With the upcoming platinum anniversary of 9/11 and the ongoing terrorist victory lap in Afghanistan, millions of disillusioned Americans are once again asking two important questions: How did we let the disastrous War on Terror happen, and, more importantly, who do we blame? Those fingers are currently being pointed at almost every single human who was alive in 2001, including a generation that was still either going through puberty or doing finger paintings: Millennials.

But if you want to blame someone for the crucial lack of middle schoolers marching on Washington after 9/11, don't blame the kids. Blame the Disney Channel. 

Recently, @Ilana_Who_ tweeted a series of post-9/11 ads aired on the Disney Channel that show that the House of Mouse is still one of America's most powerful wartime propaganda machines. After the attacks, many kids TV broadcasters teamed up with the U.S. government to help their tiny audiences "cope with their feelings and emotions." And while most opened childcare hotlines or launched heartwarming letter-writing campaigns to the children of victims, the Disney Channel went all out, repurposing its big "Express Yourself" ad campaign starring big Disney stars like Hillary Duff, Shia LaBeouf, and the mom from Even Steven to tell kids how they should feel about 9/11.

Disney

It’s a minor miracle that none of these Disney child actors grew up to claim jet fuel doesn’t melt steel beams. 

The 9/11 Express Yourself ads were meant to encourage kids to open up about their feelings around the terrorist attacks by seeing their Disney Channel faves lead by example. So what relatable real talk do Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Kim Possible share with their impressionable preteen audience? Amazingly, every single Disney star in the ads discovered that the real importance of expressing themselves about 9/11 is in order to never, ever, not for one second, forget about 9/11.

If that sounds like an intense burden to place on a seven-year-old, the famous teens also advise that, if the constant worry about their loved ones' safety or the upcoming war in the Middle East is overwhelming, kids should find comfort in the 'Star Spangled Banner.' Like Christy Romano, who loves to drive for hours (hope oil prices stay low until you finally get to drive, tweens!) and see all those American flags on people's bumpers, yards, and truck nuts. Or Hilary Duff, who feels her spirit surge with unity every time a firetruck with an American flag races past her -- a sight that happened a lot after 9/11 with all those mosques being firebombed.

Aside from (occasionally literal) flag-waving, the closest thing to an expression of complicated emotions comes from 15-year-old Shia LaBoeuf. He gets an entire ad to read his 9/11 poem "One Man," a two-page dirge where LaBoeuf tries to rhyme American patriotism with world peace about as well as he rhymes "lesson" with "citizen."

The "if yer not wit us, yer agin' us" vibe of these repeated calls for unquestioning patriotism also isn't helped by the appearance of Laura Bush. In her special PSA, the Lucille Bluth of First Ladies wrings whatever matronly feelings exist in her blood-soaked soul to encourage the nation's children to always love the flag which, she reminds them, stands for all Americans and also "the rights of many people, religions, and beliefs." Does that very carefully worded government line imply that, perhaps, not all people and religions should be protected by American rights? That's something First Lady Bush will let you, the elementary schoolers noticing which brown kids mumble the "one nation under God" bit of the pledge of allegiance, decide. 

Now, accusing an entertainment corporation of aiding in government brainwashing because some generically loud 'n' proud, salute the flag, USA #1 patriotic PSAs aimed at the (not yet) eligible to enlist 6-14 demo may seem a bit far fetched. After all, it's not like Disney went full WWII again by having Lilo and Stitch end with a plea to buy war bonds or by releasing a new Donald Duck cartoon where he flips the V at a racist caricature of a Muslim terrorist. Of course, it becomes a bit less absurd when you notice when these red-hot, white, and blue ads were aired. Specifically, right after President Bush gave a travel speech urging Americans to "get down to Disney World" and until Congress granted him unparalleled wartime powers in Afghanistan-- with Disney launching a second wave of Never Forget PSAs in 2002 just before Congress approved the same for Iraq.

So did the Disney Channel really air 9/11 propaganda aimed at children? I suppose that depends on how willing you are to believe that the Disney corporation collaborated in causing the worst war in American history by turning child stars into tween quislings and having them peer pressure a generation of kids into becoming outspoken neurotics so that their stressed-out helicopter parents would give god-emperor powers with no takesies-backsies to a corrupt government (and the TSA) in return for the catharsis of being told that some marines teabagged the corpse of Osama-bin-Laden a decade later, and all that just so they could continue maximizing theme park profits.

… I was hoping it'd sound less plausible laid out like that.

For more 9/11 tangents (but not truthers), do follow Cedric on Twitter.

Top Image: Disney

 

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