‘Frozen’: Giving Credit Where It Is Due

Frozen_castposter

Just about every conversation I have had with a friend or acquaintance since returning to college involves some frantic interrogation regarding the viewing of the new Disney movie Frozen. This usually happens at about a mid-shout volume, followed by either paroxysms of anguish and despair or joy and excitement. It is sufficient to say that I am a fan of the movie, and like an evangelical minister, I feel compelled to spread the good news to every person I meet.

Initially, watching Frozen felt slightly uncomfortable. It’s most likely because I’m a pseudo-adult, and the plot line was in some places predictable. (I also blame my stay at home, having watched far too many episodes of 24 and squelching any feelings of surprise when, say, something explodes or the president is targeted). There were a lot of things that I thoroughly enjoyed in the movie (SVEN), and a few things that I most definitely did not see coming. Like many people, however, it was hard to put into words the many positive things that this movie did for women and certain unacknowledged social issues. Lucky for me, Gina Luttrell wrote an article that did the trick! “7 Moments That Made ‘Frozen’ the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever” is a quick read that outlines many issues that Disney acknowledges in their latest animated movie.

frozen elsa and anna

Ms. Luttrell acknowledges many new steps taken forward — Elsa’s independence and self-empowerment, Anna’s proclivity for awkward situations and a flair for wreckless abandon, and (my favorite) calling out the classic Disney instant love/marriage, as well as much more. A decidedly feel-good movie, I commend the writers at Disney for taking liberties where they thought appropriate and creating a story that departs from many of the movies in the past.

frozen marriage

My thoughts exactly.

A quick disclaimer: Frozen is by no means a perfect film. From the perspective of someone who began this project with a focus on body image, it is disheartening to see that the sisters are given unrealistic proportions and eyes the size of a small country. However, I find that these concerns were overshadowed, at least for the moment, by all of the positive messages that have been incorporated into the subtext of the movie. Changing social perceptions of women, whether as strong protagonists or bearing realistic bodies, is not an overnight process. If this is the first step that Disney is taking, I’m more than willing to accept it with the expectation that they will exceed their past improvements.

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4 thoughts on “‘Frozen’: Giving Credit Where It Is Due

  1. Holly says:

    I absolutely love frozen, and agree that it had a lot of positive messages. However, there were a few things that I feel could be taken as a negative. First, when Elsa is singing let it go and embraces her independence her outfit and body language become obviously more “sexy”. I feel like teaching girls that independence equals sexualized versions of ourselves is dangerous. Second, when Anna meets the troll family and they sing everyone is a fixer upper. While I think that yes, we all have flaws, the line about people make bad choices when they’re sad or scared or stressed can become dangerous. While I know that line was meant to reflect on Elsa cutting Anna out of her life I think that it could be taken to heart by abuse victims. I think a lot of a abusers use those excuses and I would hate to think of Disney defending them. Overall, great film and like you said a move in the right direction.

  2. Christine says:

    I have to agree that overall I found the positive messages in this movie outweighed the few negatives (I too was upset with the sexy transformation during Let It Go; song had a wonderful message but the image was wrong I felt). Too often the only love that matters to a girl is portrayed as the typical male/female kind when they are so many that matter: love of self, love of friends and love of family.

  3. Nancy says:

    I’d be curious to hear more re: which Disney movies send the most offensive or, to your mind, most destructive message–Personally, I’ve always been a bit put off re: a small buy-in that is required to get down with *Beauty and the Beast (even if a man seems boorish and off-putting–and is a total you know what–stick with him and you’ll learn to love him); females should be patient with their men, especially if they have money, and they will be rewarded). I haven’t seen *Frozen yet (not sure if “yet” is the right word here, as it implies an intention to see it… which may or may not happen), but it sounds as though it overtly targets a predominately female audience once again and thus reifies the idea that our gender hardwires us to appreciate certain narratives and aesthetics over others–which may or may not be concerning to some of us but would throw Butler and Foucault into fits. A serious avenue of inquiry though: how adorable is that deer/moose/whatever creature in your first picture!

  4. Laura says:

    I think it is really important that, when looking at how Disney (and fairy tale film in general), it is important to keep in mind cultural context of when the stories are told. Love as we think of it was not a part of fairy tales at all until Disney’s 1937 Snow White film. This is because the way people used to conceptualize “love” was very different–love was something spiritual and marriage was something practical. And this was not bad, just different! The idea of “Love at First Sight” was not a bad thing, just a necessary step to portraying ideas of 21st century love in fairy tale form, as it is in Frozen.

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