Dear Disney Channel,
Please stop ruining today’s children.
I would love to stop there, because I think the sassiness of one sentence is an appropriate response to the hollowness of your programming, but I refuse to stoop to your level. Earlier tonight, while at a laundromat, I was subjected to an hour of your work, a show called Jessie. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that I would have rather spent that hour inside the washing machine.
Let’s recap the highlights of two back-to-back episodes of Jessie: boys should settle their disagreements in physical fights (because that’s the closest thing to being “real men” [seriously, this is almost a full quote] they can muster) and girls should let their emotions out in crying and fragility (and be mocked for it with a laugh track while the masculine characters in the show comfort them).
Dude. 2013 called. Really?
I grew up on your bullshit princesses constantly being rescued by princes broken record, but I thought we were past that. I thought we were ready for the whole “people can be people, let’s stop smushing them into restrictive and unhealthy boxes and ruining their chances at a fulfilling and affirming futures…” type thing. What happened to the Mulan spirit?
Now, I can’t be sure that this is representative of your overall programming. I’m willing to admit that. But even if that hopeful scapegoat is the case, someone okaying this one hour of this one show is damning enough that it had me rage–tweeting (something I almost never do) in order to keep myself from shoving myself inside a dryer and setting it to “cotton” (That’s the highest heat setting. I somehow know that, even though I have a penis). Why, Disney, are you actively reinforcing the most harmful outmoded gender norms? IT’S 2013 AND YOU ARE STILL DOING THIS. DO YOU REALIZE YOU ARE LITERALLY CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEATHS OF CHILDREN?!
Fact: in the U.S. alone, at least three boys kill themselves every day.
Boys are told that they shouldn’t have to ask for help. Boys are told that they should be strong. Boys are told they should be independent. That they should fight. That violence is the best answer. That being a man means hiding emotions and expressing yourself physically. They’re told this by you. You’re telling them this. And you’re telling everyone else that this is the behavior they should reinforce in boys. You’re killing our boys.
And, on the other hand, girls are affirmed in showing emotions while showing emotions is simultaneously vilified. Femininity in any form is presented as weakness. You’re telling girls that they should cry, while reinforcing the shame incurred by crying by laugh-tracking it. And you top it all off with a patriarchal figure being forced to cope with the emotional (10 year old?) feminine figure. “Bitches, amiright?”
Disney Channel, it might be too early in our relationship for me to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway: I hate you. If a parent ever asks me, “Hey Sam, do you know of any ways to destroy my children with zero effort on my part but a near-100% likelihood of emotional and psychic annihilation?”
“Why yes,” I’ll reply, “Let me take them to the laundromat. There’s this show they play on the television. A real technicolor motion picture talkie! I bet they’ll love it!”
Honorary Mickey Mouse Clubber,
P.S. Bee-tee-dubs, that quote up top of you defending Cinderella by highlighting how she got her prince is horrifying. I really, really hope you didn’t say that. But I’m including it as the epigraph for this letter because I’m angry and don’t have any interest in fact-checking.