“Disney Accused by Catholic Cleric of Corrupting Children’s Minds,” was headline from The UK Telegraph that obviously caught my eye and curiosity. I grew up with all the Disney cartoon movies…and save for Snow White shacking up with a lot of dwarfs with funny names – but no funny business – I can’t think of anything corrupting about that Disney era.
In fact, moral stories were always at the center: good guys and gals were ultimately saved and rewarded; and bad guys got their comeuppance in spades. What possible problem could Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, England have with Disney?
He argues that the Disney Corporation pretends to provide stories with a moral message, but has actually helped to create a more materialistic culture which is in danger of losing its soul because of growing consumerism and the decline of religion.
Whoooo. He’s got something there. These movies are wolves in grandma’s clothing? They present a dichotomy of good and bad and then market the heck out of it and make oodles of money seducing kids into buying all kinds of junk in the image of the cute – or nasty – images on the screen.
Father Jamison targets the behavior of Disney in particular, which he says is “a classic example” of how consumerism is being sold as an alternative to finding happiness in traditional morality. While he acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil (i.e., moral battles) he argues that this is part of a ploy to persuade people that they should buy Disney products in order to be a good and happy family and make them greedy for the merchandise that goes with them.
While Father Jamison makes an obviously good point…it is a matter of the free market. I don’t begrudge Disney trying to make a buck selling stuffed animals and t-shirts based upon their story characters. I do begrudge the weakness of parents saying, “Yes, dear,” each time their child yells and demands something. How ’bout instead of giving in so readily, you tell them to save up their money from putting out the trash or collecting leaves so they can buy their heart’s desire for “101 Dalmatians” plastic or stuffed dogs? The children will learn patience, and the art of saving toward a goal – actually gaining pride in earning what they desire. In fact, after they work that hard and that long, that toy may not look as nearly as interesting a use of their hard-earned change. This way, your children learn self-discipline, self-control and a real appreciation for the value of “junk,” so they can make an informed decision as to how important it really is to them.