Recently I’ve been thinking about the implicit messages that children devour in media that is directed at them. What message do we send to boys who watch Dora the Explorer when we make a spin-off show called Go Diego Go so that they can have a male influence instead? What message do we send to the girls who read The Titan’s Curse only to discover that a strong group of girl’s are seemingly irrationally man-hating? What message do we send to children as a whole when the only romantic relationships in the ever-popular Disney and Pixar movies are heterosexual?
This last question is one that has been bothering me for some time. After recovering from watching Toy Story 3, a movie that could be argued as being just as much for people my age as children (I know that more people my age were in the theatre when I went to see it, and we were the ones who were grossly sobbing through a third of it), I realized that Disney and Pixar movies have a lot of romantic relationship. I grew up on Disney movies whose plots revolved around a romantic relationship (especially when the protagonist was a woman), and not one of those relationships was homosexual. I can’t even remember a minor relationship that was homosexual. Why is this?
Well, simply put, homosexuality is considered to be outside the norm. It is seen as perverse and innately sexual in nature rather than “romantic.” We can’t be exposing children to sexuality! That is an adult topic from which we must protect our precious children! Except, we’re already exposing children to sexuality: it’s called heterosexuality.
The way I see it, if you’re going to claim that you shouldn’t include homosexuality in children’s media because children shouldn’t be exposed to sexuality, then heterosexuality should be erased from children’s media as well. And if you’re worried that your kids are going to have too many questions, well then you shouldn’t have become a parent in the first place. Children are smarter than they seem, and if you raise them in an environment that is accepting of differences then they will grow to become accepting of differences. I think the first step to that is incorporating differences in the media children consume.