Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Dan Savage Takes on “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody”

posted by Nell Minow

I am a huge fan of advice columnist Dan Savage and his essays for “This American Life.” His recent commentary on the death of his mother brought me to tears. And I am very impressed with his thoughtful assessment of the Disney Channel series “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.” As a gay man, he remembers the feeling of disconnection he had as a child who never saw on television characters who reflected his view of the world, how he felt, who he wanted to be. And now as a father, he sees his son watching the ostensibly wholesome “Suite Life” and finds it as disturbing a portrayal of heterosexuality as the over-the-top stereotypes of gays he saw when he was growing up. Ten-year-old Zach’s fascination with a pretty teenage girl, his advice about how to get “babes” by lying to them, his creepy come-ons, comments like “I’d better practice my kissing” — Savage says that his son has a “look of concentration” when he watches as though he is “filing things away for future reference.” Savage wants his son, a straight boy growing up with gay parents, to see positive models of heterosexual behavior in the media. But “stereotypes are patient,” says Savage. “They’ll wear you down.”



  • Your Name

    We are not here to judge and condemn everyone’s nature.What one have become have a lot of factors to consider.By considering,we tend to understand the experiences they have been through as they face the challenges of life.In due time,God,by asking His grace,everyone have hope for transformations and restoration.God is God,He looks into the hearts of everyone.When each one just open their hearts to receive the words of God who’s constantly and persistently knocking at the doors of our hearts,nothing is impossible.By receiving grace,we should be willing to open both our hands and have faith that we receive such blessings,the blessings of change.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    That is a lovely thought, and I share your wish that the blessings of grace and faith be widespread.

  • Nancy Spady

    Unfortunately, this problem extends much farther than the one show discussed here. Parental controls are no help at all in filtering shows that subtly (or not so subtly) influence our children (boys and girls) in such negative ways about relationships and their roles in society. I try very hard to monitor my 11 year old’s tv time and watch with her when I can, but even shows that seem innocent on the surface can carry messages I find disturbing in this way. It takes hard work and vigilance to counter messages that seem so pervasive in tv and advertising. Thank goodness I can count on MovieMom to help figure out what’s in films.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Nancy. What keeps me going is the parents who are so careful and protective about what their kids absorb from the surrounding media. Your comment means the world to me.

  • wow…

    I think he is overreacting to the show…i dont think disney channel means to like “turn kids straight” it’s really just the character. for comedic purposes really. As a kid of his age it actually seems realistic portraying his character to boys my age. we dont live in the cootie era…

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Wow. I love the idea of not living on the cootie era! But I don’t think that means that predatory sexual precocity is a good source of humor for characters of any age.

  • Beth

    First let me say, I’m a huge fan of yours. My kids know that I will always check the Movie Mom site before we head to the theater. Your blog gives me a heads up of issues I will want to address or avoid and issues I want to be able to expose my kids to so we can talk about them. Thank you for what you do!
    I am also a huge Dan Savage fan. If you haven’t read his book “The Kid” I highly recommend it. It’s about the process he and his boyfriend went through when adopting their son DJ.
    Finally, I have to say that I have really noticed a difference in how my daughter relates to me since glomming onto Wizards of Waverly Place and Hannah Montanna. I never really worried about these shows since I know they were Disney, and would be overly violent or anything. But the general attitude of “parents are stupid” and sarcasm and snottiness is the only way to deal with them has taken me by surprise. I hear my 9 year old using some of the same phrases from these shows and I have realized how much of an influence they have on her. I can completely understand Dan’s concern about how these shows might impact his son.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thank you so much, Beth! Your kind words mean the world to me. I share your appreciation for Dan Savage. And I share your concern about the way that so many television shows, even on Disney, promote a rudeness and lack of respect as funny and an assertion of independence. You can limit your children’s exposure to these shows, but you can’t limit their exposure to children who are exposed to them. So you have to be very explicit with them and say something like, “I know you know how to behave and I know you understand that what you see on television is pretend, not real life. If I ever see you forgetting that by acting like the kids on the shows, I’ll have to make them off limits until I see that you remember how we behave in this house, and that means respect and courtesy at all times.” Sounds like you are doing a great job — I wish all parents cared as much.

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