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"why Frozen left me cold"
June 29, 2014 6:50 AM   Subscribe

The problem with false feminism: "My friends have asked for it and I feel like the internet needs it, so I’m going to go through, point-by-point and in no particular order, the top handful of reasons people have given for thinking Frozen is a feminist triumph, and I’m going to debunk them all."
"I don’t believe in wasting words on things I don’t like. So why have I spent so much time and so many words on Frozen...? ...Every minority group that has ever had to struggle for equal treatment is fighting against good enough, because to ever acknowledge that we have reached good enough is to give the people with influence our permission to stop trying and go home. I bring this up because I see the same thing going on in Disney’s Frozen... Frozen creates the clever illusion of its own progressiveness by subtly degrading what came before it to make itself look more enlightened by comparison. In doing so, it not only treads upon a rich history of compelling heroines in much better films; it manages to get away with being good enough...I don’t want Frozen to be good enough. I’ve spent more than enough words explaining why I think it spits in the face of what we should be thinking of as feminism... I want to see better. And the more effusive praise we heap on a movie that shouldn’t even be good enough, the less likely it is that better will ever happen."
Feminist Fiction - Why Frozen Isn’t “False Feminism”: "As the article is structured around a list of imagined arguments why Frozen is feminist, followed by takedowns explaining why it’s not, I’ll structure this in the same way. I’m present the article’s arguments of why Frozen isn’t feminist, and then argue why that’s wrong."

*another critique: The problem with “The Problem with False Feminism” – a Strongly Worded Rebuttal
*author's reply: A Politely-Worded Response (or the problem with “The Problem With ‘The Problem With False Feminism’”)

Feminist Disney movie review - Is Disney Frozen in Time, or Moving Forward?
(covers feminist, race, LGBTQ, & cultural appropriation issues with a bunch of reference links provided for follow-up)

*Feminist Fiction - Disney, Frozen and the (un)Importance of Prettiness: "These criticisms address something more fundamental, and far less subjective. The diversity of the cast. The number of female faces that appear on-screen. The animators’ attitudes to creating those faces."
*Slate - I Can’t “Let It Go”: "My daughter loves Frozen, but that weird come-hither makeover in its show-stopping ballad leaves me very cold."

two (funny) video commentaries:
*How Frozen Should Have Ended
*Honest Trailers - Frozen

previously on MeFi:
*imaging Frozen's Elsa as a trans symbol
*why do the Frozen heroines Anna and Elsa have the same face?
*Disney's FROZEN: How one simple suggestion broke the ice on the Snow Queen's decades-long story problem
posted by flex (201 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Frozen was so bizarre.

"Hey, let's lock our daughter away for years and don't bother teaching her!"

"Fuck everyone, I'm building my own ice palace, where I'll live alone, wearing the same dress everyday."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 AM on June 29 [18 favorites]


"I feel like the Internet needs it" is the most hilarious reason to write something I've ever heard.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:01 AM on June 29 [90 favorites]


Good reading! Now I just have to see it...
posted by Going To Maine at 7:07 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


From the first link, "Looking at it strictly by the numbers, Frozen conforms to the expected Disney model. "

Because it's Disney. I can't, can't, can't buy into Disney. It is doubtless a character flaw of mine.

Also: "There’s an ongoing problem, I think, with 'strong female character' being made synonymous with 'any fictional woman who isn’t just window dressing'."
posted by Peach at 7:09 AM on June 29 [12 favorites]


Let it...oh, wait, Slate already made that joke.
posted by michaelh at 7:18 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


"I feel like the Internet needs it" is the most hilarious reason to write something I've ever heard.

isn't that the feeling medium.com is catering too? yell at the TV like the whole world is listening...
posted by ennui.bz at 7:33 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


A work's feminism is dichotomous and objective.
posted by The White Hat at 7:38 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


My main exposure to Frozen has been through Tumblr. I thought its big problem was that it exploited Scandinavian culture and mythology and erased native peoples in that part of the world. Little did I know!
posted by immlass at 7:47 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: "I feel like the Internet needs it"
posted by Fizz at 7:48 AM on June 29 [11 favorites]


why do the Frozen heroines Anna and Elsa have the same face?

BECAUSE THEY'RE SISTERS FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD! GOOD GOD! Me and seven of my female cousins have the same flippin' face because GENETICS!
posted by magstheaxe at 7:55 AM on June 29 [37 favorites]


BECAUSE THEY'RE SISTERS FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Can you prove that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


BECAUSE THEY'RE SISTERS FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Can you prove that?


Frozen birthers = peak conspiracy. "The ice castle is made of chemtrails!!"
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:10 AM on June 29 [91 favorites]


Can you prove that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:00 AM



Yes. Definitively:

"And then -- no one remembers who exactly came up with this idea -- someone on the story team said "What if Anna and Elsa were sisters?" From that moment forward, this WDAS project began to jell in some very exciting ways.

"Once we realized that these characters could be siblings and have a relationship, everything changed," Del Vecho enthused. "I mean, you may not always like what Elsa does or the choices that she makes. But given that she could now have a real emotional connection with Anna, that these two characters -- now that they were sisters -- would obviously have some history ... Well, you could now at least understand the whys behind this story."

From Disney's FROZEN: How one simple suggestion broke the ice on the Snow Queen's decades-long story problem (previously on MetaFilter)
posted by magstheaxe at 8:11 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


"Hey, let's lock our daughter away for years and don't bother teaching her!"

Counterpoint: When shut-in daughter runs away and builds her ice castle, she starts singing and one of the lines is "my soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around."

Okay. So a princess who hasn't been outside in ten years and lives in a semi-medieval castle in Icebergistan knows what _fractals_ are? She has one hell of a live-in tutor.
posted by delfin at 8:13 AM on June 29 [31 favorites]


So a princess who hasn't been outside in ten years and lives in a semi-medieval castle in Icebergistan knows what _fractals_ are?

(looks deeper into the problem)
(only finds a smaller version of the same problem)
(this continues recursively, forever)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:15 AM on June 29 [101 favorites]


It may not be a feminist movie and it may still be a Disney movie, but for this dad of 2 girls who have seen this move a thousand times, the fact that Anna's true love is her sister and not some random guy she just met makes it so. much. better than 99% of the other Disney movies.
posted by sauril at 8:16 AM on June 29 [67 favorites]


Because it's Disney. I can't, can't, can't buy into Disney. It is doubtless a character flaw of mine.

Could just be because you're too old for it. Got any kids?
posted by ReeMonster at 8:18 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


and not some random guy she just met makes it so. much. better than 99% of the other Disney movies.

The Achilles heel of Tangled, which I generally liked better.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:27 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


So a princess who hasn't been outside in ten years and lives in a semi-medieval castle in Icebergistan knows what _fractals_ are?
Actually, there's an inverse correlation between the amount of time a child spends outside and their likelihood of knowing what fractals are. Also inverse correlations. I mean, so I've heard.
posted by roystgnr at 8:27 AM on June 29 [29 favorites]


As a very loud outspoken feminist (I went to Bryn Mawr and discussing whether or not something is feminist, and Disney films, was basically a major unto itself), discussions of feminism in the media just make me tired.

I went into Frozen expecting to love it and I mostly came out of it loving Let it Go- I have listened to about a million times since it came out.

Nothing is ever going to check 100 percent of activist boxes. That being said I read somewhere something about how basically all of Disney films have set out to correct for past wrongs, just look at the progression of their princesses and how Frozen is the sort of the next step. Just the fact that we can be arguing about how two characters have the same face, rather than the overt patriarchal "you're worthless without a man" drum that basically every other Disney movie has beaten up till now is a huge step forward.
posted by KernalM at 8:28 AM on June 29 [22 favorites]


Despite the plot of Frozen being titanicly stupid, I enjoyed it because the god damned snow man was so funny. They should have ditched the entire rest of the movie, and made it about his quest for a beach vacation.
posted by empath at 8:39 AM on June 29 [8 favorites]


I'm interested in the subject, but Jesus, that's a lot of angry words being exchanged over what amounts to pop culture analysis. Seriously, parts of this are arguments about, like, whether Elsa can ice skate in her ice dress. It's all reading like parody. I kinda wish the discourse could be a little more lighthearted and chill. I have some thoughts on the matter but what's the point of even bringing them up when there's a raging fight going on with angry headdesk gifs and sentences like "RAFIKI LITERALLY HITS HIM IN THE HEAD WITH A STICK. STOP BEING WRONG."
posted by naju at 8:42 AM on June 29 [8 favorites]


"I feel like the Internet needs it" is the most hilarious reason to write something I've ever heard.

obligatory xkcd reference.
posted by mr vino at 8:43 AM on June 29 [7 favorites]


I thought that Elsa and Anna were two women in film who were allowed to be themselves and to make informed decisions about their own lives. At the points that they were not were points of tension that sought resolution in the movie. Holding them up to an ideological ideal beyond this to hopefully advance a cause doesn't seem to be very progressive.

I've noticed a trend latley for movies to be expected to be much more prescriptive than descriptive, and it creates fodder for a lot of soapboxing. It's hard just to tell a story anymore without all kinds of discussion regarding authorial intent and whether than intent matches current progressive causes. Although there is a place to talk about social impact (especially in children's movies), I think that we lose something in this trend if we don't allow storytelling that isn't a perfect match of a social ideal, simply because certain stories are interesting. Stories can be guides towards these kinds of important discussions (which the main article attempts, actually), without being burdened with the responsibility of itself being a teacher for the masses. Those kinds of movies are important at times, but not always.

Also, I'm noticing that there is a trend to not be happy with a little bit of progress, when a little bit of progress should actually be encouraging. I wonder if the fast-moving nature of the internet itself has created a time distortion for people in the way that they expect change to happen outside of the internet.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:43 AM on June 29 [23 favorites]


I went into Frozen expecting to love it and I mostly came out of it loving Let it Go- I have listened to about a million times since it came out

Yeah, Frozen is a text book example of a film that doesn't make much logical sense, but a lot of people emotionally connect with it. That's what stories come down to, do we connect with the characters? If so, having a sensible plot (or even a plot) is secondary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:43 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


The problem with applying a label like "feminism" to any specific person, object, or behavior, is that everybody has different criteria for what that label means. The conversation becomes an argument about the label as an ideal, not the object in its context. It's like a giant No True Scotsman contest.
posted by sciurus at 8:46 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Frozen had about as much intellectual and feminist credibility as Pacific Rim. Which is to say, it's in the eye of the beholder.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:47 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Yes. Definitively:

"And then -- no one remembers who exactly came up with this idea -- someone on the story team said "What if Anna and Elsa were sisters?" From that moment forward, this WDAS project began to jell in some very exciting ways.


You can't trust media when its fueled by patriarchy!

Frozen had about as much intellectual and feminist credibility as Pacific Rim. Which is to say, it's in the eye of the beholder.

You're the wrongness person who's ever lived on Wrong St in Wrong County, GA, USA and this recent Pacific Rim discussion proves it!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on June 29


I went into Frozen expecting to love it and I mostly came out of it loving Let it Go- I have listened to about a million times since it came out

I know a lot of people really love this song but I feel like I must be missing something. I think it's a fine song but to me it just seems like all the other big songs just like it from every other Disney movie. It doesn't seem like anything special and it seems like I'm the only one who feels this way.
posted by VTX at 8:57 AM on June 29 [10 favorites]


Setting aside the FA, the whole '"the Internet needs it" thing is a good example of this weird synecdoche some people commit of 'the Internet' as a stand-in for 'the blogs I read, write and comment on, my facebook, twitter and tumblr account and the ones I follow and the handful of big online media I read'.

So people say things like 'the Internet is abuzz with [something only a handful of people care about]' or 'the Internet reacted quickly to [some sort of first world problem]'.

There are almost 3 Billion internet users. It's really, really parochial to characterize the tiny percentage you interact with as 'the Internet'.
posted by signal at 8:57 AM on June 29 [17 favorites]


I'm interested in the subject, but Jesus, that's a lot of angry words being exchanged over what amounts to pop culture analysis.

Yeah I'm fascinated by Frozen but I couldn't make it through half of the main article, the rebuttal, or the rebuttal to the rebuttal. And a title like "False Feminism" is so obviously starting from a place of collapsing complex issues down to a ludicrous manichean battle of YOU'RE WRONG!! NO YOU'RE WRONG HERE IS A WRONGNESS GIF!! it's kind of hard to go anywhere from there.

Frozen is a text book example of a film that doesn't make much logical sense, but a lot of people emotionally connect with it.

YES you are RIGHT and I wish I had rightness gif. The plot makes almost no sense at all, and it feels like what it actually is, a handwavey first draft with all the plot holes barely wallpapered over. There's an interesting New Yorker piece on the scramble to figure out what the heck worked in Frozen.
posted by Erasmouse at 9:02 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


Because it's Disney. I can't, can't, can't buy into Disney. It is doubtless a character flaw of mine.

Maybe it's a brain wiring thing, but Disney leaves me just as unmoved as the latest interchangeable comic book movie.

I am glad though that Disney seems to be moving away from egregiously bad in feminist terms towards somewhat ok, because that's an awesome trend and bodes well for pop culture products in general.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:04 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


To me the original article is outstanding in how thorough it is. There is a lot of research presented, a lot of Disney work gets analyzed for comparison and it's a visually appealing piece that is well formatted.

It's funny that the pitiful reply that the author had to respond to has since been deleted, or I guess moved to a different page Flex linked. Though I feel like that was just a mismatch. You can tell when someone knows their stuff and has taken the time to think things through and when someone just wants to be right but doesn't have the needed tools or time or experience to properly do it. I love gifs as much as the next guy, but when you're using fuck you gifs as an argument, throwing in periodic all caps yelling, doge terms and using gif after gif that makes it look like nonsense without also including strong rebuttals and counterarguments so that it looks clever instead of childish, well it just looks silly.

I heard so much about how impressive Frozen was before I finally watched it. I scoffed much like this author did. But the interesting thing to me is that I read through this book chapter length essay thinking I'd see at least one or two of the critiques I had that I felt sunk the film, but no. She presented so much against this film and all the points that occurred to me about Frozen are in addition to and on top of that.

The author's piece is fantastic. Great post, Flex. I'm interested to see what people think about the individual points raised in the main link. (if that ever happens - it is a lot of reading to get through)
posted by cashman at 9:06 AM on June 29 [10 favorites]


At this stage, it looks like the whole point of internet feminism is to ignore the 99% of culture which is damaging to women and girls and concentrate *all the wrath* on the one film released in the last few years that actually seems to give teenage girls the tools needed to control their own lives.

Good going internet feminism. Your scathing takedowns of Frozen are sure to make the world better for everyone.
posted by zoo at 9:08 AM on June 29 [16 favorites]


Children's fantasy movie not 100% perfect guide to ideal empowered woman's life.

Okay yeah, there are serious and real issues there, but it's a good movie. I'm not trying to rag on people for deconstructing Disney entertainment cause the marketing obviously has a massive impact on kids, especially girls, but I've never quite understood how Frozen became so divisive when it does so much right.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:11 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I am sure Disney producers will look at the tumblr critiques and the Olympic-sized swimming pools full of money they are making and give them both equal weighting in planning their upcoming movies.

(Though there are real things Disney could be doing better in movies, and I think they are making incremental changes in some aspects but would like them to move a bit more quickly.)
posted by jeather at 9:14 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Frozen is far from perfect, but generally I like the slow progressive direction that even Disney films are moving towards. I thought Tangled was their first foray into a movie where the main female character can do more than just look beautiful and find a husband, and this one actually passes the bechdel test with women speaking to each other about non-man things.

Just 20 years ago, Disney's finest work was a story of a woman with a physically/mentally abusive man she just had to try and change (Beauty & the Beast) while the other one was a woman who only finds true love by staying literally completely silent (Little Mermaid). And those stories are based on stories from the 1800s, as most of Disney's earlier work was.

Frozen isn't awesome from all angles, but it's a huge step forward for Disney.
posted by mathowie at 9:14 AM on June 29 [17 favorites]


Well, it's like the author said in the bit that's block quoted in the post: Any step forward is to be rabidly attacked unless it's a step ALL THE WAY forward. If she can't have ALL the feminism, she'd prefer to have none of it!
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:14 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


“Unlike in the United States and other nations, we deviated from the strategy of catering to families and specifically targeted Japanese women,” Ihara told the Japan Times (paywall), “who have the power to spur consumption and create a fad.”
posted by infini at 9:14 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Well, it's like the author said in the bit that's block quoted in the post: Any step forward is to be rabidly attacked unless it's a step ALL THE WAY forward. If she can't have ALL the feminism, she'd prefer to have none of it!

I think that this is a case of someone speaking from the PoV of a particular generation, culture and geography. There are far too many of us who like the progress we've made - marrying men of our choice, having an education and a bank account, being able to donate blood without our father or husband's permission, that we'd choose staying a walking womb sold off to the highest bidder at menarche if we can't become fully a first world feminist.
posted by infini at 9:18 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


> Nothing is ever going to check 100 percent of activist boxes.

Not with that attitude. More can be done. More must be done!
posted by officer_fred at 9:18 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


I'll be honest -- I got an hour through Frozen and then decided that I was so full of Do Not Care that I never bothered to finish it. It felt so disjointed and by-the-numbers with its plotting that there was zero dramatic impetus for me to finish it. I mean, maybe the last half hour actually has a plot twist in it, but it's pretty obvious the sisters are going to reconcile after $TRIALS and $ADVENTURES.

The faces on the two lead female characters reminded me way too much of Bratz dolls, with their giant eyes and lack of chins.

I will say this for the movie -- it had some of the most elegant fabric movement I've ever seen programmed into a CGI feature.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 AM on June 29 [10 favorites]


Maybe it's a brain wiring thing, but Disney leaves me just as unmoved as the latest interchangeable comic book movie.

Unless we're talking about the shorts from the 30's and 40's. They'll always be great.

The other stuff? WGAF?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:21 AM on June 29


I mean, maybe the last half hour actually has a plot twist in it, but it's pretty obvious the sisters are going to reconcile after $TRIALS and $ADVENTURES.

Seriously, when is a Disney Princess movie gonna end with the main characters in a 20 year blood feud? I'm sick of this lovey-dovey crap.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:22 AM on June 29 [27 favorites]


Good going internet feminism

This sort of comment frustrates me a lot, and I think it's because if your sole contribution is to sit on the sidelines making snippy comments about "Internet feminism", you are helping even less than those you're attacking - who are at least contributing in earnest.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:22 AM on June 29 [32 favorites]


I thought we could all at least agree that the snowman is CREEPY AS FUCK but even that is up for debate. Seriously, snowman. You freak me out. Stop being... you.
posted by naju at 9:25 AM on June 29 [8 favorites]


with their giant eyes and lack of chins.

Oh yes, this is the way of things now. Not because of Bratz dolls, but because of other cinematic influences. Roger Ebert made the observation a ways back that western films were starting to emulate anime, including the expressive nature of the eyes. I think Bratz dolls followed cinematic trends in this regard (see also Littlest Pet Shop). One place I really noticed it playing out significantly was in Tangled, which I just recently saw. Perhaps the first time I've ever really felt emotional during a Disney movie, and it was in large part due to the eyes. When the King and Queen let the lantern go after having a big-eyed teary moment together, it's perhaps the first time I've ever felt teary during a Disney movie.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:26 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]



Because it's Disney. I can't, can't, can't buy into Disney. It is doubtless a character flaw of mine.


well, you're not unique anyway. I haven't been able to abide a Disney animated "masterpiece" since I was a kid. I could go on at length with various socio-political rationales but I think it's got more to do with it ultimately just being kid's stuff, and I got more than enough of that as a kid. Throw on an animated Disney "masterpiece" and I instantly flashback to being eleven or twelve, stuck at the proverbial kid's table ... whereas the kind of stuff that actually interested me at that point was adult all the way, or certainly rawly adolescent.

Disney's a soft drink. I wanted beer, or more likely, some godawful jungle-juice concoction skimmed from all my dad's hard liquors.
posted by philip-random at 9:32 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Little Mermaid made me cry when I was a kid, the poor merfolk trapped in Ursulas's garden. :(

Anyway, people should really take a look at the Feminist Fiction link, I think it does a great job of deconstructing the feminist criticisms by using a more accurate reading of the movie and the Disney catalogue. I was linked to it a few months ago and it made me appreciate the criticisms of the movie more even while it is explaining why they might not be totally on target.

Sorry, hippybear, for being a bit snarky earlier, but Frozen is the first Disney film I've enjoyed in years and it frustrates me that people have a negative opinion of it for various reasons, either because they just don't like it or because they have more social criticisms. I strive to be someone who doesn't question that taste is an individual thing, but this movie hit me right in the feels so I don't always pull it off there.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:35 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I haven't been able to abide a Disney animated "masterpiece" since I was a kid.

Makes sense. They're movies for little kids.

The kinds of movies parents LONG for; something that will occupy their kids for a good 85-100 minutes, so they can cook a meal, make phone calls, wind down, clean up the bathroom, straighten up the playroom, etc. Gives a child something they can connect with, for whatever reason (pretty colors, funny characters, tuneful songs, dazzling animation, a happy ending, importance of family, tension and release). As if a five-year-old gives a shit about feminism anyway.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:43 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I think that this is a case of someone speaking from the PoV of a particular generation, culture and geography. There are far too many of us who like the progress we've made - marrying men of our choice, having an education and a bank account, being able to donate blood without our father or husband's permission, that we'd choose staying a walking womb sold off to the highest bidder at menarche if we can't become fully a first world feminist.

Well, you must feel silly getting wound up about all that stuff, now that you understand that true feminism is arguing about whether works of pop culture are feminist enough while using lots of reaction gifs. I tell you what, maybe Nicholas Kristof can write an op-ed about that foreigner stuff, then we can have a huge argument about whether it's feminist enough?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:43 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I really didn't like "Let It Go." Not even a little. It seemed like a celebration of "I'm lonely, I almost killed my sister and then drove her away emotionally, people think I'm a monster, I miss my parents and my whole life is fucked up" without actually addressing those things.

The best part of the movie was "Reindeers are Better Than People." Even with Kristoff being a kind of watery caricature of a Saami, when most people don't know a damned thing about that culture in the first place. And the second best part was some of the snowman gags, even though he was creepy and probably introduced just because the movie would have been terrible without him.
posted by Foosnark at 9:45 AM on June 29 [7 favorites]


I've wondered what it says about me that the two Disney movies I'm supposed to love most as a woman, as a feminist--Frozen and Brave--are two movies I seriously disliked.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:47 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I liked Frozen. I connected with the characters and the sisters' relationship in a deeper way that I expected I would. It takes place in a historical, fairy tale world where traditionally women don't have too much empowerment, and the female characters who do have any empowerment (Ursula, Maleficent, etc.) are evil.

The Feminist Fiction article OP linked was very satisfying in helping me understand why I liked Frozen so much.

Honest question: Is there a perfect feminist movie/TV show out there? My closest guess is Orphan Black, but that feels pretty groundbreaking even in 2014.
posted by mochapickle at 9:47 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


The best part of the movie was "Reindeers are Better Than People."

Yes! I have a Puppies Are Better version I sing to my dog every night.
posted by mochapickle at 9:49 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


As rich a field as I'm sure this is, I really had hard time processing an argument written entirely in the form of knocking down straw men. I could really have used a 400-word precis of why she hated it in the first place.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:49 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


The best part of the movie was "Reindeers are Better Than People."

So true.
posted by gerstle at 9:53 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


There are actually interesting critiques to be made of the film (ones I don't think were made in the first post, where I disagreed with a lot of the points made). I liked the movie a lot. I liked the soundtrack. It somehow worked perfectly for me on a lot of levels, even though I agree a lot of the plot didn't make sense (mostly the parents' actions, from which everything stemmed, but not solely).
posted by jeather at 9:53 AM on June 29


For all the talk of Frozen being at least a step forward if not perfect, count me in the camp of people who actually thought it was a step backward. I agree with the first linked essay almost entirely. I'll defend a lot of Disney probably more than it should be defended. I wholeheartedly love a lot of Disney films and they are in part responsible for the career that I chose. I know there are a ton of problems from a feminist standpoint with both The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast (the two Disney films which had the most influence on me since I saw them for the first time when I was between 8 and 11) but they both made me feel like it was OK for girls to be smart and to have ambition and dreams.

I went in to Frozen really, really wanting to like it. And it was the lazy writing (that ending, what was that? Just think about love?) that got me, more than any not-feminism-enough cred. But that stuff sure didn't help.
posted by matcha action at 9:53 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


"why Frozen left me cold"

Icy what you did there.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:54 AM on June 29 [13 favorites]


Hayao Miyazaki.
posted by Fizz at 9:54 AM on June 29 [6 favorites]


I've wondered what it says about me that the two Disney movies I'm supposed to love most as a woman, as a feminist....

You're not supposed to love them as a woman and as a feminist. It's a kids movie which kids love. Nobody at Disney sat around for years making a movie to satisfy intelligent adult feminist women. That all came after the fact in the form of articles of praise or criticism in the media. First and foremost it's a juvenile entertainment designed to dazzle and entertain little children. I think it worked like gangbusters in that regard.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:54 AM on June 29 [9 favorites]


Yes, but there have been countless essays about how both Frozen and Brave are important feminist movies and I have never connected with those ideas.

I also don't think Disney makes movies just for kids. Primarily, sure, but they are well aware they have millions of adult fans.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:04 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


You're not supposed to love them as a woman and as a feminist. It's a kids movie which kids love.

Disney films are kids films, but they're designed to appeal to kids AND adult people up to a certain age. I know tons of people in their 20s who are crazy for Disney films.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:07 AM on June 29


Taking things further, I'd posit that the thin veneer of feminist ideals is there for parents to feel good about what their kids are consuming, which is essentially the first major Princess Movie in a long time that's not a skewed metacritique of Princess Movie tropes.
posted by naju at 10:08 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Hayao Miyazaki

For fucking real. You want some passionate feminism in animated feature films? Studio Fucking Ghibli. Seriously. Naussica? Seriously? Mononoke? Hell yeah. Chihiro is the best little girl character I have ever seen on film. Talk about rising to the occasion, talk about finding courage within yourself. This shit will blind you with its vision of beauty and goodness that can exist alongside the garish and unseemly.
posted by Taft at 10:09 AM on June 29 [17 favorites]


Except, what do Ariel and Belle get for all their intelligence and ambition in the end? A husband?

Elsa is an incredibly powerful cryokinetic who, in the end rules an entire kingdom - and coming back to accept her position as Queen is evidence of her intelligence and ambition.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 10:12 AM on June 29 [13 favorites]


which is essentially the first major Princess Movie in a long time that's not a skewed metacritique of Princess Movie tropes.

This is important, I think, and something that the main article didn't get quite right. The tally of Disney movies which don't deliver on these tropes wasn't very helpful, as Frozen isn't a response to Disney's actual history representing them as much as the public perception of what Disney's history with them has been. People have an idea of what the ideal Disney movie has been from a few key examples that were formative in our cultural consciousness.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:14 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


It's all reading like parody.

Could be the slogan for a large number of such discussions.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:16 AM on June 29


I just wish people talked about The Princess and the Frog more.
posted by kmz at 10:19 AM on June 29 [13 favorites]



Except, what do Ariel and Belle get for all their intelligence and ambition in the end? A husband?

Yeah, like I said they're far from perfect. Ariel does get what she wants more than a husband-- a life as a human on land.

Elsa is an incredibly powerful cryokinetic who, in the end rules an entire kingdom - and coming back to accept her position as Queen is evidence of her intelligence and ambition.


But what does she actually want? Again, my problem is the lazy storytelling more than anything. Does she actually want to be Queen? We don't know what she actually wants. We don't know what her actual ambitions are. She is a very poorly developed character. All that Anna ever wants-- the extent of her ambition-- is a husband. Who she basically ends up with, even if they don't get married onscreen.
posted by matcha action at 10:22 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I was confused recently, trying to reconcile my childhood love of Disney films with my complete antipathy to the incessant tongue-bath internet culture gives to the (gack) Disney princesses.I have zero shits to give about Disney princesses, whether you dress them up as hipsters on DeviantArt or not.

And then I suddenly realized - I exclusively loved and watched the talking animal films. Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, 101 Dalmations, Robin Hood, Bambi.

I can't remember anyone ever showing me a fucking princess film. I feel sorry for kids today being shoveled all this princess bullshit and being denied wonderful talking animals.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:25 AM on June 29 [22 favorites]


I just wish people talked about The Princess and the Frog more.

This movie upended "when you wish upon a star" which is basically Disney's entire motif.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:26 AM on June 29


Seriously, how is Home On The Range not considered a feminist movie? The main character is a female who engineers a scheme to capture a criminal, using a lot of her female friends to execute the plans. There are more female characters in Home On The Range than I think in any other Disney film, ever.
posted by hippybear at 10:27 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I exclusively loved and watched the talking animal films. Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats, 101 Dalmations, Robin Hood, Bambi.

As a furry, I support and endorse this.
posted by hippybear at 10:27 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


But what does she actually want? Again, my problem is the lazy storytelling more than anything. Does she actually want to be Queen? We don't know what she actually wants. We don't know what her actual ambitions are. She is a very poorly developed character. All that Anna ever wants-- the extent of her ambition-- is a husband. Who she basically ends up with, even if they don't get married onscreen.

Elsa wants to be free to be herself and not live in fear of hurting anyone.
Anna wants love and connection, and wants to live in a world where there is love and connection around her. It's blueprinted out in Anna's I Want song (Do You Want To Build A Snowman?).
posted by mochapickle at 10:29 AM on June 29 [18 favorites]


(I know actual human living people who do not have such clearly defined wants as these.)
posted by mochapickle at 10:30 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Let it...oh, wait, Slate already made that joke.

That's about as harsh a thing as I've ever heard said about a joke.
posted by mhoye at 10:34 AM on June 29 [7 favorites]


I was watching this movie with friends kids and I asked them what the movie was about because I enjoy hearing kids movie synopsis. The little brother said it was about this one girl, and oh another girl but she wasn't in it much and then the girl had a boyfriend and he was pretty cool... at which point his sister came flying across the room, threw him on the couch and started pummeling him while shrieking "it's about ELSA. its about ELSA. its about ELSA!!"

So there you have it internet. Frozen is about what you want it to be about.
posted by fshgrl at 10:34 AM on June 29 [16 favorites]


Not being a great connoisseur of Disney movies, I watched Frozen to see what all the fuss was about. And while it's great that it has a message of a woman's identity not being all about a man, it still had the message that woman must have impossible Barbie-bodies and freakishly large eyes/weird nose/no chin so that they basically look like gelflings. I would also add white to that list but I think I remember Disney doing some non-white characters recently, though they still have the same facial features.

Overall, I'm glad that Disney is evolving, but on the other hand, I would argue that the expectations that society puts on women w/r/t her appearance is one of the most subtle and harmful things we face and I'm a little disappointed that for all the good things Disney's doing, when it comes to this issue it's pretty much business as usual.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:34 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


No story that urges you to root for the members of a royal family is ever going to be progressive. This was also the major problem I had with the Lion King. Divine right isn't something I can really get behind.

I did enjoy Frozen despite this though. The Lion King was just too in your face about it.
posted by Summer at 10:37 AM on June 29 [5 favorites]


Elsa is an incredibly powerful cryokinetic who, in the end rules an entire kingdom - and coming back to accept her position as Queen is evidence of her intelligence and ambition.

She realizes love is the key to controlling her powers, and since she's the elder princess, i.e doesn't have to do anything to get the position of Queen, assumes the ruler role, despite seemingly getting no education in how to be a ruler.

Elsa*might* have learned how to control her powers if her parents hadn't locked her up for most of childhood, while wiping her sister's memory. Seriously, were there no social workers in the kingdom?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:37 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


All that Anna ever wants-- the extent of her ambition-- is a husband.

No, what Anna wants is a relationship with her sister (and to be loved which is why she acts stupidly in regards to Hans). What did you think "Do You Want To Build A Snowman" is about? "For the First Time in Forever" is clearly about her desire to be around and with people.

What Elsa wants is not to hurt people with her snow powers. She believes her parents when they tell her she has to suppress them. That doesn't work out so she decides fuck it, I'll use them and go far away from people so I never hurt anyone. Plan B doesn't work out though, so it's on to Plan C - love.

I think your dislike of Frozen has much more to do with the fact that you didn't emotionally connect with Anna or Elsa than any sloppy writing.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:41 AM on June 29 [10 favorites]


No story that urges you to root for the members of a royal family is ever going to be progressive.

Yeah. Taken another way, it's about rich, cloistered, self-absorbed white people wrecking entire countries of poor people and being oblivious to it in their castles of ice. And we root for them.
posted by naju at 10:44 AM on June 29 [11 favorites]


If I didn't connect with Elsa and Anna, (and I admit I didn't) I think that is because of the sloppy writing.
posted by matcha action at 10:45 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


No story that urges you to root for the members of a royal family is ever going to be progressive.

This is (one of the reasons) why Mulan is awesome.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:48 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


I thought Tangled was their first foray into a movie where the main female character can do more than just look beautiful and find a husband, and this one actually passes the bechdel test with women speaking to each other about non-man things.

Um. Lilo & Stitch?
posted by pharm at 10:48 AM on June 29 [29 favorites]


Lilo and Stitch, FOREVER.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:49 AM on June 29 [28 favorites]


Lilo And Stitch made me cry the first, second, and third time I saw it. It's one of the best Disney films ever, for reasons I cannot easily explain.
posted by hippybear at 10:53 AM on June 29 [20 favorites]


Just 20 years ago, Disney's finest work was a story of a woman with a physically/mentally abusive man she just had to try and change (Beauty & the Beast) while the other one was a woman who only finds true love by staying literally completely silent (Little Mermaid). And those stories are based on stories from the 1800s, as most of Disney's earlier work was.

TFA countered everything you wrote here, pretty convincingly, specifically the Bechdel "pass" is not new or impressive in this movie compared to others, Ariel is actually a very strong character who rescues her all-power-god father from death and is obsessed about being on land, not getting a man from the first scene.

Another thing; I think the "Frozen Fractals" line is to appeal to trippy kids and stoners and nerds who recognized the amazingly complex eye candy strewn about the movie, and the castle-build was the climax of that, like a big giant phallic wo-man cave. The "right or wrong, no rules for me" part aways makes me raise my eyebrows a little and I can be as inwardly nihilistic as the next guy on a bad day, but compare and contrast that to the smitten "Love is an Open Door" song that I think was subversive in that it's just this sappy bullshit song that gets dashed to pieces if you think about it (even a small child) on your second viewing.
posted by aydeejones at 10:53 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


What Elsa wants is not to hurt people with her snow powers. She believes her parents when they tell her she has to suppress them

What the movie really is is a paean to assimilation that's passed off as a tribute to individualism. The important thing about Elsa is her difference from other people, not the specific manifestation of it. You can read it as being a metaphor for creativity, or for being 'queer' or whatever else sets people apart from the mainstream, and really the lesson is: 'be yourself, but only do it in a way that supports the status quo.'
posted by empath at 10:54 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


And the "one with the wind and sky" line is ear candy for your pantheists and wiccans and pagans of all stripes -- there's a "pop" version of "Let it Go" with all of the shibboleths removed. I identified with Elsa because I liked fractals and procedurally generated screen savers 20 years ago and never stopped. I found the central story depressing, all of the isolation and "do you wanna build a snowman, la de da, our parents our dead, why the fuck won't you talk to me" being baked right into the soundtrack for the "cutesy kid song we all know and love."
posted by aydeejones at 10:57 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


TLDR, the movie version of "Let it Go" is amazingly crafted to get people of all types to very tightly identify with Elsa (my 3 year old daughter loves her to death in the abstract but actively her strongly in the moments when she hurts her sister, which is interesting to observe):

"No right or wrong, no rules for me..." -- angry teenagers whose parents won't let them out of the house "enough", or who just realized what taxes are after putting in 16 grueling hours in two weeks at their first job. Or people in general who have been governed by unspoken rules of self-censorship, etc

"Frozen Fractals" -- already covered -- CGI nerds, nerds, stoners, math nerds, trippy-kids, nerd nerd nerds. The word "fractcal" is like crack, ya'll to people who like, well, fractals.

"The past is in the past" -- "YOLO!"

"Not a footprint to be seen" -- outdoorsy types

"A kingdom of isolation" -- people who want to be isolated, and people who don't

"Conceal don't feel..." -- again, not part of the "pop version" of the song, but it's obvious why the song would appeal to marginalized individuals who can identify with this, and that includes all manner of minorities, and plenty of white privileged kids wearing Sisters of Mercy T-shirts or whatever the kids have these days.

"And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!"

OK, I like this part the most
posted by aydeejones at 11:05 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


I'm just now gearing up to see Frozen. My granddaughter is arriving this week and it's her favorite film. (She's 2¼) So I figure I'll get to see it around 20 times.

As far as I can tell from those lists, the last Disney animated film I saw was The Sword in the Stone, and it's creepy to me to see those eyes and the purple eye shadow. I am so much more looking forward to seeing Mary Poppins with her.
posted by MtDewd at 11:16 AM on June 29


Frozen asks a good question -- how do you figure out how to live when you're afraid that what makes you powerful is also what will make you forever dangerous and isolated? -- and gives a deus ex machina non-answer. Is that a feminism problem? I don't know, but it has something to do with how as a culture we seem to have no idea what to do with really powerful women.

Is Elsa a "frightened, repressed, vulnerable woman who starts running at the beginning of the movie and doesn’t stop until her sister literally turns to ice in front of her"? Yes. That's what's interesting about her, and it's also entirely believable. Is "no right or wrong, no rules for me" pretty terrible as self-empowerment? Yes, but it's an overreaction against a real problem, not just an anthem for selfishness. I don't think she's an admirable character but she's an interesting one.

But in the end -- there's nothing to make me believe that Elsa can just drop all of the barriers around her instantaneously, not even with her sister in mortal danger. It should be harder and more complicated than that. (And I'm asking a lot from a movie whose target audience is seven-year-olds! I know! But, don't set up that kind of interesting situation if you're just going to say "BECAUSE LOVE. ALSO MAGIC" at the end.)

Everything gets just as bad as it can get, and then, bam, the reassurance that magically she ISN'T frighteningly powerful after all. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And at the same time I think it's kind of discouraging that half a dozen giant media conglomerates make SO MUCH of the entertainment that we consume and then we end up looking for crumbs of feminism in enormous blockbusters put out by these half dozen giant media conglomerates, and finding them where we can. Anyone who believes that feminism demands a pretty significant shift in the culture (and I do) should not expect Disney to ever make a feminist movie.
posted by Jeanne at 11:30 AM on June 29 [13 favorites]


> I went into Frozen expecting to love it and I mostly came out of it loving Let it Go- I have listened to about a million times since it came out.

I went into Frozen after listening to Let it Go about a million times and came out mostly still loving Let it Go. The move was okay-to-decent.

The False Feminism piece was really interesting though. It seems like the author was trying to drive home two distinct points that partially but not entirely overlap:

1) That the particulars of the film which are praised as strong points are in fact failings:
I really worry about this pervasive conviction that Anna and Elsa are “strong” characters. [...] I think they’re both rash, impulsive, myopic idiots who overreact to everything and make all the wrong decisions.

But there’s something to be said for a female character who is not only allowed but encouraged to make her own decisions, right? Even if those decisions are monumentally stupid? Well, yeah, of course there is. Now show me that character. [...] Anna doesn’t just have decisions made for her as she goes: her agency is actively taken from her within the first few minutes of the film.
and

2) That the film is further praised by contrasting it against a history of more regressive Disney films, but that history is bunkum:
Frozen isn’t just entirely on-mould: it’s conforming to a mould that hasn’t existed in Disney films since the late eighties — if not earlier. [...] Whether you loved or hated Frozen, it should be impossible to deny that it is preceded by a rich history of animated films that champion bravery, intelligence, strength and agency in their heroines far more effectively than it does. Yet denying it we are, in droves...
I disagree with a lot of point 1 (of course you can have a strong, engaging character who's impulsive and myopic -- some of us identify a bit with that), but she pretty much won me over to point 2. Massive issues the Disney corpus has aside, my takeaway from her piece was that presenting the canonical Disney princesses as inmates/avatars of the bad old days, which days films like Frozen are supposed to be stepping away from, does perhaps over-applaud Disney Now at the expense of misrepresenting Disney Then.
I mean, come on: how many Disney princesses or leading ladies have fallen in love at first sight with a man they barely know?

Four. That’s how many. Rather than boring you with more tables, I’ll just name them: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Ariel
Good point, really.
posted by postcommunism at 11:41 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


The scene where Anna tries to force her way back into her sister's life is interesting in that Anna is so naive and forceful even as Elsa begs her to step back, which in the context of real-world relationships doesn't necessarily mean "go away forever," but "re-think your approach and give it some time." Instead Anna almost obnoxiously insists that her sister not slam the door and continues to persist while Elsa belts out her "please please GTFO" call. At this point I don't mind that Elsa manages to accidentally blast Anna even if it looks like an act of deliberate invocation.

She was provoked, and she invoked, because really it's the emotions she's can't handle, and only by extension her powers. But once she sent the snow-goon to kick some ass, I kind of saw her as a villain for the first time in the movie, because she created Olaf as an afterthought without realizing it, and after learning that she can apparently create life with no understanding of the possible repercussions, she creates a menacing golem that could've been as disastrous as the storm itself. Ahh...
posted by aydeejones at 11:43 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]


> I don't think she's an admirable character but she's an interesting one.

Yeah. <3 Elsa -- Anna was boring.
posted by postcommunism at 11:44 AM on June 29


The "wait, please don't slam the door, it all makes sense now" piece kind of reminds me of another trope where a mainstream-appealing bro pursues a pygmallion-princess or a disaffected complex "broken" character, and insists "you can love me and intercourse me, because I understand you, so let's do this, I figured out your problem so it's cool."
posted by aydeejones at 11:46 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I've a couple of quibbles about the main article's analysis of Elsa's and Anna's personalities, and think she has discounted how much strong voicework, like an actor's charisma, can paper over those flaws.

But Frozen disappointed me for many reasons, most of which she talked about at length. The gaping plot holes distracted me too much to enjoy it. There were definitely female trolls, which she didn't include in her count, but the big troll song I found insulting for exactly the reason she said.

And there were other things, such as that the villain turn didn't make sense based on his prior actions, and Elsa seems to gain control of her powers at the end of the film just so there's ice skating, and Elsa also lives alone while creating both accidentally and on purpose magical ice creatures with distinctive personalities, and what does she even eat, and the list just went on and on.

I'm only dimly aware of the staunch feminist descriptions of the film, or for that matter the rather foolish claiming of the shopkeeper as gay (and again I'd disagree with her by being a little more optimistic about Disney including a gay character in their films), but that all sounds like Tumblry, think-piecey nonsense. But her problems with the film as a whole are ones I completely agree with.

I did love Brave, though, and think it's been underrated by people who don't see how much it, unlike Frozen, did enjoy altering your standard princess movie tropes.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:50 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Man, are there STILL people arguing over whether Frozen is feminist or not? I thought all this had been hashed out in early spring.l Right now us internet feminists are more concerned with Vox Day trying to take over the Hugos, women being too hard to animate in video games, and the like.

Do try to keep up, people.
posted by happyroach at 11:51 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]


<3 Elsa -- Anna was boring.

My major gripe with the film was that Anna rather than Elsa was the protagonist. Elsa has by far the more interesting story and journey - Frozen could have been great rather than just good if it had been all about Elsa.
posted by Summer at 11:54 AM on June 29 [2 favorites]


The Medium piece is nearly unreadable; as far as I struggled through, it consists either of arguing against points that basically straw men, or whining that it can't be feminist because they aren't the sort of female characters I like. I think Frozen is a big improvement on most Disney movies because a) One of the leads wrestles with great power, is able to overcome her fears and embrace her power as a source of joy and strength, and a man is not involved in saving her -- it's her own understanding and her sister's efforts that do it. That is a goddamn rare thing in modern big budget movies, where the formula is to have a single woman, who is presented as 'strong', except at the end, nearly every time, she's there to be saved by the guy in the big set piece finale. Yes, I'm looking at you, "Mako Mori Test" fans.

And b) because it raises the idea that That Guy? You know, the one who is so charming, seems to like everything you like, that you think is your true love? He may in fact be a nasty piece of work. Spend some time. Be friends. Get to know what sort of person they are in the long run, not just your first dazzle of love. And that is a hell of a valuable lesson for a Disney movie to include.

Yup, at various points the female characters are cowards or selfish or foolish. That's because they are written as real characters; real women are sometimes cowards or selfish or foolish. But in this case, the women grow, embrace contradictions -- Elsa struggles against her parents' strictures first by violently opposing and abandoning them, then by realizing that she doesn't have to be either the frightened child or the loner; that she can grow within herself to make herself someone who can live in the world and with people she loves, who can use what she was afraid of for her own pleasure and that of others. Anna grows past her first infatuation, re-establishes her bond with her sister and even more so, it becomes something more than just the childhood delight of playing together, but a link where she can make the adult choice to risk her life to save her sister.

There's plenty of problematic still in the movie, it rolls with the usual Disney inherited royalty shtick, etc, etc. But man, that was a pointless article.
posted by tavella at 11:55 AM on June 29 [13 favorites]


The best part of the movie was "Reindeers are Better Than People."

I have had a 3 month long "debate" with my preschooler that Sven is the true hero of Frozen.

I think I'm pretty close to winning her over.
My ultimate goal is for her to convince all of her classmates of the same, thus starting a Sven cult and ultimately over-throwing the Disney Princess oligarchy.
posted by madajb at 12:12 PM on June 29 [10 favorites]


My project for the weekend was trying to convince my 6 year old niece that Hans was the misunderstood hero of Frozen. It went okay.
posted by Jugwine at 12:15 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Um. Lilo & Stitch?

Yes!

(Funny that Tangled and Frozen are lauded for pioneering features that were already in other Disney movies like Lilo & Stitch or Princess and the Frog...)
posted by kmz at 12:15 PM on June 29 [10 favorites]


I always question the worth of encouraging children to identify with and fetishize monarchy.

Dreaming about being vile, inbred, dynastic rulers of empires built on slavery and colonial conquest just seems…I dunno—wrong, somehow? I guess if they're pretty and nice and you pretend that the people just wanted them in charge because they're pretty and nice and that the people can't get by without royalty telling them what to do, but yeeeesh.
posted by sonascope at 12:35 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Princess Di was pretty cool.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:37 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I haven't been able to abide a Disney animated "masterpiece" since I was a kid. I could go on at length with various socio-political rationales but I think it's got more to do with it ultimately just being kid's stuff, and I got more than enough of that as a kid.
You know why, deep down, I don't like Disney? Because my taste for mainstream animation was destroyed by art school. Disney is SO slick and contrived, and SO unironic. The line is SO hackneyed, and the characters SO conventionalized. If I had been a good art student, I would have been able to submerge my dislike (classmates went to work for Disney), but alas, I was not good enough.
posted by Peach at 12:41 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


I love the barely subtextual message of that long essay, that Disney is Disney for a good reason; they've been especially talented at crafting top entertainment for nearly 100 years, and that the de rigueur internet contrarianism that matter-of-factly dismisses them is usually embarrassingly lazy.
posted by deathmaven at 12:48 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


One of the hugest plot holes in Frozen is that it doesn't say who's regent before Elsa comes of age.

Tangled gives the message that growing old is bad.... Mother Gothel is a toned down Elizabeth Báthory.
posted by brujita at 12:53 PM on June 29


One of the hugest plot holes in Frozen is that it doesn't say who's regent before Elsa comes of age.

I like to imagine that Arendelle spent a good decade as a self-governing anarcho-syndicalist state until the revanchist monarchist forces foisted the figurehead Elsa on the people.
posted by Bromius at 12:59 PM on June 29 [16 favorites]


Nah, they started a nuclear war. Elsa didn't even cause all the freezing, it was nuclear winter. The trolls are radioactive mutants.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:10 PM on June 29


One of the hugest plot holes in Frozen is that it doesn't say who's regent before Elsa comes of age.

Clearly the people simply kept quiet and lived humbly as they waited for their one true barbie doll princess to arrive and tell them what to do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:14 PM on June 29


Man, are there STILL people arguing over whether Frozen is feminist or not? I thought all this had been hashed out in early spring.l Right now us internet feminists are more concerned with Vox Day trying to take over the Hugos, women being too hard to animate in video games, and the like.

Actually, us internet feminists decided in late winter that we would try caring about more than one thing at a time, as an experiment. (Jury's still out.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 1:18 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


Who's "us internet feminists?" I'm still focusing on abortion rights and equal pay for equal work, which I thought was fixed in the 70s.
posted by Peach at 1:22 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I love Frozen. I've seen it nine times (I have a seven year old daughter) and haven't made it through once without tearing up. I'll agree, it's not a particularly feminist film, but it isn't aggressively, toxically anti-feminist, which is a big goddamn step in the right direction. It is totally irritating how everyone lauds it for "breakthroughs" that were broken through years or decades before, but that has partly to do with how Disney puts its Princess Movies on a marketing pedestal and elevates them above all over movies; go into a Disney Store and you are surrounded by Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella merch but there's virtually nothing there for Lilo and Stitch. Because Lilo isn't a princess.

But for me, the real emotional resonance of the movie is in Elsa. I've dealt with the ramifications of depression and anxiety all my life, and I've watched my mother struggle with OCD and anxiety that dwarf my issues. For me, Elsa's internal struggle to keep this major part of her secret lest it accidentally erupt and drive away or kill everyone she loves, and her relief when she realizes that she can just bail and be a hermit and protect her family and her kingdom for the small small sacrifice of never ever knowing a human touch or a kind word ever again? that rings painfully true. Anna outside her room pleading "Oh, Elsa, please -- I know you're in there!" brings me to tears every time, even right now when I'm posting this. When Anna risks death to go tell her Elsa to just reverse it, her blind naivete sounds like everyone who's ever told me to just cheer up and relax and everything will be fine. She is so earnest and so sincere and so unaware of just how hard Elsa is working to barely, barely, barely hold things together -- when Elsa begs "Anna, please, you'll only make it worse!" it shatters my heart every time.

The message of Frozen, for me, is that trying to hide the broken weird damaged fucked-up parts of yourself drives a wedge between you and the people you love, and causes far more pain and fear than just admitting to it and trying to work it out. I wish so badly that I had that message available when I was a little kid; I might have lived a life with a lot less panic trapped behind a looking-glass smile as I frantically hunted for a way out that would keep me and everyone I loved safe.

Also that damn In Summer song gets funnier every time I hear it. That is a great fricking song.
posted by KathrynT at 1:53 PM on June 29 [36 favorites]


Frozen is a text book example of a film that doesn't make much logical sense, but a lot of people emotionally connect with it.

The plot makes almost no sense at all, and it feels like what it actually is, a handwavey first draft with all the plot holes barely wallpapered over.


I disagree. This was a heavily rewritten script that exploited brisk pacing and well-worn tropes to make the plot holes irrelevant. They knew precisely what the holes were (including e.g. the lack of a regent — for which a part was originally written for Louis CK). The writers intentionally left the holes in place, because they knew that our collective familiarity with Disney princess tropes would carry us across them.

Jennifer Lee talks about this at some length in this excellent Scriptnotes podcast.

People connected with it emotionally because the writing wasn't about filling logical plot holes. It was about connecting moments of emotional resonance. This is what makes the movie so rewatchable. I like to compare it to Princess Bride in this regard.
posted by axoplasm at 2:05 PM on June 29 [10 favorites]


Tangled gives the message that growing old is bad.... Mother Gothel is a toned down Elizabeth Báthory.

Boy, is that NOT the message I got from Tangled.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:13 PM on June 29


Yeah, the message I got from Tangled is that the very worst kinds of bad guys are the ones who tell you that they're on your side, that they love you, that they just want to protect you and keep you safe, and then subtly gaslight you and cut you off and keep you shut away because they really just want to use you for their own purposes.
posted by KathrynT at 2:17 PM on June 29 [9 favorites]


a part was originally written for Louis CK

Oh wow, that would have been perfect.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:17 PM on June 29


Rapunzel's hair restoring Gothel's youth= Báthory thinking that the blood of adolescent girls would do the same.

Gothel is using Rapunzel to retain her youth.
posted by brujita at 2:19 PM on June 29


kmz: "Um. Lilo & Stitch?

Yes!

(Funny that Tangled and Frozen are lauded for pioneering features that were already in other Disney movies like Lilo & Stitch or Princess and the Frog...)
"

And as awesome and more true to life the sisters' relationship was-- from the squabbling and uncertainties of caretaking and ups and downs-- that even with a Lilo and Stich theatrical movie and a animated series, you can find plenty if Stitch merchandise but almost no Lilo.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:30 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


brujita: "Rapunzel's hair restoring Gothel's youth= Báthory thinking that the blood of adolescent girls would do the same.

Gothel is using Rapunzel to retain her youth."


Yes? That's explicitly the motivation for Mother Gothel to tell Rapunzel she's on her side, tell her she loves her, tell her she's protecting her and keeping her safe then gaslighting and isolating her and using her. It's fairly conveniently laid out in song.

Gothel getting old isn't the problem (Rapunzel's growing up is what saves her, the King and Queen reign peaceably and age, Flynn is happier as an adult) but her rampant abusive behaviour is.

(watch Tangled and pay attention to the music cues - the big 'fight scene' type music is when she's dancing in the market place, breaking down the isolation) (also, the romantic number? Most of it she sings about being free, Flynn sings about meeting her the whole song)

As far as the original article - for one thing, Disney Princesses are different to Disney movies. And as a parent, I face the same problem with this as with everything: what do I sacrifice?

Do I sacrifice more representation of women or do I sacrifice non-standard gendered roles (aka the Barbie vs Ben10 conundrum)? Do I sacrifice romance or do I sacrifice violence? Turns out the latter is easy since all the Barbie and Princess movies have some sort of war for the crown/world/safety but Ben10/Turtles/whatever has nothing but those things.

Yes, I could raise my child on a Miyozaki movie marathon, but then I have to choose - subtitles she can't read or terrible dubs? We've gone with subtitles so far, and she does love them, but for a sensitive kid they are a trial. We've only managed most of them once because she is SO distraught by them (and, to be fair, I am too) that it's not worth going through very often. Same thing goes for Brave and The Princess and The Frog (Shadowman terrifies her). So when we do watch something we often deliberately go for the standard Disney 'everything is okay at the end' because it's a solid sort of expectation.

Secondly? Arguing Disney stats with Disney newbs (the people who argue without having seen most Princess movies, or most kids movies) is just silly. They aren't arguing about the reality, they're arguing perception. It's like when someone starts in on the Barbie movies (which I've recently caught a few of) or Tinkerbell, when they've got no actual experience. You don't take them at face value then argue against it, you show them they're wrong by showing them the awesome.

That article? Just obnoxious - to quote another movie, you're not wrong, you're just an asshole. I'm sick to death of cynical hipster adults judging kids' movies on adult standards (PLOT HOLE! WHAT ABOUT CLASS! AS IF SHE DOES HER OWN HAIR!) (*narrowed eyes* everybody I know does their own hair and about half wake up like that - my daughter calls it 'mummy hair'). Yeah, the fact that Elsa's boob gets perfectly rendered while her hair magically passes through her shoulder is a facet of sexist and misogynist media practices, same with the outfits. That's a bloody good thing to argue with against that sexist media practice not people who enjoyed other aspects of the movie.

Case in point, a few weeks back I saw a panel and someone was talking about the desexualisation/chastity of a lot of female heroines and pinged Elsa/Anna as a dichotomy and 'why are little girls always being Elsa?' as a fault in the chastity of the character and the way women are desexualised. Apart from any other problems I had with her argument, I had to point out one thing - Elsa has ice powers. Really overpowered ice powers and you're an idiot if you think that's a problem for the little girls watching. Regardless of plot holes, she can freeze everything and love means she can melt it.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:40 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


They aren't arguing about the reality, they're arguing perception.

The Unforgivable Pinkness of Disney Princesses. Linked at the end of the Feminist Fiction piece from the fpp, I think it gets into some of what you're talking about. The marketing machine is producing products that help fuel the negative perceptions for people who aren't following the movies too closely. Creating more diverse and empowering toys and other products might be as much of a boon for Disney as creating more empowered characters has been. I've been critical of the Goldieblox folks at times, but the stuff they bring to the table might be the sort of thing Disney needs more of.

How to make empowering toys while still being majorly focused on specific princess brands? Er, hell if I know. Less pink won't get it done.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:06 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Frozen was so bizarre.

"Hey, let's lock our daughter away for years and don't bother teaching her!"

"Fuck everyone, I'm building my own ice palace, where I'll live alone, wearing the same dress everyday."


PROTIP: Disney is still Disney.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:07 PM on June 29


Argh. You know what? Both authors made some good points and some not so good points.* Frozen does some things feministly/well and does some things badly. I personally think the plot is...fairly well bad, but it does do the emotional moments and twists well and god knows "Don't marry a dude you just met" and "Your sister can be an act of true love" aren't things we hear too often in Disney, so that stood out for everybody. And while no, Eric/Anna and Kristoff being forced into marriages isn't rape, it is creepily nonconsenting. And goddamn, those trolls are just fucking warped and I do NOT get what the hell the writers were thinking with them. Yes, that song is encouraging Anna to date Kristoff, but literally finishing it off with a forced ambush wedding? Ick and WTF?

* Though frankly, arguing for the outfits in Sucker Punch over Elsa's dress? COME ON.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:07 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


es, that song is encouraging Anna to date Kristoff, but literally finishing it off with a forced ambush wedding? Ick and WTF?

I have no problem seeing this as being hyperbolic metaphor regarding how culture does force people too quickly into things that aren't in our best interest at times, under the guise of good intentions. The trolls were not supposed to be perceived as purely utilitarian, I don't think, but as the well-intentioned other in our lives that think they know what is good for us, but really don't.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:54 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


malice : stupidity :: straw men : paper thin assertions

straw men
don’t disagree that the arguments I try to refute are pretty weak. As one commenter on the Rebuttal noted, I actually say so in my original article. I wrote it in the first place because I could not fathom the paper-thin arguments that were being made for how progressive the film was. Every single argument I tear down in my article is one I have seen or heard elsewhere, and not just on tumblr: in reviews and blogs, from writers I respect or who at very least were paid to write their analysis. When I say I am going to “go through…the top handful of reasons people have given” (emphasis added), there is no reason not to take that statement at face value, especially since a very quick Google search will throw up results in kind. To assume, unfoundedly, that I am setting up straw men is deeply, deeply disrespectful, and it sets a tone of unfounded assumptions that carries through the whole Rebuttal.
https://medium.com/@directordanic/a-politely-worded-response-a620f32e2882

posted by aydeejones at 4:55 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I just don't get how in 2014, when we have surely all seen DVD extras and 'making of' documentaries, that anybody thinks "oh it's just a kids movie - they don't really think about this stuff".

The "oh it's just a movie" or "oh it's just a tv show, why are you so upset" thing has lasted for longer than I thought it would. Not because it has any merit whatsoever, there are showrunners and show creators on twitter and there are behind-the-scenes features on YouTube where people who create this widely-consumed media go into such intense detail about every element of their creation.

Forget about all the "oh it's just a" argument. These are million and billion dollar enterprises. Every single second is pored over, planned, discussed and rediscussed, reviewed and examined. There are hundreds of people working on these films.

There is no "oh it's just a kids movie, you can't really critique it".
posted by cashman at 5:47 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


Hayao Miyazaki

For fucking real. You want some passionate feminism in animated feature films? Studio Fucking Ghibli.


Or Satoshi Kon: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika.
Or Mamoru Oshii: Ghost in the Shell (1&2).
Or Shinichiro Watanabe who uses his female characters wisely.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:34 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


This multilanguage version of 'Let It Go' is very fun. As is The Roots classroom instruments version.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:44 PM on June 29


That first link was a very lengthy exercise in pitting the Perfect against the Good.
posted by obliterati at 6:46 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


I dunno if this is so much a great critique as it is particularly vicious spin-doctoring. She interpreted every aspect of the movie in the worst possible light. It reminds me of people who hate a band solely because it's popular.
posted by schroedinger at 6:47 PM on June 29 [11 favorites]


P.o.B.,

If people can argue on the internet for 6+ months about whether Frozen is feminist enough, i kind of shudder to think how long we could debate the merits of Paprika (one of my favorite movies of all time, BTW.)

Strong, intelligent heroine? Yes. Strong heroine who projects herself into a younger, hipper, more pleasing form in order to relate to people? Okay. Heroine who... is kidnapped, pinned to a board like a butterfly, tormented, slapped, and then has her outer skin ripped off starting at her crotch, and tossed nude to the floor while her tormenter grins and salivates?

Yikes.

Everyone, see Paprika. We gotta talk about this.
posted by ELF Radio at 6:59 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


There's a whole book on Kon (The Illusionist - I think) and his work and a fair amount of it is about his presentation of female characters. It's a great read and talks about that scene in particular as it relates to the larger thematic ideas he is trying to address in his movies.

But as someone else kind of said above: pop media internet feminism makes me... tired. And of course it isn't the subject matter, but the shape the conversation takes on.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:34 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


> *Honest Trailers - Frozen yt

Harumph. It wasn't funny, and I don't like how they characterized the troll song. The lyrics they jumbled aren't "something something," they're "people make bad choices if they're mad or scared or stressed," which is a GREAT line to have in a kid's musical.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:36 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]


The early death of Satoshi Kon was a terrible loss for serious animated storytelling.

Now, before any parent rushes out and rents Perfect Blue or Tokyo Godfathers for their children, please be aware that these are adult films, although Tokyo Godfathers could probably be enjoyed by a precocious child if an adult is around to talk through the scary bits afterwards.
With Perfect Blue, I would set a hard age requirement of 15 years of age. Because 1: really heavy themes, and 2: stuff happens that only makes sense in a Japanese context and if you're not mature enough to consider the actions of the characters from the viewpoint of their native culture, they just make no sense at all.

Sorry for the cryptic warnings, didn't want to spoil the story for any adult (young or old) gearing up to watch these excellent films.
posted by AxelT at 7:38 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I never thought too highly of Disney films in the first place, but I think their films have generally gone downhill in recent years, both in terms of storytelling power and in progressive content. While I found Frozen to be mildly entertaining and I didn't really find it egregious in any way, I find it baffling the way people have bent over backwards to describe it as a 'feminist' movie. Certainly, there are a few superficial and very self-consciously inserted plot points that shows that Disney is jumping on the marketing bandwagon of pushing "strong female characters". But from an overall perspective, I find Disney movies to be increasingly regressive:

- Disney has basically created a merchandising empire around its "Princesses". It seems more and more they seem to make movies in order to sell sparkly princess products, not the other way around. When I was a child, I watched a lot of Disney movies, but there was not nearly as much fetishizing obsession over 'the princess' as the central focus of the movie and as object of desire for little girls to identify with. Disney movies in the past felt more about recounting a particular fairy tale in a compelling way, and which happened to be about a princess.

- Aesthetically, the female characters seem to be increasingly waifish and infantilized, with eyes the size of saucers and baby-like faces. Granted, this has always been the standard for princess aesthetics...but the fact that in 2014 your Disney princesses look the same as they did in the 1950's does not do Disney any favors.

- I'm generally of the opinion that you cannot do feminism while ignoring other power relations that structure society. I'm kind of disturbed by the way the last few Disney films are bizarrely ahistorical, set in fantasy worlds (Tangled, Frozen) where very little is actually questioned and there's very little world-building to begin with. The Arendell of Frozen is basically just a generic fairy-tale land with kings and queens and royal subjects, all with a mild Nordic flavor.

That's why I think movies like The Hunchback of Notre Dame actually are far more effective in subtly critiquing systems of power that actually mirror our own. The scene where Esmeralda sings "God Help the Outcasts" I think is a thousand times more of a feminist anthem than anything Disney has produced since. The scene where Esmeralda prays to the Virgin Mary and contemplates whether Mary would ever listen to her prayers to watch over the poor and the hungry, stigmatized minorities like the Roma, "fallen" women like herself, and cripples like Quasimodo - Esmeralda is basically questioning every overwhelming injustice that governs the world she inhabits. And she does so by praying to exactly the same figure (Virgin Mary) that those in power (Frollo) believe are on their side, basically transfiguring the meaning of what Mary stands for; for Frollo, Mary is basically one half of the Madonna/Whore complex, with Esmeralda as an evil temptress that Frollo begs Mary in song to protect him from. To Esmeralda, Mary is a misunderstood figure, an outcast and a kindred spirit to questions injustices of the world - a clever subversion of the Catholicism used as an ideology to oppress others.

Disney would never tell a story like that these days, one that is more emotionally complex and critical. Characters like Elsa and Anna are not critical of society. They don't want to change society because, in their worlds, there is no society to speak of. There are just backdrops of castles and anonymous peasants and scenic landscapes and talking snowmen. And then Frozen has plenty of song and dance about friendship and love in the most obnoxiously saccharine and mindless manner imaginable, which is not even remotely groundbreaking or radical. Disney has always been very conservative, but I think its recent films have been even more so than usual.
posted by adso at 7:40 PM on June 29 [12 favorites]


> I'll be honest -- I got an hour through Frozen and then decided that I was so full of Do Not Care that I never bothered to finish it

It wasn't made for you.

> I have had a 3 month long "debate" with my preschooler that Sven is the true hero of Frozen

I can see why this would be fun, but... one thing I like about a lot of children's TV and movies is that they star girls and women. My daughter's movies are much more likely to pass the Bechedel test than mine are. Why ruin that?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:51 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


> Frozen has plenty of song and dance about friendship and love in the most obnoxiously saccharine and mindless manner imaginable, which is not even remotely groundbreaking or radical

Well, there's the happy gay family; that's farily novel in a mainstream movie for kids. (They're minor characters, I'll grant you.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:56 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


Sorry for the cryptic warnings

Yeah, sorry. Kids under 13 shouldn't watch any of the shows or movies I listed.

Except for Millennium Actress.

Everyone should go watch Millennium Actress right now.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:01 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Well, there's the happy gay family; that's farily novel in a mainstream movie for kids. (They're minor characters, I'll grant you.)

Honestly, that looked like the guy's wife and his children in the sauna. If that two-second scene wasn't made into a thing by an obscure corner of tumblr, I would not have even considered that interpretation, and even so it only seems vaguely possible, if you squint and maybe assume the teenage-looking boy in the center might be his husband (and if so, why didn't he say "my husband and children" so that the audience actually gets it?). But in any case, if it was a legitimate depiction of a gay family, then Disney would have admitted it already, which they haven't.
posted by adso at 8:05 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


Everyone should go watch Millennium Actress right now.

Seconded.
posted by ELF Radio at 8:36 PM on June 29


Or Satoshi Kon: Perfect Blue, Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika.

Oh my god. I didn't think anyone else knew. Perfect Blue might be the most brilliant feminist film I've seen. There's SO MUCH going on in that movie, and it's devastating.
posted by naju at 9:14 PM on June 29


Well, there's the happy gay family; that's farily novel in a mainstream movie for kids. (They're minor characters, I'll grant you.)

I call shenanigans on this. There is nothing to suggest that other than wishful projection.

My daughter's movies are much more likely to pass the Bechedel test than mine are. Why ruin that?

A parent having a "debate" about Sven being the true hero with their young child does not ruin the movie, much as looking at films from different perspectives doesn't ruin them.

Aside from that, the trolls were my least favourite part of Frozen, because aside from blinking in unison, they were there to a) describe the magic in use for the plot, and b) sing a song in which the very odd emotionally educational line was overwhelmed by them pushing together two characters and trying to marry them off despite their every protestation. Really, though, I can't imagine how someone wouldn't be insulted if they were set up with someone, said they were engaged, and were told "I don't see a ring on that finger!" and still physically pushed to go with this other person.

How is that not, at the very least, distasteful?
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:15 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


How is that not, at the very least, distasteful?

I deny that there is even one person who watched that song and thought, "Oh noes! The trolls are going to make them get married against their will!" It is completely, utterly obvious that it's a comic misunderstanding that will be cleared up the moment the music stops. (and comic in part because that kind of awkward pushiness exists in the real world)

And yes, it's funny, but the audience is also supposed to watch that song and think, "Hey that's not right, the trolls should listen to her," and that's hardly an anti-feminist thought for the movie to put in kid's heads.
posted by straight at 9:58 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


Oh my god. I didn't think anyone else knew. Perfect Blue might be the most brilliant feminist film I've seen.

Which do you think the movie is:

a) The creepiest
b) The most effective
c) The most creepily effective

way to deconstruct the male gaze?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:03 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I can certainly see some ways Frozen could have been a better movie by stepping further outside the sexist mainstream (nevertheless I loved it), but the FPP article is terrible. If you're trying to convince me that Frozen is insufficiently feminist and the best you can do is, "actually other Disney movies aren't as sexist as you think," and "that moment when Elsa thinks she's free but obviously isn't she changes into a gown that actually isn't as liberated as it seems" then you're basically convincing me that Frozen must be the most insightfuly feminist story ever filmed, which means you need to re-think your essay.
posted by straight at 10:15 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


(And even the fact that the trolls are ultimately right is good because it's important to understand that a person's right to be heard does not depend on an assumption that the person is necessarily going to be right.)
posted by straight at 10:27 PM on June 29


Frozen had about as much intellectual and feminist credibility as Pacific Rim. Which is to say, it's in the eye of the beholder.

Friendly reminder to Disney that more of their movies need beholders.
posted by michaelh at 10:30 PM on June 29


As a former DM, I think everything needs more beholders.
posted by hippybear at 10:34 PM on June 29 [2 favorites]


I was watching an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and they were talking about how good storytelling allows you to work backwards in a story from the end to the beginning: This happened because this other thing happened just before, and that thing just before happened because of this earlier thing, but the earlier thing happened because of this thing in the first act, and the thing in the first act happened because of the thing at the very beginning, etc.

They explained that the more meaningful becauses you can fit in there, the more satisfying the story becomes. And I think there's truth to that.

Example: Anna fell head over heels for Hans so easily because she's lonely and starved for love and affection. Anna is starved for love and affection because her sister won't connect with her. Elsa won't connect with Anna because Elsa was afraid to leave her room. Elsa was afraid to leave her room because she was terrified she'd hurt someone. Elsa was terrified she'd hurt someone because of the accident.

That's a pretty solid thread of because right there, in just the first 20 minutes.

Also: I like that the writers were bold enough to show that Anna is willing to commit to this instant relationship with the first guy she meets because she's so desperate for affection. That's a pretty mature concept to children, particularly girls: loneliness isn't a good enough reason to jump into a relationship.

I've lost track of how many people I know who could benefit from that advice.
posted by mochapickle at 10:49 PM on June 29 [7 favorites]


(Myself included.)
posted by mochapickle at 11:05 PM on June 29


> As if a five-year-old gives a shit about feminism anyway.

Trust me: more than you think. The five-year-old that I was certainly did. I can't be the only one.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:20 PM on June 29 [4 favorites]


As far as the "fixer-upper" song goes, the trolls do realize mid-song that Anna is engaged, albeit to someone she's spent maybe 10 hours less with than Kristoff at this point, and ominously change the subject of the song to Anna -- she's a "fixer upper" because she's with the wrong guy, because they are love experts who know Kristoff more than this other guy, and we can do something about that...doesn't one of them even literally say that -- "we can change your mind!" It's a little spooky considering the trolls have actual mind-fuck memory erasing powers, and considering that Anna has sustained a supposedly lethal injury at this point and they're all fuckin' around like it's a family barbecue, like they know everything is going to turn out -- surely if they're so confident Kristoff is the right person if they thought she were to die of her injuries they might suggest she get a peck from him?

And how they determine that Anna is worthy of marrying the dude they raised? What do they know of Hans? Perhaps they want Kristoff to be in power much like Hans wished to be?

The "fixer upper" message is a little twisted in general but any popular entertainment over-examined admittedly is going to seem a little twisted as norms change -- the message of accepting people for who they are, flaws and all, is much appreciated, but insinuating that people are broken because of these flaws and need to be "fixed up" because they are "broken down" is a semantic stockholm cell of sorts. Elsa was warned early on that her powers are dangerous and akin to a curse, with no real suggestions on what to do about that. Now, Anna is being told she's too dumb to marry the right guy out of the two eligible bachelors she's spoken to in the past 48 hours, and that she needs to be fixed by marrying this guy they happened to raise from birth into a rather misanthropic animal whisperer.

And the best way to "fix" Kristoff who the trolls agree is weird and socially inept is to "fix them up" (as in, someone else provides a relationship recommendation or more traditionally, a forced arrange marriage) with someone else. I don't really find any of this upsetting, I'm just running with it for fun's sake...

I like the ol' changeling conspiracy theory, where Kristoff did have parents or at the very least was taken in by the ice cutters as an apprentice and possible orphan, but was abducted and brainwashed by "love experts" when he lost pace with his group and encountered the trolls. "You cuties...I'm going to keep you!"

I'm going to take it up a notch just for giggles. I promise, I like this movie and own it through Amazon so I can watch it on anything because my kids have enslaved me (Brave and Tangled had nowhere near this effect) and it's likeable even moreso as you examine it looking for trouble, especially if you like Game of Thrones and the whole "13th brother trying to infiltrate a kingdom" concept.

The King Troll is supposedly a love expert but doesn't know that the mere concept of "love" and caring for another person (after being explicitly told by your parents not to see that person for years due to the troll's crappy lack of guidance) is enough to undo much of the "scary fireworks DANGER" that he displays to a quivering child Elsa? Instead he implies that she's born with a curse by asking her father if she was cursed or born with the...well, apparently accursed tendencies, which implies that this "sorcery" is something trolls know about but is too controversial for the general populace to understand, implies that Anna will be safer if she doesn't remember the incident instead of letting her be aware of the cause of injuries to better protect herself... Her frozen-brain healing process has nothing to do with erasing the memories, I submit that he throws in brainwashing with sleight of hand as an "extra" service that won't help at all unless the sisters are separated since precocious children gonna children, after suggesting the brain is pretty easy to fix. In other words, instead of saying "no biggie, but if X happens, do Y, and don't forget this moment so this never happens again!" he sets the stage for their "misguided" separation by their parents.

Perhaps the parents die at sea seeking a better answer from somewhere else, knowing that the cryptic explanation from the trolls has served little purpose up to this point, and there's going to need to be a peaceful transition of power when they pass on. Having them both leave without preparing Elsa for the possibility of taking over in the event of the deaths almost reeks of "let's get the fuck out of here" or rushing to find a solution knowing that Elsa's powers are growing because the trolls are increasing the sea level in the area, threatening the survival of their empire and putting them in the untenable position of asking their daughter to freeze the kingdom until further notice.

Back to the childhood King Troll moment: He's setting them up to have "no fun" if this clean slate is to be maintained between two precocious children while leaving a vague memory of Olaf around so that Anna can be depressed forever about snowmen until Elsa randomly incarnates him as an afterthought. What purpose does Olaf really serve in Anna's memory? Oh yeah, we built a snowman once, and now you will never play with me again. Awesome! What does Olaf mean anyway? "Ancestor's Relic." And what's a relic? Etymologically, a relic is the remains of a marytr ("Hans" is John, Sven is the "servant boy" and Kristoff of the 7-letter name is the "Bearer of Christ". Olaf loves warm hugs -- what does that mean? Anna put those words in his mouth, and Elsa incarnated him into being, and those few words -- "My name is Olaf and I like warm hugs" manifests an oblivious clumsy being that simultaneously understands its own mortality (as revealed when he begins melting at one point) while being oblivious that the thing he wants most (heat, warmth) is the great threat to his existence.

This runs parallel to endearing clumsy Anna thinking that what she really needs is to fall in love with someone right away because they're both mutually gorgeous and like sandwiches, rather than understand what the hell is going on with her sister and why she hasn't moved on with her own life until this random-ass occasion she could barely remember was happening.

The first time I saw this I almost suspected Hans right off the bat when he popped immediately into the story during "For the First Time In Forever." It's like he was stalking waiting for some cloistered recluse broken person to come looking for a handsome prince that seems a lot cooler and more confident when not in the large pond of his own kingdom and 12 brothers. But then when Anna runs off and he falls into the water, he has this "aww shucks" look on his face that in retrospect can only be described as "fourth-wall psychopathic." Like he wanted us to believe he really found this clumsy "Aaron Sorkin-esque" pratfalling self-deprecating character endearing to his heart, or he was having an "aw shucks, this is gonna be fuckin' easy" thought.

I could go on, but the point is, the trolls aren't really love experts unless they have some sort of magical empathy. They might have insights about acceptance, but at the same time they cast off Hans as a suitable person simply because he isn't in front of them at the moment. Perhaps they are trying to take over Winterfell, and were hoping for Elsa's powers to be kept under wraps until the entire kingdom was frozen, allowing them to roll around like little troll-boulders crossing bodies of waters and slaughtering everyone in sight. Bedtime
posted by aydeejones at 12:06 AM on June 30


I can see why this would be fun, but... one thing I like about a lot of children's TV and movies is that they star girls and women. My daughter's movies are much more likely to pass the Bechedel test than mine are. Why ruin that?

Not to worry, I'm fairly certain she's just humouring me anyway.

If it makes you feel any better, I've watched Mary Poppins about 5 times this week...
posted by madajb at 12:10 AM on June 30


Ha, I called it Winterfell and have two random contradicting troll frozen water conspiracies in there. It's all over now
posted by aydeejones at 12:11 AM on June 30


Of course, Arrendelle is more like Arryn, another sequestered "easy to be reclusive" sort of kingdom that people were just itching to get their paws on. Arryn fell, unlike Arrendelle, because Peter unlike Hans had no apparent tell. He kept it mum until the deed was done instead of acting and telegraphing, fool, that's evil 101
posted by aydeejones at 12:22 AM on June 30


I was reading one of my own comments earlier about how Elsa's problem is handling her emotions first and foremost, and her powers going rogue are merely an extension of that, which feeds into the evil troll conspiracy. The trolls disingenously brought up some semi-accurate points but really provoked Elsa into being terrified of her own thoughts and emotions, quite effectively "trolling" the entire kingdom for years to come, dividing two sisters by "throwing just a little fear their way" to turn their song around. Trolls: The Greatest Trolls
posted by aydeejones at 12:28 AM on June 30


Also, on the feminism issue, I have a 6 year old boy and a near-4-year-old girl. I think ultimately what they most like about Elsa is that she's just very powerful, and something like a Disney princess character with all of the baggage that brings, but she's not really a typical princess nor is she the character in Brave who has been sneaking away developing amazing accuracy and horseback skills -- she's just endowed with unspeakable power and that does appeal to kids. Harry Potter could've been about a boy who torments bullies mercilessly with his thoughts but the author was deft with the subject matter and still tapped into those fantasies with tact.

There's definitely something different about her lone wolf appeal and complete disinterest in finding a man to solve her problems because she's so wrapped up in dealing with them herself, even if that means just running away from conflict. Elsa was created and marketed through "Let it Go" to be an anti-conformist anti-hero but the only conformity has really been about hiding her powers, which comes at the expense of hiding her emotions and personality, which we've never really had a chance to see in the movie (other than the fact that she kind of likes being powerful as a child and wishes Anna could remember it, and really likes being powerful during the Let it Go scene). It almost seems disingenous when Anna has to explain to her that the kingdom is Frozen, given that Elsa froze everything she can see from every horizon and was freezing her entire path from kingdom to hermit castle.

I definitely don't like the "it's just a kid's movie!" reaction of some people -- to me they are saying "I draw a line about thinking about things too hard and discussing children's entertainment is irrelevant because it's just something we plop them in front of for 90-120 minutes at a time during their formative years" but more offensively, they're often just jumping in to say "I'm mad that you're dissecting this" or "your analysis is meaningless because this was created for children and marked to children" as if they can't just ignore it -- because at some level they do realize examination is important to some people and often confers some advantage or challenging nuance in seeing the world, and they'd rather not do it -- and go about their lives.

I can't stand that "hey, what are you doing over there, thinking about something I find silly, stop doing that!" mentality and I run into it everywhere. Like being "caught" reading a book in middle school after finishing your homework and being called a "bookworm" and giving that puzzling "yes, books are good right?" stare in response...
posted by aydeejones at 1:04 AM on June 30 [6 favorites]


(Funny that Tangled and Frozen are lauded for pioneering features that were already in other Disney movies like Lilo & Stitch or Princess and the Frog...)
It's almost like there's something similar about the lead female characters in Princess and the Frog and Lilo and Stitch. Like both of them being women of color from the lower socioeconomic stratum. Funny coincidence, that.
posted by scrump at 2:16 AM on June 30 [5 favorites]


Example: Anna fell head over heels for Hans so easily because she's lonely and starved for love and affection. Anna is starved for love and affection because her sister won't connect with her. Elsa won't connect with Anna because Elsa was afraid to leave her room. Elsa was afraid to leave her room because she was terrified she'd hurt someone. Elsa was terrified she'd hurt someone because of the accident.

That's a pretty solid thread of because right there, in just the first 20 minutes.


I'd disagree, it's incredibly weak. But the film didn't have much emotional impact on you, while it clearly did on you. And that's fine, just noting that an individual's personal like or dislike of a movie usually determines how they view the plot. It's a neat aspect of humanity.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:33 AM on June 30


I can't help but think that a big part of why people try to justify "Frozen" is because the previous decade of Disney Feature Animation releases have been generally underwhelming. I'm fond of "Princess and the Frog" but seem to be a bit weird in that way. Tiana strikes me as a bit of more realistic feminist icon, since her story echoes a bit of family history of women who worked their way because they had to.

Well, that and "Let it Go" is probably the best appropriated LGBT anthem since "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

I liked the nod to "Paranorman," although "How to Train Your Dragon 2" arguably joins it.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:22 AM on June 30


Elsa was warned early on that her powers are dangerous and akin to a curse

Oh no no no. The troll asks, "Was it's a curse, or was she born that way?" which pretty clearly implies that if she was born that way then it's not a curse. Particularly considering the current connotations of the phrase, "born that way."
posted by straight at 7:22 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


BB, we are going to have a trial by combat about Frozen. I choose the Mountain as my champion, you can have Kristoff.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:01 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


I just want to note that the people saying "Frozen should have had POC" in it and then EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE SAMI are fucking BLIND. Kristof, the male lead, IS SAMI.
posted by corb at 8:02 AM on June 30


Oh no no no. The troll asks, "Was it's a curse, or was she born that way?" which pretty clearly implies that if she was born that way then it's not a curse.

Basically the girls had some incredibly messed up parents and them dying was the best thing that every happened to them. Way to go Disney!

BB, we are going to have a trial by combat about Frozen. I choose the Mountain as my champion, you can have Kristoff.

No thanks, I'll take Magneto.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:12 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Nonsense. BB would always pick the troll.
posted by mochapickle at 8:14 AM on June 30


Ugh, Magneto is a dick move in a trial by combat. He can just magnet swords away. Well, whatever, the Mountain will still crush his head like a grape even with the helmet.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:15 AM on June 30


Awright... who wants the next burger off the grill?
posted by infini at 8:17 AM on June 30


Ugh, Magneto is a dick move in a trial by combat.

Remember who you're typing at!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


The scene where Esmeralda prays to the Virgin Mary and contemplates whether Mary would ever listen to her prayers to watch over the poor and the hungry, stigmatized minorities like the Roma, "fallen" women like herself, and cripples like Quasimodo - Esmeralda is basically questioning every overwhelming injustice that governs the world she inhabits.

Which is incredibly ironic if you've ever read the text most associated with Mary, the "Song of Mary," aka the Magnificat:
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
posted by straight at 8:36 AM on June 30


To me, the weirdest thing about Frozen is how little people seem to care that "Let it Go" is as thoroughly undermined by the narrative as Anna's "For the First Time" song.

One of my favorite things about the movie is that I went in having heard "Let it Go" and had assumed it must be the triumphant character moment for the protagonist at the climax of the movie. I was delighted when it turned out to have a completely different meaning.

Which makes it very weird to see so many people adopting it as an anthem, because the actual meaning of the song, which is apparent even the first time you hear it in the movie, is something like, "Yes, it feels good to assert your independence and individuality, but make sure you aren't doing it at the expense of other people." It's a cautionary song rather than a triumphant one.

Singing "Let it Go" as a celebration of freedom is as weird as having that "For the First Time" song sung at your wedding (but then people are happy too use Mendelson's wedding march at their wedding so they obviously don't care about the original context of a song) .
posted by straight at 9:19 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Yeah, oh man. It's like when I watched that "touching karaoke moment" of a guy proposing in real life to Hans and Anna's duet, and wanted to be like HE WILL KILL YOU TO TAKE YOUR COUNTRY DON'T DO IT.
posted by corb at 9:22 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


straight, can you explain how it's a cautionary song? I've watched it three times and even looked up the lyrics, but I'm not seeing it. Is it in the context?
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:45 AM on June 30


I'm not straight, and I have to go back to work, but I'll take a quick stab at it:

"A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I'm the queen."
Who really wants a kingdom of isolation?

"I don't care, what they're going to say"
Yes, she does.

"And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all!"
That's so far past right that it's not even wrong.

"No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!"
Not even close to being true, both metaphorically and literally as she ends up in prison.

"You'll never see me cry!"
Ha, ha, ha. Except after she killed her sister. And she probably cried when she was in jail too.

"Here I stand, and here I'll stay"
Nope.

"I'm never going back, the past is in the past!"
Yeah, no.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:56 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Tokyo Godfathers is a variation of Three Godfathers, which was first made in the silent era.
posted by brujita at 10:15 AM on June 30


People get married to 'I Will Always Love You'. It's almost as if they only remember the popular bit or the title, and don't think about the actual lyrics most of the time. cf. Reagan and 'Born in the USA'.

(I have this thing about Destiny's Child's 'Bills Bills Bills', because everyone thinks it's a song about dumping a guy because he's not rich enough, when it's in fact about dumping a guy who racks up all sorts of charges on the singer's credit and then doesn't pay for it.)
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:24 AM on June 30


Well, that and "Let it Go" is probably the best appropriated LGBT anthem since "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

You are overlooking like, all the songs in Mulan ever.
posted by Acheman at 10:34 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


"Cautionary" isn't the right description, though. Whatever else happens Elsa does NOT end up back "in the closet" trying and failing to live up to someone else's standards, suppressing her own needs and wishes for the sake of others. "Let It Go" celebrates her escape from that oppressive duty, and she never does take it up again. We're not supposed to think that escape was a bad thing, either.

"Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free" -- it's the "free" part she's happy about in that song, and she stays free in the sense that she means it there.

The whole movie is kind of a caution against the "alone" part, though, I guess.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:51 AM on June 30 [3 favorites]


Incidentally, I love this movie very much (having watched it a million times with my own three year old) agree entirely with the Feminist Fiction link, and have filled in all the plot-holes with my own head canon. Including imagining animated versions of Louis C.K. as the regent.

Also I think the trolls are supposed to be psychic and/or have read the script, so when they try to marry Anna and Kristoff it's because they know they're supposed to end up together, just as Pabby knows that Elsa is going to have issues with fear. Now is it wise to share those spoilers with the characters the way they do? No it is not. But "psychic" doesn't necessarily mean "wise."
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:52 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]


can you explain how it's a cautionary song? I've watched it three times and even looked up the lyrics, but I'm not seeing it. Is it in the context?

Too-ticky: When I first watched the movie I thought this was Elsa's villain turn. "No right no wrong, no rules for me". She even slams the literal door in our face at the end, with a smirk. I loved that turn, and loved even more when the turn itself was subverted when she was brought back to Arendell in chains.

It helps that I pretty much live in a cave, pop-culture-wise, so I had no idea that Frozen was even a princess musical until all of a sudden these singing princesses showed up (I thought it would be a silly animal movie like Madagascar for some reason). And I had never heard "Let it Go" before, despite it winning an Oscar or something. My head was really spoiler-free. So all the subversions really worked for me.

have filled in all the plot-holes with my own head canon. Including imagining animated versions of Louis C.K. as the regent.

OnceUponATime: I kinda sorta did this but I realized that the tropes made the plot holes irrelevant: I could assume anything could have been filled offscreen, but in ways that were irrelevant to the key themes. For example, I didn't see that a regent was necessary. The King's last words to Elsa were "You'll be fine" in a way that suggests (to me) he was handing duties of state to her temporarily (so he thought) during his absence. She was 18 years old at that point anyway, and for all we know she spent her entire childhood studying Arendell's ledgers and treaties.

Yeah, I've seen it a million times too — three kids under seven — but somehow it never wears on me.

Obliterati said way upthread: That first link was a very lengthy exercise in pitting the Perfect against the Good.

Having 3 kids of both sexes this is totally my take. Compared to almost all other kiddie movie fare, Frozen is fricking Citizen Kane, and offers some solid (and solidly progressive) moral lessons. No it's not perfect but for what it actually is (a Disney Princess Musical) it is very good.
posted by axoplasm at 12:27 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]


The complaints about the regent are misplaced, I think. To include a regent, you then have to write a lot of plot to justify them not being pruned. The story stops being about Elsa and Anna; the focus diffuses, and they have a buffer where someone is potentially continuing to take care of them instead of them growing. Or they have a new enemy. If you make Count whatshisname a regent instead of a trade partner, again, it becomes much more about personal betrayal and leaves a lingering bitterness at the end; their own people betrayed them. Stripping out the regent maintained the purity of the story, allowed it to be about the sisters; one with a regent could certainly still be a good movie, but a very different one.

So you can either assume that Elsa was her own regent, or rather her parents left her as regent -- that Ariendelle has different ages for "legal adult, can be regent" and "can be crowned", or you can assume that there was a regent who regented well and then took off for a long awaited vacation as soon as Elsa was crowned, but I don't think one is needed within the plot. I am personally a fan of movies that trust you to fill in parts that aren't important to the plot, rather than data dumping.
posted by tavella at 1:58 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm a little creeped out by the people working so hard to convince female toddlers that a male is really the hero. The whole damn culture is going to be doing that for their entire lives; it's a little sick for people that supposedly love them to be doing the same.
posted by tavella at 2:03 PM on June 30 [3 favorites]


To be sure, the "Who was running Arendelle?" question isn't the one I most urgently feel the need to imagine answers for, though I do imagine the Louis C.K. regent as a kind of nebbishy accountant type, shrewd at at negotiating trade treaties (to the eternal frustration of the Duke of Weselton) but not a very inspiring figurehead. And very willing to turn his duties over to Elsa, having been loyal to her parents and starting to get burned out from the stress.

But no, the urgent need for head canon comes from:"Why does young Kristoff have a reindeer, a sled, and ice harvesting tools, but no parents? And why don't the other adults at the ice harvest seem to be bothered by this?"

I just assume he ran away, and stole that stuff. Maybe his father was neglectful to the point of abuse. Maybe he'd been sending Kristoff out on the ice harvest by himself for some time, and the other men assumed he'd go back home afterwards like he always had before?
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:20 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


Obliterati said way upthread: That first link was a very lengthy exercise in pitting the Perfect against the Good.

We're talking about an industry where the only non-sucky Le Guin adaptation comes from Public Television circa 1979s. I've largely learned to settle for "better" from a mass media obsessed with market triangulation.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:24 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


"Cautionary" isn't the right description, though. Whatever else happens Elsa does NOT end up back "in the closet" trying and failing to live up to someone else's standards, suppressing her own needs and wishes for the sake of others. "Let It Go" celebrates her escape from that oppressive duty, and she never does take it up again. We're not supposed to think that escape was a bad thing, either.

Yes, but when she sings that song, what we know is:

(1) Her declaration of independence has come at great harm and expense to the people of her kingdom.

(2) She's just cut herself off from Anna who loves and needs her.

(3) She was too self-absorbed to notice either of those things.

So the song seems at best tragic irony, and at worst, a villain turn. One would think Elsa would (rightly) be ashamed to sing a triumphant reprise of "Let it Go" at the end of the movie.
posted by straight at 3:05 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]


Me, an eon ago on this thread:The plot makes almost no sense at all, and it feels like what it actually is, a handwavey first draft with all the plot holes barely wallpapered over.

axoplasm:I disagree. This was a heavily rewritten script that exploited brisk pacing and well-worn tropes to make the plot holes irrelevant.

Sorry, I should have been clearer-- I actually agree with you! I am definitely Team Frozen, and think it's a triumphant vindication of Handwavium in story. So much effort is expended in story and screenwriting to cerebrally follow the rules and make tidy clockwork plots. It can often come at the expense of raw emotion. This is particularly a pitfall in animation when everything is so collaborative and slow and full of meetings. You can't rely on the charisma of an actor and the whole experience, IMO, really ought to be operating on a more metaphoric, dream-like level.

The famous thing about Frozen in the animation world was the absolutely bananas production schedule-- It had something like an entire year less of production than most features, and a 100 million smaller budget than Tangled. They had a deadline that HAD to be met. Under those conditions they could have gone a safe route, but they didn't-- they reinvented the whole thing on the fly, and trusted to gut instincts in an environment where that can be terrifying. I do think it feels like they ran out of time to push it as far as it would go, and I stand by the plot holes and wallpaper, but on the other hand maybe with a more comfortable schedule second-guessing would have made for more comfortable choices.

In conclusion and furthermore, mostly I feel Frozen is just a fantastic vindication of putting a bunch of women on your goddam story crew if you're making a movie about women. I'm all for overanalysing plots but Frozen is a blow for feminism by having a woman directing a story crew of almost half women, which in animation is not common, and then having said movie make a billion dollars and crush every metric of making cash. Sony suddenly hiring an (awsomesauce!!) lady to direct a feature with a female protag is the fallout and it won't be the last.

On another note, Let It Go is the Hakuna Matata of Frozen, the necessary antithesis before the balance is achieved.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:51 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]


On another note, Let It Go is the Hakuna Matata of Frozen, the necessary antithesis before the balance is achieved.

Impossible, as the phrase "Let it Go" doesn't sound like it was clumsily bolted onto a tune that was originally written for words in a different meter.
posted by straight at 4:04 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


When [Elton] John agreed to join him, the two worked on The Lion King soundtrack from their respective locations: [Tim] Rice with Disney screenwriters in Los Angeles, and John experimenting with sounds in England. Because it was the ’90s, Rice faxed John lyric ideas, which the pianist would record as demos to be mailed back to L.A.
...
Rice recalls taking several stabs at writing songs for Timon and Pumba. One appears on Rhythm of the Pride Lands, a Lion King sequel album released in 1995: “Warthog Rhapsody,” a tune that shares lyrics and melodies with what would become “Hakuna Matata.” Rice says discovering that phrase reshaped the song. “It was in this Swahili book, and I thought, If it’s pronounced the way it’s supposed to be pronounced, then it’s going to sing well,” he says.


Pretty much NOT shoehorned at all, but inspired and rewritten, like most songs for ANY musical are.
posted by hippybear at 11:21 PM on June 30


I never claimed to know how it was written, I only know what it sounds like, which is two amphibrachs stuffed into a melodic line meant to go with dactyls or something.
posted by straight at 3:26 AM on July 1


One the things about the song Let it Go within the context of the film is that pretty much everything Elsa claims in the song turns out to be false. The authorities do come for her & it turns out that there are rules (like don't freeze your kingdom & all it's inhabitants), she is not isolated (her sister loves her), she does cry etc etc. The entire song is completely subverted by what follows within the film - it's the villain turn that turns out not to be true.
posted by pharm at 3:34 AM on July 1 [2 favorites]


> when she sings that song, what we know is:

(1) Her declaration of independence has come at great harm and expense to the people of her kingdom.

(2) She's just cut herself off from Anna who loves and needs her.

(3) She was too self-absorbed to notice either of those things.

So the song seems at best tragic irony, and at worst, a villain turn.


I still don't see how any of that makes it a cautionary song, but that's okay, I'll just Let It Go.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:55 AM on July 1


But no, the urgent need for head canon comes from:"Why does young Kristoff have a reindeer, a sled, and ice harvesting tools, but no parents? And why don't the other adults at the ice harvest seem to be bothered by this?"

I assumed it was that he did have parents, and that's why he had those things. Giving children miniatures of the tools they will use as adults is kind of a norm for children the world over. But they just didn't realize he wasn't with them for some reason.

This may also be why I thought it was kind of fucked up that the trolls kept him.

Other things that need head canon: if he has been taken away from his family, the Saami people, at an early age, where does he acquire all the traditional garments in adult sizes? Does he go back to his village periodically and yet still insist the trolls are his real family?
posted by corb at 6:01 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


> if he has been taken away from his family, the Saami people, at an early age, where does he acquire all the traditional garments in adult sizes?

Etsy? Or a store in town? It's reasonable to think they'd be sold there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:46 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


Other things that need head canon: if he has been taken away from his family, the Saami people, at an early age, where does he acquire all the traditional garments in adult sizes?

Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna.*

*Coming soon to a Disney World near you.
posted by madajb at 11:28 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]


if he has been taken away from his family, the Saami people, at an early age, where does he acquire all the traditional garments in adult sizes?

It's actually the same outfit he had as a kid- it's made from unstable molecules.

Unstable molecules also totally explain Elle's dress.
posted by happyroach at 12:36 PM on July 1 [2 favorites]


I imagine Kristoff is an orphan who was looked after by the rest of the village, who gave him kid-sized ice tools and let him play around while the men work. They worried about him the night he spent with the trolls, but he showed up in the village the next day and no one took it upon themselves to scold him that day or in the future when he disappeared with increasing frequency, often for days at a time. As the years passed he became a stranger who occasionally showed his face every few months or years to buy a few supplies before returning to what everyone assumed was his solitary life as a hermit.
posted by straight at 1:25 PM on July 1 [5 favorites]


I still don't see how any of that makes it a cautionary song, but that's okay, I'll just Let It Go.

Because it shows that just because you feel like you've made a huge breakthrough, found the way to throw off the things that have been holding you back, found the way to be independent and true to yourself, it's still quite possible you are mistaken about what you really need and maybe even oblivious to the ways you're harming other people.

Sometimes when you feel like you've reached the moment of victory the movie has barely even started.
posted by straight at 1:44 PM on July 1 [3 favorites]


axoplasm I thought it would be a silly animal movie like Madagascar for some reason

You probably saw the same advertising that I did. Just the teaser trailer with Olaf and Sven, and a bunch of movie posters featuring Olaf (maybe wearing a grass skirt and coconut bra). It's like before release, they went out of their way to hide that it's a Disney Princess movie.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 5:31 PM on July 1


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