We must be the only parents who dislike Tinker Bell

TinkerbellI was at Walt Disney World a few weeks ago, enduring the intense July Orlando humidity and nimbly avoiding the storms that blew through just before and after my visit.
Since I was staying at one of the off-property hotels across the street from Downtown Disney, a huge shopping and eating area designed to part visitors from their cash even more effectively than the parks themselves, I naturally had plenty of time to browse their current merchandising strategies.
No surprise, there were lots of clothing and toys especially themed to the phenomenally popular Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest movie, though, quite surprisingly, the Lego store had completely missed the opportunity to promote pirate themed Lego sets, but the other trend that I have to say I didn’t like was the resurgence of interest in Tinker Bell.
Why? I really don’t like Tinker Bell.

Go back and watch the Disney version of Peter Pan and you’ll see what I mean: rather than being a nice little wood sprite — or whatever sort of fairy she’s supposed to be — she’s a whiny, tempermental, bratty teenage punk and really represents the worst of child behaviors, not the best.
Which is why I was a bit disappointed to see that she’s regaining popularity in the pre-teen marketplace, or, at least, Disney’s pushing her and hoping to bring her back as some sort of cultural icon.
Then again, I also find the Bratz series of dolls and the implied “cuteness” of their bratty behavior pretty apalling too. Is it any wonder that we have a hard time teaching our children to be pleasant, polite and self-confident when they’re being surrounded by toys and images that reinforce the worst in behavior, not the best? I’m also thinking about my visceral disgust towards modern situation comedies (aka “sitcoms”) that demonstrate the most un-supportive of family behavior.
The absolute nadir in this has got to be Married With Children which seems more like some sort of commie plot to undermine our families than any sort of comic entertainment. Heck, even All In The Family occasionally had them supporting each others dreams and opinions!
So back to Tinker Bell, however. Sorry, Tink, but I just don’t like you. Please fly back to Neverland.
But perhaps I’m too late after all: Disney Hopes Tinker Bell Goes Back to School, the product of yet another arm of their merchandising empire. Of course, they also explain why this is happening too:
“Disney is putting Tinker Bell, who just happens to be starring in her own feature film in 2007, front and center on fashion-forward denim jackets, backpacks, sweat shirts and nightgowns. She’s getting prime real estate in Disney stores, at the expense of some other Disney characters.”
I simultaneously am again impressed with their merchandising genius and disgusted by the ease at which children can be manipulated and influenced. Ugh.
Btw, pretty unrelated, but it’s not clear to me whether it’s officially “Tinkerbell” or “Tinker Bell”. The original text by J. M. Barrie — which you can read online for free here: Peter Pan, the original text — has it as “Tinker Bell”, though, so I’m guessing that all the Google hits for “Tinkerbell” are just lazy authors.

9 comments on “We must be the only parents who dislike Tinker Bell

  1. If you read Barrie’s original, Tink was never the nicest of critters–never a sweet little woodland nymph. She repeatedly tries to kill Wendy, for instance. So for once Disney’s stuck with the original work. Not that I think it’s great that she’s being presented as a “role model” or whatever; I don’t think this “oh isn’t being a brat cute” meme in popular culture is cool in the least little bit. I’m just sayin’, that’s how she was written a hundred years ago. 🙂

  2. Well, if you just have boys you can avoid the Tinkerbell/Bratz problem.-)
    I agree wholeheartedly about MWC. I was never so glad to see a show go off the air.
    BTW, Isn’t Peter Pan half the answer to the trivia question, “What are the only two Disney movies where the children have both parents alive?” The other movie being 101 Dalmations (Yea, they were dogs, though.)

  3. The very idea that Disney movies are appropriate for children is insane. Even Bambi has a total FEAR FACTOR involved. Why can’t they make a movie that is just HAPPY for once? I mean, isn’t DISNEYLAND and WORLD supposed to be the HAPPIEST place on earth? They should make a happy movie that won’t scare the @#%$ out of my sensitive 3.5 year old son. THAT would be nice. For now, we stick to the occasional Thomas Train video or Bob the Builder show and just roll our eyes at the unnecessary moralizing and lecturing in these stories. Better than unnecessary EVIL I suppose.

  4. Disney takes wonderful fairy tales and stories and distorts them in the interest of making them “palatable,” e.g. the original Cinderella story includes the stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit into the glass slipper, or marketable, e.g. Tinker Bell (visually at least) as a cute little fairy.
    I think most kids would look at the merchandise and be attracted to her as a cute fairy rather than a bratty role model, but maybe I’m wrong.
    We have a total ban on media exposure (barring public places and occasion grandparent visits) until the kids are much older and better able to process images and stories rationally. Just because of the “manipulation and influence” you mention…telling them a real fairytale has no marketing agenda behind it!

  5. i love TINKER BELL because its wings is beautiful and it is shiney . and is it true TINKER BELL is real and alive? i did not say that , i heard some of the people says that . for me this TINKER BELL is not like other fairy . I CAN SAY THAT TINKER BELL IS STILL ALIVE BECAUSE I HAVE THE REAL PICTURE .”MY CLOSE FRIEND TINKER BELL”.

  6. I think tinker bell is a real beauty and anyone who doesn’t think so has some problems; truly some problems because she is a cute Lil fairy. [At Least] shes not like Cinderella, has a big pretty dress she doesn’t need that because she is unique and special and I think she would make a great role model to small children, teens,and adults!

  7. Well it just so happens that my girlfriend Vicki O’Connor enjoys Tinker Bell as a character, that she is just like her in personality. To me, you wouldn’t have to “knock” her, when she means Believe in the English language. My girlfriend is from Fresno, CA I am from Morro Bay, CA.
    Oh btw- don’t knock Ariel the Little Mermaid too as a character, perhaps I wouldn’t put up with that either. She is my second favorite after Tinker Bell, and Tink does have a feminine soft side to her, as well as spunk too ya know?

  8. Don’t these “I love Tinkerbell, because she’s so pretty” make you sick? Doesn’t anyone look further then the wings and the short skirt?

  9. No, you’re not the only parents who hate Tinkerbell! I just found this old post while doing a search for, “Did Tinkerbell turn your kid into a brat?” Ha!
    We just started babysitting a 2yo friend who has a peculiar habit of turning, folding her arms, and pouting at odd times. Whenever my 2.5yo son tries to share a toy or engage her (something we’ve worked hard on), she pouts and whines. Her mother finally discovered the source: a new Tinkerbell movie they bought her. Tink does this “cute” behavior, so now our friend does it. Argh! It’s really starting to be a problem for their interaction. At first he was just confused, but now he gets very sad at this rebuke. (And the Mama Bear in me is trying not to get over-protective.) I’m trying to figure out how to stop it. Mainly ignoring now. Hope it works.
    The irony is that this is the family that would look at me sideways because my child watched Sesame Street under 2yo…and they didn’t do any TV until 2 (good, I know). But my kiddo still hasn’t progressed past the sweet shows of PBS: Bob the Builder, Thomas, Caillou (whom I love)…while the other child only watches Disney TV…and all the commercials and apparently negative behavior they promote. Ugh!
    Thanks for sharing!!

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