Not that Disney is an accurate cultural barometer or anything, but being that I have three little ones, I have noticed a shift in the way Disney films play out. There was the typical ‘find your own way’ that is common in a Disney film, especially among the “Princess” movies. Ariel leaves the Mermaid world behind to ‘find herself’ as a human being; Gisele (Enchanted), finds true love on her own terms–leaving her land of cartoon fantasy for 21st century modern romance. Not that there is anything wrong with ‘finding yourself’ per se, but it reeks of individualism, one finds success, not by becoming a part of one’s community and folkways, but by leaving one’s community and folkways behind.
In the recent Tinkerbellfilm, Tink of course wants ‘something different’ than what ‘tinker fairies’ are supposed to be. She wants adventure and to find her way. However, she learns that she is not who she really is unless she works for the benefit of others. Similar plots appear in Toy Story, High School Musical and even the recent Hannah Montana movie.
Now I am no fool. I know that Disney/Pixar is a marketing machine. My kids are mesmerized by the toys, movies, and clothes that Disney produces and I know that my 6 and 8 year old daughters (and my Toy Story obsessed 4 year old boy) are targets of Disney’s money driven machine.
But maybe, just maybe, Disney’s shift is one in the right direction. It is not about one’s commitment to one’s selfish desires, it is about one’s commitment to the greater good. “We’re all in this together” after all.