A Deeper Disney

Disney movies are an American staple. All of us have someone in our lives who seems to love Disney movies. Children love Disney for no other reason than because they’re kids. Adults love Disney movies because they get a chance to feel like a kid again. And if having kids or feeling like a kid isn’t a good enough reason to watch a Disney movie, try another reason – look deeper.

I know, now you’re wondering how and why one would decide to analyze a Disney movie. Let me offer a few questions to help you understand why l’ve decided analyzing Disney movies is worth my time.

“What does “A Bug’s Life” say about the value of life itself? And what does it say about the value of ants? How do the messages about love differ in “Cinderella,” “Aladdin” and “Shrek?” What does “The Jungle Book” imply about simplicity, “The Lion King” about leadership, “Mulan” about feminism and “Toy Story” about friendship?

The good morals in Disney movies are abounding. And while I enjoy catching these positive messages, many of the movies also have sidelines that imply less than ideal lessons to be learned.

I have to confess that I love the Disney princess stories. But I’ll admit that they do very little to encourage intelligence and ingenuity in young girls.

Hercules encourages little boys to want rippling muscles, strength and miraculous fighting abilities hardly what society should be teaching our children.

The messages are there – both good and bad. And they become pretty obvious when you look for them. But the funny thing is, many adults don’t even catch them. Who knows whether the messages were intentional or not. I happen to believe that the good lessons were and the bad ones seeped in through traditional stereotypes.

And for the real Disney analyzer, more subtle messages are also available in Disney pictures – hidden messages you catch only when you know what to look for. Or maybe, you catch them only because you think they’re there and they really aren’t.

Huh? You ask. There are “hidden messages” supposedly found in the Lion King and Aladdin that directly imply immoral behavior. For a mili-second, Simba’s dust spells out a word and during an Aladdin fight scene, a whispered phrase encourages teenagers to have premarital sex.

Whether looking for good lessons, bad implications or hidden messages, Disney offers a plethora of deeper thinking opportunities.

However, don’t worry. While many adults will catch the subtleties, the hidden messages and the stereotypes, your kids will only be watching for the pure enjoyment of cartoon viewing. And if they catch anything deeper, it will be the good obvious lessons that are implied.

So, give it a try. Maybe you’ll enjoy Disney as much as the kids do for once. Then, once you’ve mastered the art of Disney analyzations, you can move on to the next step – getting more out of your favorite television sitcoms.