Thoughts on Disney movies? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-23-2007, 07:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I searched but didn't find anything on this topic but I'm sure it's been covered so I apologize in advance if this is a repeat topic.

Anyway, I have two girls ages 3.5 and 5. Up to this point, I've avoided Disney movies like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and all things Barbie. I don't care for movies where the only objective is to marry a prince and Barbie - well, I just hate the big boobed, blonde, scantily clad image.

But, my DD just turned 5 and had her first big girl party with school friends. She got a Little Mermaid video, a Cinderella book and some Barbie stuff. The Barbie with the make up and go go outfit "accidentally" disappeared But, my DD couldn't wait to watch the Little Mermaid. So, I let her watch it. Well, now she's obsessed with reading Cinderella books and wants to watch the movies. Her friends talk about Cinderella and other Disney movies and she really wants to see them.

I know I saw the movies growing up, read the books etc... and I feel like I had a good body image, good sense of self esteem and self worth etc.... Am I reading too much into these books and movies?

What do you think? Do you allow them? Try to avoid them?
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Old 02-23-2007, 08:10 PM
 
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Old 02-23-2007, 08:24 PM
 
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I really don't know and have not thought much about it until now, but my dd does watch those movies and seems to understand or is learning the difference between pretend and reality. I would love to hear some other ideas on the subject!
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Old 02-23-2007, 08:27 PM
 
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I think some of them are wonderful films. I especially like Bambi, Pinocchio, and Beauty and the Beast. Like many things, they don't always express my values, but that's why we talk about the things we watch with our kids.

I really don't like the way that "Disney Princesses" has become a branding opportunity -- that bugs me mightily. But that's external to the films themselves.
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:35 PM
 
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My DD is just 20mths old, but she likes movies like TLK I and II, Bambi, Cars, Brother Bear, Tarzan etc.
The only princess films that she have seen and that I know she likes are, Cinderalla and The Little Mermaid.
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:48 PM
 
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Do what you are comfortable with. There are plenty of more gentle movies for little girls. Some Disney is ok, but a lot of it is just too over the top for my household. I have boys and they found the princess movies scary. I remember watching those movies when I was little and enjoying them. I turned out fine, but I do not like the themes in most of the Disney movies. They are just too much for such little people. IMO
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:51 PM
 
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We have quite a few Disney movies in our collection. Barbie in every incarnation is banned in our house, but DD plays with it some at the houses of children I babysit.

However, the movies stop with the screen. No licensed character toys, clothes, etc. ad nauseum. Oh, a few things have crept in (a scooby-doo plate, a Dora sit n' spin, a few stuffed toys), but in general I hold to it. DH's stepmom gave DD a big book of Disney stories and I read Bambi to her and flatly refused to read any more. The movies at least are of decent quality. The books stink.

Medieval-themed make believe is big in our house. But she has a Melissa and Doug castle, a toy sword and shield, SCA garb--things incorporated into a family activity.

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Old 02-23-2007, 10:00 PM
 
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Am I reading too much into these books and movies?
IMO...yes. I watched Tom & Jerry as a child, and every other cartoon that displays some sort of violence, and I'm not a violent person. I played with Barbie and watched Cinderella like most other girls my age, and I have no issues with my body because of it.
I believe the thing that causes kids to have body issues and whatnot, goes much deeper than cartoons and toys. I DO believe they can aggrivate an existing issue, but I do not believe they cause them.
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Old 02-24-2007, 12:47 AM
 
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I have been unsuccessful in keeping the princess thing at bay. Too many playmates her age and older are all into it, so I've conceded while trying not to make a big deal of it either way and hopefully she'll outgrow it. All in all she is much more excited about Dora and Diego. The times DD has watched Cindarella, she is mostly into the mice and and the fairy godmother's song, and really doesn't seem to pay much attention to the rest. I read an interesting article that pointed out that the prince thing is of little or no consequence/importance to little girls - its all about the clothes. Hmmm. I don't have the text of the article, but if you're interested in buying it online or looking it up at the library, here's the info:

What's Wrong With Cinderella?
December 24, 2006, Sunday
By PEGGY ORENSTEIN (New York Times); Magazine
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Old 02-24-2007, 02:13 AM
 
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We went to a friend's house for a playdate the other day and it was princess/barbie/bratz central.

DD has seen Beauty and the Beast, and that is only because we are going to see a live performance soon and I wanted her to have an idea of what to expect.

I'd like to keep her away from the disney princesses and other heavily marketed characters as long as possible. It just seems like the princesses (and other characters) are training the kids for the branding/commercialism, etc.

It is the same reason I try to avoid commercials. She is just too impressionable at this age. I *know* I don't need 99% of what they advertise on TV and I still feel that pull when I see some commercials or infomercials. There is no way I can expect a 4 year old to resist that, even if we talk about why people don't need all the things that are advertised.
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Old 02-24-2007, 08:50 AM
 
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I don't allow Barbies or Brats in the house. dd2 is obsessed with princesses right now and loves the Disney princess movies. My favorite is Pocohantas (I know I butchered it). Even though it's definitely not historically accurate, it's the only one that the girl saves the boy. She's not a prissy damsel in distress.
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Old 02-24-2007, 08:58 AM
 
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I like disney films but they usually make me cry especially bambi and lion king, i think i'm just soft though a lot of films make me cry and tv programmes too

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Old 02-24-2007, 09:05 AM
 
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My DD watches anything she wants within reason (except Bratz, ugh) and I let her have dolls already BUT she also plays with her older brothers matchbox cars, trains, dinosaurs and other boy toys. She loves all kinds of toys and movies and who am I to say they aren't good for her if they are rated G and meant for audiences of her age.

I have never agreed with banning things just because of what self-image it will give my daughter. Seriously now, are you giong to ban your son or future son of watching superman or any type of movies like that or playing with boy toys because they might be too violent (big trucks, cool matchbox cars) or because they might want to grow up and drive a 4WD truck that looks like the matchbox cars they played with at 4 yrs old. Give me a break!

I worry about the real influences like their peers at school, the media, etc. The toys are played with for a year or two and then phased out. Those are the easy things IMO.

I think a lot of women have a feminist reaction to princesses and barbies and they just want their daughters to grow up strong. But how is it making them any stronger if you deny them a simple little toy when they are young. It really makes no sense to me.

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Old 02-24-2007, 09:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by frenchie View Post
IMO...yes. I watched Tom & Jerry as a child, and every other cartoon that displays some sort of violence, and I'm not a violent person. I played with Barbie and watched Cinderella like most other girls my age, and I have no issues with my body because of it.
I believe the thing that causes kids to have body issues and whatnot, goes much deeper than cartoons and toys. I DO believe they can aggrivate an existing issue, but I do not believe they cause them.
very well said.

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Old 02-24-2007, 11:32 AM
 
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Bambi, Pinocchio are probably to toughest ones for me. The loss of the mama deer right off the bat still makes me cry AND turn the movie off! And in Pinocchio the "where bad boys go" scene is appalling. We allowed ds to watch "Bambi" but we fast forwarded it to the part after the mama was aleady shot.

I love some of the films too, but really have only allowed my ds to watch a few of them because he is very sensative to death and loss themes. My favorites are either way too scarey ("Sleeping Beauty") or way too over stimulating "Aladin" and "Lion King".

DS has seen "Beauty and The Beast" which the wolves did scare him a little the first time. The beast never scared him. He loved the beast (I wonder why.....)

My ds loves the old animated Star Trek series and the old "Star Trek" episodes. They do not scare him at all. He and his dad (TREKKIE!) watch them together and have some great conversations about it afterwards.
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Old 02-24-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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I find that I really dislike Disney lately. They take historical images or events and wildly distort or trivialize them. For example, Mulan. In the "real" legend, Mulan kicks butt. She single-handedly leads the entire Imperial forces against the Huns, is completely victorious, hailed as the ultimate warrior, etc. She never ever reveals she's a woman until after everything is over and the Emperor offers an important ministerial position in his government. In the movie, she's a bumbling, inept fool until some man shows her how to do things. Gag! Others I don't like: Pocohantas (um, not how it happened), Lion King (Nazi imagery), Chicken Run (more Nazi imagery), Nemo (the whole shark AA thing). The others would probably offend me if I watched them <g>.

For me, it's not violence at all - we're in the SCA, too, my kids see sword fighting and aren't violent. We have guns in the house, they don't play "shoot-em-up". It's not even the princess thing (though the commercialism is pretty gosh-awful). It's the helpless female thing. Not being fulfilled/competent/whatever until you have your man/prince. Gag.

Also, my dd seems to pick up phrases from movies and unless I explain the whole social context of the scene, they sound really bad. For example, from Bugs Life, she picked up "Ideas are dangerous". Okay, so I have to explain why ideas are dangerous to the ruling/oppressive class, not to the downtrodden workers who have them. These are not concepts I really feel the need to get into with a 5yo, but I don't want her thinking that "ideas are dangerous". Does Disney/Pixar/whoever think our kids aren't listening???

I know I probably seem a bit extreme and seem like I'm reading a bit much into them. I don't think I am. All of the things I object to in movies largely targeted at 3-5 year olds, I really enjoy in adult targeted movies as satire, irony, etc. Our kids are sponges at this age, their opinions and attitudes are being shaped by the stuff they see on screen, and they don't even know it.

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Old 02-24-2007, 04:50 PM
 
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We don't do Disney as a general rule. My 4 year old is homeschooled, and she hangs out with other homeschoolers of all ages. Her play always comes from ideas she's thought up herself, and not recycled sappy Disney stories. She has one preschool friend, and all that girl wants to do is pretend she's a princess who needs to find a handsome prince. This alone is enough for me to avoid Disney for at least a few more years.
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Old 02-25-2007, 05:10 AM
 
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Well, I don't see anything wrong with the movies in and of themselves. (Other than the bastardization of the fairy tales.) My only concern would be if your 3.5 year old is mature enough for them? I know my three year old is not ready for most Disney movies, but some kids are less sensitive than others. Your five year old probably is ready for them; I've told myself that when my kids are closer to six I'll think about Disney movies.
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Old 02-25-2007, 12:45 PM
 
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Bf's 4 yo dd is really into the Disney Princesses. There is no going back now. I try to have conversations with her focusing on qualities that the princesses have that have nothing to do with looks (Belle is very intelligent and a great reader, Ariel is a talented vocalist, Cinderella is an efficient and hard worker). I know that a lot of these are a stretch, but I can't think of any other way to plant the seed that being pretty and finding a prince are not the most important things in life.

I've asked her several times why she likes the princesses so much. I honestly think that at 4, it is the fancy dresses. Even though she is ignoring the "you need a man to be happy" message now, I can't help but think that it will be absorbed for later. It doesn't help that bf does not share my thoughts on this one. He keeps saying "What is wrong with finding love? Love is one of the things that makes people happy." I would rather that women in this country be happy and fulfilled on their own first. If they find a partner, great, but it shouldn't be the end-all be-all of life.

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Old 02-25-2007, 12:58 PM
 
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I think the are fine in moderation...
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:01 AM
 
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Well, now she's obsessed with reading Cinderella books and wants to watch the movies. Her friends talk about Cinderella and other Disney movies and she really wants to see them..... Am I reading too much into these books and movies?
Personally, I don't think that you're reading too much into this, and am also really concerned about this with regard to my own DD. Yes, she's totally into the Cinderella's *dress* at this point, but as a pp mentioned, she is also absorbing the message that she needs a man to be complete.

I wonder whether banning the movies now would just lend more allure/value to them...if it were me, I would probably watch it with her, and discuss it. Maybe work on expanding this interest beyond Disney princesses into castles, history, real life princesses (then learn more about their countries), other stories (like The Paper Bag Princess), cartoon drawing - whatever floats her boat. Make the view a little more balanced than what Disney offers.

Hope this helps - keep us posted!
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:24 AM
 
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We have not decided firm guidelines on this either. The only movie she has seen is Cinderella. She gets excited about seeing Cinderella on products everywhere but doesn't end up begging etc. I hate the commercialism and the Disney princesses on everything in the stores. In general we do not buy anything with characters toys, clothing whatever so that helps. We have read non disney stories with princeses and Cinderella stories.

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Old 02-26-2007, 11:47 AM
 
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My dd is now 7 and really liked Cinderella, and the princess stuff. She is still into princess stuff a little but has gone on to other things. It was like a phase she went thru. We don't watch alot of Disney movies, but they're not completely banned. I think sometimes we read more into things than our kids do. Like a pp stated, I grew up on Tom and Jerry and my brother and sister and I watched it all the time, and not one of us are violent in anyway. I have to admit, I cringe now that I am a parent and see it. My dd has never seen T&J. She is a very emotional/sensitive child and I don't think she would like that. When we went to see Charlotte's Web, she cried terribly when Charlotte died. I almost thought we were going to have to leave the theater.
However, when we watched Bambi one day, I'm the one that cried when the mother died and she didn't. You just never know w/kids.
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:02 PM
 
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What do you think? Do you allow them? Try to avoid them?
We managed to avoid Disney until we adopted a 12 year old who is Disney obsessed. And I mean obsessed. If it's not Disney Princesses, she couldn't care less about it.

So far, this has not infected my 5 year old. However, due to an interest in fairies (because she has a fairy bower hanging over her bed) she has become interested in Tinkerbell. I surprised myself and showed her Peter Pan on her birthday (we talked extensively about the mischaracterization of Indians, which worked well as we have been reading the Native American American Girl books recently).

I do make sure that my 12 year old watches her Disney Princess movies when the younger kids are not around. I tell myself it's mainly because Ramona (5) would be too scared by the witches and bad guys (she gets scared easily).

But when we bought Ramona a Tinkerbell doll for her birthday, I had to admit that Ramona is her own person and she's allowed to have her own interests, whether they thrill me or not.

I was into Strawberry Shortcake as a girl, and it didn't seem to harm me. If Ramona gets into Disney, I'll go with it, although her opportunities will be limited because we rarely watch tv, generally don't wear character clothing, and don't buy our kids toys unless it's birthday/Christmas.

Ramona is not really one to follow the crowd, though, so I don't really see her getting into Disney just because other little girls do.
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:06 PM
 
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Speaking here from a "having a son" perspective. I'm not really fond of Disney either. When we aren't living with my parents we are normally TV free - DS did have a fw videos at our place, but DH and I pre-screened them. I guess we are pretty particular about what DS gets to see. I second what a pp said about doing what you are comfortable with - TV/movie issues will vary from family to family and you should do what works best for yours.

I'm just not crazy about a lot of themes in Disney - as well as a lot of fighting that takes place in them. Peter Pan, for example - lots of fight scenes there. I'm probably making a big deal of it, and I know I can't protect DS from these images forever, but it bugs me to see characters fighting it out rather than some other means of resolution.

In lots of early Disney, there's quite a bit of slap-stick humor and gag type things. For our family, we just prefer DS not learn about all of that at such a vulnerable age.
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:10 PM
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My play with Barbie was more directed to acting out fantasy situations...my barbie was the lead singer in a band and toured all over the world I created in my room. At other points she was a dancer, a mother (a frequent theme), a foster parent, ran a school, ran a daycare centre....basically she did all the things I hoped I would do when I got older. I do not have body issues related to Barbie.

The Bratz dolls are frankly disgusting and will never be allowed in my home. I do not care if Grace is the only child on the planet to not have one, she's not having one. I might not feel as strongly about the regular Bratz, but with the introduction of Bratz Babies I simply will not support that line of toys and if my daughter ever recieves any from other people I will politely inquire where it was purchased so I can exchange for somethingmore appropriate.

As for the Disney princesses, I enjoyed a romantic story from a young age, I still enjoy a cheesy romantic comedy or a silly romance novel. I found Snow White to be a complete idiot, and that movie will not ever play in our home. My fav is Beauty and The Beast...Belle is a strong independant woman who definitely does not need a man to complete her. I think she's a great role model.

I think the whole Disney thing is something that you need to approach with your kids in the same way you'd approach any other work of fiction...as just that. When the disney version of Hercules came out I was taking a course on Children's Literature and was actually in the section on Mythology. My younger brother (age 7 at the time) was totally into the film, talked about it all the time. If you've seen it then you know how badly they botched the old tales. So I read to him from the mythology text, and we talked about the differences between the original tales and the Disney version. It didn't take anything away from the enjoyment of the movie, and he frequently came to me to ask for more myths and legends and to re-tell favourites. It's all in your approach.
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:04 PM
 
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The only Cinderella movie that I liked was the one with Brandi as Cinderella. It seemed to get the message across much better about believing in yourself.

A good animated movie that is great for girls and boys alike is Kiki's Delivery Service. I love, love, LOVE that movie! (and so do all the kids that I know).
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Old 02-26-2007, 01:06 PM
 
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She loves all kinds of toys and movies and who am I to say they aren't good for her if they are rated G and meant for audiences of her age.
We are their MOTHERS! It *IS* up to us to say what's good for her. And whenever I see a rating by the MPAA I always add at least one rating to it, ie G=PG, PG=PG-13, PG-13=R, etc. There's a lot of stuff that's not appropriate for children that's marketed to children. (ie SUGAR CEREALS and TOYS and MCDONALDS commercials!) IMO.
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Old 02-26-2007, 03:14 PM
 
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I am so glad to even see this discussion happening here. My family doesn't get it at all. I feel so alone a lot of the time when it comes to isuses like these. They are actually disney obsessed-adults and children alike. In our house, we limit Disney movies, and we do not have many (if any, come to think of it) Disney products outside of a few movies given as gifts. At the very least, the family tries now to respect our wishes that we don't receive Disney or Barbie as gifts. I have found a great substitute for Barbie, called the Only Hearts Club. It's bendable figures, much like barbie, but they are actually girl-like and wearing clothes : .http://www.onlyheartsclub.com/


My problem with Disney and Barbie are also the image issues, the misrepresentation of history, the clash with our values (the whole princess must find a prince thing), and another issue that is very personal--Disney is one of the largest financial backers of the Republican party and that indirectly funds a war (and lots of other stuff) that I am wholeheartedly opposed to. I would actually feel as if I was buying warheads if I purchased a Disney product. I realize that is a personal and political view, and it is not meant to offend, but to offer a reason.

4 kids under 10
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:20 PM
 
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We do not have a TV and so our kids (ages 5 and 2) do not know what Disney even is. I personally think there are a lot of reasons to question Disney. The company's main goal is to make money via marketing to children (let's not even think about all of the Disney garbage going into the landfill or all of the stuff being made in China). So, if you have to set your kids in front of a movie then look for something of quality. Read classic fairy tales to your children and let your children form pictures in their heads of these stories.
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