When looking at various Disney movies, I think it is definitely clear to see negative messages portrayed throughout the films. It may seem difficult, however, for a small child to pick up on these messages because of how naïve they are. In addition, there is normally a positive message that is made more clear, which masks he negative ones. In the movie, The Little Mermaid, the positive and seemingly overt message is that Ariel is an innocent mermaid who is fascinated with the idea of life on land and being a human. We see a clear depiction of her curiosity with human culture whenever she sings the song, “Part of Your World.” This song emphasizes the glorifications with being a human. Ariel also spends time exploring with her friends, finding human treasures that cause her to question human culture even more. It is her curiosity that leads her to want the experience of life as a human. This is most likely the message that little kids notice when they are watching the movie, however there are also several negative parts to the movie as well. The negative, implied message in the movie is that looks are everything and it is normal to change yourself in order to meet the standards of a man.
There are several big problems with this. In the scene where Ariel goes to Ursula to help her become human, there is a negative message portrayed. Ursula begins by mentioning that she can help people who want to win over a significant other by making them more attractive. She refers to unattractive people as “poor unfortunate souls” that are “in pain and in need.” This highlights the false idea that looks are all that really matters, and you have to change yourself in order to find love. Ursula tells Ariel that she will allow her to become human for 3 days, and during this time she must make Prince Eric fall in love with her. This is obviously impossible to do, which is why this makes love seem easy to find and easily attainable. Also, according to Ursula, Ariel doesn’t need her voice or personality to make Eric fall in love with her because she has her looks to swoon him. Ursula even mentions that men do not like women who talk too much. Ariel seems shocked upon hearing this, but agrees to the task anyways giving Ursula her voice. This emphasizes the idea that looks are more important than personality. While watching this scene as an adult, the false idea about love and appearance is very clear. What makes this more controversial is whether or not children are aware of these false perceptions.
Although these messages may or not be picked up by children watching this film at a young age, they are extremely evident to anyone who knows the depth behind them. I don’t think there is any real way to know to what extent this is affecting adolescents, but I do think that it makes some sort of an impact on them. If they watch these movies over and over again, like I did, they will most likely start to pick up on the negative messages. The problem with this is that they aren’t aware that the messages are negative. By seeing this in a movie, they will assume that it is normal until someone tells them otherwise. The danger in these Disney movies is definitely a controversy that will continue to be picked apart until further corrections are made in the industry.