Disney is synonymous with childhood – we all probably grew up watching the classic Disney films like Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, to name but a few. However, in these days of 24 hour TV and whole channels specifically aimed at children, the Disney Channel might seem like an innocuous channel that is totally kid-friendly. Think on!
The Disney brand with its traditional aura of wholesomeness is using its privileged status amongst parents to bombard children with a deluge of messages and agenda. The Disney Classic films mostly seem to follow a formula – damsel in distress (whether human, fish or animal), along comes a handsome prince who rescues her and falls in love with her and they live happily ever after. So, what’s the problem?
To begin with, there is the Disney Princess Problem. The basic message to little girls is “Be good, be kind, be pretty and if you’re lucky a wealthy and powerful man will want you for his bride”.
What about the “baddie” characters in the films? Evil stepmothers and ugly stepsisters abound in an age when so many children are being brought up in blended families that these negative portrayals cannot be helpful.
So, what about the Disney Channel – what can possibly be wrong with a bit of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck? It’s not about Mickey Mouse these days – the Disney Channel broadcasts shows and programs specifically made for television. These programs aren’t just targeted at little ones, they are also targeted up to the tweenie age so many of the programs will just not be age appropriate for little ones.
However, there is a little more to worry about than thing just being age inappropriate. Many of the characters in these shows are perfect little brats – children who are obnoxious and mouthy and behave in a manner that is sure to make them quite unpopular, however clever they may seem.
The Disney Channel has been attracting quite a lot of complaints from parents who are horrified to discover some of the bad behaviour that their children are watching on a regular basis. One parent complains about the younger sister in the new Henry Danger show, describing her as “RUDE, DISRESPECTFUL, OBNOXIOUS, LOUD”. Another parent complains about Disney’s Girl Meets World – in a recent episode a child was wearing a t-shirt depicting Albert Einstein smoking a pipe. Her child thought the t-shirt was really cool and wants one, Mum is not amused, to say the least.
The Quack Pack episode involving a haunted house and ghost attracted complaints from parents whose little ones were scared by it. Other parents complain that modern Disney offerings are “commercialized garbage” with unlikeable characters and barely any story lines.
Whether you’re a Disney fan or a Disneyphobe, you’ll need to make up your own mind about what you allow your children to watch, including the Disney Channel. One piece of advice I do have is whatever you decide to let your children watch, spend some time watching the channel alone first so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not you think its suitable for your little ones.