Last year I wrote an article that shed a relatively positive light on a couple of their shows. But the latest slew of shows is just… awful. And I say this after trying very hard to give them the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, television fare for the under ten set is so limited that we wind up watching a lot of Disney Channel.
I really wanted to like ‘Jessie’, a show about rich, globe-trotting parents who’ve adopted a passel of kids from different ethnic backgrounds and who take in a small town transplant as the kids’ nanny. I actually did like it at first. But besides Disney’s formulaic, ‘you don’t need your parents, you can make any loving bunch work just as well for you’, it is so full of awful racial stereotypes, I just can’t take it anymore. The little black girl ‘Zuri’ is full of fire and fists. At every conflict she wants to raise her fists, or open a “can of whip-butt”. Ravi, the Indian boy has unrealistically retained his accent and talks of karma and how to non-violently deal with bullies. The blonde daughter is a fashion whore and the white boy is an academic dunce. Yawn. Not only predictable, but possibly really damaging for little psyches. And this is unfortunately one of my sons favorite shows.
I always watch TV with him, so I can monitor and talk, but our conversations have recently been about why so many of the Disney Channels characters behave in stereotypical ways and how that affects how children of different ethnicities view one another. Not really the discussion I wanted to be having with a seven year old, but I sure don’t want him to believe what he sees without a whole lot of my input. As for the show ‘Pair of Kings’, I have had to put my foot down. No more. When it’s co-star Mitchell Musso was arrested last summer for underage drinking and driving, Disney pulled him from the show and then created the most ridiculous story ever to replace him. And although my son thought the replacement story was stupid, he is apparently happy to continue watching regardless of who the kings are, as I guess is the case with most seven year old’s, which is why Disney is able to get away with this awful crap. Formulaic, stereotypical, condescending drivel with a feel good moral message at the end of each show to point to does not good television make.
I don’t want to completely vilify Disney as they have a few initiatives and features that are commendable, but I wonder if those are due more to a feeling of genuine care and obligation for their viewers or pressure from their few vocal and exasperated parents.
Many times I check out other mom-blogs for the issues that are being hotly discussed, or to find out what is popular and what isn’t. I’ve found some funny, some informative and many with product sponsored reviews and give-aways. Rarely do I find voices critical of popular culture or big business, or at least not nearly as much as I would like.