Disney, Thanks for the Joy.
I’m proud to be a Disney dad.
I was motivated to write a short essay regarding the importance of Walt Disney characters and how they have affected my parenting.
Last week, my mom scolded me when I asked her to send a DVD as a gift for my two and a half year old, Ray. (see photo of said requested DVD.)
Mom sent me a text reply: “It’s easy to tune out and watch a movie but more important to teach.”
This response bothered me.
I wasn’t asking for the DVD to act as a babysitter. My novice parental ego was injured in the fear that now someone whom I care about thinks that all I can do as a parent is plop my kiddo in front of the tube and hope for the best. I was also insulted at the assumption that there is nothing my kid could learn or be taught from a Disney movie. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I know personally how powerful of a teacher and motivator Walt Disney movies and their characters can be for a young person’s brain!
I first learned about life & death from ‘Bambi!’
I’m the dad that’s popping popcorn and riding the magic carpet through Agrabha; reliving my first time watching Aladdin through the tantalized eyes of my son. Robin Williams as the Genie; the best. Miss you, Robin.
I know all the lyrics to “Under the Sea”, and Ray likes his name, but sometimes he only answers to “Mufasa”. The opening African tribal outcry to start the Circle of Life scene is a big moment for our family. Click here and scream the opening sentence. Tell me you don’t feel great.
“To infinity and beyond!” is the direction I want him dreaming.
I know in the very near future my son will come to his dad for advice and I won’t have a more spot-on answer to give him than: “Just keep swimming.”
Each character in a Disney flick carries with them some sort of purpose. They are unique. What they bring to the world no one else can. They are always faced with challenges that test the will of the body and mind. And most importantly, no matter what type of character, Disney animators make the characters feel relate-able.
When my child creates a relationship with a character from a Disney movie he embodies the many successes and pains that are endured in the 90 minutes of animation. Most of the time the story ends in a triumphant victory — the bad guy loses — good guy wins — hugs for everyone.
Sometimes the ending is not so black and white and the viewers are left with existential questions like in ‘Wall-E.’ Ray digs it and he’s okay with the uncertainty. I think?
Mom, thank you for sending ‘Rescuers and Rescuers Down Under’ box DVD set. You’ve brought a great deal of happiness to the Mirons.
The main character in the movie ‘Rescuers Down Under’ (1990) is a blonde haired Australian 8 year-old boy who spends his days conversing with animals in the Outback. Cody is called upon to save the golden eagle, Marahute, from an evil poacher. After the first scene showing Cody conversing with the animals my son points to the monitor and says “That Ray.”
Cartoon Ray then proceeds to make friends with talking mice and other creatures and ultimately ends up saving the golden giant eagle from the poacher. Each time the movie is over Ray sits up a little more straight and has a sprig of optimistic sureness in his step. He knows he’s a hero. He helped make the eagle happy as he calls it.
“Now happy eagle.”
Happiness is not guaranteed in life. When we experience moments where happiness floods our existence and forces us to smile in the present, wow, those moments are rare and are deserving of our reflection.
Disney has helped me achieve many levels of happiness growing up and now as a parent I look forward to my children enjoying the magic as well. From the heroic characters and their achievements, to the inspirational music and genius attention to detail, Disney brings joy. And that’s all we can ask for our kids; that they live joyful lives.
May the joy be with you and your family.
Thanks again, Disney.