I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to state that the heart-warming films of Walt Disney have pervaded every aspect of every single human being on the planet’s childhood.
The entire male population of Asia has, at some point or another, aspired to ride a magic rug and trap a parrot in a gravy boat. Every self-respecting Englishman has dreamed of possessing the style and wit of cheeky chimneysweep Dick Van Dyke. All Y-chromosome deficient homo sapiens spend their lives counting the days until a coiffured nobleman carries them off into the hills.
But have timeless classics like The Emperor’s New Groove and Jungle Book 2 had another, more insidious, influence on our lives? Could Disney be responsible for the inadequacy, isolation and dissatisfaction we feel as we emerge, like Alice from the rabbit hole, into the adult world?
Below is a selection of some of the most egregious lies peddled to us by The Walt Disney Company while we were at our most vulnerable and impressionable.
#1. If you want something enough it will be yours.
When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you
The idea that the world is governed by a benevolent force who rewards those who “wish” hard enough is a central tenet of the Disney ideology (among others). The concept, however, doesn’t quite hold water in a world of unpaid internships, nepotism and starving artists.
#2. All friendships last forever.
I wanna call your name, forever
And you will always answer, forever
And both of us will be
Forever you and me
Forever and ever
Yes, in the Disney universe even a friendship forged with an inanimate object is a source of endless laughter and boundless fun. In reality, however, your connection to your childhood friends is limited to scrolling through pictures of them having the time of their lives on Facebook. You, on the other hand, spend your Friday nights in the local with “the guys from work”, taking pictures of yourself pretending to have the time of your life.
#3. All work can be made joyful if you know how.
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap, the job’s a game
Although whistling while you work may make your desk jockeying days more bearable, you’re likely to receive a pencil in the eye courtesy of a colleague (and you would deserve it). Eating spoonfuls of sugar as you cold-call people would have similar negative effects on your health. In short, lots of areas of work are as joyless as that scene in Bambi and no amount of sing song or tomfoolery is going to change that.
#4. The partner of you dreams is out there somewhere.
I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream.
I know you
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
Yes, I know it’s true
that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once
the way you did once upon a dream
Tinder, Grindr and Plenty of Fish have made it easier than ever to meet a sleazy cretin for a romantic pint but they have also made it much more apparent that human beings are terrible and that the idea of “everlasting love” is a hollow sham.
#5. Everything ends happily ever after™.
We are home
We are where we shall be forever
Trust in me
For you know I wont run away
This is all that I need
And all that I need to say is…
Don’t you know how you’ve changed me
Perhaps the most pernicious of all Disneyisms is that everything always turns out great for the good guys. What a terrible thing to tell children who will grow up in a world of existential despair and Piers Morgan. No Disney princess becomes terminally ill and no handsome prince develops PTSD. Instead, the Dalmatians and the Aristocats come home, Simba becomes king, Sleeping Beauty stops sleeping, the little mermaid stops being a mermaid and the Hunchback of Notre Dame…actually, forget him.
#6. You Can Fly
You can do what the birdies can
At least it’s worth a try
You can fly! You can fly!
You can fly! You can fly!
You can’t fly.