It feels like when you reach a certain age, suddenly there are things that you should no longer like.
But just because something is, in theory, targeted/marketed toward a certain age group doesn’t mean that once you are no longer part of that demographic that you must immediately cease your attachment to those things.
Some things — like movies, or TV shows or books or music — don’t stop being entertaining once you are no longer the target audience. Sometimes it’s nostalgia that makes it something you enjoy, or sometimes it’s simply just well made and it transcends age.
At the end of the day, we like what we like, and should give zero fucks about what other people think.
That being said, I’m in my 30s and I have always, and will forever, love all things Disney. Some people will say that adults shouldn’t like Disney because it’s made for kids. Some go far enough that they view an adult with a Disney passion as creepy or weird. But, you know what? That’s total bullshit.
Animated and family-oriented entertainment isn’t solely made for children, and to say that adults can’t enjoy it speaks more about your own narrow views of adulthood than anything else. Don’t project your issues onto the rest of us trying to enjoy our lives, please.
Growing up during the Disney Renaissance, Disney is built into my DNA. My mom loves Disney almost as much as I do, so she made sure I saw every movie and then got them all on VHS. We used to get The Disney Store catalog delivered to our house. When I was a teenager, I would go see Disney movies with my friend who was 10 years older than me. I still can’t watch Finding Nemo without thinking of how we used to walk around quoting the movie.
In college, my friends and I would see the newest Disney release at the movie theater across the street from our dorm. The benefit was that we could go at night and avoid the crowds of families. One of my friends and I went to see a midnight showing of the Hannah Montana Movie — even though we were both out of college by that time. We loved it.
The first time I went to Disneyland, I was in my early 20s. I was in college and my roommate and I went for a day. I can assure you I was more excited than just about any little kid in the place. It’s pure magic. And in the subsequent times I’ve been back, even though I’ve gotten older, that magic hasn’t faded at all. In fact, it gets stronger.
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my kiddo turning five than a trip to Disneyland. Truth be told, I really wanted to go too, and I was happy that he was finally old enough to enjoy it and maybe even remember it when he got older. He had a good time, but I’m pretty sure I had more fun and I’m glad we were able to share the experience together.
Now that I’m a mom, people probably think I’m into Disney because of my kid. But anyone who knows me knows he’s into Disney because of me. Whenever a new Disney movies comes on Netflix or Hulu, I make him watch it, often to his dismay. Most of the time though, he grows to love them like I do. During his baths, we love to sing the songs from Mulan and Moana together. And we once watched The Little Mermaid twice a day for about a week and a half because it brings us joy.
But even if I weren’t a mom, I can’t imagine I’d be any less obsessed with Disney. I have a collection of Disney princess shirts (Snow White is my favorite, perhaps because she’s so underrated, but Belle is also my favorite because she reads, which was very important to 5-year-old me, who was a voracious reader.) And this past summer, when TOMS did their Disney collaboration, I dropped some of my hard-earned cash for the Snow White alpargatas without hesitation. I proudly wore them to Disneyland for my son’s birthday, but not after doing a complete unboxing on Instagram.
I was really excited about them, okay? Snow White doesn’t get a lot of attention, and she really should.
Here’s another reason why Disney movies aren’t just for kids — the more I’ve watched the films, especially the ones released in the last 10 years or so, I’ve discovered so much nuance in the stories. Of course, they’re mostly hidden by talking rabbits and dancing snowmen, but they’re there.
Take for example, the film Zootopia. The entire movie is social commentary, but only an adult can understand it. When Judy Hopps tells Nick to stop petting the sheep’s hair, I felt seen as a black woman who has her hair touched in the same manner. Thank you, Disney, for tackling microagressions in a relatable way.
The entire theme of The Incredibles 2 focuses around the struggle working moms face. Are we capable of successfully raising our families and saving the world? So many people focus on the whimsy or the princess movies (which aren’t inherently terrible, they’re based on fairy tales, for crying out loud!) that they miss out. Disney movies tackle themes like grief, familial relationships, and finding your place in the world. These themes are universal — you don’t suddenly get “too old” for them. If the opening notes of “The Circle of Life” don’t make the hair on your arms stand up, are you even alive?
So, you can judge me or others adults who love Disney for being childish, but why? Who says adults can’t enjoy a movie with singing mice or rats who can cook? Why do we have to force ourselves into a narrow box of what adults are allowed to enjoy? Adults need time to decompress and watch something that makes them feel good. This world is heavy and exhausting, and we all deserve a break.
And I can’t think of anything that makes me feel as good as a Disney movie, even if they have me sobbing by the end (I’m looking at you Coco.)