Does Disney Hate Families?
October 22, 2007
My son, age 4, has became a Disney Channel junkie. His preference is for the nightly shows, aimed at teens and tweens, with his favorites being, Cory In The House, The Suite Life of Zac and Cody, and Hannah Montana. Disney rotates these 3 shows, pretty much exclusively, during it’s nighttime programing. My son has seen them all, multiple times, and I often watch with him, espically Zac and Cody.
About a month ago I noticed something about these three shows, which alarmed me. Zac and Cody are teenage twins being raised by a single mom, in a hotel where she serves as the lounge singer. Their father rarely visits, and it is rare that he is spoken of. They can often be found roaming the streets of Boston, or harassing the resident teenage hotel heiress, London. London’s mother passed on, and father is on a eternal business trip, leaving his high schooler daughter to fend for herself, with no parental figure at home.
Hannah Montana and Cory (from Cory in the House) are both being raised by their fathers. Word is that Hannah’s mother is deceased, and I’m unsure about Cory’s lineage. Never the less, notice the common thread? One parent, never two.
Upon noticing this trend, I determined that children in single parent families must be in the majority, for Disney to center all of it’s prime-time programing on this demographic. I did some research, and I was plesantly surprised at the results. According to my findings, as of 2002 less than 1/3 of all children were being raised in single parent households.
While researching Disney television shows for this entry, I found an interesting blog entry here, about Disney movies. I suppose I had never thought about it, but Disney movies are also full of absent parents. Belle (Beauty and the Beast) and Ariel (The Little Mermaid) are both motherless in their stories, while Nemo and Bambi lose their mothers in the plots. Dumbo is fatherless, Cinderella an orphan, and these are just the ones that come to mind immediately. I’m sure if I were to really sit down and think, I could come up with dozens more.
I understand the divorce and death are a fact of life for many children, and I applaud Disney for producing shows that children in those situations can relate to. Some people even feel that Disney is responsible for putting shows centered around single-parent households on the map. I think it is great that they have embraced this demographic, however, I do not understand how they have managed to go to the other extreme. By focusing on single-parent homes exculsively, Disney has managed to alienate the other 69% of their target audience.
I did find some hope this weekend. I watched a new show with the litte tyke entitled, “Wizards of Waverly Place”, which centers around a nuclear family! Maybe Disney doesn’t hate traditional families after all.