Walt Disney and Fairy Tales

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Are the Disney tales having a good or bad effect on children?

Fairy tales are very old; many of them had been orally passed on through the centuries, and evolved a lot. This kind of story, initially intended for children, often involved some fanciful creatures or extraordinary adventures. Fairy tales might include a moralistic stance or warning against dangers but always have an ethical undercurrent to the story, a "lesson" to be learned. In this paper, we are going to discuss the good and the bad effects of Disney fairy tales on children. Walter “Walt” Elias Disney was an American producer, very popular for recycling old fairy tales by turning them into famous cartoons. He adapted those stories for children. Fairy tales have both negative and positive effects on children but positive effects outweigh the bad ones. Walt Disney has often been criticized for the movies that he made. People have found some dialogues racist or sexist. Despite that, nobody can deny that Disney movies have been parts of everyone’s childhoods, and that children have learned a lot by watching them. In these following lines, we will try to demonstrate whatever Disney fairy tales teach children to be tolerant, teach children to be safe, and the importance of listening to their parents or guardians, or if Disney fairy tales have bad effects on children, teaching them some bad way of living. Even if racism and discrimination are still important problems in our actual society, fairy tales can teach children to become more tolerant. In our society, acts of brutality and hateful speech are common, and often “engendered by increasingly young children.” According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), children between 2 and 5 years of age start to become aware of race, ethnicity, gender and disabilities. (They can accurately identify “Black” and “White” when labeling pictures, dolls and people.) Children learn stereotypes and attitudes about race from their parents, caretakers and the world around them (Linn & Poussaint, 1999). This world includes television, books, the Internet and, of course, movies and fairy tales. Actually, modern cartoons are more and more violent, and awful things are seen on TV or in daily life. However, each Disney movie gives a lesson of tolerance. Let’s take for example the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp his fairy tale takes place in the 1950s and stages two main characters with two different ways of life. The “Lady” is a female dog that lives in a sumptuous house, and had good manners. The “tramp” is a wandering male dog that does not have any education. At first blush, anybody would think that they would never meet each other, let alone fall in love. Indeed, in most people’s minds, persons coming from different standards of living cannot be together, especially during that time. Despite that, Walt Disney decides to show the viewers that even if two are different, it is possible to be together, and to be in love with each other. For children looking at this Disney movie, it can be a real lesson of tolerance. Indeed, it shows that even if they do not look the same, even if they are black or white, they are still equal. It is really important to teach children tolerance, especially in our actual society, due to the many ethnic problems that we face, not only with skin color, but also with religions or cultures. Let’s look to another example, The Beauty and the Beast. This fairy tale is focused on how physical appearances are present in our minds. “Classics such as Beauty and the Beast emphasize the importance of character and attitude over physical appearance” (Kung, 2011). The ‘beauty’ named Belle, meets the Beast, once a handsome prince turned into a hideous beast by an enchantress. This curse will be cancelled only if the Beast finds someone who will love him in spite of his appearances. The Beauty would have to fight her first judgments about the Beast to finally discover his inner...
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