Friday, November 9, 2012

Disney dissing the fatherless

The news broke this week that Disney, apparently desperate to recoup the funding lost in the John Carter disaster, has decided to resurrect the series "Boy Meets World" for a younger, hipper audience. Only this time, the main character is Riley Matthews, the 13 year old second child of Cory and Topanga. "Girl Meets World" has yet to be cast, as Disney is still holding auditions, while trying to locate and beg back the original actors.

I have a few issues with this.

Now granted, the only episodes I saw of the original series had Mankind and Vader in them, but I think everyone ~ even the show's detractors ~ made time to watch Cory walk the ill-named Topanga down the aisle. People who had never watched the show before were eager to watch Cory grow up, and everyone seems to have a fond memory from the endless reruns of the series.

So my first issue is that this was a series that seemingly wrapped up nicely. All the kids grew up, went to college and entered the working world, the phrase "And they lived happily ever after THE END" comes to mind. So why screw that all up? The series was devoid of any cliffhangers, so with nothing left to resolve, why not leave the memory alone?

But this is Disney, the company that felt that Tron needed a remake and a TV spin off. I really shouldn't be surprised.

My next issue is timing. Boy Meets World ended in 2000. Cory and Topanga's children are 14 and 13 a piece. It's 2012. In order for these children to exist, they would have had to have been born when their parents were in high school. Are we promoting teen pregnancy there, Disney?
Hmm... ok maybe we are. Try not to dunk the baby there, Ariel.

But my next issue is one that I wonder if anybody else has picked up on yet. Here, let me make a few highlights on the docket Disney has sent out for casting, for Riley's best friend, Maya:

"[MAYA] Please submit all ethnicities. 13 years old. Maya is Riley’s best friend and does not share Riley’s optimism. She is far darker and less trusting of the world. She is an only child and has never known her father, which immediately makes her relationship with both Riley and Cory Matthews very important to her although she’d never admit it. She is not a good student in school, but is a wonderful student of life and absolutely magnetic in attracting or intimidating the people in her sphere as she cares to. Dark and edgy, but just as fiercely loyal to Riley as Riley is to her. Which makes us want to believe that maybe there’s a good heart under the acerbic wit. Or maybe not. Series Regular"

Excuse me?? Let's read the segments I highlighted again.

So Disney has seen fit to call a 13-14 year old little girl: 

Dark
Edgy
Intimidating
Not a GOOD student

Because she doesn't have a father??

WHAT?!

In 2012, we have a company still trying to push the stereotype that fatherless children are "stupid" and prone to being unsavory characters. REALLY??

And this is not the first time either. While they've made other Disney characters such as Ariel, Bambi, Cinderella and Snow White turn out "just fine" without a mother, fatherless characters have done much worse.

Simba for example, loses his father in The Lion King. As a result, Simba goes through a period in his time were he hides his past, becomes more selfish than ever, and in Lion King 2 is just a spiteful, judgmental and closed minded individual. For crying out loud Simba, Kovu is NOT Scar!!

Princess Tiana loses her father early on in The Princess and the Frog, and has to be taught how to enjoy life. Until the last 15 minutes of the film, she has no idea how to exist outside of work!

Think about it. Disney has made countless films with both the nuclear family and with motherless families, and all of those main characters come out sunshiney and sparkly. But take out the father, and unless an evil stepmother is thrown in, the character becomes a mental case. What are we teaching children??

And the timing for Maya's attitude problem just couldn't be worse.

By the time the shows hit airwaves, we're going to have a ton of tweens watching ~ tweens who may have lost a dad due to the war in Iraq.

Are we REALLY going to let Disney tell Gold Star children that they are destined to suck at school, be moody, shady characters that ultimately may become criminals or troublemakers??

This is why I have an issue with many of the "Father's Rights" lawyer ads that run in Chicago. While I'm not opposed to a dad being treated as an important member in his child's life, I take HUGE offence to the notion that without a dad, children are even remotely likely to become drug addicts, sex fiends or whatever the hell "Dark and Edgy" means.

There are plenty of good kids out there without fathers, that might watch this show and feel inferior to other kids. 

These kids should be told that who they are and where they go in life, is NOT reliant upon whether or not their dads are in their lives, but instead on the actions they take by themselves.

I just started a petition a few seconds ago about this thing: http://www.change.org/petitions/disney-stop-disrespecting-fatherless-children you are more than welcome to join.

If not, I invite you to voice your concerns to Disney by contacting the two people who need the wake-up call the most. Please be firm but courteous when speaking to them. Make your voice heard and tell Disney to stop picking on fatherless children:

Robert A. Iger,
President and CEO of the Walt Disney Company
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Email: robert.a.iger@disney.com

Gary Marsh
President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide
Gary.Marsh@Disney.com

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