Disney’s “Indoctrination” Confirmed

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Governor DeSantis sadly looking at World Disney Castle

Credit: Inside the Magic

With all the recent reports coming out of Florida, it seems like the state has declared an all-out war against both Disney movies and Disney Parks. It’s undeniably escalated to something bigger and more visceral than the drama caused by Governor Ron DeSantis, and people have even faced legal actions for something as innocent as showing an animated to a classroom of kids.

Governor Ron DeSantis and Cinderella Castle. Walt Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

Many officials in and out of Florida have criticized Disney for creating liberal indoctrination and other such terms. These same people fail to realize that the studio has been “indoctrinating” its fans long before something as controversial as Strange World or Splash Mountain even existed.

Related: Disney’s ‘Indiana Jones’ Turns “Woke” With Latest Development

What we are witnessing from the Florida situation is an exacerbation of media, not that’s any new information.  However, some might genuinely be asking how much fact there is to the accusations. Is Disney truly pushing and distributing some sort of agenda and brainwashing our kids?

Disney Movies: Woke or Broke

Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Disney's 'Strange World'
Credit: Disney

The truth of the matter is that our modern social and political climate has never been more divisive, and terms like “woke” and “agenda” are thrown about left and right by both sides of the spectrum. Although not without cost to the company and studio, Disney has tried to keep up with modern audiences, leading to expectedly mixed reviews.

Wokeness isn’t Disney’s problem, it’s how they address an evolving audience. Somethings work, somethings don’t, but choosing which faction to appeal to can have make or break results. Disney hasn’t been pushing an agenda, but rather trying to support a positive message.

Related: Few Americans Invested in the DeSantis Crusade Against “Woke” Disney

Disney’s inclusive nature is not a new practice, it’s been around since Walt’s day, but trying to please everyone is where they fall short. Progressive audiences are not going to want the same thing as conservatives, and that’s where the fighting begins. That all being said, all the talk about indoctrination is a straw man argument, as consumers have been indoctrinated by Disney for the past century.

Indoctrination From Disney Movies?

Mickey Mouse scared, screenshot from the Mickey Mouse Shorts episode "Wish Upon a Coin"
Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

To put it in the most simplest of terms, fans have already drank the Kool-Aid if they’ve ever seen a Disney movie. For over a hundred years, Disney has echoed one specific moral that is present in every movie, cartoon, video game, and product they put their Mickey mitts to, true love conquers all.

Related: Walt Disney Company Aids Central Florida’s Homeless

Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and countless others considered animated masterpieces by the world have been spinning that same maxim since Walt first got the cameras rolling, and it’s not been a problem until now. As a culture, we’ve grown from the two-dimensional fairytales, and storytelling methods have evolved to incorporate a multitude of cultures and perspectives.


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♬ original sound – 🎨 Dapper Manatee’s CC 🎨

Former Disney Park Cast Member, @dappermanatee on Tiktok, had a surprisingly profound takeaway on the subject of Disney’s “indoctrination” techniques. While a touch crude in his assesment the user definitely had an apt description of the current situation. Especially when he says,

“It’s not that they’re being indoctrinated, they’re learning the difference between right and wrong. Disney just helps them get there.”

That’s a bold statement considering the evidence is presented by animated fairytales. The truth of the matter is that Disney isn’t pushing some sort of cartoonishly liberal message, they are simply trying to provide an illustration of basic ethics and morality. Don’t believe us? Take a look at some of Disney’s biggest successes and the “indoctrination” they come with.

The Lion King: Responsibility and Accountability

Disney movies: simba the lion king
Credit: Disney

The Lion King is considered the most successful traditionally animated film of all time, and it even took home several Academy Awards. It also provided both kids and adults with an animated and tangible example of taking responsibility and accountability for past actions. That’s some heavy material for a movie about talking animals.

Related: Disney Asks Court To Dismiss DeSantis’ Lawsuit

Despite being a pawn in Scar’s evil plan, Simba eventually returns to take his place as king of Pride Rock after his exile in the jungle with Timon and Pumbaa. As Mufasa said, “all things exist together in a delicate balance.” By facing his past and overthrowing his twisted uncle, Simba rights the Circle of Life and restores order to the kingdom.

Finding Nemo: Parents Make Mistakes

Nemo and marlin fathers day d23
Credit: Pixar

Prior to the age of Frozen, Finding Nemo was the most successful Disney film. While a generous portion of that might have been due to Pixar’s brand of magic, the fact that its central message was more for the parents than for kids is truly a remarkable factor.

Nemo’s father, Marlin, has the most mature and realistic character development out of any Disney parent. His overprotective nature is what sets the events of the film in motion, and it’s truly a rarity when the parents are the focus of the complement. Even though Nemo’s saga of overcoming his own obstacles is pretty prominent, the grownups in the audience are clearly the intended audience.

Tangled: Signs of Emotional Abuse

Mother Gothel and Rapunzel
Credit: Disney

In the realm of the Disney fandom, there are two divisive camps surrounding Tangled and Frozen. Although Frozen is the pop-culture juggernaut of the two, many would agree that Tangled is the better film, especially due to how it handles the underlying themes of parental and emotional abuse.

Related: Disney Adults Aren’t the Problem, Disney Parents Are

While Disney’s retelling of Rapunzel definitely comes with a Princess-Bride-esque flavor, it’s a PG metaphor for child abuse that younger viewers can comprehend. The relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel is one that sadly has too much reality. Not only that, but the film utilizes Disney’s trademark fairytale fantasy to tell an alternative, even feminist  approach to the traditional princess narrative

Zootopia: Consequences of Prejudice

Zootopia Finale
Credit: Disney

If you were to truly pinpoint a moment Disney started using animation to make a statement, Zootopia wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Though it was quickly overshadowed by the sisters from Arendelle, the city of Zootopia towered at the box office, and Nick and Judy’s adventures wove a poignant tale that still has an impactful message.

There are multiple facets of the film’s narrative, ranging from an anti-bullying message to warnings against the corruption of political power to an allegory for racial and cultural conflicts. However, a more apt description of the film’s central theme might be the consequences of a prejudiced outlook. Bellwether’s plot putting predators against prey is a simple us versus them metaphor.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Disney’s Mature Masterpiece

Frollo confronts his demons
Credit: The New York Times

We’ve talked about Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and its dark and mature themes before, but it’s a lesson that bears repeating. You could make a laundry list of reasons the studio’s adaptation is such an impressive piece. While its design, scale, artistry, and unforgettable music by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz are all reasons to watch, its the hard-hitting and potent message that continues to be relevant even today.

Described in a previous article as “Disney’s Wokest Movie,” the adaptation takes a dark dive into subject matter such as religion, lust, and corruption. Not only is Quasimodo’s moral of inner beauty one kids need to learn at an early age, but the fact that people in positions of respect and power, like Frollo, don’t always have the best intentions is an all-too-familiar situation.

Related: Disney Cancels Iconic Villain Song

People gave disney movies like those mentioned a standing ovation, high critiques, and academy awards. If something like Hunchback were to happen again with the same motifs and themes, it would get raked across the coals for trying to promote some sort of alternative meaning. So why are certain factions so concerned with an otherwise positive message told from such a beloved source.

Indoctrination Defined by Disney Movies

snow white and the seven dwarfs hag giving poisoned apple
Credit: Disney

Jumping back to what @dappermanatee stated, what some are calling “indoctrination” is a simple set of morals Disney has been producing since the ’30s. If Disney is guilty of anything resembling some sort of agenda, it’s because they’ve played to the desires of a modern culture (for better or for worse.)

Related: Immersive Disney Animation is Nightmare Fuel

While there’s no denying projects like Strange World fell flat with some audiences, that hasn’t stopped Disney’s other cherished stories from having the same magical effect they’ve always had. If Disney is guilty of any form of widespread message, it’s that same old refrain of true love conquers all and that good triumphs over evil.

Mickey Mouse in front of Tokyo's Cinderella Castle
Credit: Tokyo Disneyland

Whenever the media says something about the studio indoctrinating the masses through Walt Disney Animation or the Disney Parks, this is simply a convoluted and concocted fallacy that has been causing discord amongst fans for months. Typically, certain parties and political officials in Florida are pulling the strings behind the scenes.

Related: Popular Songs First Heard in Disney Movies

Although some of their recent stories have changed, Disney’s magic has not. While some might drag the brand through the muck and mire, that doesn’t stop Disney movies and Parks from being enjoyed by millions. Pooh will always get his honey, Stitch will have his ohana, and Mickey Mouse is still the leader of the club that’s made for you and me.

Have you been “indoctrinated” by Disney? Tell us at Inside the Magic in the comments below!


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