In preparation for an upcoming trip to Disneyland, I sat down with the Monkey to watch some classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoons on YouTube. I haven’t watched any of these cartoons in at least 25 years, but I remember especially loving Donald Duck. Who didn’t love Donald?!? These cartoons are classics!
Now, before I let the Monkey watch anything, especially on YouTube, I watch it first to make sure it passes the mom-test. But this was Donald Duck, one of Disney’s most beloved characters. Of course it’s safe for a toddler to watch!
We watched a few cartoons that were absolutely enjoyable and fun. Donald playing with sea lions, Donald flirting with Daisy Duck…and then the Monkey pointed to a small clip titled “Toy Tinkers”.
Here is my thought process as my two year old and I watched the clip together:
Look at those cute little squirrels! And there’s Donald Duck in his house, getting ready for Christmas. Oh look, the squirrels see all the nuts Donald has laying around and are now breaking into his house. Those pesky squirrels! Now Donald sees them and decides to have fun with them. Ha! They’re playing a game with Donald as they each steal back the nuts from one another. Oh, how clever of Donald, he comes down the chimney dressed as Santa and hands one squirrel a small nut and the other squirrel a much bigger nut. Oh, now they’re fighting over it and…uh…they just smacked each other over the bigger nut. Hmmmm, I’m not so sure about this….wait, wha….WTF!!!!!….a squirrel just opened a nut to find a gun aimed in his face! Donald is holding the gun directly at the squirrels and marching them away!!!
I’ve never turned my computer off faster.
After I settled my toddler back into the very safe world of Elmo and Abby, I started to click around for more old Disney cartoons. I was shocked by what I came across - WWII propaganda cartoons featuring Donald Duck and Nazis, Daisy Duck contemplating suicide, Donald and Mickey deliberately getting electrocuted by little mice, and Donald mistreating his three nephews very badly. Very, very badly.
I grew up on this stuff. I regularly watched old Disney cartoons and Looney Tunes. I definitely remember the very violent antics of the Looney Tunes characters, such as Elmer Fudd and his shotgun and Wile. E. Coyote trying to blow up the Road Runner with TNT…but Disney?!? It never even crossed my mind that there were violent images in these classic cartoons. Either I’m naive, forgetful, or that’s just my inner desensitized child talking.
There is so much talk about kids being exposed to too much violence in the media today and there is no doubt that’s true. Between adult-themed TV shows, the Internet, and video games, kids today have access to a lot of inappropriate content. But one thing is for sure, you will not find this stuff in the cartoons and TV shows that are geared towards younger kids. Big Bird never smacks Cookie Monster around, the Man with the Yellow Hat never plays means tricks on George, and Olivia will never be seen holding a gun.
I understand that the era when these cartoons were made was much different. It was a time when boys were given toy guns so they could play “war” and “shoot ‘em up” games. It was a time before children brought real guns to school, before explosions became a scar on our national psyche, and when war was clearly drawn between the good guys and the bad guys. We all know how much times have changed since then. So, I’m saying this as someone who is a HUGE fan of the Disney programming we all know and love today – the good ol’ days of Disney isn’t very good for today’s children. I’ll look back at some of these old cartoons with nostalgia but I plan to leave them exactly where they belong: in my past and not in my child’s present. When he’s old enough, I’ll show him old clips. Until then, we’ll stick to the peaceful, loving, and ethical characters we can find in the cartoons and TV shows aimed for young kids today.
(click on the 4:00 mark for the aforementioned scene)
Have an opinion on the matter? Would love to hear from you!