Does Disney Content Work For All Ages?

Disney is a media company that is a household name due to its long career and is beloved by all. Viewers became acclimated with the outlet when they were kids; young people enjoyed the content whether they watched Pixar films or a Disney Channel show. However, as viewers get older they realize how childish their old movies and shows were, along with current content.

One old movie that many love and now see as childish is “Halloweentown.” The Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) follows Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown) and her siblings, Dylan (Joey Zimmerman) and Sophie (Emily Roeske), going to the titular town where it is Halloween every day there. Since its release in 1998, many loved the movie and still do to this day. However, many are now realizing just how cheesy it is.

Courtesy of Disney.

A review by Kestra Engstrom about “Halloweentown” states, “…watching ‘Halloweentown’ for the first time at my age was underwhelming, to say the least. In order to truly enjoy the cheesy lines and silly costumes at my age, you really have to go into the film with a particular nostalgic affection for that era of Disney Channel.” There is even a TikTok video by Charles Brockman III that comedically mimics the actions and dialogue of the characters. Just the original clips of the movie that Brockman includes show how outlandish some scenes are.

Brockman’s TikToks consist of him mimicking the characters of more recent DCOM films as well, such as the recent “Zombies” trilogy. The first film follows Zed (Milo Manheim), a zombie, and Addison (Meg Donnelly), a human, coming together despite their two species not getting along. “Zombies” sequels use the same messaging but with Werewolves and Extraterrestrials instead of the titular species.

Courtesy of Disney.

The extravagant musical numbers and not-so-subtle messages about acceptance make the movie enjoyable for children; the same can not be said of older viewers. For instance, one of many reviews by Common Sense Media user, real_name_lol, states, “…seems like a lame attempt at discussing important things like discrimination and segregation…Disney does it through a cheesy musical where every single character is [White].” This prominent yet poorly planned theme of discrimination and acceptance is not noticeable to younger viewers. Older ones that understand the nuances of serious topics such as discrimination were not too happy with this film.

An even more recent film put out by Disney is “Hocus Pocus 2,” the long-awaited sequel to the 1993 Halloween movie. The 1993 original follows a group of kids trying to evade the resurrected Sanderson witch sisters, Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker). While the first has some suggestive language, non-cringe yet extravagant humor and some pretty funny acting, the sequel does the opposite with the humor. One cringe-inducing scene is when Salem’s Mayor Traske (Tony Hale) tries and fails to get a candy apple, then shouts “No!!!.”

Courtesy of Disney.

Second-hand embarrassment, cheese and obvious messaging are typical in movies meant for younger audiences. Sometimes these things leak into more mature media; for instance, in an episode of “New Girl,” a show by Fox, called “Bathtub,” Jess (Zooey Deschanel) also shouts “no” dramatically because she ruined another character’s collection of suits by accident. While the three elements listed previously are staples in younger media, they do not define entertainment for Disney content.

Older viewers will still love the shows they watched when they were younger despite the cringe elements they see. A lot of Disney content, excluding Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, have those elements, but not all do. Disney content can work for all ages, depending on what you watched as a kid and how you currently stand on juvenile media. Many older viewers could look over that Disney-defining cheese just as younger viewers do now.

By Presley DePugh

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