International media networks have been facing growing backlash lately after exposing children to controversial topics over sexual references and content in children's movies and TV shows.
Western media and especially Hollywood's trend of overexposing on-screen fictional or non-fictional characters' sexuality might not come as something new, as it certainly has been an established marketing technique over the decades, one that works for creating lasting and successful popular TV shows and movies. The way that the entertainment industry has evolved over the last couple of years with the growing digitalization and overall accessibility of product poses a threat to the mental well-being of children around the world, experts say.
Focusing on early childhood self-identity development, Zeynep Temizer Atalar, a Turkish pedagogue and psychologist, said, "A child's freedom should be limited due to the fact that unlimited freedom could bring a sense of disorder."
"A child's perception is not like how adults see the world. The sense of freedom for adults differs from the one for children," Atalar added. She also asserted the importance of the necessity of the father and mother's role in a child's development, saying: "In a changing world, the role of man and women in society has changed over time. Therefore, comprehending and adapting to a new environment is required, while creating a balance [with traditional aspects of society]."
As more TV shows now have the opportunity to become mainstream and access wider international audiences, children have a higher possibility of being exposed to scenes, while encouraging parents to forbid their children from watching the show. Additionally, it is becoming more difficult to point fingers at parents for not being protective enough of their children. Considering that even shows that might be seen to be produced mainly for younger audiences, such as animated series, tend to have controversial scenes.
It is important to note that the lines between products meant for children and adults are becoming thinner and that those fine lines are harder to recognize now more than ever. One of the most recent examples of this shift can be observed in Netflix's computer-animated science fantasy television series "3Below: Tales of Arcadia," produced by DreamWorks Animation. The show was involved in some controversy after the release of one of its second season episodes that featured a scene between two female characters. The controversial scene caused an online uproar.
A similar scene occurred in Netflix's "The Dragon Prince," another computer-animated science fantasy television series. Some parents who happened to watch the show alongside their kids or who somehow came across the scene expressed their disappointment and frustration with the product in on online forums and on social media.
Western media and Hollywood's content-creating methods have changed drastically, especially in the last couple of years, with the
emergence of new digital platforms. The general audience went from pausing Disney movies and searching for subtle signs and symbols trying to prove that the company had some ulterior motives, to watching animated series with their kids just to make sure that the content that they're watching is family-friendly.
Perhaps the biggest example that can be found concerning this issue is in a Disney movie that kids and adults alike watch all over the world – "Solo: A Star Wars Story." One of the movie's characters' unusual sexual preferences was brought up many times during the film as a side joke. The situation itself was out of the ordinary for the younger and impressionable section of the audience.
The general direction that some media outlets and production companies choose to take creates divisiveness in the public, especially in western countries. It is believed by many people in Western countries, in particular, that this particular stance is to disrupt traditional ethical values in modern societies. One Million Moms, which is part of the American Family Association, has launched many campaigns against Disney and the Cartoon Network over same-sex parents references in children's movies, while saying that this type of "normalization" is very dangerous for society's ethical values.
The Independent published an article and video about Desmond Napoles, a 10-year-old whom they addressed as a "young boy" on Jan. 3, 2018. The video titled "Young Boy Sets Up First Ever Drag Club For Children." It featured Desmond posing for the cameras in an outfit that would be considered unsuitable for a child by many. Another instance would be Elle magazine's "Watch This 8-Year-Old Boy Transform into Drag Queen Lactacia" article and video package, which has a highly similar concept with The Independent's previously mentioned content.