Scared Witless – The Darkness in Disney Movies

Disney movies have a very squeaky-clean image. We have frolicking animals, beautiful Princesses with happy endings galore, and more fuzzy feelings than the average person can stand without gagging. But Disney also has a darker side.

Double D Mickey

For example, almost every Disney villain gets to die in a horrible way: Falling off a cliff; Hanged by the neck; Impaled. Well, you get the idea. Disney certainly can produce a cartoon to scare the pants off you!

But because Disney has such a squeaky-clean image, we tend to forget this darker side. So if someone (like me, right now) were to question Disney’s decisions to add horror into almost every movie it makes, they (or me, right now) would probably come under fire. Fair enough.

It’s true, ever since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney has entertained AND scared us. And our children. Minority groups have attacked Disney for years over this issue while the majority has attended movie theaters in droves to help make Disney millions.

Epic Mickey

So is there really an issue here?

A little fright never hurt anyone, and children especially enjoy a good scare. But what if it’s taken too far? And just how far is too far? Everyone is likely to give a different answer to that question.

I think with the release of The Princess and the Frog, this issue came to the fore once again. This film prominently featured the practice of Voodoo. The villain was a Voodoo Priest and the film graphically depicted his dark arts. Is such a realistic depiction still just a ‘good scare’?

Many thought not. And the box office for Tiana was disappointing for Disney. Rapunzel far out-performed her. But why? Tiana was loved as a great Princess! Her story touched many, and the movie was well written over all. So what happened?

Were Disney fans sending a message?

No one can say for sure. But maybe Disney should lay off any over-the-top scares for a while. Even though today’s children are savvier than yesterday’s, maybe today’s parents aren’t quite ready to let their children see more than they themselves did.

Maybe they want more cartoon bunnies, and fewer realistic Voodoo Priests. And children who can sleep at night. What do you think of Disney’s darker side? Just the right balance, or a little too far at times?

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2 Responses to Scared Witless – The Darkness in Disney Movies

  1. Shelley says:

    Even though the Princess and the Frog had some great characters and music, the voodoo aspect ruined it for me. Too real for a childs animation movie! While we’re on the topic, I didn’t care for UP! either. The first 20 minutes were WAY TO REAL and left me in a pile of blubber the rest of the movie. Once again the “miscarriage, sickness and death” of Ellie was TOO REAL for a childrens animation movie. We go see these movies to ESCAPE real life, not be reminded of how horrible it is. Sorry, I never did get the “positive” in this movie, even if there was one in the end.

    • disneynouns says:

      I know many had the same issues with UP. Karen and I found it to be a happy-sad movie where you learned why he was the way he was. I hope that most children didn’t clue in to the heaviness of the first 20 minutes!

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