I don’t think they make cartoons like they used to. I was watching Pinocchio with my son the other day. This movie is far from PC. There are characters drinking and smoking – granted, they are the bad guys, but you wouldn’t see such a thing in a G rated Disney movie today. But the movie is also far more morally powerful than any cartoon today. It’s not a complex moral – you make bad choices and you get in situations you are not supposed to be in. We see Pinocchio as he matures and as his conscience in the form of Jiminy Cricket continually pester him when he makes bad choices. We see pure folly in the form of youngsters who immediately jump at the chance to go to Pleasure Island without the supervision of parents. Those boys pay the consequences and fortunately Pinocchio escapes just in time.
In many Disney movies or any cartoons today the focus is different. The parent or parents are the ones going threw some growing and learning life lessons. It is hard to see a movie or TV show where the children are not smarter than the parents. Finding Nemo moral concerns primarily the father fish learning to not be overprotective of his son. (To be fair, my wife pointed out that it was Nemo’s disobedience that caused him to get in trouble). In the Shaggy Dog and The Haunted Mansion we are repeatedly beaten over the head with the father character who is too wrapped up in his work to pay attention to his kids. (I talk more about the father character portrayed in media here).
I’m not sure what has caused this paradigm shift. I suppose one could say society is becoming increasingly rebellious and we see that displayed on film by the depiction of clueless parents and children who have it all figured out. It could have to do with absent parents, but I would think the depiction of the parents would be more negatively extreme, such as parents who are absent altogether. Perhaps it has to do with a generation of parents who were present, but maybe were not strong moral agents, or at the very least, fostered an environment that allowed the child to think they knew everything and the parents knew nothing. Or, based on the depiction of the father figure, they had fathers that were there, but simply were not there enough.
Obviously my position as a dad has changed my perspective. I’m now one of those over 30 that people under 30 can no longer trust. Parents are far from perfect and I know that I have a lot of growing to do as a person, a father, and a child of God himself. But the majority of growth will be that of my children. They will be the ones seeing exponential growth in every since of the word from their current age to when they leave the house. I may not know everything, but I do know more than them.