Disney is a big part of everyone's childhood. Who doesn't remember being a kid and loving those Disney classics like Cinderella or Dumbo? But it can undoubtedly be said that Disney has changed over the years. It not only changed in terms of visual animations but also in awareness of contemporary social issues, which is exactly why some of the older Disney movies tend to be quite problematic nowadays.
Kids can surely still watch those problematic Disney movies, but it is important for parents to be aware of the issues some of those Disney movies might carry, especially since parents actually need to address some of these issues. As noted, we grew up with some of those older Disney classics, and we turned out quite decent, but then again, who can for sure claim that some of the issues we face aren't a result of us subconsciously absorbing certain information at a very young age. At the end of the day all Disney movies, regardless whether they are old or newer have something people will pick on, but it is every parents' choice what they will and won't let their child watch, and this list might help with that.
Here are 10 Disney movies that are great for kids, and 10 that have certain issues one might want to avoid showing their children.
First, the 10 must-watches...
20 The Lion King
The Lion King is one of those Disney classics that most children (and adults) love.
There are two very important lessons which are why parents should let their child watch it.
The first one is that it teaches children about the circle of life. Now while learning that everyone born is not around forever isn't an easy lesson to take (which is why parents should make sure the child is old enough), it is a lesson that children need to learn at some point.
The second lesson is “Hakuna Matata”, aka "No worries for the rest of your days." Being happy and optimistic is a something that kids should be taught from a young age on.
Moana is one of those very new Disney movies that not only sends important messages through its storyline but also sends a very important message through the way the characters look.
Moana isn't the typical Disney princess with an impossible proportions. She looks more realistic, and above all, she looks healthy with a bit of visible muscle on her arms and legs.
While she still does look like an animated character, this change in animation beauty standards is very important for children, who look up to those characters and want to behave and look like them.
18 Peter Pan
Peter Pan, also known as The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up is another Disney classic kids should definitely see. The great thing about seeing it at a very young age is that it can help the kid realize that their childhood is something they should cherish and enjoy while it lasts because it definitely won't last forever. Surely a lot of us would love to have never grown up, but that's just not how things work. Peter Pan is a fun and exciting movie, and it has plenty of different characters, most of which are children, making this Disney classic very relatable one for kids.
Frozen is one of the first Disney movies where the main protagonist is a strong-minded, independent and brave Disney princess who isn't waiting for a guy to save her or change her life, but she takes matters in her own hands.
Being aware that girls are just as strong and smart as boys is a lesson that absolutely needs to be taught kids from a young age, regardless if they are boys or girls.
Besides this movie also focuses on the importance of family and just how strong a bond between siblings can be, making this a great movie to let siblings watch together as well.
16 Finding Nemo/Finding Dory
Finding Nemo and Finding Dory are two of those Disney/Pixar movies that have pretty much become instant kid (and parent) staples. The animations in them are beautifully made and they follow stories that teach kids not only about the importance of family and friends but also about obstacles that life can bring along. The movie's dialogue is pretty much perfect, and it is fun to watch for children, but it has some witty jokes grown-ups would definitely love as well. Besides who doesn't love diving into the magical world of sea creatures, especially if they look cute like that?
Mulan was one of those first Disney movies where the main protagonist was actually considered as a Disney princess, even though she couldn't care less about sparkly ball gowns and daydreaming about her prince charming. Instead, Mulan was very strong-minded, extremely brave and a true fighter, in a mental and physical sense of the word.
By watching Mulan, children learn to throw away gender stereotypes and be more open-minded when it comes to what boys and girls like and can grow up to be.
Mulan also gives racial variety to a commonly white bunch of Disney princesses, reminding children that everyone is the same, regardless of skin color or origin.
14 Toy Story
Toy Story was the first Disney/Pixar movie to become insanely popular among not just kids, but adults as well. When it came out back in 1995, everyone was loving the story and the animations, and not much has changed since.
It teaches our youngsters important lessons from believing in who you are and surrounding yourself with true friends, to respecting everyone's beliefs and never judging "toys by their packaging".
Seriously, Toy Story is a must watch for the whole family, and as it has two more sequels (the fourth Toy Story movie should come out sometime in 2019) it is bound to keep the kids entertained for a while.
Bambi is another adorable animal Disney movie like The Lion King and Finding Nemo. By having animals as the main protagonists, Disney manages to tell human stories in a whole new light. Besides, even though the movie is from 1942, the drawings are beautifully made, and kids will still appreciate the cuteness of all animals in it. Just like The Lion King, the story teaches children important life lessons and having animals as the main protagonists ensures the child will become more animal-friendly, which is a necessity in today's world where so many species are endangered because of human actions.
Ratatouille is another one of those Disney/Pixar classics that is definitely worth the hype. It is in essence very good for children because it teaches them the important lesson of never judging a book by its cover. As we all know, rats are the kind of animals humans usually dislike, and of course, since they can carry a lot of diseases it is justified, but at the end of the day, they are animals just like any other. Ratatouille teaches children to be more open-minded and to give everyone a fair chance because people (and animals) can always pleasantly surprise you.
11 The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is a classic Disney movie whose main lesson is to teach the viewers to never judge someone based on their appearance. Now while parents might try to teach their kids this by simply telling them, it is way better and more efficient for the children to learn it through a story, and that is exactly what The Hunchback Of Notre Dame offers. It also teaches kids that there can be a hero in all of us and to never lose hope, which are both two lessons that can be extremely valuable, especially in our modern world.
And now the 10 that parents should skip...
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
There are a few reasons why parents perhaps shouldn't let their kids watch one of the oldest Disney classics. Obviously, since it is so old, it portrays women in a different light, by implying that they are meant to stay at home and do housework since it's kinda all that Snow White does all the time: she cleans and cooks.
It also sends the message to young girls that they can use their beauty and looks to get what they want, which is definitely not a lesson for kids.
Not to even mention the whole idea of how the girl needs to be saved by a prince, this may have worked decades ago, but kids nowadays need to know better.
Aladdin is certainly not the worst on this list, however, it definitely has a few issues parent should be aware of. For instance, the way it teaches children that it is fine to run away from their problems as Jasmine did, or how it is acceptable for a guy to lie like Aladdin did to Jasmin by being Prince Ali.
Again, similarly to a lot of other movies, it portrays the girl as someone who should just sit and wait to be saved.
And while Jasmine decides not to wait, she uses her looks to get herself out of a situation, which is not really something young girls should learn to rely on.
As with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella has plenty of issues contemporary society is fighting against, making it another one of those Disney classics kids could do without. For instance, Cinderella is being heavily bullied by her stepmother and stepsisters, yet for some reason, she is too weak to ever stand up for herself, and again she needs to be saved by a guy. Another thing that a lot of these old-school Disney movies teach kids is that love, at first sight, is pretty much the only true love. Seriously, all these Disney princesses see a guy and immediately fall in love. Now while love, at first sight, can be a rare occurrence, kids should know that love can also happen gradually.
7 The Little Mermaid
Alright, another case of love at first sight, which is an issue we already discussed in some other Disney classics. Besides this, The Little Mermaid sends a terrible message to young girls, as Ariel pretty much gives up her voice for a guy she likes.
And in a world where women fought for so long and are still fighting daily to make sure their voices are heard, it really isn't a message that should be sent to young girls or boys.
No one should ever have to give up their voice for love. And no one should ever have to change their body just so they could be with someone.
6 Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty is also somewhat problematic, as the one female character who is completely independent, does what she wants and is powerful is Maleficent, and she is made to be the villain. Also, beauty plays a huge role in this one, it is even mentioned in the title. The two main things we know about Aurora is that she is beautiful and she can sing.
That's it. Now surely that isn't a good female role model for young kids, as it teaches them to become superficial. And another big no-go in this one, as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are those creepy kisses while they sleep.
Consent is important, and no matter how young the kids are, they need to know that.
5 The Jungle Book
While The Jungle Book teaches kids some great life lessons, it is problematic as certain animal characters have specific racial attributes. Primarily, the biggest issue is the monkeys in it, which are plainly coded as African American characters. It is especially bad when Baloo, the brown bear and one of the main characters decides to point out the monkey's physical characteristics in a negative sense, by telling them “Why you flat-nosed, little-eyed, flaky creeps!”. To make it worse, all the lines are told by white actors.
4 The Rescuers
Okay, The Rescuers doesn't have too many issues with the story, however, there was an issue with a subliminal message in one of the scenes. Back in 1999, Disney announced to withdraw the home versions of their 1977 movie because it had a hidden image of a topless woman in one of the scenes. Now while the image has since been removed in all newer releases, if the children have access to the older one, it can be quite certainly claimed that parents wouldn't want them necessarily seeing that not because there is something wrong with seeing human bodies, but because it is below good taste and way out of context in that scene.
3 Beauty And The Beast
While Beauty and the Beast might seem like a decent story at first, as the female character is a book-loving smart girl (which is a contrast to the older Disney princesses who were primarily just pretty and that's it), it certainly has a few underlying issues that should be addressed.
Firstly, the Beast isn't the nicest to Belle both emotionally and physically, and definitely manipulative as he uses presents to make Belle like him.
Another issue with the story is that Belle begins to not mind the fact she is being held prisoner. Surely, it's not the kind of story parents want their kids to watch.
Hercules is another one of those Disney movies where the female characters (whether it's the Lady Pegasus or Meg) heavily rely on their pretty looks. Not to mention that Meg has an incredibly unrealistic body that little girls could easily end up comparing themselves to. Another issue Hercules has is that while Meg is a great, fearless, and independent character, all of that kind of disappears once she falls in love.
Kids shouldn't be taught that they should change for love, or that it interferes with their independence.
Dumbo, similarly to The Jungle Book, is a good story, however, has problematic racial issues. The main one is that the crows in the movie are portrayed as extremely stereotypically African-American characters. Not to mention that one of them is even called Jim Crow. The issues don't end there, as there are a few problematic songs as well, the most significant being the "Song of the Roustabouts."