Jan. 26th, 2013

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Sofia the First is a brand-new show from Disney, which debuted Thanksgiving weekend, and has begun a weekly run. From an adult point of view, everything about it screams formulaic Disney - Sofia is a little girl who has lived a normal life until her mother marries the king, and now she has to deal with learning about being a princess while dealing with her step-siblings, talking animals, magic jewelry, big poufy dresses. Of course, Tabitha loves it.

On a recent episode, Sofia, along with her step-sister, are going to have a sleepover. Of course, the step-sister invites other princesses, but Sofia invites a couple of her commoner friends. Conflict ensues as Sofia's friends, instead of trying to be more like the princesses, run rambunctiously around, roll their hair up in pine cones... . Finally, after Sofia begs them to behave themselves for the ball, they walk out because they are "bored". Sofia has to run out after them, and apologizes. The moral of the story, of course, is "you can't change who you are" and that everybody should be accepting of everybody else.

I, on the other hand, saw it a different way. Even though nothing the girls did was terrible, being invited to a sleepover in a castle, one ought to have expected that they would have been on their best behavior, which they obviously were not. Sofia's pleas to them to act better fall on deaf ears, and when they partially comply, at the ball, regardless of the fact that Sofia is finally a little happier, they leave because they don't like being "bored". That hardly seems like the actions of true friends. To make matters worse, after Sofia begs them back, the princesses come back and want to do the crazy things too because they are also "bored".

Every one of us is created to be unique, and there is value to learning to love and respect people for the people they are. However, this philosophy has been twisted by many to make it seem that what people do cannot be helped because of the people that they are. Therefore, in this case, the girls cannot be expected to behave better because they are commoners, and the better behavior would be a betrayal of the girls' "self". (And who wants to be mistaken for stuck-up rich people?) As such, we cannot make any judgement on the girls' behavior, because their behavior is a function of who they are, and not to like the behavior is not to like them. And so, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" is not at all possible in this situation.

These are the messages that are being broadcast to the littlest sets of eyes and to the youngest minds, and this sort of messaging is effective. I'm not saying that this alone would have me forbid Tabitha from watching it again, but even at three, recognize what this message is, and know to rebut the show as we're watching. As a matter of course, I talk to her about lots of things, including what is expected behavior in places. I know she understands, too, because just the other day she started talking to me about the things she can do in church. This isn't to limit her "fun" or "who she is" but to teach her to walk in the ways of a more fulfilling life.

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