When I first noticed my little sister’s increasingly sassy behavior, I could not understand where it came from. She most certainly did not pick up the cheesy comebacks and petty insults from our home. That’s when I started listening to the rattle of her TV shows that played like background music in our house.
Gone are the pleasant, antidotal shows of the “old” Disney Channel. Now they have been replaced with obnoxious, vulgar misrepresentations of school and home life. When Disney Channel captivates the attention of most American kids, why do the scripts perpetuate ridiculous stereotypes and glorify sassy and disrespectful behaviors?
Every show features the token jock, nerd, princess, and average joe, and when these identities intermingle, drama and chaos ensue. Girls are often portrayed as pink-clad prima donnas while boys monopolize society’s idea of “boy traits.” These shows plant social and gender classifications in the minds of the impressionable youth and establish standards that before were not prevalent.
The presence of a social hierarchy has become a defining feature of Disney shows. The people on top are rarely nice and even less often do they use their “power” for good. This gives kids the impression that dominance and status are only obtained through forceful and selfish measures.
In Jessie, a character named Ravi Ross, who came from India originally, speaks in a crude portrayal of an Indian accent, and his character aligns with an offensive stereotype of American Indians: nerdy know-it-alls. Another character, Jessie, struggles to find a job throughout an episode until her agent informs her that an employer thought she was pretty and wants to now hire her. This sends the message that female success in the workforce is not only correlated with but, unfortunately, depends on her physical attractiveness.
It is the 21st century. How is it that one of the largest corporations in the nation is working against social progress? With the power to shape the thoughts of the next generation, Disney needs to be more careful about the messages it sends.
This isn’t a call for a return to Brady Bunch and Happy Days, but simply for Disney to do some rethinking.
Written by Maddie Vaziri’16