Earlier this year the powerhouse known as Disney released their latest live action feature of Beauty and the Beast. A re-release really because the original was animated and a childhood favorite for many, but this one had a tiny little sub-plot about a character who is gay.
Was Disney trying to push an agenda in regards to gay rights, the LGBT community, or were they attacking Christian values, or perhaps it’s a little of both? I can’t say for sure but I can say that as soon as my fellow Christians got wind of it, they freaked out! They said it was an attack on the traditional family, an attack on the church and many even called for a boycott of Disney.
Obviously the boycott didn’t pan out because hey, it’s Disney, children and families love the movies (most of them) and way more often than not they are very family friendly.
After hearing a lot of different perspectives on it I had to ask myself if we Christians are just plain too sensitive? Maybe Disney is pushing an agenda to normalize homosexual relationships, but that may be all it is. I have a hard time grasping the idea that they are intentionally alienating a big portion of their fan base. The way I see it is that Disney has a different worldview than we Christians do and so when they introduce a gay character they think they’re doing the right thing, a lot of my fellow Christians see it as a direct attack on our values.
I should clarify, I am not defending Disney, I am not saying that what they put in their movies always aligns with my values and what the Bible says. I know what’s sin and what isn’t. I am saying that we tend to pick and choose which issues we freak out over. Let me give you some examples.
- Moana. A very well done movie, with great songs and visually stunning I might add. A young girl goes on a quest to find the demi-god Maui so that she can coerce him into restoring the heart of Te Fiti which is some sort of mother island type of being thus restoring stability to the islands they inhabit. When Maui stole the heart, darkness began to take over and Moana (the young girl) is “called” by the ocean to go on this quest. When Maui and Moana become friends Maui tells her that people used to worship him for everything he provided – the sun, the moon, food, and even fire. But now nobody worships him anymore.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I heard of no boycott, no freak outs, no bloggers attacking Disney and their obviously liberal agenda. Yet, worshipping any other god before the one true God of the Bible is very clearly stated in the Ten Commandments, I believe the first three all talk about it. If we went off on Moana the same way we did Beauty and the Beast we should have called them pagans for their acknowledgement of mythological gods. We should’ve called for a boycott of Disney and The Rock for playing the part of Maui, but none of that happened. Why not?
- The Good Dinasaur is another great kids movie featuring a family of dinosaurs growing up together and taking care of their farm. When the youngest most feeble member of the family gets washed downriver from his family, he has to try and find his way home. On his journey he encounters and eventually befriends a little human boy who acts more like a stray dog or a cat. He doesn’t talk and he walks on all fours.
Question: why weren’t we all throwing up our arms and accusing Disney of trying to dehumanize humans and humanize animals? Why weren’t we boycotting them for teaching our kids that the theory of evolution is true? The Bible teaches that we humans are to have dominion over the animals, and in The Good Dinosaur it certainly looks like it’s the dinosaurs who have dominion.
- Big Hero 6: the opening scene features an underage kid gambling in an alley.
- Brave: the main character rejects her mother and wishes death upon her.
- A Goofy Movie is actually a good movie but for most of it we see a teenager disrespecting his father.
- Mulan spends most of the movie dressed as a man.
- The original Pinocchio, Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland movies all have scenes that are almost undoubtedly showing characters getting high.
Getting high, women dressing as men, kids disrepecting their parents, gambling, putting people on the same level as animals, all the talk about gods that aren’t God and many, many more instances of ‘follow your heart’, ‘you were born this way’, ‘you were meant to be happy’, ‘you can be anything you want to be’ could all mislead not only our kids but our kids’ parents into a life of folly. Yet, we focused in on the one thing that we’ve decided bothers us the most and made a big deal out of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to minimize the sin Disney has decided to endorse, but I refuse to let Disney control how I react. Moreover, if I know that a certain movie is going to show something I don’t want my kids to see, it’s simple, we don’t watch. At the same time though I watch movies all the time that show all kinds of things that I disagree with and I still watch. What’s not good for the gander is good for the goose? Many adults will defend themselves saying that they know how to discern between right and wrong in the movies and the difference between entertainment and real life, to which I ask “how did you learn that?” You see if we want our kids to know what’s sin/wrong don’t we first have to show them the thing that’s wrong? Or at least explain it to them?
If we tell our kids not to say bad words, aren’t they going to ask “what’s a bad word?” The only way to show kids which words not to use, is to use them. If we tell our kids that we can’t go to the movies and watch Beauty and the Beast because there is some bad stuff in it, they’ll ask “what bad stuff?” and if we ignore their questions they’re going to go and get the answers elsewhere.
All I’m saying is that kids movies have always had scenes that companies like Disney have used to push forward an agenda that’s not our own, I’m not saying it’s right, just that we can use those scenes as teaching moments instead of freaking out about it and refusing to let our kids watch it even though those scenes often go right over their heads.
My advice? Big picture. What I mean is Jesus never told us to go out and point out all the sins we can find, He said to go and make disciples. I can’t think of even one person who decided to follow Jesus because he felt convicted by our finger pointing. The Christian band Casting Crowns said it best “open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers… nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded… what if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like you did”
This does not mean we ignore sin, or minimize it. What it does mean is that the world needs to know what we stand for, and not necessarily what we stand against. We can speak out against sin, that’s fine, but when we condemn and judge and call for boycotts are we really helping anyone?
So, are we too sensitive? Yeah, I think so, but only to the things we decided to be too sensitive about. Here’s an idea, let’s take some of that sensitivity and apply it to the movies we adults watch after the kids have gone to bed.