ByJames Moreing, writer at
Open to all things
James Moreing

How many of us can say that most of our childhood memories don't include seeing classics like: Dumbo, Bambi, Pinocchio, Lady & the Tramp, The Lion King, Aladdin, The Sword in the Stone, The Black Cauldron, The Three Caballeros, Fantasia, The Land Down Under, The Great Mouse Detective, The Rescuers, Finding Nemo, Atlantis & so many more? Let's face it, as children we were subjected to some hardcore down right cultural "persuasion," that majorly influenced how generations defined their values. Now don't get me wrong, I love Disney! I think that so many of their films do an excellent job at teaching values & life lessons pertinent to Western Culture. They helped our parents instill in us the basic means of operating in our society & create an understanding of our own basic humanity. That said, I think it is worth recognizing the impact Disney has had on us & the world, where we tend not to appreciate actual storytelling as THE fundamental means of human learning.

Think about it, do we ever really believe something unless we have some reason to doubt it? We learn through our failures, our trials & our tribulations, & the stories we are told give us reasonable ways of approaching life problems. The best stories don't try & avoid all failure, they help make sense of what we should take from it. Don't believe me? Just ask Joseph Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Carl Jung & any other exceedingly intelligent individual to make it clear to you. Stories give us meaning. They help identify us in a strange & indifferent world, however if improperly executed, they can also bind us to confusion. If you follow Analytical Psychology at all, you may also be familiar with the Archetypes & the basic "images" (stories) gifted to us through evolutionary means. Instinctual ideas of the mother, father, the healer, the trickster & trees (of life) believe it or not! These things so ingrained in us that we take for granted that we can somehow relate to every story put in front of us. No story is beyond the reach of our ego playing along & asking itself, "how would I respond to this?" That is because humans are creatures of play, or illusion. Quite an elusive nature that makes it very hard, if not impossible to be totally objective. We love taking things seriously & then giving them up. This is humor at its distilled center. To task poetic license, at heart we are but all actors so enthralled with the stories we create & integrate, that we loose ourselves in the depth of involvement. Dancing along our existence, flaunting our own unique contribution to the cosmos. Unfortunately however, this is also why we humans are so damn stubborn haha! We are so complex because of our ability to have, at point point, perceived something benign as somewhat threatening. Thus creating the need for self consciousness. Now that I have successfully alienated half of my audience with Psycho babble, back to how Disney fits into this.

Disney is the modern delivery method of these stories & gives children, & many adults too, the means of identifying themselves & their on progress in life. Why else do we refer to people's lives as stories? Now that is great so long as they are relevant in modern culture. If you are on a desperate journey to find water in the desert, how much good will an ancient map circa 1840. do you? In short, not much. To identify as a human, first your parents must do you justice by instructing you with tangible stories that can be experienced & tested. So then the stories that we teach our children are supremely important & until they can test them for themselves, will entirely set their expectations for the future. If more understood the implications storytelling has on the human mind, we might have an incredibly more thoughtful population. Not an insult. So the basic point I am trying to make is that we are a culmination of how those stories have assimilated into us now hat we have grown. So few institutions can be considered as responsible for influencing Modern American Culture as Walt Disney Corp. Save perhaps except, George Lucas & Star Wars which rights are now owned by Disney anyways haha. Besides proving that mankind doesn't need an institutionalized religion for teaching human values, it shows us how incredibly impact-full we as contributing entertainers can be. Either that or we have to redefine what is a church to include modern entertainment companies. America has a very young culture & it excites me to observe the shifting paradigm of what we accept for ourselves demonstrated in our stories. I tip my hat to Disney for being so instrumental in orchestrating how to express our basic humanities in 21st century America. Perhaps most of all, I encourage future story tellers to break the mold & tell relevant stories for future generations to relate in a world of ever-changing faces.


What do you think, has Disney done a good job at teaching cultural values or not?


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