Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the worst parent of them all?
Kids may often vilify their parents for enforcing rules, but the upcoming Disney Channel film Descendants, starring actress Kristin Chenoweth, may help kids see that the bad deeds of a parent don’t have to be reflected in their children.
Chenoweth, who played Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical "Wicked," is stepping into the pointy pumps and horned headdress (also recently worn by Angelina Jolie in the film Maleficent) as the baddest of them all.
The Descendants, directed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), follows the lives of multiple popular Disney villains and how their kids struggle with both their evil parents and others believing the child is responsible for the sins of a parent.
I grew up with a dad who did more than his fair share of evil to others - from calling the IRS to make false reports about all my friend’s parents just to isolate me, to physically beating both my mother and me and a long list of other “evil deeds.”
My family and friends often point to my father’s “evil” as the driving force behind all the good I try to put into the world.
From creating free programs in my community to teach chess to families, helping the homeless and how I raise my four sons to always pay it forward, I have basically spent my life trying to make up for the things my father did to harm others.
Therefore, I feel like this movie has the potential to be a great tool for those who want to help kids understand that you don’t have to follow in a bad parent’s footsteps.
The evil parents in Descendants include: Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty," the Evil Queen from "Snow White," Jafar from "Aladdin" and "Cruella de Vil" from 101 Dalmatians, according to SlashFilm.com.
My hope is that Chenoweth and company will employ the humor of seeing Maleficent as a mommy to explore how kids can walk down a straight path despite the guidance of a crooked role model.
I see Chenoweth as an interesting and wise choice because Wicked explores how we can often misjudge people as “wicked” when they are merely different.
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
Because I knew you
I have been changed
In Wicked, the character Elphaba was treated as the impoverished, green-skinned weirdo who was presumed bad, while the lovely, vapid, socialite Glinda was presumed to be “good” by her appearance alone.
According to published reports on Decendants, bad guys really are evil by deed, not appearance and their kids must get past being seen as bad by association.
I tell my sons about their grandfather, my dad, and the bad things he did.
However, my descriptions of their grandfather also include that he had many great gifts and talents that they might inherit and that I have in me.
My dad was a renaissance man, a genius, who was a code breaker in the US Army during the Korean War, spoke fluent Chinese, wrote books of poetry, was a pharmacist who owned his own pharmacy, held the patent on an airplane and other designs, and at one point ran his own successful New York ad agency during the Mad Men era. He even had his own radio talk show in New Jersey when I was a kid.
I hope that Decedents will help caregivers and parents open constructive dialogues with kids about what good can come from people who commit evil acts.
After all, every evil genius is a genius. And in my experience, when you reverse “evil,” you get to live your own life on the path you choose.