I have never made a secret of the fact that I am not a big fan of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid. While the movie has its plus sides – the humorous scenes, the catchy songs, and the artistic imagery that Disney is known for – it has its negative points as well. And these negative points, in my mind, outweigh the positives.
So what is wrong with The Little Mermaid? I believe the very message of the movie is just plain wrong. The movie’s main point seems to be that children should be free to do whatever their hearts tell them to do.
How does it teach this?
A young girl with a beautiful voice falls in “love at first sight” with a handsome young prince. Never mind the fact that the two have never so much as spoken to each other. Witnessing from a distance his charming flute playing and dancing (with a dog, I might add) are all it takes to win this young girl’s heart! When a natural disaster strikes, she saves him from drowning (which is a redeeming thing for a heroine to do, by the way). But then, she defies her father’s wishes to stay away from the young man, and takes things to a whole new level by risking her life and giving up her voice to a creepy sea witch. Why? So that she could become human for three days and try to get the prince to give her a true love’s kiss. (Oh, yes, this sounds like a great idea.)
Naturally you would think that there would be some sort of negative consequence to Ariel’s folly in the end, right?
By the end of the movie, Ariel gets everything that she wants. She goes against her father’s command, nearly destroys all of her homeland through her disobedience, and nearly gets her father killed. And yet – she marries the prince and is congratulated by everyone for all that she did. And father? Oh yes, he sees the error of his overbearing and unsympathetic ways.
Message? Follow your heart… you know best. Parents – let your children do what they want… they know better than you.
So what is wrong with the message? Firstly, as I said in an earlier post, the Bible condemns the heart as a poor source of discernment. Even though it feels pretty good to listen to your heart, God clearly does not approve of us following it.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~Jeremiah 17:9
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. ~Matthew 15:18
Secondly, young people (including teenagers) need help making huge decisions. Even mature adults seek advice on life-altering decisions! How much more should young people seek the wisdom and advice of their parents or trusted elders?
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. ~Colossians 3:20
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. ~Exodus 20:12
Now, Ariel’s dad definitely had a few anger issues! But that is a subject for another time, and it surely does not excuse Ariel’s behavior towards him. Two wrongs don’t make a right, right? Ariel completely disobeyed her father, and everything worked out for her when she did, making it sound perfectly all right for others to disobey parents! Not a good message for young, easily-influenced children watching a Disney movie to hear. 🙂
So even though The Little Mermaid can be funny, entertaining, and, to some extent, even sweet, it has a message which clearly goes against what the Bible teaches. You can of course watch The Little Mermaid and be a Christian, but be wary of what kinds of messages it is teaching. And please do not listen to the message that children should listen to their hearts!