Friday, February 09, 2007

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Let Your Dreams Lead the Way
Enjoy magical hugs and storybook happenings in a place where happily ever after happens every day...

I came across this little blurb while getting my daughter some cereal this morning, and it really irritated me. And no, it wasn't due to lack of coffee - I was already halfway through my second cup. First of all, can you guess where you can go to live happily ever after, for a day or two? That's right, Walt Disney World.

Why am I annoyed by this? How refreshing, I should be thinking, to have a place where one can escape, and see what life happily ever after is all about. Because of course, if you're reading the back of a cereal box, your life is far from "happily ever after." For a small chunk of change ($67 for "guests" 10 years or older, $56 for "guests 3-9), my family and I can go to a place "where dreams come true." That's right - because it's not realistic for us to teach our children that they are in charge of making their dreams come true, NOT a bunch of people dressed up in costumes at an amusement park.

And no, I'm not a stick in the mud cheap killjoy. I like doing fun things with my kids, and I don't mind spending money now and then to do it. But this idea that is being promoted by Disney - happily ever after - is just wrong to me. So Cinderella lived happily ever after, once she married Prince Charming. Of course! By marrying PC, all of the sadness of first her mother, then her father dying is wiped away. The baggage of being mistreated by her stepmother and sisters - water under the bridge, thanks to her timely marriage. I know, I know. This is an old discussion topic. But with young children, I feel the need to protect them from this sort of garbage. No, not protect them, but help them to see how false and unhealthy this sort of mindset really is. We watch Cinderella, but we talk about it afterwards.

You are in charge of making your dreams come true, not the man or woman you marry. Not an amusement park.

Serves me right. I shouldn't be buying crappy sugar cereal, anyway. What do you think? Am I being over the top obsessive?


StuntMom said...

What cereal was it?

Funny, I don't let my daughters watch any of the Disney movies because "if you are beautiful" in a superficial way, then good things will happen. The little Mermaid was shut down after only a few minutes at our house. Cinderella, you bet, nothing that my princess loving daughters know anything about, other than that she is on a cup that their Grandmother bought for them. We don't do Disney, not because of the poor marketing that seems to be about making dreams come true but because we also feel that kids so easily find fun in a bottle of glitter, why should we raise expectations? Love the simple, save the extravagent fun for when they are older, if at all.

Of course I write this knowing that every year it gets harder and harder to tell Grandma that she can't take our kids to Disney World, "we just don't think they are ready".

Jayne Martin Dressing said...

I fully agree that there is extreme overmarketing of all things Disney, just take a walk sometime through the Orlando airport (my kids thought they had been to Disneyworld!), but I have to say that I like some of the movies. Yes, there is the superficial beauty issue, but isn't there also a message about good winning out over evil-about love being stronger than greed or power or jealousy? Aren't we glad in the end that those nasty stepsisters got the shock of their lifetimes? Look at Beauty and the Beast-he's a horrible, ugly monster, but she's sees the charm and sincerity he has underneath all the bitterness and insecurities of the curse. She doesn't fall for the village hotty-she's too busy reading books. I must admit that The Little Mermaid did seem a little trampy to be taking off after that human boy, but I love the songs, and I love her sense of adventure and freedom!
I could happily live my life without ever visiting the great mouseland in Florida, but I'll take Disney over that whiny bald headed Caillou anyday!

StuntBec said...

I enjoy some of the Disney movies, too. I think exposure to them is okay. I liked your points re: Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Snow White's a good story, too. I'm not sure about the death sleep, though.

You can shelter your kids from fairy tales, but so much of fiction has the hero and heroine role models. It took me decades to realize that there really was no Mr. Rochester out there for me (I first read Jane Eyre in 5th grade, and promptly fell in love, so I've been pining for quite some time). As a parent, I'll just be sure to keep reminding everyone that the movies does not represent real life. Jimmy, you don't have to be Prince Charming; Bea, you don't have to be rescued by a Prince. But you can enjoy the stories.

I'm glad there are others out there who don't feel guilt about not taking the kids to Disney World: A place that costs an arm and a leg to get into, where you can't pack a lunch, and where you must exit all rides through a gift shop.

And the cereal was: Applejacks. (I hear your gasp of shock.) I'm not as pissed about the instant dream come true cereal box anymore, I've let go. But when Shaws put Apple Jacks on sale again last week, I didn't buy another box. Cin. Life won out. And no, Disney doesn't sponsor Life.