Most people see Disney movies as the pinnacle of family entertainment. With titles such as “Cinderella,” “The Lion King,” and “Toy Story” as just a few of the legendary chapters in Disney’s immense film library, it’s hard to imagine a better source of a good, clean night of family fun.
However, thanks to services like Disney+ and Netflix making much of the studio’s library easily available, parents are now getting the chance to revisit some of Disney’s classics for the first time in decades — and they’re having mixed results. According to a study commissioned by OnBuy.com, some parents are seeing those old films with a more critical eye.
The study had parents in England share thoughts on 10 specific Disney movies and share two opinions. It first asked them if the movies’ themes were appropriate for their kids and, second, if they would allow their children to watch the movie. It turns out that some of Disney’s older movies approach certain subjects and characters in ways that don’t always connect well with the attitudes of modern society.
Rear view of family watching tv in living room
Which Movies Scored The Worst?
Parent participants gave Disney’s beloved 1941 hit, “Dumbo,” the worst combined score of the 10 films, with nearly a third of them saying it was “inappropriate” and more than a quarter of them saying they would not let their children watch the film.
There’s no doubt Dumbo is a cute hero, but there are a few scenes in the movie that raise eyebrows. First, “Dumbo” features a number of cultural stereotypes, particularly with a flock of black crows who speak like dated African-American stereotypes and have a leader named Jim Crow. These are not exactly subtle racial references. Dumbo also gets visibly intoxicated in the movie and has some pretty disturbing hallucinations.
Parents in the survey also found 1953’s “Peter Pan” problematic, with about a fifth of responses labeling it inappropriate and more than a quarter of them saying their kids wouldn’t be permitted to view it.
According to the parents asked, the worst offense by that classic film is how Native Americans are discussed and portrayed. Beyond that, Peter is kind of a jerk who declares “girls talk too much” and Tinkerbell considers killing Wendy in a jealous rage. Not exactly warm, fuzzy moments for your children there.
Interestingly, 1940’s “Fantasia” actually had the most parents say they wouldn’t let their kids watch it, with 32% of parents answering that way. However, only 11% of parents found that movie’s themes to be inappropriate, meaning that possibly the intense imagery in the film was the reason for their distaste. If you’ve never seen it, “Fantasia” has a series of cartoon shorts play out over classical music with no dialogue.
Other films that had at least 20% of parents saying they wouldn’t let their kids watch them were “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Aristocats” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
The other movies included in the survey were “The Jungle Book,” The Little Mermaid,” “Bambi” and “Toy Story 3,” all of which fared better with parents overall. The only movie to receive no negative responses in terms of inappropriate themes was “Toy Story 3.”
The survey finds that parents should not simply assume that just because a movie has the Disney label that it will be appropriate for any age or occasion. While many of the movies included in the survey have not aged well, based on our culture’s current attitudes, many of them are still worth watching with our children, if only to give us the opportunity to discuss sensitive issues in a safe environment.
Are there any Disney movies that have made you uncomfortable when you screened them with your kids?