For those of you who don’t know, DCOM stands for Disney Channel Original Movie. If you’re an adult reading this, please bare with me. I know most of the movies I am about to mention you have either never heard of or know everything about them because your kids were obsessed with them.
When I was a little kid, the only movies I watched besides animated movies were Disney Channel movies. I looked forward to the Fridays in the summer when a new movie would premiere. They would show a clock at the bottom of the screen for a countdown to the big premiere, and it made it even more exciting. It was such a big deal for me that I always reserved my family’s TV room so I could watch the new movies. I know, I was obsessed. But many people, mostly adults or kids who were “too cool” to watch, thought the Disney Channel movies were stupid, but they really weren’t. If you look at it in perspective, DCOMs were great movies for kids to watch for a variety of reasons.
First of all, DCOMs offered strong female leaders for little girls to look up to. One of the best Disney Channel movies, The Cheetah Girls, gave little girls like me 4 strong teenage girls who worked hard and chased their dreams. Halloweentown showed girls and boys that being different can be a strength through the teenage witch, Marnie Piper. Zetus Lupetus, I can’t forget Zenon! (Sorry, I just had to throw that in there.) Zenon was never afraid of taking risks even if she got in trouble. Disney Channel gave little girls, and boys, female role models closer to their age that they could relate to. Characters like the Cheetah girls and Zenon showed young girls how to be confident and chase after what they want no matter what.
They also helped kids all around the country understand the importance of friendship and sisterhood. One of my favorite Disney movies is Gotta Kick It Up! which tells the story of Latina girls on a dance team working together, along with their new coach, to incorporate their culture into the routines, overcome obstacles, and become the best team they can be. I loved it when I was a kid because they started off really badly and then became such a great team, but I relate to it even more now because I’ve overcome many obstacles with my techie family to put on a great show. And there was The Color of Friendship that tells the story of a black girl from America and a white girl from Africa learning to be friends despite their different races and cultures. Disney Channel did a great job of showing kids why building good friendships is such an essential part of growing up.
And I can’t forget about the Cheetah Girls! Yes, I was obsessed with the Cheetah Girls.
..and still kinda am. They were so important to me as a kid that I have to give them their own section. The Cheetah Girls franchise tells the story of 4 teenage girls chasing their dream of being a famous singing group. Of course, they don’t achieve this dream without hardships in between, but they never let anything get in the way of their dreams or their friendship. Galleria, Chanel, Aqua, and Dorinda, the Cheetah Girls, have the kind of friendship that every little girl wanted. They have the same conflicts that most friend groups experience like someone feeling excluded or losing sight of what is important. But they also create great memories together and have a sisterhood that can’t be broken. The Cheetah Girls showed young girls what real friendship is and what it means to be Cheetah sisters. I always wanted to have “Cheetah Sisters” when I was little, and I’m lucky enough to have found them (Love you Jasmine and Heidi).
Disney Channel movies also showed diversity in its characters. In almost every movie, there is at least one character of color. Most of their biggest hits like Zenon, High School Musical, and The Cheetah Girls featured multiple young actors of color. Not only was there diversity in every film, but there was movies almost entirely made up of minority character. There’s Gotta Kick it Up, Jump In, which was a predominantly African American cast, and many more. That’s more diversity than Hollywood! Disney Channel made sure that children of all races and background were represented, and they don’t write minority characters any different than the white characters. In High School Musical, the smart best friend is played by a young African American girl. That almost never happens in mainstream Hollywood movies, so it’s AMAZING that it happens in movies targeted for young girls and boys.
So, yes, DCOMs are really important for kids to watch because they give good role models in their characters and present key lessons to growing up. But they are also simply fun for kids to watch. Some of my fondest memories as a kid are somehow related to these movies. I remember watching High School Musical for the first time and was instantly obsessed. I went to school the next day and told her how amazing it was and that she had to go watch it. She thought I was crazy, but she watched it and fell in love too! We watched the movies all the time, knew ALL of the songs and dances by heart. Our moms even went searching for anything High School Musical when they were in New York City. I remember seeing the ICONIC scene in Cheetah Girls 2 when the four girls are strutting down Barcelona singing “Strut.” and falling even more in love with the girl group.
Entertainment is a part of film, right?
Through my eyes,