Courtesy of Disney

November 22, 2021

I Blame Disney for My Failed Love Life

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After a few failed attempts at trying to find a boyfriend (okay maybe more than a few), I really cannot help but wonder is it me? But as I do a little self-introspection I start to recognize a pattern. A pattern that me and all of my amazing, albeit single, friends seem to display time and time again. 

It is always the same exact boy that sends us into a downward spiral of heartbreak, tears and Taylor Swift radio on full blast. The “Bad Boy.” It’s the ones who we all know are no good right from the start. The ones with the bad reputations and a string of girls behind them who are warning you in all caps: DO NOT START WITH THIS ONE.

 It’s not that these boys are particularly the best looking ones in the room, nor are they even the smartest, funniest — and certainly not the nicest. So what is it then? With no exceptionally good qualities and nothing but red flags and warning signs, why is this the type of boy we decide to fall for over and over again? Well, I’m going to have to blame Disney for this one. I’d say the three most influential figures in my childhood were my mom, my dad and whatever show Disney Channel was playing at the time. And I applaud all three for raising me well and giving me the important lessons I need to get through life: how to not talk to strangers, always look both ways when crossing the street and if you want to become an international pop-star while still having a secret normal life, buy a blonde wig. 

But Disney failed to teach me that bad boys really are just bad boys. First we have Dean Moriarty, Wizards of Waverly Place‘s tall, luscious haired bad boy. The one with no curfew who skipped class, had tattoos and Alex’s own best friend warned her against dating. But a few episodes later, Dean turned out to be just misunderstood. He was a devoted and loving boyfriend who just had trouble expressing his emotions. Alex was even the one who ended up ending their relationship, leaving Dean heartbroken. Although he started off seeming standoffish and disrespectful, once he opened up it turned out he was just shy and didn’t know how to admit his true feelings for Alex! Next on the list is none other than the entire reason ten-years-later we are all still singing along to “He Could Be The One” by Miley Cyrus. 

Hannah Montana’s bad boy crush appears in the third season of the show when the brown-eyed guitar playerJesse comes into her life. Known for his reputation as a heart-breaker, Miley is resistant to her romantic feelings for Jesse and even has to lie to her dad about liking the boy. Lo and behold, a couple of episodes later we learn that Jesse’s bad boy persona is really just a cover for yes, being misunderstood. He ends up being a caring boyfriend who spoils Miley with affection and romantic dates, making eight-year-old me fall in love with him at home too. I will rest my case with the ultimate rebel of Disney — Zack Martin. 

From The Suite Life of Zack & Cody to the equally beloved The Suite Life on Deck, Zack was always known as the bad boy, especially when compared to his sweet, smart and sensitive twin brother Cody. His grades were constantly lacking, his only real goals in life were to play video games, and he was quite a player when it came to the ladies — yet who was the one that everyone ended up having a crush on, the one who always got the girl? Yup, bad boy Zack. While you may say that I can’t blame anyone but myself for my poor taste in guys, I think Disney should be held equally accountable for this one. What if the narrative was different? What if Dean ended up breaking Alex’s heart and Jesse ghosted Miley two days later. Imagine if Cody got the girls and all Zack got was an STD. 

Now I understand this isn’t exactly what any twelve year old wants to see, but how were all the adults so on board with lying to us as kids? Years later and my mom is still asking me why I haven’t brought home a nice boy yet and I’m finally starting to realize this is not my fault. I spent my most formative years watching the bad boys be anything but bad. 

Meanwhile here I am chasing around guys with horrible reputations just waiting for that point in the show where he comes knocking down my door crying that he really does have feelings for me and that he only acted out because he was scared and shy. I’m starting to realize that only in the magical world of Disney is the bad boy really the good boy, because in college the bad boy is just that — bad.

Ella Schwartz is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reach at [email protected].