Ah, how quickly the grandchildren grow up. The grandsons have changed from computer game freaks to college geeks, and the granddaughters are now budding teenagers, on the threshold of being a woman.

In the past, the “Themes” for birthday parties were various Disney princesses; now little girls are starting to grow up, so the Theme of the year’s party is Hannah Montana.

In case you don’t have Disney channel or Granddaughters of a certain age, Hannah Montana is a child star who lives a double life by trying to be a normal girl in High School.

First came the TV show, and then came the Movie, and now all the preteen girls are dressing and copying her singing style.

Some feminists had problems when they found their granddaughters were enthusiastic about the Disney Princess phenomenon: How dare they give up the feminist idea of independence to wait for Prince Charming!

Yet a closer look shows that even as far back as Snow White, the Disney Princesses were feisty girls who could face a challenge (after all, you try cooking and cleaning house for seven miners…remember, she was brought up a princess, and presumably had servants before step-mom ruined it all).

But Hannah Montana? Superficial fluff. Learning about “normal” life, but the really important half of her life is being on stage.

Sure, it’s only one show: Yet the same theme recurs over and over again in the Disney Asia sit coms: want to be successful? Become a performer…

Belle (Beauty and the Beast) could grow and learn to look past ugliness to love the Beast, Cinderella could befriend all the little creatures in her home, and Pocahontas could learn to adjust to a new country to try to save her people (in part II of the saga) but Hannah Montana? No Tennessee hick life for me, folks: stage is my life, and the “normal” part is just a phase. So shed a tear for the hicks and back to my life in California as a singing sensation.

Twenty plus years ago, I stopped getting Disney channel in the US after my sons pointed out wryly: “that character will be killed, watch”  and when asked how they knew it, said “well, he’s the only non white one there”.

But now, a new “multicultural” Disney is being pushed in Asia.

The problem? All the characters may be of different races and even dress differently, yet they all act like Southern Californians, in language, in the informal/disrespectful way they treat adults, and in their body language.

So instead of the lessons of heroism taught by B movies in the past, or the lessons the nuns taught us that we girls could use our talents to save the world, or instead of the Confucian values of self restraint and fighting evil in the numerous Japanese Hentai series that are on TV here, we have a G rated Disney channel Asia, teaching our girls materialism and greed. Disney Asia teaches our girls the importance of wearing fancy clothing, that they should strive to do their own thing (not obeying rules of stuffy adults), and that the highest goal in life is not caring for the sick, studying hard, being a scientist or a nurse, or helping your family. No, the highest career goal is being  an entertainer.

Sigh.

I guess I’m showing my age and getting old, like my great grand-mom who used to turn off the radio and complain that Benny Goodman only played “Katzemusik”.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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