November 22, 2011

Random Thoughts-Five Bad Lessons From Kids Movies and TV (and song)

I was just kicking around some thoughts, and decided to share them. Remember this all opinion, and if I am off base then let me know.

Five Bad Lessons From Kids Movies and TV (and song)

It’s interesting as one becomes an adult, the more they realize that things they believed as children aren’t true. Some are understandable. For example I never had a problem teaching kids about Santa Claus, as long as it’s done responsibly. What’s wrong with learning how to give from oneself, without anything expected in return? That is the message of Santa Claus.
However, some messages our society give kids are not so good. I wanted to go over some that always bugged.
#5.When you wish upon a star, your dreams will come true. Well, not quite. There is certainly not anything wrong with wishing for things and being positive, but you need more than that. Early Disney loved this lesson, it’s in Cinderella and Pinocchio among others. The truth is that some work and effort is required in order to get what you want, just sitting by the lake wishing or staring at star ain’t gonna do it. This also applies for relationships, I always remember Ariel from Little Mermaid who decided she was in love with someone she had never met. In the end she gets him, through no effort on her part. Yeah, wrong lesson there Disney.

#4.The President has an easy job and doesn’t answer to anyone. Why do people like letting kids believe this one? The presidency is not easy and he has to answer to, I don’t know, the whole country! I get so annoyed when kids think if they become president that means they can boss people around because no one tells the president what to do. Mary Kate and Ashley were nice enough to immortalize that last line as a song, and I’d hate to see the child who finds out being the president ain’t all roses and sunshine.  I am so glad I was too old for Mary Kate and Ashley, were any of their lessons positive? This bothers me because of the big picture; I don’t believe you should ever teach a kid it is ever acceptable to be bossy or not to listen to other people. I would like to hear an adult explain to a kid that even the president has to follow rules and listen to people.

#3.Being a brat is funny. Home Alone, Dennis the Menace, Problem Child. Need I go on? What is it with these movies that show bratty kids as heroes? Even teenagers are not immune, just check out Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In all of these movies, the kids would wind up growing up to be criminals. The sad thing is, I see parents do this in real life. “Oh, not my sweet angel!” For some reason parents in this society are so afraid to discipline their kids that they let them run wild. That isn’t the lesson they should be teaching.  

#2. It’s Ok to be mean to People Who are Different-You may be wondering where this came from, but just listen to the song Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The whole song is about a reindeer with an abnormality that is shunned, until his abnormality turns out to be useful. The cartoon we have loved is a little better, but it still carries the same lesson. Rankin & Bass also had this lesson in “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year”. The baby has floppy ears, and we’re told its ok to laugh as long as no harm is meant. Really? The problem is kids need to learn to treat everyone as a unique individual, and get to know the real person. For some reason a lot of kids just never learn this, teasing and bullying is still a huge problem which I find just amazing.

#1.You can be anything you want to be. This one always killed me. I blame Sesame Street for it for some reason, but it’s all over the place really. Any cartoon or show has had this lesson at one time or another. It’s not as simple as just deciding you want to be something. It’s true; if you want to be something and you study and work hard you might get to be that thing. And if you do that, fantastic. However, you can’t be “anything” you want no matter how much you want it. Let’s say I wanted to become an astronaut, there are only about a dozen reasons why that isn’t going to happen. You have to be smart, very fit, and so on. I have no problem with encouraging a child who shows an interest in something, absolutely that’s what you should do. But telling them they can be “absolutely anything” is a bit misleading. I would rather people used the Brady Bunch credo, find what it is you do well and do your best with it. That’s a bit more grounded in reality. I feel the other message is setting them up for disappointment when the time comes and the child realizes there is no way they are ever going to be an astronaut (or whatever).


  1. Good post, except for this little detail: Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" did have to work for her happy ending. Sure, it might be stupid to give up everything for a man. Especially if you never even had a conversation with him. And yeah, I guess that she was also stupid to trust Ursula (she was under emotional stress though after her father had destroyed her collection and probably didn't think clearly at the time). But she also saved Eric's life twice, and she also helped him with defeating Ursula.

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