Disney movies have become a hallmark of children’s entertainment because of their enduring themes and values. These movies have mixed imaginative worlds with real-life problems and applications. Each movie’s plot and characters are specifically designed to impart an important value to the audience. From classics to modern Disney movies, children could gain a lasting lesson from these movies which they will carry with them to adulthood.
Love and Friendship
Disney consistently reinforces these timeless values with every new generation of children. Every few years, Disney creates live action and cartoon movies which portray main problems being solved by the power of love and friendship alone. Other values include teamwork and perseverance against adversity. Examples of movies under this category include classics such as “The Little Mermaid” to re-imagined stories like “The Princess and the Frog."
Value of Education
Disney has regularly promoted the value of education; in addition to their shows teaching children comprehension and academic skills, they also have an ongoing collection of direct-to-DVD movies teaching students basic math and science. For example, Disney re-released a movie called “Donald in Mathmagic Land” for DVD in 2009. Based on a comic book, this screen adaptation teaches children basic math skills in a narrative format. Additionally, Disney has also used the success of their mainstream children movies as a platform to create educational tools such as “Toy Story” pencils and “Cars” rulers.
“Do not judge a book by its cover” is a recurring theme in many Disney films. Classics such as “Beauty and the Beast” emphasize the importance of character and attitude over physical appearance. Other Disney movies may even feature characters who initially start as villains but ultimately turn into heroes. For example, in the superhero movie “Sky High,” the antagonist is initially seen as cruel and heartless but later exhibits a sensitive, heroic side and ends up fighting alongside the protagonist.
Contrast: The “Good” Image
A study from the Appalachian State University in North Carolina states that Disney movies may have a subliminal negative effect on children. Researchers point out that most Disney villains such as Cruella De Ville from “Dalmatians 101” or Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” are ugly. This equation of beauty equaling good and ugly equaling bad is a prevalent stereotype: People tend to trust good-looking people more based on their attractiveness alone. However, Doris Bazzini, the head of the study, affirms that despite this note of caution, children have so far remained less susceptible to carrying this stereotype from Disney movies alone.
- "Learning from Mickey, Donald and Walt: Essays on Disney's Edutainment Films"; A. Bowdoin Van Riper; 2011
- Herald Argus: What Are Kids Learning From Disney Movies?
- "Disney, Pixar, and the Hidden Messages of Children's Films"; M. Keith Booker; 2010