Disney’s stock price has jumped up, largely based on the announcement that it would launch its new streaming service. While parents everywhere are probably rejoicing, we should take a minute to think about whether exposing our kids to 24-7 Disney access is a good idea. Because, after all, Disney’s movies are fairly dark. Not quite Batman-level dark, but getting up there.
Doubtful you say? Let’s look at just one of the Disney classic films, The Little Mermaid.
Warning: spoilers ahead
The Little Mermaid starts off with a typical father-daughter disagreement. King Triton is busy doing important things, like running the ocean empire to provide safety and security for his millions of subjects. His daughter, Ariel, is busy…thinking about forks? Swimming around day dreaming? Not attending choir practice? The list goes on, but essentially Ariel is being a jerk and blowing off the few basic things her dad asks of her.
And she’s the heroine, mind you, the person little girls are supposed to aspire to.
Anyway, when King Triton has finally had enough, Ariel, instead of realizing the errors in her ways, turns to Ursula for help. Ursula is a witch practicing some old hokie religion, and casts some sort of dark magic spell giving Ariel legs while also stealing her voice.
So we aren’t even half-way through the movie and we have a 16 year old daughter rejecting religion to go against her father’s wishes. Heck with what your older, wiser dad knows is right and what beliefs keep you safe. Ariel turns to some dark magic to get what she wants.
Anyhow, Ariel uses her legs to try and hook up with a guy, a prince no less. Never mind that she literally knows NOTHING about Prince Eric except that she saw him once on a ship and he looks dreamy. Because, you know, looks are everything in a relationship, and that is exactly what we should teach little girls about dating.
Don’t forget, Ariel is the heroine in this movie.
So Ariel moves in with Prince Eric. She has no voice and has to score true love in 3 days or else she will turn into a nasty little crab-like plant. Anyone who has had to sit through trafficking-in-persons training knows that this situation is 100% ripe for abuse. Why are we teaching girls that moving in with some guy they just met is a good idea?
Miraculously, Ariel is on the brink of scoring her true love, when Ursula decides to strike. She uses Ariel’s voice to mimic Ariel in appearance and try to get Prince Eric to marry her instead. Again, it’s all about getting some hot, rich guy to marry you, even if you are an all-powerful witch practicing some hokie religion.
At some point, King Triton sacrifices himself to save his daughter from her ill-advised contract that she signed. So not only has Ariel blown off everything that her father told her, but in the end she literally almost condemns him to being a tiny wrinkled crustaceon-shaped plant on the sea floor.
In the end, everything works out. Ariel gets her voice back and the marriage she wants, King Triton is restored to his non-crab like look, and Ursula is defeated. But the life lessons taught are terrible:
- It’s totally cool to disobey your much older and wiser father.
- When you have a problem with what your beliefs tell you, turn to a witch that will offer you whatever you want.
- Don’t actually pay attention to the true costs of a contract. If something goes bad, blame the contract owner, and make your cosigner suffer.
- Fall in love and get married quickly based on looks, rather than actual long term interests.
- Moving in with the hot dreamy guy you just met is totally cool and doesn’t have long-term costs.
Do we really need Disney spreading this sort of message to our children?
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Disney, Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.