Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Dangers of Following Your Heart

Disney's success thrives on the common belief that there is something better out there. Dreaming and wishing make the ‘magic of Disney.’ And this could certainly be spun as a positive message about hope for a better reality, a glimpse of the real hope we have through the Gospel. Maybe you have seen this more clearly by what I've written over the past thirty weeks (if not then I must not be a very good writer.)

But the message shifts in the Renaissance period, albeit ever so slightly. Disney films no longer focus on a simple, wistful hope, but a determined, uncompromising drive to achieve the heart’s desire. “Following your heart” sounds appealing and certainly produces more action and drama. But upon a closer look, it's full of holes.

For one, this message assumes that the heart is naturally good. If we take Ariel as an example, we see that the heart is often impulsive, selfish and foolish. As a 16-year-old, she has no idea what love means. Her feelings for Prince Eric look more like curiosity and attraction than love. They're certainly not feelings off of which to base big life decisions, such as making huge physical alterations to your body at the cost of your greatest talent. The “follow your heart” theme seems romantic, but disregards consequences and places a disproportionate amount of emphasis on self.

This new attention focused inward will continue to emerge in many of the films to come. Granted, some of our other heroes and heroines do a much better job of being both driven (not inherently a bad trait) as well as compassionate, in contrast to Ariel’s single-mindedness. But in all these examples, the shift in Disney’s messaging can be dangerous if we simply take it at face value. So let's proceed with enthusiasm (because there are some truly remarkable films coming up) but also with caution, as we navigate this new era of Disney.


  1. great post, laura. i never really thought about this era of movies in this way, and i appreciate your wisdom to proceed with caution. :) that's a good word for us all.