Walt Disney and the Acceptance of Authoritarianism

While eating my supper of crackers, deli turkey, and strawberries, I had a question: What is the relationship between Disney’s children’s movies (and alphabetic fairy tales) and the current–baffling–acceptance of authoritarianism in the United States?

Why are people–who proclaim to love the United States, their country, and their freedom–still supporting the Republican party at all?!

Think of the endless list of theatrical features somehow connected with Disney that revolve around royalty in someway or another? Very wealthy and all-powerful Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses who use magic to get their way are the leading characters in such productions. While people have talked about how Disney teaches harmful gender mores and heterosexuality, I have not seen commentary that suggests it might also teach people to be complacent under a dictator.

There is never a rebellion against royalty in Disney films. While members of the monarchy in these fictionalized worlds are often the “evil queen” or “the ugly step sisters,” the worlds created show everything basically being okay. And, they have the now-clichéd happily ever after for select members of the royalty. Disney creates governments that ultimately know best and have earned their positions and everyday people who ultimately have their most basic needs satisfied.

Disney movies do not show characters en masse who challenge authority or the status quo, who seek any kind of change, or who take aggressive charge of situations. Disney movies–aimed at children with near blank slates and at their tired caretakers–embed, within in our brain, ultimately paternalistic, positive stories about living under authoritarian regimes.

People have templates, per se, of how to live in such situation, but they don’t have templates for how to live in a society where people truly take charge and demand better.

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda