I’ve never been one to shy away from making an enemy, so let’s get right to it: I hate your favourite movie.
Now, to scale back a bit, I don’t hate it per se—and I realize it's not actually your favourite movie—but I have some problems with Disney's Frozen. In fact, I dislike of the whole Frozen phenomenon. My four-year-old daughter Anna is obsessed, of course. She sings "Let It Go" non-stop—her holiday dance recital was to the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and every morning we fight over whether she can wear her hair in one braid like Elsa. Before she'd even seen movie she knew every lyric and tiny detail and rattled them off endlessly. In December, she saw a staged sing-along version for her friend’s birthday party and, last week, the two of us finally sat down to watch it together.
Things you might want to know about me before reading on: I was a very traditional “girlie” girl as a child (I even did pageants, but that's a story for another time), I like Kristen Bell, I dislike the winter and I have an ex who once left me for Scandinavia. These are my biases. Here, in no particular order, are my issues with Frozen:
1. The songs aren’t good Sorry believers, but it’s true. Your children have brainwashed you. The songs are not even catchy at first. I was introduced to "Let It Go" via the Oscars last year, and I can’t be the only one who thought it was utterly forgettable. It's no "Part of Your World."
2. It reinforces beauty standards The most popular character is Elsa, a tall, thin, large-breasted, white-blonde woman with curled eyelashes and sculpted eyebrows. She's already been widely criticized on social media, and for good reason. The character does nothing for the beautiful, real-life kids who don’t look anything like Elsa and never will.
3. The parents are awful At the start of the movie, Elsa struggles with strange powers she can’t control and appear to be triggered by her emotions. However, instead of working through it with their child, her parents just send her to her room and isolated both of their daughters indefinitely. And there's a whole subplot with trolls that doesn’t merit getting into.
4. It’s making moms all weird and defensive As mother to a little girl, I cannot count the number of excuses I’ve heard other moms make about Frozen—myself included (see: “I didn’t see the movie until after it had been out for a year!”). I've heard moms tell one another that their kids have only seen it once, or only watched it recently because they'd been home sick or visiting a friend. I've heard them reassure one another that their child's Frozen backpack, lunch bag, t-shirt or new toy was a gift. Disney movies are successful because they’re high-budget, highly-resourced and formulaic. They get wide distribution and have huge advertising campaigns, so it’s expected that your child will be exposed to it—and that's OK, everyone!
5. We’re being bombarded with a product
Frozen is the highest-grossing animated movie of all time because it has marketing magic behind it. The people who worked on selling this film to the public did a superb job.
6. I’m not convinced “new Disney” is any better than "old Disney" Sure, Brave and Frozen don't revolved around a love story, but both films are also less detailed and plot-driven than the Disney movies that were coming out 25 years ago. What they gain in ethics they lose in entertainment value. And really, at the end of the day, there's still yet another heterosexual love story in Frozen.
7. The "lessons" are not lessons Example 1: Anna gets engaged to a guy she met that same day. We are told this is a bad decision, and wouldn't you know? The guy turns out to be untrustworthy. But wait! That second guy Anna meets and falls in love with equally fast is A-OK? Uh, what?
Example 2: Elsa gives a speech about being her true self. Sure, we all want our kids to see that being yourself is a positive. However, Elsa’s "true self" means wearing a pastel dress instead of a bold one, and a side-braid instead of a bun ...and that's about it. Oh, I almost forgot, she's now isolated on a mountain top instead of in a gated castle.
8. It’s not “all about the sisters” Anna and Elsa rarely share any scenes in the entire movie. Not exactly what I'd call a film about sibling bonding.
9. Elsa is not very nice First and foremost, Elsa barely appears in the movie—however, her image appears everywhere in promotional material. She is, by her own will, entirely emotionally repressed. She’s mean, closed off and unwelcoming. My daughter was scared of 90 percent of the movie, but claims she loves it because it’s “about princesses and love” and that Elsa “gets nice.” Sure, she acts decently when her sister is all but dead, but I'm not sure this is worthy of being celebrated by children on the scale that it has been. I think there is a gap between being “nice” and not wanting her sister to die.
1o. At the end of the day, it's still just another princess movie People talk about Frozen as something new and out of the ordinary, but it's ultimately a princess movie—and a Disney princess movie at that. The two leads are young girls with long hair, giant alien eyes, and pretty dresses. They sing saccharine songs and there's literally a princess shackled in a tower at one point. Definitively not new.
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