Animated movies of my childhood made me a better person

The world could learn from classic kidfare

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Animated movies of my childhood made me a better person

Joe McClain, Mill Valley News reporter

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As a youngster, there were so many forces trying to teach and build character. This included my parents and school, but the thing that really taught me about character was movies. For example, in Dumbo, the characters learn about respect and accepting each other’s differences. Under all of my childhood favorites were strong, relevant lessons that gave me context for the “six pillar” concept that we learned about in school.

At a young age, I used early Disney movies as a way of learning about the world and how to act. The movies I watched shaped me into the person I am today. Art often reflects culture and society. That includes literature, music and entertainment. We use this to look back at history and learn about life in earlier times. In the future, people will probably look back at our art to learn about the way we were.

One of the universal messages from these movies is the idea that the good guy always wins. The reason that Disney movies became so popular is because everyone likes the belief that good conquers evil and love will overcome. Ideas like this shaped the way I think and the way I approach life on a daily basis. Without exposure to Disney movies, I might be a completely different person. In 101 Dalmatians, the puppies must outsmart the gang of villains to escape. Their plan to use a soot disguise encourages me and other viewers to think outside the box when looking for a solution to a problem.

If I woke up in swamp with my sister Marie and my brother Berlioz (not their real names), I might not realize that by banding together, we could make our way back to our Parisian home. I like to think that my family could defeat evil on our own, but by watching The Aristocats, I gained extra confidence that family teamwork and perseverance are important and powerful weapons against adversity. I hold The Aristocats in the utmost regard to this day. The philosophy that we are stronger in groups and everyone contributes something to the whole is something that I use when working in a team environment.

As the world seems to become increasingly unkind and divisive, I encourage everyone to take another look at the lessons and cinematic genius expressed by the writers and animators of Disney classics. Whether you’re sharing a small forest house with seven roommates or sewing a dress with six other mice and some bluebirds, we all have to get along and work together in order to share the world happily… ever after.

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