a princess too. Didn’t really want to do it…sounded pretty boring, actually, but my kindergarten mind thought it existed on the job market for girls.
But there are some things to learn from Disney: whether it is truths on life or what you should never ever ever EVER teach your kids. Disney movies have a lot on both ends of the spectrum, and I believe that sometimes seeing an extreme example of both the good and the bad things in life can serve as a great medium for hunkering down and teaching children something useful to live by. Don’t bash on Cinderella’s magical transformation too much . . . sure, it won’t ever happen to a real girl, but at least this movie gives adults an opportunity to teach their kids to approach life realistically. When else would you have the chance to teach her that fairy godmothers don’t exist?
So really, Disney movies are good for children to watch.
And not just children; parents definitely benefit from the existence of these movies. Sure, Christmas and Birthday gifts just got a lot more expensive, but think of all the hours you can get your child to sit still and watch a Disney movie on the big screen. Or of all the Disney villains you can conjure up as you threaten the 2-year-olds to go to bed.
These films have something for everyone, in a very literal sense.
To top it off, there’s no real harm in watching these movies. Excessive viewership may become a problem, yes, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of a case where a girl became so disillusioned by Aurora that she rejected every boy that wasn’t Prince Phillip. I don’t think there’s any girl that doesn’t eventually outgrow their fantasy that a prince on a white horse will come sweeping her off her feet out of the midst of 7 dwarves. We grow up, we grow out of fantasies, but Disney gives us a thoughtful and memorable time to look back on. It’s accessible too – megashare any Disney classic for 100 minutes of “Aww, I remember that!” or “Wait, I actually liked this movie?” or “I DON’T REMEMBER THAT HAPPENING.”
(For example, re-watch the scene in Cinderella where the animal critters sing “Cinderelly song” while making her dress. Pay attention to the parts where the birds are tying the ribbons onto the dress. Wait for it . . . watch them defy ALL laws of gravity, physics, science, and bow-tying logic.)
All very fun.
And one final note: read the original fairy tales. It will give you a new appreciation of Disney like no other critique or positive Rotten Tomatoes review can. The amount of joy and childlike wonder that was added to make Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid G-rated movies fit for a child audience is quite ridiculous. Let’s all give props to Disney for making these wonderful (gory, racist, incestuous, violent, highly sensational) fairy tales into films fit for children.