Hmm, I am really conflicted about this too.
MY daughter is just two, so its not much of an issue for us yet. She's just too young to watch many movies, esp, Disney at all right now. She saw one movie, Happy Feet, and has seen a video with Elmo, so I know the power of marketing to kids. She points out anything with either one of them on it. Her reaction makes me wary of the Disney marketing explosion, that if she gets into it, it will be hard to go back.
She sees mickey mouse and says "Doggie" still doesn't know who The Maus is. We live near Disney and I admit I like it there, and DH and I went for our own enjoyment on free tickets twice since she was born. I will have to think if we will go now that she would participate more!
My main concern with any thing that goes in her eyes/senses/brain is how it will effect her own creativity. I do not want her replaying the canned stories, but want her play to come from with in. And want her inner image of beauty to come from with in. I remember kids playing what they saw on TV when I was in kindergarten, and was babysitting and teaching preschool when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out, and it was all the 2-3 year olds would do- Karate chop, etc....that show really made the culture of kids noticeably more violent. I do not want her play dictated in this way. But I do not want her to not get what other kids around her are doing& talking about. We can have our own world and home school, but I also want her to be part of a diverse and real community. Our local school is very diverse, and those kids are going to be doing whatever pop culture for kids is doing. Do I shelter her and feed her just what I see fit like in a greenhouse so she flourishes with my values, or trust that what I instill is stronger than what she gets at school and let her hone her skills of staying afloat and true to herself while out amongst the rest of the world? Today I was fantasizing that perhaps when I movie comes out, we can read the old classic out loud so she gets her own images in her head, and can go from there, relating to the play but not being limited by the image.
I don't know. Its still a ways off so its nice to hear what your experiences are.
I think fairy tales are good, in that they teach a certain archetypal kind of lessons. Blowing a house down, or getting eaten by a wolf is a symbolic experience, but needs to be introduced at an age that is appropriate. But alot of the wisdom of fairy tales is in the rhythm of how a story is told, and other parts that are lost when translated to a movie. I feel like they are old stories, told in a way that speaks to the deep parts of our soul. The Waldorf book the Rainbow Bridge has good suggestions about what fairy tales are appropriate for what age. That might be a good place to start.
We do gingerbread man and Goldilocks as first fairy tales. They learn the emotion and the repetition. This is a neat web site about fairy tales that I got to reading when thinking about this issue previously . http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/index.html
I also have a back ground in women's studies and was so aware of how my self image was shaped by the media, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf was a pivotal book for me when it came out. It will be interesting to see how I approach the female imagery issue, and movies as she grows, cause I am really moderate and can't see banning Barbie, etc, but can't imagine her having those things either.
The whole disney princess thing drives me bonkers- the concept of the princess as its portrayed and the marketing hype for the Dinsey proincesses and fairies is replusive. Yuck.
Fairy tales, medieval tales, concept of a princess- all ok. Co-opting them and repackaging them in sugar coating for a profit is yucky.
I like authentic things, that sums up where my values are. Real women, real tales, real play.
Its just a question of how much of the sugar coating can a kid get before they begin to lose that sense of inner driven play and authenticity? Is one time enough?