Dear Disney Channel,
For a long time, we’ve been partners in parenting: Me, doing all the hard work, and you, giving me a much-needed break once in a while with your whimsy and fantasy. But we need to talk. It’s about your programming. Yes, I know that it’s October–oh I’m sorry, “Monstober”–and that you are a business trying to cater to a particular demographic that is apparently in need of thrills and chills. I get that. I’m writing to you as a mother of a 5-year old who is on the cusp of that demographic but who loves all things Disney and Halloween (admittedly mostly for the candy, but I digress).
I realize that, as her parent, it’s my job to have full control over what she watches. And I do my best to limit the amount of TV she watches, especially on school nights. But let’s face it, some days after a full day of kindergarten and afterschool programs, a girl just wants to zone out in front of the boob tube for a half hour. Disney Channel shows are a fun way for her to unwind and laugh a little. And since I watch them with her like a responsible parent, they also don’t make me want to kill myself like those shows on Nickelodeon. If I look at the description of the show and decide that its content is going to be too grown up or scary, I select something else. Hey, we still have Sprout to fall back on, right?
But it’s not so much the actual programs that I’m writing to you about–It’s the COMMERCIALS! Even while watching the most innocuous of shows like Good Luck Charlie, during “Monstober” every commercial is hosted by a couple of ghouls and shows the scariest, most nightmare-inducing scenes from the special Halloween episodes and movies “all month long!”
Is it really necessary to advertise at ALL hours the shows that scare the pants off my kid? You’re showing my kid images of things I won’t let her watch until she is much older, if at all. (Because I know better. What about those parents who don’t know better? Yikes!) I’m afraid to leave the room for a second for fear that when I return, my daughter’s hair will have that tell-tale white streak in it from being scared so terribly. (Sorry, that’s a Nightmare on Elm Street reference. I’m guilty of liking the scary movie or two, but I’m a grown up!)
Yes, I could just turn the channel, and I do. But you try arguing with Princess Sofia’s biggest fan and tell her Disney is off-limits for all of October! I don’t have a problem, per se, with the programs you’re marketing to the tween-age set-although, ask me again when my girl turns 11. But when we’re watching a show before 8:00 p.m., heck, when we watch a show at 7:00 in the morning, do the commercials need to show images like this:
Or transform our favorite sweet characters from this:
I mean, come on! It’s bad enough that we can’t even walk through the doors of our local CVS Pharmacy this month because a giant Grim Reaper is waiting to greet us at the door. Now she isn’t safe watching the most magical channel on earth in the comfort of her own home? There has to be some sort of a compromise.
I understand how much of a money-maker Halloween and all things spooky are. There is plenty of money to be made on non-scary Halloween themes. I mean, she’s 5. Just how scary do you think a show has to be to spook her? (Trust me. The girl screams at the sight of her toothbrush.) And before you come back with “It’s just a commercial!” let me tell you that all it takes is a single image to give a kid a really. bad. dream. Just ask me how my 2 a.m. wake up call
scream was last night.
How about you agree to keep to keep the G-rated shows, well, rated G, and I promise to let my daughter keep gorging herself on age-appropriate Disney programming. I think that sounds fair. I understand that my words may be falling on deaf ears. Any company that can do this to Goofy can’t exactly have their head or heart on the side of parents.
From conversations I’ve had around the water cooler at work, I know that a lot of parents of kids even older than mine are feeling the same way. We’re all doing our best to avoid the Disney Channel this month. But until more parents unite and scream for age appropriate commercials, let alone programming, it looks like I’m going to be living off my DVR and fast forwarding through all the commercials.
Oh well. I guess I’ll try the folks over at Xfinity to see if they can stop showing horribly violent and scary movie previews as I’m browsing the Kids section of the OnDemand menu. (Seriously, WHY?? How does this make sense?)
A Fan of Spooky, if only well-timed.
All images in this post are from various sources of Disney Channel programming, such as YouTube or DisneyChannel.com.