Why Disney is a Four-Letter Word

I loathe you, Disney.

Not the Disney of our youth. Not the animation and magic that even little dinosaur and Star Wars oriented boys like me don’t want to admit love for, but secretly do. I’m talking about the Disney Channel of today, in particular. How I’d love to sit in on a board meeting while they dream up new petulant, contrary, smart-ass kids for their television lineup.

I should say this isn’t a full-on jihad against all things Disney – the boy of my youth would have been starry-eyed over such contemporary Disney concoctions/sidekicks as Olive from “A.N.T. Farm” and Lilly of “Hannah Montana” fame.

I’d like also to say that what a kid watches on TV – or a grown-up, for that matter – doesn’t have such a damning influence as we might fear. Yes, I wanted to be a storm trooper (but am I too short?) Sure, I stomped around like a T-Rex when I was a kid (we called it tyrannosaurus rex, back then). But today, at age 41, I don’t work for the Evil Empire, and I’m not a horrifying extinct lizard (stop right there!).

So why do Disney kids make me want to puncture my ear drums and superglue my eyelids shut?

I feel like the dude who calls the national talk shows and grinds out his complaints about government conspiracies. Crazy old man. But he probably feels the rant is nothing short of the truth being set free. Like the caller who blames the government for global warming, unemployement and gun-control legislation, every time my child blurts an ornery answer or pins an insult on a sibling or challenges me, I want to spew blame.

  • Blame, on middle kids on one show who call their father “fat,” their brother “dumb” and chastize their mom’s cooking – only to have the birthday party of his life bestowed upon him (after which he reaffirms his familiar insults before thanking them half-assedly for their efforts).
  • Blame on stupid boys climbing into dumb waiters with no adult supervision to be found.
  • Kim Rhodes

  • Blame on twin boys with the gall to fool their mother into believing they were adhering to an in-room grounding by playing a continual audio loop of them playing go-fish.
  • I know, I know … who lets them watch these shows? We, as parents. Just as we watch shows about Zombies and movies about serial killers and reality TV that cheapens the human condition, we know that just because a kid watches a horrible show or listens to a terrible song or admires a troubled celebrity, it doesn’t mean she wants to be horrible or terrible or troubled. It’s just entertainment.

    But this influence remains.

    I won’t name you, snotty oldest sister who likes to play dumb. I won’t out you, annoying tween with an attitude and pissy web log who disdains the college experience. I won’t drag your name through the mud, rudderless teenager who fights with her best friend to try and date a celebrity too old for her.

    I won’t call you out, but I do loathe you. I loathe the notion you plant in my kids’ minds that grown-ups are stupid, that siblings ought to hate each other out loud, and that in order to get what you want, it’s right and just and joyful to roll your friend/classmate/rule book to get what you want.

    You’ve glorified dumb.

    You’ve deified clueless.

    You’ve praised a parallel universe in which adults are labotomized, parents stand in the way of kids and the success of their garage bands, and the best way to the top is a solo flight wrought with deception, conceit and vulgar behavior.

    Walt disney portrait

    You’ve rendered the very name Disney, once the surname of a stately grey-haired illustrator and dream maker, to Smurf status.

    You’re a stand-in for a curse word. Instead of “Let’s get the Smurf outta here!”, I’m likely to say:

    “You’re full of Disney,”

    “You bet your Disney I’m turning off the TV now!”

    “What the Disney is that??”

    Disney 2013, you make me long for the good old days. At least of Hannah Montana.

    Sure, the acting was D-grade, but at least Hannah wouldn’t roll Lilly for a cute boy or expensive MUST-HAVE handbag.

    My kids or the players on my teams might be too loud, burp in public, or even forget to say “thank you.”

    That’s on me.

    But when they spew a bad-tempered, disgraceful and self-centered quip when I ask them to do something, it’s like their waiting for a Disney laugh track to fire up, and buffoon parents to stumble cluelessly out of the room just in time for a teen/tween eye roll, I wonder what inspires them.

    Well, that’s still on me, for letting them watch some of your crap.

    Maybe I should just shut the Disney up.


    1. And THIS is why we don’t watch The Disney channel.
      (Except I do have a thing for iCarly. Is that wrong?)
      Off to tweet your awesomeness!

      1. I wish we never had. I remember that it was a treat for the girls to see Disney shows when we traveled, but quickly understood the rancor and disease these shows spread.

        Then came Netflix.

        (moment of silence).

        I won’t say if it’s right or wrong for your iCarly thing, but I do happen to hate that show with particular vigor. I do like A.N.T. Farm and Phineus and Ferb, and True Jackson isn’t bad.

        They’re all vices.

        1. No. I just like Carly. She’s the only one. The whole premise of the show is ridiculous. But I love Miranda. Ever since School of Rock.

        2. It’s hard for me to pick out something salvageable in any of these shows if I hate the premise. It’s kind of like a hair in my pepperoni pizza.

          Who am I kidding? I’d pull out the hair and keep eating. We all know this.

    2. AnnMarie says:

      I couldn’t agree more. There was a show and I’m not sure if it was Disney or Nickelodeon called “The Fairly Odd Parents” or something like that and I wouldn’t let my kids watch it because I was so sick of them making parents out to be idiots. I totally agree with you that a lot of the shows that my daughter wants to watch are full of obnoxious kids that think bad behavior is funny. I miss Hannah Montana, too and The Cosby Show (not remotely related to Disney but I still miss it).

      1. Amen. I do remember that show, and maybe that was the epicenter of all this mess. There’s a difference between mischief and just being a pain in the ass looking for a laugh track.

        I watched a couple of snippets of “Dog with a Blog” to find video for this post, and I found it interesting that the parents were the snotty petulant ones, and the kid was the level-headed intelligent one.

    3. I’m so glad my kids are just about out of Disney, although the girls do get girlie and still want to watch Victorious or whatever the hell it is. I did like iCarly. However I miss the days of stay at home Momdom and the little ones watching “Out of the Box”. *tear*

      1. There has to be some sort of limit, right? Like, hours served, for so many hours of viewing time. Zach and Cody should count double.

        Do you remember “You Can’t Do That On Television” on Nickelodeon?

    4. I think this is the Disney way, though. Think about all the old cartoons – the formula is always a broken home (one parent or step-parent) why is that? Why has Disney always undervalued the role of parents? We tend to equate Disney with wholesomeness, but it’s really not. I have had friends work at Disney theme parks and they have all sorts of bizarre rules. There was a story about one one of these rules (“No one dies on Disney property”) in which a man who had a heart attack was driven off Disney property and then declared dead. Could be an urban legend, but sounds bizarre enough to be Disney to me.

      1. Disney does have a beat-up notion of family, doesn’t it? Marie and I had to leave the theater after the barracuda scene in Finding Nemo – it was her first big-screen movie experience, and she was about 3 or 4 at the time. Maybe the mouse is Disney’s pacifier for us.

        I can imagine being inside the Disney family would be kind of cultish – I mean, any world that has one dog as a best friend (Goofy) and one as a pet (Pluto) definitely is operating a different plane.

    5. Chris Carter says:

      AMEN BROTHER!!! It just keeps getting worse and worse doesn’t it? Totally sharing this piece. BRAVO!!!

      1. Thanks for sharing the love (or, hate), Chris! I couldn’t keep this bottled up any longer. Now I feel I can move on to frivolity and gluttony.

    6. Jim says:

      I’m with you…I am a big Disney fan overall, but their TV division has slid (or skied?) down a slippery slope since the Hannah Montana days. What’s far worse is the Disney content on ABC ‘Family’–which I have to restrict with my 14 year old.

      1. Yeah, things really have gone badly, haven’t they? When Hannah Montana used to irk me back in the day, who knew I’d one day wish for her good old hey days.

        What’s the deal with ABC Family? I’ve heard stuff about tweens/early teens dealing with issues they barely even touched on 90210.

        Where’s the “family” in that?

    7. Couldn’t agree more. I miss the days of the Wonderful World of Disney… remember the Sunday night movie when we were kids? I think it came on right after Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

      1. Heck yes I remember those days. And Wild Kingdom! See, we should let our kids watch that.

        Wild, Wild World of Animals was cool, too, but I think that show showed animals eating each other.

        My girls would probably think that’s cool.

    8. Well said!!! We only watch Disney when we visit my parents, and even then, in very small doses. Same with YTV. No Netflix. No zombies. No TMNT, or Pokemon, or other super hero shows. Little Guy thinks were unfair and “mean” (and secretly I think, good! I’m doing something right) but it’s not just about limiting, but about teaching him to make good choices to last a lifetime! We used to watch the Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night! Miss it.

      1. Wow, you’re like, Quakers, or The Waltons. I dig it.

        You’re doing the right thing. I think watching this Disney noise predisposes kids to want to see junk like a celebrity chef show later in life. (I like food, but not food with rancor and screaming involved).

    9. All I can say is thank GOD neither of the kids seem to want to watch Disney – luckily Princess Nagger was more of a PBS kinda girl, then Sprout, and Little Dude loves all Sprout all the time (when the TV is actually on, that is). 🙂 I LOVE this, because you totally nailed what I was thinking when I couldn’t quite grasp why I subconsciously sped past the Disney channel listings when looking for something good or entertaining on for the kids to watch. 😉 And now I’m going to start using Disney as an alternate exclamation because it’s so fitting. 😉

      1. You dodged a big, dysfunctional, sarcastic slime ball when you skated through without Disney. Most Disney programming is such crap, and I don’t mind saying so. Or, I should say, it’s so Disney!

    10. Well said, my friend. I know it has been several years since this post and things have gotten worse, much worse. Seriously, my kids are better off seeing the Viagra commercials during the MLB games than a half an hour on Disney. At least I can explain THAT, according to science and our moral standards. Nickelodeon was banned from our tv years ago and Disney (not including Disney Jr) is quickly joining the ban brigade…
      Eli, you need to join Periscope, watching you think out loud would be hilarious 🙂

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        Look who stopped by. Great to see you, Ashley. Kids today have it ingrained in their minds to be sure to check with their doctor to see if they’re physically healthy enough for sexual activity.

        Have you had to explain it? I make conversation. Loud conversation. About anything but.

        Kids love that rude crude shit that Nick and Disney produce. Oh, the dads in those shows …

        (Although the mom in Ricky, Dicky Nicky and Dawn is dreamy.)

        What the hell is Periscope? No matter. I’ve put “get on Periscope” in my Wunderlist.”

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