Do you ever sit down to reminisce and watch old tv shows or movies from when you were growing up? More often than not, your eyes widen as you realize what you are watching. From sexual innuendos to untimely deaths, you shake your head and wonder how your parents allowed you to watch this. Or better yet, how big companies such as Disney generated such content for children.
Nonetheless, these movies did help us see that there is good and evil in the world, and you do not simply have a magical life. Like in Cinderella, she was forced to deal with the abuse of her wicked stepmother and stepsisters before she was able to find her happily ever after.
Now, this is still based on the old-fashioned belief that you need a man to come to rescue you from distress. Thankfully, I never picked up on this sexist, asinine belief and focused more on these princesses’ drive to survive and break free.
Disney taught us crude life lessons, paying no mind to sugarcoat anything. For example, young Bambi’s mom was shot to death by a hunter, possibly one of the most shocking scenes in a Disney movie.
Disney also infamously taught us about betrayal in the Lion King when Scar pushes Mufasa to his death, right in front of Mufasa’s son, Simba. I mean, how do you jump from the joyful Hakuna Matata to the murder of a gentle, loving character?
Unfortunately, this is how real life is — unfiltered and unhinged. However, nowadays, Disney has left this almost romanticization of trauma via dead parents into more fragile, gentle storylines.
With the passage of time, the changes in the world call for paradigm shifts amongst the newer generations.
The Crystal Generation is between 18 and 25 and is the children of parents born in 1965-1980. Fragile like a crystal, the Crystal Generation is known for being sensitive and delicate. Being born in a world where technology was already a part of everyday life, they are probably one of the most privileged generations with this wealth of knowledge at their fingerprints since birth.
As a result, Disney has started creating content that strays from these life lessons into hand-holding the Crystal Generation. This is where people (i.e., me, the millennial) feel annoyed because it is a blatant display of coddling and sheltering these newer generations. We now have top-performing films such as Frozen, in which Elsa accidentally casts a spell on her kingdom that causes a perpetual winter, that lauds feminism and women empowerment.
It is phenomenal that Disney is straying from the patriarchal, chauvinist mentality of a man rescuing a distressed woman. However, they are failing to show how this is still a genuine issue in the world and the repercussions of living with this mentality.
By failing to show or mention it, they are hiding the trauma people of any age can endure with rainbows, unicorns, and mystical fluff.
Disney has even gone as far as editing older movies and shows for streaming on their app, Disney+, cutting or changing scenes that are now deemed “too sensitive” or “too inappropriate.”
So, why are we millennials and older generations expected to have thick skin whereas others are not? Why is it acceptable for us to be anxious and burned out?
This is not to say that this generation is wholly superficial and has endured no difficulties in life. And, it is great that our children are not being exposed to things that can damage their self-image and mental health.
They are more outspoken about worldwide issues and are more open-minded and inclusive. These movies are different because they are generally more accepting of their peers, understand mental health, and are more malleable.
In the end, Disney seems to have an almost black and white mentality on these issues. They can either be progressive and ensure proper representation and inclusivity, or they can be dark and macabre with their life lessons that have marked many past films.