The Disney blockbuster Frozen is the most successful animated movie of all time. Yay for Disney but what does that mean for the rest of humanity, particularly men? Is this just harmless entertainment or is there something more sinister at work here?
Disney has been the beloved purveyor of fantasy through animation for decades and wields a great deal of cultural power. The question we should all be asking ourselves is if Disney is using that power responsibly. Most of us were brought up on Disney. Who doesn’t have fond memories of their favorite childhood movie, Disney-inspired toy or character? Disney is such a household name that it’s hard to associate it with anything other than the warmest of feelings.
And therein lays the problem. Most of us assume that our children will be safe when parked in front of an animated movie made for children, marketed to children, and served up in child-friendly way. However, whatever ideology Disney is peddling gets soaked right into the innocent minds of children everywhere. The fact is Disney’s biggest audience is also the most vulnerable and we should not underestimate the influence Disney movies have on the emotional, social and psychological development of our children. When there is a pervasive theme saturating a growing number of movies and then reinforced through multiple avenues of merchandising, that theme becomes the accepted reality for a child.
What reality am I talking about? Since the late 70’s, Disney has created more and more animated films depicting the demise of men. No longer is a man considered the hero or even heroic for that matter, but rather a “necessary evil”. Today’s Disney films are a far cry from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the Sword in the Stone. As much as Disney’s animations have become ever more spectacular and sophisticated, its treatment of men has become ever more warped, jaded and outright duplicitous. Just about every male Disney character today is now shoehorned into three cleverly disguised archetypes that depict men in the worst way possible.
You’re Not Needed Anymore
So what are these archetypes? There’s the egotistical sexist criminal, the bumbling moron and last but not least, the greedy capitalist. Take a hard look at the Disney films your kids are watching today and you’ll begin to understand why we have an entire generation of young men who are completely lost and confused, if not terrified about how they will be judged by today’s society. The elephant in the room is that men are portrayed as superfluous. Disney’s war on boys has now pushed past the limits of animation and into the realm of live action. The new Star Wars films is a great example and have done a superb job at communicating a strong message to all men across the galaxy – you’re not needed any more. In fact, the galaxy would be better off without you. Is there any wonder why we have an entire generation of young men who are deciding to opt out of life? Failure to launch anyone?
Frozen and Brave are two of the best examples of reverse sexism you’ll ever see if you’re really willing to read between the lines. Frozen has been hailed as progressive “One reason for its success is its huge divergence from other Disney films, particularly in its depiction of modern people, problems and ideas that resonate with millennials.” Really?
A Spoonful of Sugar Help the Medicine Go Down
If you read the newspapers, this new dare I say “hip” way of looking at modern society today sounds fantastic, until it doesn’t. Disney’s mainstay is princesses and fairy tales and the Disney Princess is first and foremost a marketing franchise. Disney is one of the world’s most powerful brands, so we have to accept that the anti-male trend is not accidental, it’s monetary. Eric Jenkins, from the University of Cincinnati, has studied the role of media, specifically animation, in the evolution of consumerism. He says, “What I’m suggesting is that the type of animation perfected by Disney over his ‘golden age’… not only promotes consumerist behavior, but trains us in the habits of consumerism,”
Back to Frozen. Sure, it’s great to have a heroine portrayed as independent and able to save herself instead of waiting around to be rescued by Prince Charming. But why must it be done at the expense and dignity of men? Instead of making the Prince a worthy equal, the message is – no prince required at all. Frozen has been wildly successful and little girls everywhere have Frozen-themed birthday parties and love to dress up as the ice queen Elsa. Where does that leave little boys and who can they aspire to? The nose-picking, dim-witted, and smelly Kristoff or the verbally abusive, manipulative, deceitful and psychopathic Prince Hans? What a dismal choice!
As mother of young boys, Allison Hull asks, “Why Does Disney Hate Boys So Much? All Their Male Characters Are Losers.” She has noticed the bewilderment and frustration felt by her children because of Disney’s unbalanced focus on getting girls to “Dream Big” whilst hanging the boys out to dry as if they don’t deserve to dream big too. Hull says,“Women and men should be alarmed at this ongoing trend and take a stand. My boys are of value, and they need to be told they are special too. They also need to be told that they can save the day, just like the women. Disney, listen up: I’m watching you. Give my boys something tangible, something for them to emulate that’s real. Don’t push boys to the side to build up the girls. Why can’t we build and strengthen both?”
A Zero Sum Game
Why not indeed? Just as it was unfair for women to be stuck barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, it is equally unfair for the media to perpetuate the negative stereotypes of men that have crept into adverts, TV shows, memes, and movies. Bp. Robert Barron (auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles), says, “One of the distinctive marks of films and television programs the last couple of decades has been the Homer Simpsonization of men.”They are either the incompetent dad or the bumbling husband. “It is not enough, in a word, to show women as intelligent, savvy, and good; you have to portray men as stupid, witless, and irresponsible. That this savage contrast is having an effect especially on younger men is becoming increasingly apparent.”
Treating all this as a zero sum game is helping no one, including those who think that demeaning men is somehow beneficial to women. It isn’t. If we don’t find some way to right the pendulum that has swung from one extreme to the other, the marginalized young men of today will not grow into the healthy and productive husbands, partners, teachers, leaders and fathers that this world needs and that would be a crying shame. Boys deserve better and so do our girls.
About The Author
Brook Price dedicated himself to helping others early in his life. He grew up in Sunny Orange County California, then joined the Marine Corps at the age of 21 serving five and half years as a helicopter crew chief and then as chief accountant. His journey with this type of work began when he volunteered as a Young Marines Instructor during his time in the Marines, helping kids get off the street, improve their lives and develop as a leader. After his tour Brook left the Marines to pursue a career in experiential therapy by attending Southern Utah University where he majored in outdoor recreation with a minor in psychology.
Brook has seventeen years experience working for a variety of different therapeutic and transitional programs across the nation. His thirst for knowledge drove him to learn and study successful therapeutic models and programs across the country, most notably Outward Bound. Brook has experience working with therapeutic, residential, military, wilderness and transitional programs for adults and adolescents.