Disney: My happy ending

By Rebecca Fowler
Staff Writer

Ball gowns.  Handsome princes.  Talking animals.

It must be Disney.

With undeniable features and characters, Walt Disney’s multi-million company has become one of the most popular film corporations in America.  From classic cartoons to special effect-packed movies, Disney has continued to impress, excite and enthrall us over the years.  And it all began with a sweet fairy tale in 1937: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The Prince Naveen has been turned into a frog and asks Princess Tiana for help. (Provided by Disney/MCT)

I’ll admit, it’s not one of the best quality films, but it was a huge feat at the time and is now a classic film watched by thousands of children.  Followed by Pinocchio, Cinderella, Peter Pan and dozens of others, Disney soon marked itself as a company committed to bringing legends and fairy tales to life in formats that could be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Always incorporating the cliché theme “dreams come true,” Disney movies were magical to me as a child.  Nearly every day I could be found a few feet away from the TV, staring with eyes wide as my favorite scenes of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, and Pocahontas unfolded on the screen.  And though I had seen them countless times, they never ceased to amaze and entertain me.

Disney princesses were like celebrities.  I memorized entire songs, “Belle” and “Part of Your World” being two of my favorites, and I even had a “Sleeping Beauty” dress—one that successfully spun when I twirled.  I like to accredit Disney for helping to spur my imagination, as its stories often served as plots for my sister’s and my games of pretend and eventually became part of the path leading to my love of stories and writing.

Some people view Disney animated movies as naïve and superficial, giving kids unrealistic dreams and standards.  They ask, “Is it worth a possible let-down later in life just to entertain kids while they are young?”  My answer?  Yes.

And not because I am mean and heartless.  I would never want a child to think she will find a perfect “Prince Charming” or that he will become a wealthy prince only to be greatly disappointed later in life.  But I must vouch for kids and say that I think they are much smarter than we give them credit for, and I believe children can often recognize the difference between fairytales and reality.

When I was little, for example, though I wished I could be Belle or Jasmine, I never strayed from the actuality of the real world.  I would watch Disney movies and be filled with romanticism, feeling the emotions of characters I loved, but when someone asked me if I was a princess, I would have a practical enough mindset to say no.

I think it is safe to say Disney films are not misleading children.  They are inspiring them.  Not necessarily to grow up and live happily-ever-after lives, but to have fun, enjoy life even in difficult moments and love those around them.  The kindness and optimism displayed in classic Disney movies is real, and it is one of the best lessons kids can learn.

Through the animated tales of Hans Christian Anderson and other famous authors, Disney has created a legacy of wholesome films with altogether good messages.  Though some girls might be given unrealistic expectations for men, their standards will surely be set higher, and while boys might get the impression that life is always fun, they will later appreciate the fact that they can see the glass half full when times are tough.

The values we learn as children we carry through with us into adulthood, and Disney films, from Snow White to The Lion King, help reinforce these good principles.  Though looking back may make us realize the impracticality of most Disney stories, I think we will also find the true joy and magic these films bring.

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