As children, the majority of us grow up watching Disney movies. Face it-Disney owns the world…even things you probably don’t know about. (Just FYI-Disney owns A&E Network, ABC, the ESPN franchise, Marvel, Hulu, Lifetime Movie Network, History Channel, 11 Television stages throughout the U.S., and much more).
So how often do you think they push their agendas and ideas on our children (or even ourselves)? Would we be aware of it?
Do we know what we are watching and putting into our minds?
Are Disney movies as innocent as many believe them to be?
Let’s look at some of the traditional Disney movies for a moment:
The story of Aladdin is supposed to show you that anyone can achieve their dreams, social class does not matter, and that good always wins. Other, potentially more subtle themes can show our children that it is okay to lie and that you can steal from people as long as you have a reason. Aladdin was a compulsive liar and a thief. He lied to everyone around him, he broke promises, he stole from shop owners and despite the fact that many feel it noble to “rob from the rich and give to the poor,” stealing is still a sin and is wrong. There is no “right” way to steal.
What about the witchcraft? No one talks about it, but it is very prevalent throughout the film. The very first scene with the talking tiger guarding the entrance to The Cave of Wonders begins with magic. Disney makes the “spells,” if you will, whimsical and funny (like turning Raja the tiger into a little orange cat), but whether the magic is considered “good magic” from the Genie or “evil magic” from Jafar, it is a sin.
There are 63 Bible verses about Witchcraft and Sorcery and all are similar in nature to these two:
“If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)
“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)
What about when Jafar wishes to be “the most powerful sorcerer in the world” and transforms himself into a snake. Yes, I know the film takes place in the Arabia where snakes are prevalent and a large part of their culture, but is it just a coincidence that the “evil” man in the film becomes the international symbol for evil? I doubt it.
So is it okay to let our children watch this? Is it okay for our children to see people transforming themselves and others with magic? By seeing people lying and stealing and teaching that those are the ones that win in the end, are we not telling our children that is okay to be “a little” bad? You can still win if you just bend the rules a bit, but do not go overboard…is that the message you want to send?
Another dangerous truth that teaches children is that evil is black and white. Evil will come to you in the form of a snake or a mean man with a screwy parrot on his shoulder (maybe not literally, but you know what I mean). We teach our children that bad people are recognizably evil and that just is not the case-especially in today’s society. Have you ever watched the news and seen someone being arrested for child molestation or murder or another “big” crime and they look like an average-joe? In most cases, the felons do not look any different from you or I. It is a condition of the heart that makes them evil; not their outward appearance. 1 Samuel 16:7 “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
The Bible talks about the beauty of Satan and how he was the most beautiful angel. Ezekiel 28:17 says “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground “and in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the Bible says “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Satan, or sin, is not going to come to you in its true form. If sin came to you and presented itself to you as sin, you would not partake. There would be no sinners. But because sin can disguise itself as something enjoyable, it makes it harder to say no to it and it can quickly grow and take over your body and soul.
Each story from Disney (and I am just singling out Disney, but there are many other companies doing the same thing) sneaks into our lives with stories of virtue and good character behind it all, but what about the subtle nuances and negative behaviors that our children (who have a brain like a sponge) soak up and emulate?
Beauty and the Beast:
The Moral Disney pushes: Love can transform others. Show love and kindness to everyone. And the age-old “Don’t judge a book by its cover” saying rings true.
Other Subtle Nuances:
-It is okay to stay with an abusive man
-Ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?
-What about bestiality?
The Moral Disney pushes: If you dream something and believe in it hard enough, your wish will come true.
Other Subtle Nuances:
-Magic/Witchcraft with the fairy godmother
-Slavery (by the “evil” stepmother and stepsisters)
-You have to change yourself to be loved by someone.
The Little Mermaid:
The Moral Disney pushes: Follow your dreams and everything will work out in the end.
Other Subtle Nuances:
–In order to be “good enough” for a guy, you have to conform to what he wants and give up parts of yourself
-Do not listen to your parents
-You do not need a voice (literal or opinion) as long as you have a pretty face in life
-The Sea Witch (i.e. magic/witchcraft yet again)
Another issue all of the above movies have in common is that all of these girls, portrayed as young teens, find a man, fall in love, get married, and “live happily ever after” as a teenager. How unrealistic is that?! Who decided that would be a good idea??
The newest Disney princesses, Elsa & Anna, tackle this idea. Anna wants to marry the first guy she’s ever met (for those of you who have not seen the film, the castle gates have been closed and “for the first time in forever” she meets a man and says I am going to marry him-absolutely absurd). Luckily, Elsa calls her out on it and tells her “you cannot marry someone you just met.” Literally “the first time in forever” that Disney has stopped this stereotypical “I need a man” role, and it was incredibly refreshing. Even the new movies like “Frozen” have these issues running throughout them though. Yes, the film has a lovely soundtrack. Yes, it is very entertaining. But it is filled with magic/sorcery. In fact, I think all of Disney’s movies at least have a touch of “magic” to them…at least, all of the films I can think of here.
I know someone is going to bring it up, so I will go ahead and say something about it. I know that many of the movies we consider “Disney movies” came from another source first. Disney remakes old folk tales and then they become beloved Disney classics to a new audience. I understand that. What I do not understand is why Disney can change a character’s name, hair color, circumstances, etc., but cannot leave out the other negative aspects that could be sneaking into your child’s brain and planting a seed.
In the Hans Christian Anderson Version of “The Little Mermaid”:
The Moral is:
1. A woman should never give up what is most precious about herself.
2. After the prince cheated and married another woman, the mermaid was urged to kill them in her sleep. Instead of giving in to evil, she forgave the prince and wished the other woman well. That is true love. The mermaid then became an angel.
Why couldn’t Disney leave this story alone…maybe minus the murderous dream?
What do you think?
Is Disney poisoning the minds of our children?