Disney Channel aims to both educate and entertain families and children of all ages, emphasizing the belief that “Dreams really do come true”. Throughout its history, the network has experienced substantial changes in content. Presently, the movies, TV shows, and messages conveyed in programs have a stronger appeal to older viewers rather than younger ones. Movies offer a special opportunity to momentarily break away from reality and immerse ourselves in a world of fantasy. They provide a chance to revisit cherished childhood memories while eliciting various emotions, both positive and negative.
Movies provide a means to relax and enjoy oneself, featuring various ratings such as G, PG, PG-13, and R. Although it is unlikely for a six-year-old to view content designed for teenagers, many children of that age are watching these types of films. Classic Disney movies created between the 1930s and 1999 consist of titles like The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi,Alice in Wonderland,and Peter Pan.
These are all animated movies targeted for young children. However, starting in 2000, Disney movies have transitioned to being unanimated and sometimes inappropriate for certain age groups that Disney is intended for. Some recent movies produced by Disney include Remember the Titans, Gotta Kick It Up!, Cadet Kelly, The Cheetah Girls, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean, Princess Protection Program, Alice in Wonderland, and Prom. Additionally, the actors and actresses on Disney Channel are all teenagers who face obstacles during high school.
Disney Channel movies typically focus on teenagers going through relatable situations. However, their recent releases have shifted towards a more mature audience and may not be suitable for younger viewers. In contrast, classics like Beauty and the Beast are appropriate for children to watch. Despite being a children’s network, Disney Channel strangely broadcasts movies that are too advanced for its intended audience. An example of this is the notably mature film Remember the Titans.
The film is centered around the integration of two predominantly white schools and one all African American school, combining students and staff into a unified system. However, the main themes of violence and racism are not suitable for children under ten years old. Such a movie should be aired on channels with an older audience, as the content contains explicit language that is inappropriate for young children watching Disney Channel.
According to Common Sense Media, parents should be aware that the movie contains scuffles, gruesome tackles, a near fatal car accident, two boys kiss, racial epithets, inappropriate locker room chat, and insults. People often question how programs like this are approved for Disney Channel. Another example of this argument is the movie The Cheetah Girls. This movie features four best friends who sing and dance and call themselves The Cheetah Girls. The girls are determined to become famous by promoting their songs and gaining recognition.
The movie depicts the girls facing obstacles and having their friendship tested throughout the process. The lesson conveyed in this film is the significance of hard work, the power of friendship, and the love for music. However, an issue arises as the names given to the girls are rather stereotypical for African Americans, namely Galleria, Chanel, Aqua, and Dorinda. Additionally, in all the movies, the girls demonstrate selfish and snobby behavior. It is important not to promote such conduct to young girls who aspire to become famous actresses.
This trend of inappropriate content is not only observed in Disney Channel movies but also in all their television shows. Examples from Disney Channel include Witches of Waverly Place, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Hannah Montana. The actors and actresses featured in these shows are teenagers who are navigating high school and the challenges of growing up. Regrettably, certain content within these shows has been deemed highly inappropriate and has been reported to Disney Channel.
Hannah Montana has garnered negative feedback for its mature themes and Miley Cyrus’ personal problems beyond Disney Channel. The show revolves around a teenager named Hannah Montana who leads a dual existence as both a high school student and a popular singer. Miley Cyrus portrays the character of Hannah Montana, who develops a crush on a classmate. According to CommonSense Media, “Hannah Montana is inappropriate for young audiences due to its subtle romantic suggestions.” Additionally, Miley’s character is depicted as spoiled and frequently gets her way by asking her father, Billy Ray Cyrus.
According to a concerned mother who posted on CommonSense Media, young viewers who watch this show may see spoiled behavior as normal and aspire to be bratty themselves. The mother expressed discomfort with her five-year-old daughter idolizing Miley Cyrus, especially given recent rumors that turned out to be true. These rumors involved semi-naked photos of Cyrus in Vanity Fair that had spread globally. The mother argues that Hannah Montana, being geared towards older girls, should not be aired on Disney Channel considering the large number of young viewers it attracts.
Miley Cyrus purchased a $75,000 Mercedes convertible and expressed her desire to become the next Madonna to People magazine. She declined a kiss from Katy Perry, the singer of “I Kissed a Girl,” and even charged $250 for admission to her sweet 16 birthday celebration at Disneyland (The Daily Dish). Many mothers are concerned about their daughters looking up to a celebrity who has gained such a negative reputation. The excessive fixation on boys that Miley demonstrates on the show has the potential to influence young girls to emulate her behavior.
Given the mentioned reasons, Hannah Montana is deemed unsuitable for five-year-olds. However, the question remains: is it appropriate for its intended audience of “tweens”? The Suite Life of Zack and Cody revolves around two teenage boys living in a hotel due to their mother’s occupation. These boys frequently misbehave, resulting in punishment from the hotel owner, Mr. Mosby. Their portrayal also includes elements of disrespect and entitlement, which can potentially influence impressionable young adolescents.
The continuous arguing and disagreements among the boys and their mother in each episode have a detrimental impact on children, as it normalizes disrespect towards one’s mother. Like Hannah Montana, Zack and Cody also demonstrate an excessive fascination with the opposite sex, implying that having a romantic partner is essential for happiness. Additionally, these shows and movies feature abundant violence, sexual content, disrespectful conduct, entitlement, and obnoxiousness. Furthermore, certain actors and actresses associated with these productions possess a negative reputation beyond their acting careers.
Young children who watch Disney Channel idolize these actors and actresses, aspiring to be like them in the future. They imagine themselves being on Disney Channel and acting just like them. However, when these actors and actresses portray spoiled behavior and the shows exceed the viewers’ level of maturity, it becomes evident that the viewers will likely imitate the same behavior. It is important for Disney Channel to closely monitor its programming and carefully consider if it conveys an appropriate message to its young audience.