Why I like(d) Disney movies

Disney animated movies are my guilty pleasure. I bet you didn’t see this coming, considering how sarcastic and analytical and… great I am. But Disney movies, particularly the ones in the so-called Disney Renaissance (1989-1998) were one of the main sources of escapism during my tween and teen years.

There, I said it! Yes, I know. They are sexist. And racist. And formulaic. And everything. I know. I am not trying to deny it, nor am I trying to ignore these aspects because “it’s just a movie for kids, no big deal, hahaha”.

But they are an integral part of my childhood- and adolescence, so pretending it isn’t so would be hypocritical. Luckily, my interpretation of said movies was such that I was immune to most of the bad messages. I think. I hope.

For example, I never interpreted Disney heroines to be passive. Oh, sure, the old ones, Cinderella and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, they were passive (and annoying). But “my” heroines (Ariel, Belle, etc.) weren’t, or at least I never interpreted them to be so. Same goes for other bad messages I can clearly see today.

And while I’m unable to enjoy Disney today, be it because of said messages or extreme romanticism/sugarcoating, and while I might be a embarrassed for liking these films so much (now that I understand what they are: Pocahontas, for example), I can’t forget what they meant to me.

I still remember the first time I watched The Little Mermaid, on an illegal copy on my cousin’s VHS. In my mind, I was 7, but it couldn’t be, because it was released when I was 8. The copy was horrible, with grayish, washed out colours, but I still remember I was completely smitten by that film. You see, I love the sea; I always loved it. My first memory is from the family holiday in Dalmatia when I was 15 months old. And this film, this beautiful film, was about a girl who lived in the ocean! And who saves the guy! And they sing! And she’s a mermaid!!!! I got so obsessed I watched that film whenever I could. I even begged my mother to buy a VCR so I could watch The Little Mermaid. First English words I’ve learned were from the Little Mermaid. And when we went on a holiday that summer, I swear I heard Ariel’s song one evening. This film will always have a special place in my heart.

Forward a few years. Difficult time, both personal and general. My father dies. My country dies. Beauty and the Beast was one of the rare beautiful things in my life back then. I loved Belle, and I still do; I consider her the most intelligent Disney heroine (you see, the message I got is that she’s pretty because she’s smart), and the film is also the best in their canon, imo. I begun to draw people Disney-style, and I still can’t draw people, especially females, any differently.

I don’t remember being that obsessed with Aladdin, but I loved Jasmine. What I didn’t like is that there’s so little of her in the story. I was never that obsessed with the Lion King either, no matter how good it was, because there were no humans in it, but when Pocahontas was released… I can’t describe how much I liked that film.

It makes me feel even more ashamed, because it’s a racist film with harmful messages. I didn’t understand any of it back then. I liked the film. I loved Pocahontas and her bravery and her hair. I hated the fact she chose Josh Smith over Kocoum (no sane woman would do that), but other than that, I liked the film. And I liked the forests, very much.

Then, when I was 15, Disney released the last animated movie I was obsessed with, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This underrated film is arguably one of their best, and it certainly has the best soundtrack of all Disney movies. I really loved this film, but whenever I think of it, I remember how sad I was back then. It was the first year of middle school (“high school” as called in the US), and, well, the mere fact I was still interested in Disney movies speaks volumes. I really don’t want to remember how my best friend and I felt back then. It wasn’t fun, that’s for sure.

It got better after that. But after the Hunchback, I stopped liking Disney movies that much. Some would say I simply grew up, but no: the movies were the ones that got worse. I didn’t like Hercules at all, and Mulan had its moments, but something was lacking. It was the time when 2D animation died. It can never be like it was before, as proved with (relative) failure of the Princess and the Frog.

Now that I look back at Disney movies I love, I realize that the films grew up with me: starting from colourful Little Mermaid, to more and more mature subjects, culminating with dark and quite serious Hunchback. So whenever I watch one of these films, I always think about my life back then. So I guess I just have to accept they are an integral part of my childhood and adolescence.

18 thoughts on “Why I like(d) Disney movies

  1. Mira

    Well, there are many bad messages in Disney movies. It’s undeniable. (I mean, just look at Pocahontas). But I guess it’s all down to interpretation. Some kids might not get said message the “right” (or, shall I say, the wrong) way.

    For example, some people say that Ariel is a passive character who will do anything to get her man, including heavy physical transformation, losing contact with her family and the ability to speak.

    But I sure didn’t see it that way. To me, Ariel was a brave girl who saves the guy! (I was only 8 when I first watched that film, and even then I was frustrated by the fact women are always saved by men, so I loved this). Also, I liked the fact she was protagonist in her own adventure and not just a love interest. Etc, etc.

    So I guess animated movies do have an influence on kids, but it all depends on the way parents raise said kid. Hey, we all watched Tom and Jerry numerous times, and we didn’t grow up to think that throwing piano on your friend’s head was a funny thing.

    So while certain messages in animated movies might be bad, I think people often use them as an excuse. Of course girls are obsessed with beauty: they watched perfect Disney princesses when they were kids! Of course kids are racist! They watched Pocahontas. Of course they’re sexist! They watched Sleeping Beauty!

    And while I believe media is quite powerful, I think parents have a much stronger influence in those years. So Disney is not an excuse.

  2. Kirsty

    I like Disney movies BECAUSE they’re so over romanticised. They’re not supposed to be real and gritty and I like that, just as I love reading fairytales – I don’t want to grow up and face reality! About Disney movies sending out bad messages, yes, they do send out sexist messages to children, but on the other hand I think other forms of media such as music videos where the girls are all half naked and sometimes even topless are dancing around one man are FAR worse.

  3. Mira

    I must admit I am not into romanticism in movies. I usually cringe at that. But I couldn’t tell if something was overly romantic when I was 11.

  4. Serpentus

    Oh my goodness! I just realized something! In literature class, we talked about the controversial subtle messages that Disney films perpetuate, and I was like, “huh?” I didn’t know what they were talking about until just now.

    When I looked at the pic of Beauty and the Beast, it hit me: bestiality–sex with animals. Now, I never, never, in my wildest imaginations would have thought of this unless I had thought about the subliminal messages before.

    What do you think? Or am I just overanalyzing this?

  5. Serpentus

    BTW, I left a few comments on your previous posts. I don’t remember which, but I remember one was where you turned 29.

  6. Serpentus


    Oh, yes, I wanted to ask: How do you become a doctor in your country? Like, at what age do you start med school and what age you finish? etc.

    I know you’re not a doctor, but maybe you know someone who is.

  7. zek j evets

    I like Disney movies because of their catchy songs, good animation, compelling storylines, and the subliminal messages (penis in Little Mermaid, sex spelled out in foliage in Lion King, 1/16th of a second split shots of Mickey Mouse having sex with Minny Mouse in certain cartoons).

    My top 5 would be:

    1. The Sword in the Stone
    2. The Great Mouse Detective
    3. Jungle Book
    4. Alladin
    5. The Princess and the Frog

    I know, the first two are pretty obscure, but they’re awesome! (Gonna go watch ‘em again right now, haha.)

  8. Mira


    I don’t think hidden message in Beauty and the Beast is about bestiality. But I do think it might be the old, sexist belief that woman’s value is her beauty and that men are (sex crazed) beasts.

    I think you might be referring to this post:


    I’ll post my reply to your comment there.

    Oh, yes, I wanted to ask: How do you become a doctor in your country? Like, at what age do you start med school and what age you finish? etc.

    I know quite a few doctors (= doctors of medicine; the word doctor, correctly used in my language, means “person with a PhD”). But most of the people say “doctor” anyway.

    Here’s how you become one: you go to School of medicine (we call it faculty of medicine).

    Educational system is a bit different than the US one. Here, we start elementary school at the age of 7 (or, in rare cases, 6). There are 8 grades in the elementary school, so you graduate at the age of 15.

    After that, you go to middle school (which corresponds to US high school). There are various types of middle schools, depending on the profession: some manual professions and the like require 3 years, while most professions and schools are 4 years. You have medical middle school (after graduating, you become a nurse), economic middle school, technical middle school.

    There is also a general school, gymnasium, that is the most difficult of all, and it doesn’t give you any profession, but it trains you for faculty. So if you are determined to go to faculty after the middle school, you should go to gymnasium (that’s what I did). The bad thing is that you still won’t have any profession after graduating, so in the eyes of the job market, you are an untrained worker (despite the fact you have the best education).

    After middle school, you go either to high school (3 years), or you go to faculty. Most of the faculties are 4 years – and it sucks that they are recognized as mere “Bachelor degrees” abroad, because there’s no way our 4 year university (and here, faculty = university) is the same as bachelor degree in the west. It’s higher than that.

    Some faculties, however, are 5 years, and faculty of medicine takes 6 years to complete.

    After this, you need to do your internship and after that you are a qualified doctor. But, for any serious medical work you need to go to specialization.

    TL;DR: To become a doctor, you go to school of medicine after middle school.


  9. Mira


    Important note for Zek!

    Is there something wrong with your commenting system? It doesn’t let me post comments anymore!

    Ah, I love “dirty Disney” stuff like SEX in clouds and penis in Little Mermaid. And, of course, “teenagers, take of your clothes” in Aladdin!

    I had really high hopes for Princess and the Frog, and while I believe it was best Disney movie after Hunchback of Notre Dame (and it speaks a lot!), something was lacking. (Probably the fact I’m not 14 anymore?)

  10. Mira

    I tried posting it twice (in your newest post). It asks me to join Blogspot or something. Maybe I should try anonymously?

    EDIT Still nothing. It still asks me to join Blogspot.

  11. Serpentus

    @zek j evets

    Yeah, I’m also having trouble posting comments. It asks me to join eBlogger.

  12. zek j evets

    according to blogger there is an issue going on right now with comments for some users/blogs, but they’re working on it. try posting as an anonymous user and leave your name in the comment field.

  13. Mariana

    Disney sort of died in the late 1990’s. The only real good movie from the 2000’s is Brother Bear, IMO. I liked The Princess and the Frog too.

    I believe Disney is making money out of Pixar nowadays.

  14. Mira


    Couldn’t agree more. I was having high hopes for Princess and the Frog, but I guess it’s not it anymore. I still don’t get why kids of today dislike 2D animation. 3D is an art form, but there are so many things you can’t achieve with it that you can with traditional animation. I think that’s what they tried with “Tangled”, to combine the best from both worlds (but I didn’t see that film, so I don’t know).

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