David Outten of the Religious Right media group Movieguide is worried that a new Disney television show may be undermining the traditional family. Outten warns in “Is Disney’s New Princess Undermining Family Values?” that the Disney show Sofia the First, which is about a girl who enters a princess-training academy after her mom, a commoner, marries a King, may be promoting the “modern family” at the expense of “the long-term well-being of children.”
Sofia the First, Disney’s new preschool princess on television, doesn’t need a prince. She’s the daughter of a poor single mother who marries King Roland. This daughter of a shoe cobbler must learn what it is to be a princess. She’s aided by visits from famous Disney movie princesses.
Where will Sofia go? Where will she lead 2- to 5-year-olds?
Clearly, the creators see a role for the media in shaping the social and moral values of 2- to 5-year-olds. It’s fine to promote honesty, grace and civility, but any message that undermines the traditional family is harmful. Children raised by their natural parents are far less likely to live in poverty, quit school, use drugs, commit crimes or spend time in prison. If Disney actually cares about the long-term well-being of children, it would promote the traditional family rather than the “modern family.”
It would even be of benefit to Disney to do so. Children raised by their natural parents have far more disposable income to spend on Disney tickets, theme parks and merchandise than do children raised by single mothers. Few single mothers marry a king who can turn their daughters into princesses. More often the daughter of a single mother becomes a single mother herself. The havoc wreaked on children is immense. The economic impact is severe.
The name Disney has traditionally been associated with family entertainment. Disney’s future is strengthened when the family is strengthened. It’s damaged when the family is undermined.
Tremendous research goes into the production of a program like Sofia the First. Disney would be wise to do tremendous research on the cause of poverty and the cause of high disposable income. They may learn that a princess who has both a mother and a father to take care of them and guide them, and a princess who marries a prince, is more likely to escape poverty and become a better Disney customer.