The World Gone Wild: The not-so-innocent themes behind classic children’s films

The World Gone Wild: The not-so-innocent themes behind classic children's films

Jasmine Santos, Editor-in-Chief & News Editor

Enjoying a three week top box office spot, the animated movie “The Lego Movie” continues to be a hit for both adults and children alike who’ve stretched their creative juices with the plastic blocks. However, like many movies that are seemingly light and pure entertainment, the movie depicts plenty of truths about the real world. The micromanaging government robots and the quasi-dictatorial president are among the many humorous and childish counterparts of very serious and adult issues.

But all that satire is buried under smiles, jokes, and catchy music. The same can be said for many classic Disney movies that may have been overlooked or only superficially understood. While it is true that movies for children typically have some type of moral one way or another, usually the movie contains more than just a life lesson.

I’m not referring to the conspiracy buffs’ Illuminati theories. Although I must admit that those theories cannot be completely disregarded.

Often there is symbolism in these animated films that adults tend to ignore because of their misconception that because the intended audience is younger, no serious concepts can be present underneath all the fun. But the reality is many movies intended for children have adult notions of sex, violence and political satire hidden behind a curtain of child-friendly concepts like heroism, good morals and humor.

Classic Disney movies like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” teach lessons about not judging people based on physical appearances and seeing them for their courage and their heart. Viewers cannot dismiss the fact that the main character Quasimodo was an abandoned child, dropped into the hands of Judge Frollo, a religiously pious Catholic judge who was tempted by the gypsy-girl Esmeralda’s beauty and sultriness. Quasimodo was not only emotionally abused by Judge Frollo as he grew up locked in a bell tower, but there were also hints of his mental instability hidden behind the magically talking gargoyles.

Often what adults forget is that these movies are based on works that were originally littered with satire and metaphors for the real world to expose the truth behind current events at the time of the story’s publication. Although the adaptations are made for children, the original work must still be a large part of the story, and usually, the satire is a large part of the original work.

Another movie that also has a disturbing aspect that many people do not pay attention to is Disney’s “Aladdin.” Princess Jasmine, a young girl about 17 or 18 years of age, was arranged to marry Jafar, the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, who is old enough to be her father. Although arranged marriages happen often in royal families, the idea of Princess Jasmine being Jafar’s own personal scantily dressed slave, as Jafar implied in the movie, is utterly wrong on so many levels.

Plenty of other seemingly innocent movies that have not-so-innocent themes exist other than the ones listed above. It’s simply a matter of seeing underneath all the vibrant colors, sounds and animations.