With minds like sponges, programming today’s youth to act and think a certain way is not a difficult task to accomplish. Pop singing sensations and tween television stars are quickly becoming the new role models of the 21st century. Children now experience a higher level of exposure to multi-media stimulation, especially when it comes to the images and messages of TV shows geared towards young viewers. This means that networks, such as the Disney Channel, sadly play a vital role in their development. With that being said, why does the network allow references, such as ‘Tears of Blood,’ to appear in more than one show?
The image of Disney programming has changed a great deal over the years. Today, young actresses wear clothing inappropriate for their ages and repeat script lines that push the envelope of vulgarity and unsuitability. The skirts are shorter. The pants are tighter. Showing cleavage is not unheard of. These are the kinds of visuals that can truly confuse a young mind. Then, there are the hidden, indecent messages that seem innocent at first, but are not fitting for a youth to absorb.
Let’s take the references to ‘Tears of Blood’ that appear in two Disney TV shows: Wizards of Waverly Place and A.N.T. Farm.
Wizards of Waverly Place
The Wizards of Waverly Place is a TV show that aired as a Disney Channel Original Series for four seasons until January 6, 2012. The series focuses on three ‘wizard’ siblings with magical abilities. Selena Gomez, who has since become an influential member of the public eye, plays the lead character Alex. From the TV series, a range of DVD releases, soundtracks and other merchandise has followed, including a video game. Gomez has gone on to become idolized by millions of young girls as she released her own music, starred in movies, and dated pop icon Justin Bieber.
In the show, Alex’s brother is a fan of the fictional heavy metal rock band called T.O.B. (which stands for Tears of Blood). In one episode, an attractive teen wearing tight pants is seen wearing a black T-shirt promoting “Tears of Blood.”
In an episode titled ‘performANTs’ that aired January 27, 2012, the main characters (Chyna, Olive, Fletcher and Angus) want to attend a concert with older kids, but they know that Chyna’s mother would not allow it. They attempt to deceive the mother by pretending to see a kid’s band, but the plan backfires when the parent decides to accompany them anyway. One scene shows a poster for ‘Tears of Blood’ ”“ the same fictional band referenced in ‘Wizards of Waverly Place.’
Exactly what purpose does ‘Tears of Blood’ serve in Disney’s children’s programming?
In other examples of non-Disney media, tears of blood have been associated with bleeding statues of the Virgin Mary, aliens, and signs of stigmata. Vampires in the cable series, “True Blood,” cry tears of blood. Image Comics highlights a villain named Misery who sheds a tear of blood every time she uses her powers. A symptom of a plague featured in the movie, ‘Dead Air’ is tears of blood. All of the above references deal with subject matter for a mature audience ”“ not young children and teenagers.
The phrase ‘Tears of Blood’ has also been used in a handful of lyrics associated with music groups who embrace a dark agenda, including thrash metal band Destruction and heavy metal band Biohazard. There is also a PS2 video game called ‘Magna Carta: Tears of Blood,’ which features high priestesses and forbidden magic.
Show creators have a responsibility to make sure the programming they deliver to children is age-appropriate. Choosing references such as ‘tears of blood’ is just one of the many instances where Disney has been guilty of sending out the wrong message to our youth.