In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, Andrew Reynolds describes the set of the Nancy Meyers film The Intern as “50 Shades of Cream,” and goes on to praise the visually pleasing aspects of every movie she’s ever made. Having seen most Nancy Meyers movies, I can attest to this fact. I absolutely love indulging in these films that bath your eyes in fresh flowers and pristine clothing and scenery. Meyers movies such as The Holiday, It’s Complicated, and Parent Trap fits the stereotypical mold of a “feel good” story, leaving audiences refreshed and smiling as they filter out of the theater. With aesthetically pleasing sets, costumes, and actors, Meyers caters to the trite pleasures of the public, and I am confident enough to say that I, too, can’t get enough of them. In a New York Times review, The Intern was described as “frothy” and “playful,” and even compared to throw pillows. In that case, bring on the throw pillows, I can’t wait to luxuriously sit back and watch these fantasy movies unfurl on the big screen.
This all being said, I now take quite a turn to discuss something that has troubled me recently a lot more than it should: Disney Channel. Babysitting an 11-year-old once every couple weeks, my routine begins by picking her up from Whitaker Elementary, driving her home, making her a snack, and watching Disney Channel for hours on end until it’s time to drive her to dance class. From 2:30-5:30 on Fridays, I sit and attempt to watch Austin and Ally, Jessie, Bunk’d, and K.C Undercover, while the girl I babysit snacks on strawberries, her eyes glued to the screen. With every episode we watch, I become more and more repulsed by the actions and dialogue of these spoiled rotten pre-teens. I see how entranced an 11-year-old can become in hopes that she can one day live in a penthouse in New York like Jessie, or own a music shop in Miami with pals like Austin and Ally. I scoff at the improbable situations presented by the makers of these shows, and wonder if it’s the best idea for this young girl to look to these kids as role models and wish for their clothes and friends.
So what might my indulgence in Nancy Meyers and Disney Channel have in common? Unfortunately, a little too much. As I sat there forced to watch a fourth episode of Austin and Ally, a bitter realization came crashing over me: What is so different from my love for The Holiday and Olivia’s (pseudo name for girl I babysit) obsession with Disney Channel? While I enjoy the visual pleasures of Cameron Diaz’s LA home and fantasize about life in Beverly Hills, Olivia indulges in the dream that one day she might live in the artificial world of Miami created by the producers of Austin and Ally. My condescending views of what Disney Channel exposes young pre-teens to mirrors those who scoff at my escapism into the world of Nancy Meyers. Yes, I possess a keener sense of reality and polarities between my life and those on screen, leaving me with a more mature understanding of the influence of the media, yet I cannot fully exalt myself over the ways in which Disney Channel captivates young audiences. This concern stems mostly from the possible false realities set by these shows, and yet past this, I must come to terms with the fact that aesthetically pleasing media reaches out to all age groups. My experience does not separate me from the sheer delight that comes from Meyer’s “50 Shades of Cream,” paralleling that of Olivia’s infatuation with the 50 Shades of Fuchsia seen in almost every Disney Channel show.
Austin and Ally