Simon Carr: Disney's role in a boy's awakening

News that Marge Simpson is doing Playboy sent me on a journey
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The Independent Online

At my age you won't be surprised to know I haven't seen a naked woman for years. But the news that Marge Simpson is doing next month's Playboy centrefold took me off to the internet to see how the magazine has changed. It hasn't changed at all. There are naked women – actually, nude women – at every click. And they're all up to things that we'd rather not see Marge Simpson doing.

Good for her of course, she's only just 20 years old but I don't think I want my children (a little older than her now) to see Marge like that. Blue-haired and built like a banana, her yellow sex life is not something that belongs in Playboy.

If it were Disney I'd have no objections. Disney women understand sex. Things go on in Disney cartoons that adults would be very shocked by. The eyes, the lips, the hips, the ankles, the tumbling hair. And across the species – dogs, lions, cats – they're all it in ways that should give those cartoons a higher age rating.

Not that we haven't seen Marge without her clothes. In the series she's been naked more than once. In the bedroom she does that "snuggling" thing with Homer. There's been a lesbian kiss recently. And whether her contract allowed it or not, there are some sites featuring her in advanced matrimonial poses.

She's very active that way, it's not a secret. Her husband said: "Marge, I'm going to miss you so much. And it's not just the sex! It's also the food preparation." And when she says her fear of being walked-in-on is exciting, "There's the dirty girl I married," Homer replies in one of that series' few false notes. It's not Playboy. And if it's Readers' Wives it's only because it's meant as comedy.

Matt Groening's humour is clever, referential, intellectual even, and whatever people say, that sort of thing lies on the opposite end of the spectrum to the erotic. By contrast, that girl at the end of the Jungle Book, ravishing Mowgli with one look – that's funny but it's also serious. I must have been 15 when I saw that and I still remember realising what it meant. When Nala licks Simba's face and looks at him in the special Disney way – there's a whole chapter of sex education there.

Those leaping fires of the gypsy dancer tormenting the Inquisitor in The Hunchback of Notre Dame – she's a Bond girl made of flames. When Princess Jasmine advances on Jafar, the way her hips work have something that even eight-year-old boys recognise as carnal knowledge. The mermaids looking up at Peter Pan with their long blonde hair only just covering their upper assets – their admiration is all Peter is interested in, the young fool. And Tinkerbell! In her skate-skirt! There's no space here to do her justice. We really need a gatefold for that.