The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

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Approximate reading time: 38 min.
 
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Better not to watch

Star vs. the Forces of Evil is an American animated TV series created by Disney Television Animation. The world premiere aired on January 18, 2015. On the Russian Disney channel, the cartoon began to broadcast on September 5, 2016. Today, 4 seasons of 13-22 episodes have already been released. Age rating “12+”.

Rating on Kinopoisk is 8 out of 10; there are a large number of enthusiastic reviews like: “excellent morale”, “kind, fun and light children’s cartoon”, “high-quality Disney product”, etc. The animated series is popular among teenage audiences.

The cartoon storyline and the message to children

This is a story about a teenage girl named Star Butterfly from the dimension of Mewni. At the age of 14, she is given the family heirloom wand. After Star accidentally sets fire to the family castle, her parents decide that a safe option is to send her to another dimension, to Earth. There she befriends and becomes roommates with human Marco Diaz and begins attending Echo Creek Academy. First, Marco and Star conflict over the mess that has appeared in the house due to Star, but then the thing get smoothed.

For analysis was taken the first season which includes 13 episodes.

The first thing you pay attention is a certain resemblance to the popular cartoon “Gravity Falls”. We are talking about plot structure, characters, common situations, there is even similar musical aspect (no wonder, both have the same author of soundtracks – Brad Brick). “Star Princess …” is also created on the principle of a sitcom: each series tells a different story, the connection between the episodes occurs through the main storyline.

1 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Episode 1. Doing stupid things is fun!

Princess Star, having received royal wand for her 14th birthday and created massive destruction in Mewni, so her parents sent her to Earth. The girl was not taught to handle a magical item, and then sent her away to misbehave in another place? A strange way to educate … But maybe this is just a storyline trick, necessary for the story and we should not be so picky? Let’s look further.

Principal of Echo Creek Academy received a bribe a treasure chest (so, bribery is already shown in children’s cartoons) in exchange for allowing Star to join the school as a foreign exchange student. She meets Marco, whose family she’s staying with while she’s on Earth.

From the very first moment, Star creates disasters: she sets fire to a school, turns a butterfly into a monster that kidnaps a passerby, opens a black hole on the floor of Marco’s room with a wrong spell … Such behavior, carried through all the series, goes unpunished, but shown as fun.

What role model does the main character demonstrate? Hit, break, destroy, no one punishes you, but will love even more? And how will the child behave after watching such a cartoon?

In the second half of the episode, Star’s best friend comes into action. Who do you think it will be? Sweet fairy? Small bird? Magical flower? Nope. It is a floating unicorn head. It’s hard to imagine a more inappropriate princess friend in a children’s cartoon.

2 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Episode message: Misbehave, do stupid things, break everything around – can be a fun activity. No matter how much you fool around, you won’t be punished. Anyone can become your friend, even an absurd thing like floating unicorn head.

Episode 2. Turn the teacher into a troll!

Star failed her first test, so she tries to convince her math teacher Miss Skullnick to change her grade. However, the teacher said there is no reason to be upset. And continued, I am finally met a sailor, but he recently jilted me. This is a real tragedy. Some kind of non-childish passions in a kid’s cartoon. Star tries to convince Miss Skullnick to change her grade and she makes Miss Skullnick a deal: if Star helps her get a date, she changes Star’s grade to an A. In her attempt to make Miss Skullnick a “man magnet”, Star accidentally turns her into a hideous troll. The class at the same time exclaims: “Star is awesome!”

Next, Echo Creek Academy prepares for a football game against the rivaling Warriors of Silver Help Prep. The school team has not won for a long time, so a decision is made to distract the rivals. The cheerleader girls have a secret weapon to distract the Warriors with their booty-shaking dance moves, but Star is dismissive of the idea. Star offers battle expertise provided by her Mewni royal guard babysitters. Here we see some moments from the Star’s childhood, when the guard explains to her how to break the neck of the enemy using a toy as example. (Of course, how else do you need to educate little girl princesses).

3 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Star decides to defeat the enemy not by fair play, but by using, “combat magic”: she booby traps the field with bombs, sent monstrous animal to attach rival team. Of course, they run away. As always, ruins are everywhere. And for a moment Star is deeply regretting for the mess, but…this is the first time in a long time that the Echo Creek team has won, and everyone are concentrating on this fact. And no one even paid attention to the fact that the victory was obtained by dishonest means and caused great damage. Therefore, Star ignores the feeling of repentance without even realizing it.

Episode message: Discrediting the image of a teacher. Many films show teachers in a bad view, and now we see the same in kids’ cartoons.

It’s okay to introduce the kids to the details of adult life. It is normal to be obsessed with the opposite sex.

Again, there is a behavioral pattern indicated earlier: beat, break, crush – there will be no punishment. But in this episode, this idea is presented as a reasonable and necessary: because of the chaos arranged by Star the football team “Echo Creek” won.

And the fact of victory – win at any cost – perhaps this is the only way to interpret the general idea of this episode. Why improve, develop skills and abilities, defeat the enemy in a fair fight? It is difficult and long. Much faster – to use cunning, deception or force – depending on the circumstances.

Episode 3. Be selfish!

Marco participates in a karate tournament, his rival is the boy Jeremy, to whom Marco has a strong dislike. At the end of the fight, the rivals split up, and Jeremy, upset with his disqualification shouted out to his mom: “I wish he’d beat you! Of course, no one make any comments or punishes the boy. That’s how a cartoon teaches us how to treat our parents.

Then the Diaz family receives a visit by their former foreign exchange student Gustav from Scandinavia. Star is jealous and does not like the fact that all attention is not focused on her anymore, so she is trying to get rid of Gustav. Although the episode ends positively, it is clear from the Star’s behavior that she has not sincerely changed her attitude to the guest, but simply hypocrite.

4 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Episode message: Respect for parents is not necessary. Their care for you is natural, loving them is not necessary.

Be selfish, the center of attention. For the sake of your own benefit, hypocrite and cunning, this is the only way to get what you want.

Episode 4. Disrespect for elders

Star is sad, waiting for a call from a young man. The call from the grandmother is ignored. Marco couldn’t help feeling sorry for Star. Noticing her wand he summoned Ludo and an army of monsters. He decided the best way to cheer her up was to get her to fight monsters.

Then the story shows that Star has lost wand charger. And this is not surprising, because she is such a mess … However, the girl believes that all things are in place. Together with Marco, the princess goes to the store of magic items, where, of course, he’s having a fight with monsters. A charger is bought, but at home it turns out that the previous charger got into the vacuum when Marco was cleaning room.

5 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

And here’s an interesting point: Marco is positioned as a positive character. Compared to Star, he is shown to be disciplined, restrained, more sensible. But in an amazing way, it turns out that he apologizes for disappeared charger during the cleaning. So, it is not Star’s fault for the mess, but Marco’s for having started cleaning. Some kind of substitution of concepts …

Episode message: Disrespect for elders (relatives). “Disorder” in personal items is a normal occurrence; cleaning is useless; it can be harmful.

Episode 5. Motherhood is disgusting!

As an anniversary gift for Marco’s parents, Star invites them and Marco to Mewni. Star does not plan to show them banal tourist routes, but wants to show “the real Mewni in all its glory.” What is this magical place? Dirty slums with disgusting inhabitants. The camera turns showing the panorama, and the first thing we see is an untidy, gloomy, unattractive woman, surrounded by bunches of screaming children, the same untidy and repulsive. Just like in the 25th frame in the Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

6 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

The image of the mother in the Disney animated series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil” (2015-2019)

7 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

The image of the mother in the Disney cartoon “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

In the second part of the episode, Star and Marco go to celebrate Brittney’s birthday, a spoiled and selfish girl, the daughter of rich parents. To receive an invitation to the party, students line up, and the birthday girl selects who to invite and who not.

At the party Brittney is a central figure. She behaves arrogantly, disrespectfully and disdainfully towards the guests. The apotheosis of the event is the unpacking of gifts, where the guests are forced by Brittney to act as observers of the process, and the birthday girl with an unhappy grimace throws unwanted gifts back to the guests. And students humbly accepting all this bullshit of a naughty girl. Even at the end of the episode, no one tells her a word about disgusting behavior.

Episode meaning: Motherhood is disgusting.

Anyone with material wealth must be respected, the whims of such people must be indulged and their words and actions must be accepted without questions.

Episode 6. The power of hormones

In the first part of the series, Star experiences “mewberty” – an analogue of the puberty period. Her skin breaks out in hearts whenever she is near boys. The girl’s mind cannot concentrate on anything else but the boys. Star begins to behave inappropriately and looks more like an obsessed one. Princess captures boys and steals them away. And nothing can help, because “nature cannot be stopped. But later she got lucky the opposite sex obsession is over.

8 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

In the following scene Marco and his friends are having fun making interdimensional prank calls with Star’s magic mirror to unknown numbers and saying all sorts of nonsense. When Star enters and attempts to join in, an automated message from the Pixie Mirror Office says that Star’s magic mirror minutes have been exceeded and she must visit the office in Pixtopia to resolve her bill. Marco apologizes to Star, but the girl is not sad at all. She joyfully states that Marco “busted” and now he is the same as her: “Now you are exactly like me! Oh yeah! You screwed up like me! So how? Nice, right? You and I are twin destroyers!”

Then Marco and his friends travel to a dimension of Pixies to pay bill for magic services. Marco tries to pay Star’s magic mirror bill with Earth money, the customer service pixie says they only accept gold and jewels and they must to work off their debt in the Shard Mines. And Star rejoices over Marco’s mistake again: “It’s so cool to bust out, I guess I couldn’t even do it!” According to Star’s logic, more mistake and stupidities you make, the cooler you are.

Finally, friends escaped from the Pixies. But, on the way home, they realize they have forgotten one of their friends – Alfonzo. Meanwhile, the 14-year-old Alfonzo marries the Pixie Empress and rejoices that he can now become a real tyrant king. How do you think this scene can be adequately explained?

Episode message: Unnormal interest in the opposite sex is ok. It can either take moderate forms or not, but that’s okay.

Doing irresponsible actions that can lead to negative consequences is great, it can make you cool and popular among your peers.

Episode 7. Evil Can’t Be Reformed

I’d like to take a closer look at this episode. The main antagonist of the series, named Ludo, is kicking out loser Lobster Claw from the gang. Lobster Claw is one of the monsters chasing Star. And because he failed the task of stealing a magic wand from Star he was fired due to his incompetency. Lobster Claw has nowhere to go, so he stays in the courtyard of the Diaz house. Marco tries to help Lobster Claws become good. Moreover, Lobster Claw secretly dreamed about it. Star does not share the idea of ​​a friend, because she believes that all monsters are bad and they can’t be reformed, but nevertheless agrees to help. Marco tries to explain to Lobster Claws that he should do to others what he would like done to him – before you hit someone, you need to think about how you feel when you get hit.

9 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

In fact, the right thoughts. And the monster tries to be good: he helps a little girl to rescue a kitten who stuck in a tree, however, then he tries to eat a pet, and a girl. Then he tries to help an elderly lady cross the street, but later somehow sets the surrounding area on fire whilst holding up a car and screaming. Looking at these attempts and failures, Star says to Lobster Claw: “The trouble is that Marco is trying to change your nature. You’re an evil, disgusting monster, why break yourself? ”And Lobster Claw replies:“ Yes, I should not help people, but hurt them … ”And in the end, Lobster Claw remains on the evil side and returns to Ludo. What conclusions can be made from what we saw? That evil is and always will be, it cannot be turned into good.

A very subtle point is that Star (the main positive character according to storyline) says the monster he has no reason to break its nature. Evil must be present so the main heroes have something to fight with and maintain their heroic status? It turns out that evil is as integral part of the world as good? And why not show when the main character not only destroys something bad, but also creates and multiplies some good things. For example, Star and Marco could re-educate the monster, thereby gaining victory over evil … The effect of mixing the concepts of good and evil is emphasized by the fact that other monsters and even Ludo begin to respect Lobster Claw. Thus, Lobster Claw is bad for us, but from Ludo point of view he is good. I think that such a formulation of the question, at least, will create contradictions in the child’s mind and in their perceptions of good and evil.

Episode message: Evil is an integral part of life; it cannot be destroyed because it is necessary; there will be no evil – there will be nothing to fight against to show heroism.

You can be bad, but at the same time, good among other bad characters. That is, if you’re a bully, then objectively, you’re bad, but you’ll be respected and admired by other bullies.

Episode 8. Satanism for Children

The theme of the mixture of good and evil is further developed in this series. Following episode already includes references to no more or less satanic themes. The series is called “Blood Moon Ball.” A new character appears in the story – the three-eyed half-demon Tom Lucitor, the prince of the underworld. A kind of “children’s version” of Lucifer. In the story, he is Star’s ex-boyfriend. Tom arrived at the Echo Creek in black carriage pulled by a skeleton horse appears from underground in a burst of fire and invited Star Butterfly to the Blood Moon Ball, which takes place every 667 years. The girl at first refuses, but then begins to doubt her decision. In the end, she decides to go to the ball, despite Marco’s persuasion not to do this.

10 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Star is met by Tom, rejoicing at her appearance. “I can’t wait to take a blood bath with you,” he says. But there is nothing to worry about, the blood is not real, it is just the blood of a unicorn … Also, the prince of the underworld is eager to invite Star to a dance to “bind their souls together for eternity.” As a result, fortunately for Star, everything ends happily: Marco arrives at the ball and takes Star home.

Episode message: Warming up children’s interest in Satanic themes.

The episode resembles a scene of Woland’s ball in M. Bulgakov novel “The Master and Margarita.” But one thing – a philosophical literary novel for an adult, and another – a cartoon for children. Why so many references to the theme of evil, hell, death and blood?  To arouse children’s interest in this topic and a desire to study it?

Episode 9. Your parents are idiots!

In this episode, viewers are introduced to Star’s dad, King Butterfly, who shows up at the Diaz’s house because the Queen Butterfly kicked him out of the castle for not cleaning up after himself.

Having entered the bathroom, King Butterfly becomes enamored with the toilet: it flushes toilet paper and other items. When Star shows him miniature golf, he behaves inappropriately by destroying the entire golf course. Without permission, King Butterfly throwing a party and invited a bunch of friends from other dimensions and organized fight club with Star’s toys.

He behaves shamelessly, impolite, considers himself as a boss in Diaz’s house. And such a “free life” without discipline was so pleasant to the king that he decides to stay at Marco’s house forever. At the same time, the personage of King Butterfly is not an unreasonable baby, for whom such behavior is forgivable, but an adult man, the King and the father of the main character.

11 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Episode message: Growing up, you don’t have to be more serious, rational and restrained. You can become an adult and at the same time behave unrestrainedly, impulsively, emotionally-immature. Your parents may be mentally disabled, don’t think you should be listening to them.

Episode 10. School of Personality Suppression

This episode tells about the adventures of Star and Marco at the St. Olga’s Reform School for Wayward Princesses, located in one of the magical dimensions of Mewni. They got there to bust out Flying Princess Pony Head for her birthday.

The School is positioned and perceived as a high security prison, if not worse. Visually, it is a black, gloomy building surrounded by darkness, guarded by masked monsters. And what do the girls learn there?

The school’s headmistress insists that after the course of study: “Your freedom-loving, freethinking child will turn into an insensitive puppet”. She treats her students as follows: “Being descendants of the royal family, you have no right to be personalities … When I reform you, you will be “normal”. There are many questions to this episode. Is the image of the school “St. Olga” a collective image of all schools in general? I do not think that the child after seeing such image will want to go to school. You cannot be an individual, a person, it is not acceptable by others (especially, according to episode, by parents)? Does this apply to all children in general? Or only privileged persons?

12 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

In this episode, Marco was turned into a girl, in order to get into school. But by the end of the series, Marco got so used to his new image that he even asked if he would be allowed to leave the dress. In general, greetings from “tolerant values”.

Episode message: Parents do not want you to be an individual, a person, they need obedient “puppet children.”

A boy can become a girl, and perhaps he will even like it – there is nothing unnatural in this.

Episode 11. Offended Monster

Star leads a “Great Monster Massacre” reenactment as part of a Mewnipendence Day celebration. Ludo and Toffee (the second antagonist in the animated series) decide to take advantage of the general turmoil in order to steal the Star’s magic wand. They entrust this mission to Buff Frog (Ludo’s assistant), equipping him with a portal device disguised as a “mace”, which will help quietly take a magic wand.

But Toffee wants to get rid of Buff Frog and he broke the “mace” in purpose, so at the right time it did not work. Buff Frog failed and Ludo expels him from castle and from the gang. Buff Frog is upset and spends the evening, sitting alone on a tree branch. Star notices this and leaves a treat for the monster on the windowsill. Here we see that the negative character was misrepresented and offended, and completely undeservedly. And the positive main character also sees and understands this, and despite the fact that she has always fought with monsters, she supports Buff Frog. It turns out that evil should be sympathized with.

Episode message: Evil may not be so bad, sometimes he needs to sympathize.

Episode 12. Greetings from Feminists

Miss Skullnick takes class on a field trip to the Museum of Paper Clip, but the students are bored and not interested. When asked where they would like to go, one of the students suggests going to the morgue. Of course, it is a more suitable and interesting place for teenagers…Later, Star is responsible to organize a tour, so students go to one of the magical dimensions, where “it’s never boring”.

There teenagers behave like babies: they behave stupidly, neglect safety rules. This behavior leads to logical consequences: the guys are released a monster who kidnapped them. But, as in prior episodes, there is a happy end: everyone is saved, no one was hurt. Have they made any conclusions? Yes: in the magic dimension it is much more interesting than in the Museum of Paper Clips.

In the second part of the episode, Star intends to save Marco from trouble, which, thanks to her occurred. She calls herself “an independent woman with strong fists.” (Greetings from feminists)

14 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Episode meaning: Dangers is fun. Girls can dominate boys.

Episode 13. Your mothers do not love you!

The storyline returns the viewer to the conflict between Star and her mother, a reference to the unfavorable relationship (the review was done in episode 7). There, Star, depicting a childhood, drew herself tangled by snake with a mother’s face and during a psychodiagnostic test she saw in black blot “a powerful mother who insists that for the rest of my life I should behave like a queen”. In the final episode, the Queen Mother says to Star: “I’m always angry with you, but I’m glad you’re saved.”

We can say that this is a typical story from the category of “parents and children”, a common thing is the conflict of generations, etc., etc. But if the conflict exists, it must be resolved. And if the conflict was displayed on the screen, the demonstration of its solution was neglected. Such an interesting psychology.

Episode message: your mothers do not love you.

15 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

The results of the analysis from educational perspective.

What can be said about this animated series as a whole. It is obvious that it is not intended for children’s audience under the rating “12+”, but also in principle for viewing by children or adults, as under the guise of entertainment transmits quite specific destructive ideas and values.

In fact, among many heroes there is only one “probably good” character – Marco Diaz. “Probably good” – because the creators added in his image silly behavior and indulgence Star’s whims.

As for the Princess Star, there is an image of a girl with an unstable emotional background (otherwise how can you explain her constant exalted, excited state), who does not develop and does not change for the better. Yes, sometimes she realizes her mistakes, but this awareness is not stick in her head as an experience for the future. Therefore, the princess continues to do all kinds of stupid things receiving a positive response from her peers.

The image of parents is in the tradition of Disney. Marco Diaz’s parents, in general, cannot be called negative, but they don’t participate in most episodes, and in the episodes where they appear, we see them as strange people. Angie and Rafael Diaz seem to be closed to each other; they have their own separate independent world. Star’s parents are not shown from the best side: a cold blood, bossy mother and a dumb-ass father. Other adolescents do not even have a hint of a family. A very revealing scene from episode 5 with a repulsive image of motherhood.

The humor in the cartoon is not at all childish: dirty jokes in general, nasty prank about characters’ butts and underwear, jokes about death…Extremely doubtful and unnatural fun.

16 The animated TV series “Star vs. the Forces of Evil”: what does Disney teach under the guise of fighting evil?

Many episodes have references to the theme of death: phrases like “rivers of blood”, “bloody feast”, “bloody glow” are present. In one form or another some bones, skeletons, torn off body parts are shown. There are also many scenes where violence is shown in detail.

Ultimately, everything shown on the screen perfectly works to blur the boundaries of good and evil in the psyche of the viewer. For example, the princess fights with monsters – it’s kind of good things. But at the same time, she crushes and breaks everything around. And this is bad, because her methods of struggle are no different from the methods of villains. Moreover, she does not feel guilt or regret for this; the girl is not condemned and punished, on the contrary, others love her even more.

What about monsters? They hunt for a magic wand, but at the same time they are so miserable, clumsy, so they involuntarily cause sympathy. And when Toffee kick Ludo out of castle, we feel sorry for the unlucky villain. The episode with Lobster Claw is illustrative. It shows the idea like “you cannot get better” or “you cannot fix evil – it must exist”. But this logic inevitably leads to the conclusion there is no need to fight evil either. Well, except if the process itself gives you pleasure – as in the case with Star, who wouldn’t mind going to a satanic ball. These such ideas the cartoon is laying in the children’s mind.

Is there anything good in the cartoon? Yes, there are a number of scenes where the characters show mutual help and assistance, even go for self-sacrifice. There are separate episodes in which the characters realize their mistakes and incorrect behavior. But in comparison with the number of scenes of the opposite action, these infrequent moments are a minor deviation, created, rather, so the viewer had the opportunity to say the cartoon is good, because it supposedly teaches good. Summing up, it is better to keep this cartoon as far away from children as possible and explain to adults what is hidden in such entertainment products released under “Disney” brand.

Anastasia Belaya-Vetrova

Translated by Nata Kalliss

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