Saturday, January 13, 2007

disney gripe

OK, so we had a great time at Walt Disney World. It was a great 2 days and our children are the perfect age (6 & 9) to get the most out of the experience.

But I have always had a love hate relationship with the Disney Corporation. In the last 15 years, their judgment concerning what is appropriate has left much to be desired.

I remember back when "The Lion King" was released on home video. Around that time, there were many conspiracy theories about Disney animators imbedding hidden messages and sexually explicit symbolism into many of their children's movies. It all sounded like a bunch of hooey. But one night some friends were over at our apartment and we popped in the old VHS tape to see if we coud find the scene. Fast forwarding to the place we hit pause...and sure enough, there it was. As the dust swirls into the air, the letters clearly form to spell "s-e-x". At full speed, you'd never even notice. But closer examination shows you that Disney is not always as sweet and innocent today as Walt originally intended.

The dark side of Disney was driven home for me in a vivid way at the MGM Studios closing "Fantasmic" Spectacular. The evening show (designed to sum up the plot of most Disney movies) was 30 minutes of music, drama, video, lighting projected on fountains of water and fireworks.

What caught my attention however was the continual parade of evil characters. There was very little attention paid to the sweet and gentle side of Disney. The show was filled with evil villians screaming and howling and being scary and threatening. I cannot immagine the kinds of nightmares that these images could induce in a child.

As I reflected on our visit, I realized that much of the modern Disney experience is designed to frighten children. Yes, the plot always involves the hero triumphing in the end. But at the theme park, the rides and attractions seem to focus more on the scary parts than anything else.

For our evening meal, preceding the "Fanatasmic" show, we sat in one of the restaurants called the "ABC Commisary". The dining room was filled with television screens prommoting the shows from ABC. We sat through a loop of ads for shows like "Desparate Housewives" and worse. Do I need to remind you of the content of these shoes? And the promos for the shows were not totally sanitized for children's consumption. Yet, here sat a captive audience of impressionable young minds.

I know, I know. I sound like an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy who needs to just lighten up. But I was reminded of how often families at our church and friends just assume that if a movie or product comes out from Disney, that must mean it will be good.

But let's continually remember that just because something is entertaining, that doesn't mean that it is good. Keep your filter on at all times. Test and analyze everything that your family consumes. You may be able to discern the difference between fact and fiction, biblical and antibiblical worldviews. But your children are not equipped to make those distinctions.

Like so much of the world today, I enjoy Disney's entertainment value. But I would never trust them to teach my kids the difference between right and wrong. That's my job.