Disney or Nickelodeon?

June 1, 2011
I was never one to rise early for the kid-famous epoch of Saturday morning cartoons. Beset by the likes of The Weekenders and Recess, and later, Hannah Montana and That’s So Raven, the time slot amassed an assortment of Disney-dominated programming that followed a near-indistinguishable set-up. The shows were boring—predictable, unimpressive, and a flagrant exploitation of my beauty sleep. Regardless of the nature of the characters’ predicament, the twenty-four minute mark would act as a pastry chef, transforming each episode’s sticky situation into a sugarcoated cupcake. Checkpoint hit, problem solved, and I - asleep.

Despite my distaste for the Disneys of television, I managed to supplement my preteen years with the finest children’s broadcasting of the day. I speak, of course, of TEENick. I can still recall the day I first discovered its golden real estate of childhood entertainment - my parents had departed for the movies, designating me as interim ruler of the coveted remote control. The night tempted me to a gamble – an upgrade from Disney’s Channel 24 to Nickelodeon’s 25. I was hooked.

Ranging from turn-of-the-century hits like All That and Drake & Josh to the more modern iCarly and Victorious, the shows exhibited an element of comedy unlike anything I had ever seen. I found nearly all of Nickelodeon’s shows preferable to Disney’s routine regurgitations; its plotlines never felt like the haphazard concoctions of contracted “happy endings” - they felt real. I could always understand what made the characters triumph and see what made them successful.

Moreover, Nick’s underlying principles felt far more applicable to the real world. In stark contrast to Disney’s winsome wonderland of everlasting fortune and fame, Nick presented life for what it is, was, and will always be - a haphazard hybrid of trial and tribulation. Nick empowered its characters with the most paramount of personal attributes: responsibility. They approached their problems; and at that, did so as mature, accountable individuals.

Perhaps the greatest prudence of Nick’s plotlines came from its ability to sidestep the Disney trap. Nickelodeon avoided the dishonest depiction of parental intervention as the quintessential path to success – on Nick’s iCarly, Sam Puckett “…didn’t play to get even.” She “played to win.”

On Disney’s Hannah Montana, Miley “wouldn’t have invited Lily to stay if she knew how miserable it would be.” Fortunately, Miley’s confession cropped up precisely at the twenty-four minute mark. Not missing a beat, her father counseled, “Miley, there are certain things a daddy knows. I know that the sun's gonna be up tomorrow, I know that Uncle Earl won't be an underwear model and I know that you're gonna be just fine.” Miley’s enlightening moment of empowerment? “Thanks, daddy!”—and with that, a cut to commercial.

In Miley’s world, everything did turn out “just fine.” In the real world, however, hearing the enlightening words of one’s elders seldom constitutes a lesson learned. The notion that a brief dialogue with a parent can mend all maladies is, at best, utter nonsense. Nothing—no one—can settle our setbacks but our own individual selves.

Through Nickelodeon, I learned to take action. I learned to take responsibility. I learned to log on to www.aggressiveparenting.com for all of my aggressive parenting needs. I learned that life calls upon us to do more than just ‘show up’ – in life, we need to get up and live up to the standards that we’ve set for ourselves. In the words of iCarly’s Sam Puckett, “The worst we can do is nothing.”

Unlike Miley’s, Sam’s channel set me up with an example of a life lived in action. Though the television screen has since faded into the background, the independence, self-determination, and stamina I absorbed from my favorite network’s programming will never wane. I am not a Disney character, but life’s character. I am much more than a child of my parents – and I am responsible for my own experiences.

“When I was electrocuted, I experienced something.”
“What, not dying?”

Join the Discussion

This article has 16 comments. Post your own now!

wordsmithress said...
Jan. 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm
Hi, I'm from Aurora! Your point of view was extremely intresting and varied from my perspective. I really enjoyed it, keep up the writing! :)
anastasiag This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 7, 2011 at 1:49 am
Perhaps. But the whole point of my article is that Nickelodeon characters solve their own problems, whereas Disney characters depend on luck or parental assistance.
Sarah said...
Jul. 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm
Sam a.k.a Jennette McCurdy is a very talented singer on Nick. I like the fact she sings country and did not comform to the traditional pop like some of those of Nick and ALL of those on Disney. Her songs are wonderful and inspiring, listen to Generation Love, have you ever really heared a Disney star sing about something like that, and not have Disney force them into it?
DifferentTeen said...
Jul. 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm
Cartoon Network has always been my favortie. I mean, between Adventure Time, Chowder, The Adventures of Flapjack, and all their anime shows? It just shows they know how to make people laugh. Nickelodean and Disney Channel both need to have different formats for their shows. To me, it just seems like they're all a little too similar. Anyway, your article was very well written. Nice word choices!(:
ShontelleSymone replied...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm
Although I love anime, I do not love how everyone thinks that putting on pokemon or naruto is anime and thats all the anime there is. I love  animes like School Rumble, Peach Girl,Super Gals!, Ouron High School Host Club, Kadocha, Fruits Basket, etc. But anyway, the cartoons that they show now are nothing compared to 90s cartoons. In my opinion, I think cartoons like Rugrats, Catdog, Doug, Hey Arnold, etc. are better than  cartoons like Regular Show or Adventure Time because they make ... (more »)
DifferentTeen replied...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm
Haha, true. Nothing beats the classics, I used to love Rugrats. I also agree on the anime matter, I do wish Cartoon Network would show more of the "realistic animes" but I do love Adventure Time. Along with it, I would say Pokemon and Naruto are more of cartoons. Honestly, I like that kind of stuff because I'm random myself, so I can relate to the random sayings and plots. (:
DifferentTeen said...
Jul. 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Well, it was very interestingly written. And overall, very good.

But I disagree on something's. I do agree that Disney is a horrible channel, but that goes for these days. All of their shows are similar, and most of the stars become singers(and not very good ones, at that). The only show I ever really watched was That's So Raven because it actually had some culture in it.

 Then again, I wouldn't say Nickelodeon is that much better. For one, I couldn't help but noticed you a... (more »)

anastasiag This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Guys - I'm not saying that Disney is a terrible channel, a racist channel, or even - in most respects - a boring channel.

Rather, I'm point out the distinctly self-driven values that Nickelodeon's programs promote on a much more explicit level than Disney's. Disney's programming is much more family-values driven; while family values are important, so are the values of courage and self-determination - something that Disney doesn't do a good job portraying.

Most television stars e... (more »)

moomoocow said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 2:36 am
I watch both Disney and Nick but prefer Nick more. I love Spongebob. But I don't think that Disney is bad either.
misswindsor said...
Jun. 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm
I disagree. I think all disney and teenick is all the same. In each episode on both channels a character(s) has a problem and then they tried to fix it and then there's a happy ending, etc. And disney is diverse! Selena gomez is latino, raven was african american, corey was black, and meanie from corey and the house i think she is morrican or something, but my point is disney IS diverse. And Icarly is like totally not a everday real life situation. i mean have u ever heard of someone like sam, w... (more »)
moomoocow replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 2:40 am
Yeah Disney is diverse but almost every female on the Disney channel sings. Even if their horrible at it. Think about it. Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Bridgit Mendler, Bella Thorne and Zendaya, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Ashley Tisdale, ect. But still, I like Disney.
misswindsor replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 8:58 am
True, but it's the same with nick. Sam and Carly sings. Victoria Justice and her cast sings. Even spongebob sings.
moomoocow replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 11:50 am
Sam sings? I never knew that! I guess I'm just prejadiced because I love Victoria Justice's music. I guess that no matter what channel it is you have people that try to sing.
misswindsor replied...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm
Haha, true...
ZeeBYoung said...
Jun. 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm
I agree. Nickelodeon programming is much more real than Disney Channel's. Another thing I noticed, Nick is more diverse in its characters ethnicities in its programming, and their all friends with each other, and thats nice to see. Take Victorious for example. Its main characters are half Latina (Tori), black(Andre), latino(Beck) white(Robbie and Jade), and Im not sure what Cat is, but she looks like some mix between Native American and white.
DifferentTeen replied...
Jul. 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm
To be honest, I hate Victorious. A lopt of the time girls are running around in short skirts or dresses. Eh, just not my cup 'o joe. :D
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