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Dear Poll: Do Fairy Tales Send a Bad Message?

The View was filmed at The Walt Disney Studios in LA this week, and every morning, a different Disney character escorted the ladies on stage. This of course sparked conversations and nostalgic memories about the women's favorite fairy tales from childhood, but it also brought up some food for thought. Though the stories of Bambi, Pinocchio, and Cinderella are all moral tales, their lessons can be both sad and scary, and they also have the ability to send the wrong message to kids — as we all know, not every tale ends in happily ever after.

I loved watching these movies as a kid, and I look forward to sharing that experience with my kids one day, but tell me, do you think fairy tales such as these send a bad message to kids?


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aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Their cartoons, let's be real people.
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
Children these days are way too sheltered. Disney movies don't send a bad message. They are stories!! Kids can tell the difference between real and make believe if you take the time to explain it to them instead of limiting what they are exposed to.
Colleeninator Colleeninator 8 years
I'm actually taking a class in folklore right now, and I have to say I find the subject very interesting. It's been decided by folklorists that fairy tales often map onto a process of maturation or courting. There's the stage where the character is separated from their home, they undergo some kind of trial, and then they come back to their community in a newfound position worthy of respect. Of course, this is traditional fairy tales, and not necessarily the Disney versions. However, we learn that the fairy tales that stay current in a society are ones that mirror a society's moral ideals. Think about it though: how many Disney movies did you hear the stories to before you saw the movies? I think many of these movies are based on stories that USED to represent the way people were meant to act, but they've fallen out of circulation (at least in America) because we no longer agree with them. So, fairy tales in general, I think, are good. After all, they're chosen and retold (whether we're aware of it or not) to teach our children how to act correctly, and what it's like to grow up (through metaphors, of course). Disney movies, not necessarily. Many of them are based on fairy tales that we no longer agree with, they simply made for entertaining movies.
Anne26 Anne26 8 years
My fairy tale came true the day I went with my ex to go ring shopping. That was the best day of my life but unfortunately fairy tale became a nightmare. So no, fairy tales are soo opposite from the real world now. It's not good.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I know that when I have kids I'll sit down with them and watch "Beauty and the beast." Not only is it my favorite and I ALWAYS cry at the end, but it taught me a to never love someone just because they're pretty, but love whats really inside. I think kids should be told and shows fairy tales, they're fantastic stories.
mack2600 mack2600 8 years
designdebuta, so since you think "beauty and power are still currency for women and men" is that an idealism you want to eternalize? fairy tales such as those have perpetuated that stigma for decades, should we not try and change society's way of thinking rather than allowing the next generation to take it all laying down? not to mention, i find it hard to believe (for your sake) that while discussing the appearance of the anorexic disney princess archetype your argument is to say that a video game entitled FAT princess was badly received therefore all princess characters must be skinny and beautiful or everyone will be outraged? do you honestly have the inability to discern the issue of projecting an unrealistic body image to young girls through silent example and the blatant physical degradation of an icon characterized only by their farcical appearance? don't you think if cinderella was called "skinny princess" people would be just as agitated?
DesignDebutante DesignDebutante 8 years
Okay, seriously, WTF? Enough of this. It's a fairytale, and one cleaned up by Disney. There are some parts that are scary -- the evil witch in Snow White, the priest in Notre Dame -- but they are supposed to be scary. The reason there are all these evil step-mothers is because the original stories were written with bad *mothers* and people wouldn't accept the concept of such complicated love/hate relationships between mothers and daughters. Kids don't analyze. They accept. Go read "The Red Shoes" by Andersen, in which a little girl has to have her feet cut off and the woodcutter gives her wooden ones. Adults think that's horrific, and kids go "Hey, wooden feet. Can I have ice cream?" They're not traumatized. And the "feminist" readings -- FFS, how about reality? Beauty and power are still currency for women and men, respectively. You may not like it but it's true. Little girls grow up and realize they are not rescued by princes, and if that's your biggest tragedy, that's great - you learn to be self-sufficient and meet someone nice and that's that. Yes, they ARE all thin and beautiful. The recent video game "Fat Princess" provoked so much agita, I'm not surprised. Really, I mean, come on. Basta.
emalove emalove 8 years
Oh lord...I think they're fine. What kid doesn't grow up watching all those Disney movies?? People over-analyze EVERYTHING.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
In my opinion, no.
mack2600 mack2600 8 years
pioneers and janine22, i agree completely. so many of disney's fairy tales are demeaning to women -- which isn't so surprising if you take a look at what society's views were when they were made (even what they are today). i don't care about the supposed "scare" factor of these movies or of them being harsh, but i would definitely take a good look at how the movie portrayed it's heroes and damsels in distress before showing it to a daughter or son of mine. while i'm sure it has it's problems i would definitely let my kids watch bambi, it's one of my all time favorites. and someone said that a five year old wouldn't sit there and analyze a movie but they don't need to -- they pick up things from movies and TV subconsciously all the time. all they do at that young of an age is soak in their environment and things they see and hear.
Janine22 Janine22 8 years
I don't like the message they pass to young girls about body image- all of the main characters are impossible skinny. Also, I don't like the fact that there are very few good mother characters in them (mostly evil older women). And there is the always the theme that a man will save you and being with a man in the end is the only way to be happy. How about saving yourself? I am not saying ban all Disney movies, but I am saying be aware of the way that they are socializing young girls to behave and think. (BTW, most of the writers and animaters at Disney are men). It is just important to be aware of the messages we are being fed and how it can affect us.
Random2 Random2 8 years
I like Disney fairy tales. They're fun to watch. However to categorize all fairy tales under Disney isn't fully correct- there's the originals to consider (anyone else remember the Little Mermaid gaining a sole because she couldn't kill the Prince, even though he unknowingly sentenced her to death? or Cinderella's evil step sister cutting off their toes to fit into the glass slipper?). All fairy tales usually have a good message in them, and Disney's done a good job of making them kid-friendly and promoting that message. Some of them are a little twisted (I do agree with the comments on Beauty and the Beast), but for the most part, they're fun.
pioneers pioneers 8 years
I wrote my thesis on gender roles in Disney movies, so I'll be brief: In the mid nineties, there was a study conducted of young girls (ages 7-9 I think) who had just watched Beauty and the Beast. Growing up, this was one of my absolute favorite movies; I always wanted to be Belle. However, there's one part of the movie that kind of freaked me out. After her father was captured, she tried to rescue him and failed. Then, the Beast let him go, isolated Belle, abused her, and she eventually turned him back into a prince. I remember being scared of this quite vividly. Anyway, the researchers in the study asked the viewers questions about their feelings after the movie. Many of these centered around the themes of love and the scenes in which Belle is imprisoned. One of the questions was, "If you were Belle's friend and you saw her in that situation, what would you tell her to do?" This was referring to the kidnapping/abuse/isolation scenes. Most of the girls replied along the lines that they would tell her to keep being nice to him. If she tries her best to be really nice, he'll change and love her. It sounds to me like that easily translates to attitudes towards abusive relationships--that it's the victim's fault, and he/she should stay with the aggressor and just keep trying really hard to make the aggressor change. It's a really common, tragic way of thinking. Now, I'm not saying that Disney movies are evil. I'm not saying that this idea always, 100% sticks with kids who watch them. I'm just saying that this can be more effective in those who are susceptible. And that can hurt long term. Okay, so I wasn't so brief. Broken promises, I guess. :p
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
my second grader's class is doing a section on fairy tales right now. they are talking about the magic in the story, the hero's reward, repetitions like groups of 3 and predictable phrases. fairy tales are a specific style of story and children progress through the different styles as they age. it's appropriate that they begin with something simple and fantasy based as are found in the patterns of fairy tales.
lindssaurussss lindssaurussss 8 years
let them watch disney movies! or lets just start telling them the cold hard truth about the world at 6? when children grow up their gonna learn eventually stories like this arent real. let them watch cute happy movies before taking that away from them huh?
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
As I recall, I watched Disney movies and enjoyed them immensely as a child (mostly because I loved to sing along), but they never influenced my thinking in the real world. As parents it's our job to help kids through the transition from unreality to reality.
bluepuppybites bluepuppybites 8 years
My daughter loves Disney movies. She really loves Sleeping beauty with the dragon because she actually likes to be scared! I love to watch them with her, and I love trying to hunt them down. They are great movies and I also will be reading classic tales to her, like Hansel and Gretel. It's sad that the classics kids and adults are dying out.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
how about instead of blaming Disney or "inappropriate TV" or whatever else, why don't parents start parenting -- if your kid has a question or concern, talk to them about it!
miss-malone miss-malone 8 years
No, I think they are still wonderful. Kids should be able to enjoy these classics :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
No they dont send a wrong message, they arent meant to be taken as mirroring real life, they are for entertainment only.
Pistil Pistil 8 years
No. Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go watch some reality TV. :oy:
RunninginBoston RunninginBoston 8 years
It kind of always bugged me that most of the characters had dead parents, but hundreds of years ago, being an orphan was probably one of the worst things possible. No orphanages, no foster care to help out. And for girls, there was no hope or employment or ownership of property. Fairytales were probably a nice escape from reality for those girls who had no other way out of poverty than a miracle marriage to a rich guy. I think if parents put stories in perspective for kids, they don't do any harm.
SusanTeufel SusanTeufel 8 years
As a kid watching those movies, honestly, I didn't even notice any of those things that I re-notice now that I am older. Let them watch them.
le-romantique le-romantique 8 years
Fairy Tales are a form of entertainment. We use forms of entertainment to escape reality. Its not harmful... there is MUCH worse out there!
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