Monday, June 6, 2011

What Would Mickey Mouse Do?

I have a theory about the writers at the Disney Channel.  Several years ago, a senior marketing director walked into the CEO's office to discuss the decline in sales of Disney products.  The conversation revolved around brainwashing kids at a young age to meet the demographic needed to increase sales.

The kids would need to be self-important smart alecs who could manipulate their parents into buying wharehouses full of Disney crap.  Yet how could the network create such a demographic?

Enter stage right: Hannah Montana, The Suite LifeiCarly, and The Wizards of Waverly Place. In each and every show, there are recurring messages to kids:
  • Adults are silly and gullible.  Lie to them.  Pacify them.  Then do whatever you want because you are smarter.
  • Material stuff is important.  You need to wear trendy clothes and go to stylists.  How you look is more critical than who you are.
  • Being glib and full of sarcasm is your ticket to fame, fortune, and popularity.  Work on these traits now.  Compassion, kindness, and real emotion are for suckers.  Unless of course there is a soundtrack and an audience that will say "awww" at exactly the right moment.
Back in my day (Saved by the Bell, anyone?), a lot of kid shows had public service announcements and real messages, albeit not always well-executed (anyone remember the one where Jesse took energy pills and got so amped-up she acted like she was on meth?).  Not every single line was designed to show how clever and smart the characters were.  There was a certain awkwardness to these shows.  Even plotting charmer Zack usually got caught by Mr. Belding at the end of the day.

There is nothing awkward about the new breed of Disney programs.  Slick sets full of 15-year-old girls with hair extensions and personal trainers are the mainstay.  All of Disney's stars can sing, primp, and pole-dance.  The smugness of these barely-teen kids is palpable.

I go a little crazy if I catch Daniel diving for the remote when I walk into a room.  It means he was watching one of them.  He of course thinks they're cool and tells me "everybody else" in his class is allowed to watch the Disney Channel.  My response?  Well, obviously their parents just don't love them enough to teach them that Disney shows lead to crack.  Harsh?  Yes.  But as indicated in previous posts, I myself am a bit fringe.  And do we really need to discuss all of the Disney stars with addiction problems?  I don't think I'm that far off track.

I didn't actually see it, but people aware of my hostility towards Disney have told me that the shows were mocked by Saturday Night Live recently for these very same reasons.  Thank you, SNL.  You have done what millions of moms across America should be doing.  Stop feeding the Disney beast!  Of course, we would like to plan a trip to Disney World before the boys get too old and get some cute pictures of Joey with Donald....but after that, we're DONE.

I will continue to fight the good fight as far as what my kids are exposed to, but I know that I am losing more and more control daily.  My wee ones are testing, pushing, and role-playing even now.  They are all stubborn.  Yet I have one secret weapon.

My husband.

Stubborn kiddies....

Meet your match.

This is my husband "smiling."


  1. You nailed it. Is the secret weapon ever loaned, borrowed, or rented out on a temporary basis?

  2. You may be onto something. Joe needs a 3rd job. I like shoes.

  3. This is exactly why we don't have a tv. I can't stand those little snots and whored up pre-teens and all the crap they try to sell. I know I have a limited amount of time until my kids are exposed to it and tell me what a horrible person I am for limiting it, so I'm going to do all I can until then.

  4. I wasn't even allowed to watch the Brady Bunch as a kid ("why are those kids going out on dates" asked my mom, "they're like 11."). Fight the good fight, Susan! I appreciate my strict parents immensely now. (:

  5. Your in-laws are guilty of watching the Brady Bunch. We tuned in to see Mike.

  6. I wish you could like other peoples comments. I like the last comment. Well really I like all the comments, but the last comment gets an official "like"!

  7. "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so... Scared!"

    Love the posts,
    Your look-alike cousin, Susie

  8. Thanks, Cuz. It's nice to have family that will own me. (:

  9. I really liked this post, Marianne, you're a great writer. I have also enacted a strict tv-watching ban that covers the Disney channel. I've never seen any of the shows you mentioned here (although I'm sure my number is now officially up for being so smug here in the comments) but I am strictly anti-princess, and am very much against my daughters buying into the notion of "the princess" lifestyle. Arrrgh! I am so not like that. So we don't watch/encourage any Disney-related items. I think you and I have a lot in common.

  10. Thanks, No-Way! The princess lifestyle complex is the root cause for much unhappiness amongst the female sex. I know my boys will never be capable of living up to that standard for a wife or girlfriend. But they will take out the garbage and cook a decent meal - I'll raise 'em right.