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I received this fantastic question from :iconcopperchipmunk: back in October (to which I did respond quickly) and have wanted to share my answer to a wider audience/ open myself to the opportunity of being persuaded to think differently if a better viewpoint is made (although I only just now remembered to do it). 

"Hi again Mr. Bates,
Listen, i'm working on something for school and my teacher said I should contact you and ask you something you should most definitely have an opinion about.
What are your views on the unnecessary censoring of children's cartoons, comics, and 20th century books? Do you believe the parents are being too censor-happy with some of these, or do you support their decision?
Examples: To Kill a Mockingbird was banned from schools because it "promotes white supremacy" when actually, it doesn't.
Derpy Hooves has been edited in My Little Pony because she was "offensive to the disabled" when actually, she ISN'T.
Writers and artists are being shunned or forced to edit their work.
Please respond to this ASAP. It would be nice to hear a comic artist's argument."

Wow, that is an excellent question and something I consider myself passionate about. 
A fast answer is that I'm firmly against "unnecessary" censorship, as you put it, especially in regards to children's/all ages/20th and 21st century entertainment. 

However, it requires a longer answer that I will attempt to keep brief. 

It's important to control what ideas and content a younger audience is exposed to. That is without question. We as a society determine a basic guideline or set of rules for what is appropriate for certain age groups, or certain material, and creators must be held accountable to craft entertainment within those parameters. 

But as you've pointed out, often the material censored is a victim to an overzealous effort that does not understand the content its stripping. Knee-jerk reactions are too often acted on without a sincere effort to understand the property or its audience. 

Steve Pinker addresses a topic that relates to this in his book 'Better angels of our nature', specifically the section 'CHILDREN’S RIGHTS AND THE DECLINE OF INFANTICIDE, SPANKING, CHILD ABUSE, AND BULLYING'. Here is a quote that I think is particularly helpful-

"The movement over the past two centuries to increase the valuation of children’s lives is one of the great moral advances in history. But the movement over the past two decades to increase the valuation to infinity can lead only to absurdities. "

Unnecessary censorship is one of these absurdities. 

Children are young humans observing and learning how to react to the world around them. What older humans need is an honest and rational discussion about what is acceptable for a contemporary young audience. 

We need to admit that a full-scale whitewashing of all the unpleasant truths and difficult ideas that make up our reality is not healthy for developing humans. 
We need to engage developing minds on moral and intellectual ground with these topics. For example, explain and converse with them on why something is no longer acceptable in our culture, such as racism. Or that some humans are born or develop physical and mental disabilities, then attempt to help them understand how this affects their lives. 

With a firm understanding of these topics, young minds can absorb, understand, and appreciate these representations of their reality in entertainment.

No good can from an ignorant populace!

Thanks for asking!
-Ben
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:icontazi-san:
Tazi-san Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I think you're response was well put :nod:

I remember the things I use to watch as a kid involved characters dying, a bitter sweet end, good overcoming evil but at great price, etc. Dealing with realities like death or that life doesn't always turn out the way you want is something kids will need to grasp and those were always the stories I never forgot even when I was 4 years old!

I think it's all about purpose.  Why did the writer/artist put that element in there, was is just to be sexually or violently gratuitous and drag the viewer through the mud or to serve an actual purpose in the story? There are some things that I would never let a kid see, not even I would watch it, but I know there are some things that are not outright bad to see, it's just their minds can't grasp them yet until they are more cognitively mature.

We just have to be thoughtful and take it case-by-case.
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:iconplasticplayhouse:
plasticplayhouse Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter

i totally agree!!!

 

And I love Mr. Pinker's statement of

 

"The movement over the past two centuries to increase the valuation of children’s lives is one of the great moral advances in history. But the movement over the past two decades to increase the valuation to infinity can lead only to absurdities."

As a parent of two children myself, I understand the importance of what it means to be a parent.  A parent is a caregiver, leader, mentor, advisor, and a disciplinarian.  I'll be the first to say that I'm not the best parent.  I believe we learn new things every day and that we can all strive to be better, yet it saddens and frustrates me when I see other "parents" mentor/lead their kids.  Some parents are so afraid of what others may say or how they may be perceived that they fail in some or all of those categories.  For example, the child acts up in a disrespectful manor - the parent ignores them or appeases them.  The child craves engagement and mentorship - the parent tells/allows them to play video games/watch tv for hours on end because they are too lazy to make time for them or they just want the child to be "quiet".  Many parents naively believe they know their child's friends, but they don't truly know quality of their child's friends because they never took the time to get to know them.

It feels like too many people turn a blind eye to the true meaning of being a parent/mentor and they allow the media (applies to this censorship topic) to dictate how they should be a parent.  It is also those same people who believe that in order to "help" the children grow, they need to eliminate any possible threat, difference, or negative encounter.  Rather than having the child read a semi-controversial book and the parent/teacher taking the time to explain the true meaning behind it (therefore showing the kids that you should try to understand something before you judge it), it is easier for them to just shelter them from topic all together.  Sure some things should be censored, but if our society gets overzealous (which it is becoming), how is the youth to learn to understand something before judging and also how to determine right from wrong on their own accord? 

 

That is a long winded response to overzealous (and I stress overzealous) censorship, but it has a profound effect on our youth, their growth, and ability to be free thinkers.  Needless to say I am passionate about our youth and our responsibility for their upbringing.

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:iconbiosonic100:
Biosonic100 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The only censors content needs are discretion warnings, and ratings. Otherwise literature in all forms should be allowed free expression.
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:iconwarriorkt135:
warriorkt135 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
100% agree
adding to favs
and at least there are people like u in the world that think logical and reasionable .3.
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:iconmx-robotnik:
Mx-Robotnik Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Unnecessary censorship is why my daughter doesn't watch many cartoons about these days (we also don't have any way to watch live TV), she watches a lot of stuff from the 80s/90/s and early 2000s, the stuff I grew up watching and loving and she loves it too.

I get that parents want to protect their kids but there is no need to be so over zealous over much minor things like Derpy Hooves.
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:iconlight-dusk:
Light-Dusk Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Censors are definitely necessary for some of the more 'mature' content the entertainment industry has to offer, but yeah, censors/bans/political correctness can get out of hand quite a bit.
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:iconmegahayzer:
MegaHayzer Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Yes!! Yes! What this guy said!

To be honest, Mr. Bates, I might vent a little bit, but I want to bring you a related but different plight:

Your mileage may vary on the subject of Christianity. Whatever, that's fine. I'm a strong rooted Christian individual (to the point where nothing can sway me from my faith). Bah, starting to speak Christianese again. So I wanted to bring this knowledge to you, since you care about this topic.

In any case: censorship is actually a big topic in Christian circles right now and has garnered a lot of debate. Both are pretty much extremes. One side says all things shouldn't have language, nudity, blood, etc. The other embraces all of those things and says: "The story would be wrecked without those things." For example, if all the gorey humanicide in Attack On Titan was removed, you would no longer have any fear of the titans because what they do would no longer affect you or further the purpose of the story by leading Eren to swear revenge on beings who didn't gorily eat his mother.

I happen to fall on the latter half of the debate. I think when things serve purpose, they should never be cut out for the sake of someone's emotions. Would Schindler's List be the same if all the shots of the Germans treating the naked Jews like animals were removed? No. Would a story about a group of soldiers in 'Nam be accurate if there was no language? No. So, then, would a film adaptation of the life of King David be accurate if they censored everything (cutting of Goliath's head, raping Bathsheba then murdering her husband, all the wars he led, his mighty men, etc.) And this is why the problem has reached Christian minds. And this is why it's important for me: we teach our children Bible stories, but shelter them from the same content in the rest of the world. Nope! You're not allowed to watch that movie because of nudity! Here, go read Song of Songs! (That book is all about sex, fyi; Hebrew erotica is weird to us, but considered holy if it's been kept for this long). Suddenly, Christians are even more inconsistent with their teachings: "Thou shalt not bear false witness." The ninth commandment. Is censoring a movie for a child's ears bearing false witness of what happened. I'd argue yes. It's one thing to forgo *all* discretion and raise a desensitized child, that's not what I mean at all. But I feel like society as a whole, especially the Christian chunk, needs to move past our naive views on content and start pursuing the people of our culture like Christ said to... In separating ourselves from the world in this way, we've made it impossible to reach people. It's not wrong (read: unbiblical) to curse and swear, nor is it wrong to witness blood and death. But somehow these rules become more important than the ten commandments, which speak nothing about these things.

Anyway, that was long winded, but like you, this is something I'm quite passionate about. I'd like to hear what you think, but I understand if you don't want to respond. We Christians aren't always the most friendly sort... Lol. I'm doing my best to change that.
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:iconseadaemonphotography:
SeadaemonPhotography Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Professional Photographer
A very well-voiced response. I work for a book store, and October was "Banned Book Awareness Month", and it blew my mind how many titles had been banned in different communities/schools throughout our own country. 
You take a very strong stand here for educating vs editing, and I have to agree with you whole-heartedly. Thank you for sharing.
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:iconchauvels:
Chauvels Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013   General Artist
This was a very thoughtful response! It would have been easy to answer this with a very short and brief entry. As you mentioned the "knee-jerk" reaction can happen to artists as well in response to censorship of almost any kind. Most artists (and creative types) are, of course, against censorship. Especially when it comes to the things we create ourselves. But we forget about the things we as a society choose what's appropriate to show to the young and what's not.

I am not a parent myself but I've seen friends and family members who started a family and become concerned about what their children are exposed to in the media. I've seen parents take it too far, I've seen others try their best to explain certain things to a child that doesn't quite get it. But more or less, each parent was always concerned about what their children watches, plays, or read.

I can also understand censorship to an extent. I have a very little sister (she's 3, I'm 26) and I wanted to tell her everything about the world, regardless of what it is. But when she's in the room while I'm watching something, I subconsciously ask myself if what I'm watching is appropriate for someone her age. Usually, I don't like her watching something that is overly violent. It's a weird feeling but I understand why censorship can be taken too far.

Am I saying censorship is a good thing? To be honest, things are not so black and white, there's a grey area for almost everything. I am against a lot of unnecessary censorship, like the whole "Huckleberry Finn" fiasco. But maybe we should always take a step back and try to understand why the other side acting in such a way. Maybe then we can have civil discussion on our point of view.
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:iconsurrealbrain:
SurrealBrain Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
Exactamondo, Ben! Sometimes censorship goes farther than it needs to.
Reply
:iconragevx:
RageVX Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've had this question in my mind all too often and answered back with, scuse me for this "A load of crap" I watched tv before it went all censorshippy and political correct stuff and I turned out fine, sure I get crazy ideas but I put those into drawings or stories. Personally I am kind of retaliating to it with my comic Hedgehogged which will kinda show the dark side of Mobius. But of course I give a fair warning and from there people will have their own choice of reading it or stop it.

TV/comic/game censorship kind of forces you to not see the dark side of our society until it's too late, do games, violent tv or comics lead to violence? I say no, most people committing acts of violence just try to blame something else. With free option I  believe children will learn what's wrong and what's right, hell alot of tvs/comics/games even teach people what's right and wrong. inFamous is a good example as you can see what's right and what's wrong, hurt people, it's see as a bad thing, you save a person it's seen as right.
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:icontonythunder:
Tonythunder Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013
To me,censorship these days can get pretty out of hand at times,there are some things that some crazy watchdog groups think are offensive but actually are not offensive,but still they wanna censor because they wanna "protect" children from things they deem harmful on TV shows and do nothing but make it more "family-friendly" which isn't always a good thing IMO,I'm not saying that children should be more exposed to the more unpleasant aspects of life on TV,movies and such but I want to see more of that because it'll help them grow mentally well and learn how to think without having to being shoved sugary sweet non-offensive "family-friendly" crap that's more desensitizing to the mind than helps it grow
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:iconpokeninjagirl:
Pokeninjagirl Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
My thoughts EXACTLY. There are SOME things in life that you just can't censor.
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:iconscotskunk:
scotskunk Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013
I do think that in this day and age, censorship has become even more problematic, not because it is taking too many things away, but now with the internet being the social powerhouse, the globe gets a mixed bag of the censorships of different countries. With myself being in the UK, i hardly know any UK censorship laws in comparison to things like SOPA and PIPA that is going on in the US. I think that can be a little worrying at times.
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:iconknuckles-933743:
Knuckles-933743 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I really love this, man. I'm with you. 
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:iconphillyblue:
PhillyBlue Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well Ben, while we're on the topic, what is your view on clothing censorship on cartoon animals (or Mobians for that matter) like most of the female Mobians in the Sonic Universe?
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:iconlibbykeppen:
LibbyKeppen Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
There is so much unnecessary censorship in anime that is aimed towards children in Japan and then reworked to be towards even younger children in America and the rest of the world.  I understand removing things for the sake of time or because it truly IS too much like gore or whatever, but sometimes scenes are reworked to better suit a younger audience and take away from the morals within the stories and are replaced by petty arguments for the sake of comedy in a show that was otherwise serious.  One Piece is a really good example of over-the-top censorship.  Dragon Ball Z, Sonic X, and the list goes on and on.

I even read that the Diary of Anne Frank has two versions, one that retains ALL her entries, even the ones regarding sexual maturity and her nasty opinions of her family, and another one that does not.  When the unedited versions began circulating schools, parents were outraged, as if their teenagers were being exposed to something cruel and ugly.  So, let me get this straight:  You can read the diary of Anne Frank, ya know, the book about a young girl trapped in an attick hiding from the German Nazis who want to murder she and her family for being Jewish during WWII, but anything pertaining to coming of age or growing up and transitioning to womanhood and the way she dealt with it under the trying circumstances, is disgusting and unhealthy for young minds.  Why must people censor things that can be used as a learning tool?  People confuse me...

My point is, I complete agree that things need less censoring.  Shows of an adult nature are only played at night, that's where they belong.  If a show is aimed to a certain age group, it should remain there.  Don't "dumb things down" for a younger audience.  If DBZ or Sonic X were aimed towards pre-teens to teens in Japan, make it so in America because there are plenty of shows for babies and little kids and not enough for those of us in the middle between childhood and adulthood and we end up misguided.  It's all a part of trying to keep children young forever and then wondering why they don't know what to do when they hit 18.  I can't wait for the day that all of this is straightened out because I want any future children I have to be exposed to the nasty things in the world so I can teach them about it instead of bombarding them with the weight of it all once "adulthood" sets in.  It'll be great.  (oh my gosh I wrote way more than I planned...OOPS)
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:iconbenbates:
BenBates Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Professional
You hit it dead on the head with the difficult sudden transition from child to adult at age 18. We currently operate in a society where developing humans are actively prevented from taking responsibility.  
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:iconrongs1234:
rongs1234 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013
it is sad that we live in a world where parents just want to avoid talking to their kids so instead they throw hissy fits over how media will put ideas in their children heads that they might not like. 
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:iconsailormoonandsonicx:
SailorMoonAndSonicX Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't mind children's censorship, especially with how a lot of other media is these days, but...I don't believe it needs to go that much. Censorship, to me, is taking out stuff that children really, REALLY shouldn't be seeing, like murder, language, and the sort. Death is a touchy subject, but it happens and it can be discussed in children's media so long as it isn't put on a very detailed level, in my opinion. But, even if I don't care for Derpy Hooves from My Little Pony,  that is weird to censor that because it's "offensive to the disabled." I suppose I can see how people might find it offensive and I understand, but still. That's not something I would be concerned about children's censorship.

This makes me think of the cartoon series Aurthur. I think this show does a pretty good job at showing tough realities that people can go through in a child's eyes while also teaching how to deal with such situations. Maybe I'm not even talking on topic here, but those are the thoughts I had.
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:iconbenbates:
BenBates Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Professional
In regards to murder, an immediate example comes to mind that I'd love to hear your thoughts on. It's been many years since I last saw Disney's 'The Lion King', but the scene where Scar throws Mufasa off the cliff stands out in my mind. In your opinion, is that an acceptable level of murder to include in children's media? If so, what makes that particular murder acceptable? If not, why not? 
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:iconsailormoonandsonicx:
SailorMoonAndSonicX Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh wow, it's been years since I last saw "The Lion King" myself. :XD: I wouldn't remember what that scene was like. I'll have to check it out. But -- I don't know if this makes sense or not -- to me, it seems alright if there isn't an excessive amount of blood/gore, which I don't remember there being. That could just be because I'm sensitive that stuff myself in extreme amounts. I remember years ago watching a show called "Liberty's Kids" that was no doubt made for kids, probably younger ones at that. The show took place in the time of the war against the British. I don't remember there being blood, but looking up the episode "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" after the guns were shot there were a couple of soldiers shown on the ground, and one is shown talking before he closes his eyes and dies. The actual action of the shot wasn't included in episodes that I remember.

Of course, I think it's important for a parent to explain certain things to a child to know what's what and the like, and as children grow older they can handle more. I was raised mostly with the ideal of as long as I knew better I was allowed to watch certain things. I was allowed to watch certain PG 13 movies before that age, even though I didn't like it. XD
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:iconsonic-the-superstar:
Sonic-the-Superstar Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think we need more censhorahip in media, especially TV because it exposes children to things they shouldn't learn about until their older. I could name some examples but the list is too long. But the things mentioned here like Derpy Hooves (I like MLP by the way so I found that bit surprising) & To Kill A Mockingbird indeed don't need to be removed or edited since there's not anything wrong with them. Especially Derpy. Her eyes are just differently placed. How's that offensive to the disabled? (You don't need to answer that last question).
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:iconmattsterweb:
MattsterWeb Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013
From what I heard it was more Derpy's voice than her eyes that started Derpygate. The critics argued that it made her sound like a parody of someone with mental disabilities.

For the record, I don't think they should have "fixed" it either. We've had tons of children's cartoons with similar characters using similar voices - I never saw anyone accuse Ed (of Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy fame) of being ableist.
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:iconsonic-the-superstar:
Sonic-the-Superstar Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Agreed.
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:iconsailormoonandsonicx:
SailorMoonAndSonicX Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Right on! I agree completely. :D
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:iconsonic-the-superstar:
Sonic-the-Superstar Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh thanks! Glad you do :D
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:iconsailormoonandsonicx:
SailorMoonAndSonicX Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You are welcome. c:
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:iconsonic-the-superstar:
Sonic-the-Superstar Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree with your opinion too :D
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:iconsailormoonandsonicx:
SailorMoonAndSonicX Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Awesome. :D
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:iconsonic-the-superstar:
Sonic-the-Superstar Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:)
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:iconsonicknight007:
SonicKnight007 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Hobbyist
Thats always an interesting question to talk about.
And I like how you addressed it. I agree.

I feel like adults just need to explain certain things
to young people at the right time. Censoring certain things for
the children's sake is good at some points. But then there's just
over reacting to certain things. We should learn to understand how the world was and how it is now
and learn from our past mistakes as a species so we can better ourselves.
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:iconbenbates:
BenBates Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Professional
Bam, "understand how the world was and how it is now"! I want more people to approach life with that kind of outlook. 
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:iconsonicknight007:
SonicKnight007 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Hobbyist
Thats the way I see things
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:iconsorcererlance:
SorcererLance Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2013  Student Filmographer
it's kind of funny comparing children's stories generations ago before Disney made them less scary and more family-friendly... those stories were made to scare children of the morbid dangers of the world like trusting strangers (Hansel & Gretel), being attacked by wild animals (Red Riding Hood) and so on...

now the messages have been mostly lost as censorship make sure nothing is traumatizing to today's children... there's few stories out there reminding kids they're mortal and how violently dangerous the world can be if they don't stay on their guard. Now it's kind of downgraded to simple fairy tales to entertain children as they learn next to nothing.
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:iconbenbates:
BenBates Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Professional
You have an excellent point! Although I think there's still a lot of danger in some of those Disney stories, I'm sure if we looked at the movies made throughout history they become "safer" each time. 

Speaking of trauma, I've started to wonder if shielding a person from the harder parts of our reality actually increases the trauma they experience when finally confronted with it. I'll have to poke around online or something, see if I can do some research.   
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:iconsorcererlance:
SorcererLance Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2013  Student Filmographer
there is still the element of danger in those Disney movies, but most seem to have like an evil magician of some sort instead of a more realistic stranger danger sort of thing as a warning for kids.

As for that trauma part... I'm almost 100% certain shielding them does more damage for when they finally encounter things later in life, making them PAINFULLY naive to the point they're an adult with the curious mindset of a newborn. They're unsure how to handle things once they learn they were lied to that the world isn't all gumdrops and lollipops.

Some stories I've heard are women growing up being taught kissing boys makes them pregnant or the propaganda being spouted in countries like North Korea about their country being the only good one in the world makes their citizens, once they leave the country, get hit the hardest with culture shock of how much more freedom other countries get to enjoy without the threat of being killed for it...
Heck, there are even wild animals on some isolated islands that have absolutely no predators and they never learned how to run and hide or defend themselves as they never needed to, they even encounter humans without a passing thought we could harm them... that sort of painful naivete could've risked their species to extinction if any predators were to come in.
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