It bothers me that people are dismissing very serious issues here through the use of ‘Children know it is just fantasy’ comment.
Much like the ‘it is just fantasy’ with the coyote and road runner animation. Yes it is just fantasy but the aggression behind the animation is still there.
Children are not stupid, they pick up on that aggression just like they pick up on the subtle (and not so subtle) clues to who is in power and expectations of the roles that they are expected to adopt.
It is a very bleak world for children when there is very little to no input to counter these myths. Especially when the child is growing up in a society that actively maintains the power structures inherent in these myths.
Take for instance the ‘ugly’ step sisters and the subtle message that would send to the unattractive child. You are vain, you are self absorb, you are lazy, you are greedy, you are undeserving of decency and respect. Even if the child does not believe it, what about having to deal with people in the community who have internalised these messages and now perpetuate these ideas onto her?
(interestingly the step sisters in the original tale where very beautiful BUT also very vain, which throws a whole different angle on the story).
Thank goodness for Miyazaki and the Ghibli studio’s for beaching new ground and giving us refreshing take on the roles of females and males in children’s fantasy.