For over a decade, many Catholics and other Christians have had serious reservations about anything bearing the Disney brand. Troubling anti-family and pop-spirituality themes in Disney features (see article), objectionable corporate policies, and some of the more notorious projects of Disney’s subsidiary Miramax have all rightly been points of concern. These issues have sparked loud protests from the Christian community, and caused many to look elsewhere for family entertainment or to boycott Disney altogether.
Now, encouraging signs of change in recent Disney films suggest that the Mouse may be starting to get the message. The new trend began with surprisingly strong pro-family themes in direct-to-video sequels such as Lady & the Tramp II: Scamp’s Adventure. This positive depiction of family continued in the theatrically released (though still low-budget) sequels Return to Never Land and Jungle Book 2.
Last year, the trend hit big-budget Disney features. Characters in Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet were missing parents, but the films depicted this tragically, with unusual clarity and poignance. In the same year, themes such as faith, family, miracles and providence, overcoming anger with God, and human mortality figured prominently in the live-action Disney movies The Rookie, The Count of Monte Cristo, Signs, and Tuck Everlasting.
This year’s Holes continues the positive trend, with its affectionate view of family and redemptive themes. All of this is good news for those who want to see more wholesome entertainment at their local multiplex or video store.
Perhaps for some who have avoided Disney products in the past, the time may have come to consider beginning to reward these positive efforts. If the Disney brand alone puts family audiences off of worthwhile movies (other recent examples include Spy Kids and Monsters, Inc.), the law of supply and demand will ensure that they stop getting made.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.