Death is a fact of life; the question is when it’s appropriate to clue kids in on this information. Disney has occasionally come under fire for plot points that are perhaps too grim for children. Tears beyond number have been spilled by impressionable tots when Bambi’s mother is gunned down by a hunter and when Simba is orphaned during a stampede in The Lion King. These gruesome scenes have caused some outrage: a bill proposed by a British industry-watchdog group in 2004 could have banned Bambi for causing children “psychological harm,” and when The Lion King was released, the New York Times‘ Janet Maslin pondered whether Mufasa’s “disturbing on-screen death” precluded it from receiving a G rating. It’s true that in both films, the death of a parent forces the protagonist to master the requisite life skill of overcoming adversity — but some question whether many typical Disney viewers are too young to be exposed to the theme.
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