I’m a parent of two very different children, and I wear my high alert parenting goggles when I watch or choose films with my kids. I have chosen to be a Conscious Parent and I know children take a lot from movies whether we realize what/how much of it or not. I’ll be writing about how we watch movies in a separate post 😉
As I’m sure most of you know, Western, English speaking “children’s” films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to role models. On the whole I have been gobsmacked at watching only the 2 minute trailers for children’s films over the last 10 years because of the increase in endless violence, sexism/gender bias, terrible role models, and severity of character-on-character mistreatment both verbally and emotionally – and it’s all made out to be funny. It is just incredible 😦
But – never fear dear parents! A great film has arrived in Disney’s latest creation – Moana. I will be putting together a list of great films for conscious parents soon (why didn’t I do that earlier?!?!?!) but for now I’ll give you the bullet points as I know you don’t have much time!
1. Strong Role Model
This won me over for point number one as Moana displays so many admirable qualities. She’s physically, mentally and emotionally strong. She must overcome many barriers, trust her instinct, and believe in herself. Despite the fact she yearns for the sea and exploration she does so in wanting to be a better leader for her family and village as opposed to fighting or rebellion. And she’s not “super sexy” or sassy anything like that 🙂
Any “attitude” throughout the entire film is only character frustration or misunderstandings as opposed to plain rudeness or malice. So the biggest things my two kidlets are repeating/taking from this film are; trying to be better swimmers (yay!), being strong, trying hard, courage, females being in positions of great responsibility, seeing through the pain of others, and well, the words “butt cheek” did enter the eldest’s vocabulary but I’m not complaining about that with everything else she’s taken away from the film.
2. Presention of Culture
Although this story and characters (I believe) are not intended to represent a specific South Pacific Island or specific Nationality, I believe that the overall presentation of the island way of life, the region, and peoples to be positive and in many ways true. Happiness, sharing, reliance on the coconut, roles within the community, dancing… And the hair – my daughter wants hair like Moanas now, and even as I write this my youngest is covering her arms with removeable sticker tattoos, haha!! I was easily able to discuss and relate my children to SO many aspects of the movie (from the boats to the dancing, tattoos, language, roles within a village community, etc) not only because of our trips to New Zealand but because I have dear friends from the South Pacific Islands and we (myself and my children) are always involved in cultural and global exploration in order to widen their circle of knowledge, wisdom and tolerance. Moana is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to exposing your children to this regions peoples if they aren’t already 🙂 And I believe it’s also possible to research the less Americanized/Disney-fied versions of the story of the Demi-God ‘Maui’, for example, if you wish to further educate yourself.
What a relief to be able to watch a film without constantly reassuring my children that “we don’t hit others like that”, for example. I think there are two points in the film where it comes close. But this was a huge part of the appeal of this film as well as we saw that it’s only necessary to fight in self defense as opposed to attack or to be funny or provoke others. Or most importantly, when we can’t use our words effectively.
Thank you, Moana Directors, for this!
Oops, I must note though that a few scenes may frighten young children so please cuddle tight and answer their questions through those. I’d recommend ages 4 to 5 and older watch this one.
4. Great Story
Easy to follow for the children, and as I say in both points 7 & 9 the lessons were obvious, and it’s a wonderful coming of age story. I personally am happy the main character is female, too, since I have daughters 🙂
As I said in an earlier point it’s a Disney-fied version of a legend, so, research further for the history behind it. Or otherwise simply go and enjoy the film!
5. Visually Breathtaking
I’ve recently started following Andy Harkness, the creative Director behind this masterpiece, and I would have to say I’m very impressed with pretty much every element. And when you do watch it – check out the amazing texture, look and movement of the hair and also water! I just wanted to touch it all!
6. Beautiful Music
Moana and the supporting characters have far easier voices to handle. This thankfully is not a repeat of Frozen. And yes, I do have the Frozen soundtrack. And yes, I do know all the words.
Secondly the mixture of languages was refreshing and also for my children, exciting. They appreciate the culture behind the music and I think that’s a wonderful thing!
7. Lessons Are Clearer
What I’ve actually noticed with a lot of kids films (Disney’s included) is that there are a LOT of underlying themes that simply go straight over the heads of our children but not without first modeling unwanted behaviors and adding confusion or inappropriate themes to their minds. And no, I’m not a “way out hippy”, or extremely religious, or extreme anything type of parent, I’m just aware of what they’re digesting, processing and regurgitating!
8. No Hate
In this world where there is so much hatred I find it refreshing that Moana doesn’t promote hate or a separatist attitude. Love it.
9. Easy to Explain or Expand On
Winning! Even after the 3rd viewing my children still have “why” questions and I find it is so easy to explain the answers and explore the topic/question raised. We do this with all films but I’ve found this very easy to parent through 🙂
10. Appropriate Themes
Following on from the last point, I don’t have to explain the ins and outs of themes they’re too little to understand or shouldn’t even be exposed to.
That just about sums it all up! I hope that what I’ve shared was helpful for you in choosing whether or not to show this film to your children. But as I’ve said I really do think it’s their best film yet 🙂
*This review is my personal opinion and I have no monetary affiliation with Disney.