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 Disney’s animated film Strange World is another take on a familiar story, but that’s not a bad thing

Intergenerational arguments, a big wide world to explore, relatives who want the family to stay safe. The new take on a very ‘Moana’ like plot has received a lot of backlash from right wing media for being too ‘woke’ or for being too predictable but come on, it’s a kids movie.

Intergenerational arguments, a big wide world to explore, relatives who want the family to stay safe. The new take on a very ‘Moana’ like plot has received a lot of backlash from right wing media for being too ‘woke’ or for being too predictable but come on, it’s a kids movie.

After watching Strange World, Disney’s latest animated movie, viewers may be reminded of several recent films from the studio; Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon, and the beloved Encanto.

All centred around family, actual issues, exploring and respecting the world, and lacking a Prince Charming. Repetitive themes? Sure? Ideas that kids need to encounter? Absolutely.

Complaints that the films are getting repetitive seem to be ignorant of the fact that this is exactly how ideals are cemented. After a long slew of ‘damsel in distress’ type movies, a lengthy era of movies with standing up for yourself and what you believe in as the primary message is not only an important topic that should be discussed but needed.

After its release, right-wing media immediately began targeting this film with the slogan ‘go woke, go broke’ along with conspiracy theories about “grooming” children and pushing them to be gay.  

“Here’s the reminder that their ‘not-at-all-secret gay agenda’ to target kids is ongoing. It’s a part of the plot of this movie, just as it was with Lightyear. Your kids, your choice,” said conservative columnist Ben Shapiro on his Twitter account. 

This is not only because it has–yet another ‘first’ gay character–but a more diverse cast and a more prominent role for Evan, one of the main protagonists who happens to be gay. 

Conservatives issued petitions to stop its production or take it down or ban it.

In fact, the way the film normalises queer people just living their life should be welcomed. Evan’s sexuality was only mentioned three or four times in passing conversation as it should be. Not a single character focuses on the topic and not a single one of them seems to care. It was quite nice to see many families in the theatres watching this movie with their kids.

As far as the repetitive plot structures, it isn’t really a concern for the target audience. No kids are going to care that Disney movies have a repetitive plot, in fact they probably won’t be able to tell. 

The focus on world building in these movies helps to keep them separate and be able to stand alone. Strange World was no different. The cotton-candy-like world under the mountains had a comforting feel to it. Everything looks soft and innocent while still being quite content on brutally devouring any human that comes too close. The innocent and pink bubbliness makes sense when the big reveal comes, the place they live is actually alive and “Pando,” the plant giving them their power and technology is actually killing their world. This prompts a change of heart leading to them trying to save the place they live. 

Sound familiar? 

While there may be some inspiration from Moana, the climate change reference about protecting our home will surely stick with younger generations even if they don’t realise it at the time.

Critics wanting a more complicated or developed plot need to focus on different movies. Critics, teenagers and adults are not the target audience of this film, or any Disney animated movies for that matter. Kids will enjoy and internalise the movies they see so making the plots simple and fun is part of Disney’s job. 

Strange World does a great job at normalising LGBTQ+ topics, talking about family issues in an understandable way and teaching about respecting nature and the place we live in along with having magnificent visuals. A welcome change from the regressive tropes in Disney’s past, this film will improve how future generations view themselves and others.

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