Sometimes even the most beloved children’s classics can send a somewhat problematic message to their viewers. Sure, maybe you can only find those horrible, childhood-altering lessons when you go through each film with a fine tooth comb and an eye for social injustice, but the point is, they’re there. And yeah, this might be reading far too much into things, but hey, if I hadn’t done that I never would have made it through Film Theory.
I don’t think these films ruined anyone’s childhood. After all, we watched these awesome movies pretty much non-stop when we were kids, and we grew up to become well-adjusted adults, right? (Don’t answer that.) But we do ourselves a disservice if we fail to look beneath the surface, because the messages these films almost subconsciously present can reflect themes that are pervasive within our society. With that in mind, here are some horrible messages that show up in otherwise fantastic kids films.
Aladdin is probably one of my favorite Disney movies, but it’s also the one with the most egregious example of the lead character not suffering the consequences of his actions. Sure, Aladdin is a good guy with some pretty heroic qualities. But while he saves Jasmine’s life and fights Jafar, he also lies to his girlfriend’s face and pretends to be someone he’s not. Sorry, Aladdin, but your girlfriend deserves the truth, and the fact that you repeatedly deceive Jasmine shows that you don’t respect her as a person.
Ultimately, the better side of Aladdin’s nature makes up for his deceptions (and the fact that he saves all of Agrabah from becoming Jafar’s creepy slaves cause seriously what was with that?), but it’s hard not to walk away with the message that lying to people will ultimately lead to you marrying into royalty. Or something along those lines.
This article was first posted on June 17, 2013