Snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen
November 26, 2014 7:27 AM   Subscribe

 
WHY WON'T YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ELSA CAN CREATE SENTIENT BEINGS

SHE HAS THE POWERS OF ELOHIM AND CREATES TWO THINKING FEELING MINDS IN THE COURSE OF THE FILM WITHOUT EVEN WORKING HARD AND THE MOST UNSETTLED ANYONE EVER GETS IS "gosh it sure is cold now"
posted by Greg Nog at 7:39 AM on November 26, 2014 [94 favorites]


Literally two minutes ago I was on Amazon purchasing a Frozen-themed gift for my six-year-old niece after being advised that the film was this year's New Hotness for her. Then I come onto the blue and see this.

The reason why Frozen is big is because that is the demographic you're dealing with, and they hang on to things FOR. EV. ER.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The reason why Frozen is big is because that is the demographic you're dealing with, and they hang on to things FOR. EV. ER.

So you're saying they won't let it go?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:43 AM on November 26, 2014 [84 favorites]


Frozen: one year later, it's actually something of a relief that my wife got our toddler into My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic because at least there are a lot of episodes and it's not the same 90-minute film over and over and over. ("Do you want to watch Anna and Elsa or Ponies?" "PONIES!")
posted by graymouser at 7:43 AM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Child #1 (age 8) has declared Frozen "babyish", as of about two months ago. Before that she was fully obsessed.

Child #2 (age 3) Still runs around throwing out her hands and shouting "ICE MAGIC!" at things.
posted by Artw at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Greg Nog have you seen the 20,000 word fanfic that addresses that exact point?
posted by Wretch729 at 7:46 AM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


Graymouser - the path you have chosen is not without earworms. Also we have watched Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks about a thousand times since we got the DVD.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Elsa also knows about fractals.
posted by Artw at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Wait, lemme re-think that.

It's not that the six-year-old demographic holds on to things forever - it's that when they do love something, they LOVE IT with the zeal of a religious convert.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


have you seen the 20,000 word fanfic that addresses that exact point?

No. I have not. Thank you so much for remedying that.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2014


WHY WON'T YOU TALK ABOUT HOW ELSA CAN CREATE SENTIENT BEINGS

SHE HAS THE POWERS OF ELOHIM AND CREATES TWO THINKING FEELING MINDS IN THE COURSE OF THE FILM WITHOUT EVEN WORKING HARD AND THE MOST UNSETTLED ANYONE EVER GETS IS "gosh it sure is cold now"


A lot of women can do this. My mam made three.
posted by distorte at 7:52 AM on November 26, 2014 [125 favorites]


Graymouser - the path you have chosen is not without earworms.

Yeah, mrs graymouser (and ultimately Herself) chose that path, not me.
posted by graymouser at 7:53 AM on November 26, 2014


If you're curious, wait time to see Elsa and Anna at the Magic Kingdom is 2-3 hours, all day long. I assume it will only increase for the holidays.
posted by jeather at 7:55 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


20,000 word fanfics are dangerous things because they lead to more dangerous things. I don't know that the world is ready for Fifty Shaves of Ice.

"Els-s-s-a, I don't thi-i-i-nk snow is sup-p-p-p-osed to go THERE." "Shhh. Just let it go."
posted by delfin at 7:59 AM on November 26, 2014 [17 favorites]


I think it's mainly the songs. They are very contemporary and traditional at the same time, and dip into genres with musical wit that listeners intuitively understand. 'High School Musical' pulled this off as well and was almost as popular in its moment. My little girl was singing the songs (all wrong) before she had even heard them, and I don't think that's happened in pop music since the 70s.
posted by colie at 7:59 AM on November 26, 2014


My biggest issue with Frozen, having seen it dozens of times, is that the music stops driving the plot after "Let it Go," which ends 35 minutes into a 90 minute film. (I've seen that mark on the Blu-Ray player enough times.) Up to that point, the music is important and develops plot and character simultaneously. Afterward it is only occasional and doesn't play much of a role in the story. And as I think about it, that's a problem with most Disney musicals. It does try a reprise, but it's so long before the finale that it never really manages to have a satisfying moment with the music.
posted by graymouser at 8:07 AM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


... throwing out her hands and shouting "ICE MAGIC!" at things.

This takes on a whole different meaning when you're 52 and it's Friday evening and you're pouring jiggers of Bombay Sapphire and vermouth into a tumbler.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [24 favorites]


If you're tired of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?", go YouTube "Will You Help Me Hide a Body?"
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 8:08 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Graymouser - the path you have chosen is not without earworms.

My daughters are at a Chinese emersion elementary school so we not only get the standard earworms, but the same ones in a language I speak on about a toddler level as well. Thanks Disney*.

*Note: Yao Beina has an awesome voice so there's that consolation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:11 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was hoping for one-year-later fanfic, left disappointed.

Middle-aged dude regretting nothing, here. (Hoping Disney makes the sequel where Anna's latent fire-manipulation powers emerge unexpectedly, though.)
posted by mhoye at 8:19 AM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Was hoping for one-year-later fanfic, left disappointed.

Me too. Something about how Elsa is fidgety just ruling a tiny kingdom and making popsicles in summer for the kiddies. Something about a giant threatening power that only a woman with the ability to create an ice-minion army can fight.

Elsa's true calling is obviously "ice wizard" and she needs to be owning that. Let Anna deal with property disputes and trade negotiations. She can marry the peasant dude if she wants and raise reindeer.

Elsa needs to be having otherworldly adventures. It would be nice if she met some other wizards, learned a few things about wizarding. Too old for Hogwarts, but maybe there's a crash course she can take in a mountain fastness somewhere.
posted by emjaybee at 8:24 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Wretch729: "Greg Nog have you seen the 20,000 word fanfic that addresses that exact point?"

"seen".
posted by boo_radley at 8:29 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


graymouser: "My biggest issue with Frozen, having seen it dozens of times, is that the music stops driving the plot after "Let it Go," which ends 35 minutes into a 90 minute film. (I've seen that mark on the Blu-Ray player enough times.) "

Funny, my largest complaint was that they went 35 minutes entirely in song.
posted by pwnguin at 8:32 AM on November 26, 2014


Childless, feminist straight guy here. Boy do I NOT GET the big deal about Frozen. The popularity of Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and their ilk totally make sense to me. They both hold up well for kids and adults. So much hype around Frozen and Let It Go supposedly being some great new femin...ish anthems. Then I watched it and thought, "THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE IS LOSING THEIR SHIT ABOUT???" I thought Let It Go was supposed to be about embracing who you are and being unafraid of it, but Elsa sings it and then proceeds to lock herself away from the world for the next two acts.

I guess a lot of it comes down to girls being far more able to relate to two girl/lady princesses then a clown fish.
posted by dry white toast at 8:42 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


In Frozen 2, Elsa unleashes the jötnar to enforce her cruel edicts throughout the kingdoms.
posted by Mister_A at 8:55 AM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


My major disappointment is the lack of (merchandise tie-in) support for the snow giant/guardian. Sure, Olaf is the kooky, fun-loving one, but that doesn't mean no one wants to be Marhsmallow for Halloween. (Then again, if we got a little toy Marshmallow in our house, he would probably be used to crush things in our house, and there's enough of that already.)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Mister_A: In Frozen 2, Elsa unleashes the jötnar to enforce her cruel edicts throughout the kingdoms.

From my instant education in the discarded storyline for Frozen, thanks to reading about the snow guardian, Marshmallow, Elsa was going to create a whole snowman army, who would become too powerful and run amok. I would like more of that story line, please.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:00 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's hard not to agree with some of the initial reviews - some of the lyrics feel oddly thrown together, structurally it's a little weird. And yet I think all of the parts where it's unconventional might be a part of it's charm. Something like Big Hero 6 might be more polished but it's rigid adherence to Save The Cat principles makes it much less interesting.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dry White Toast:
Not just girls, but girls with AGENCY. Not just a princess saved, but a princess saving. That's a BIG deal in the Disney world and one of the reasons I'm good with my 3.5 year old being so attached to it.
That doesn't mean I'm not tired of here singing the songs at the top of her lungs, but it's better than Jasmine or Ariel and compared to the early Disney princesses? Oy.
posted by mfu at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger: "If you're tired of "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?", go YouTube "Will You Help Me Hide a Body?""

"Do you want to build a meth lab" is also pretty good.

I can't even imagine having been 13 when Frozen came out, because this movie is about ALL THE FEELS of adolescence. I don't even think it's the hyper-obsessed 6-year-olds for whom it will live forever -- it's the 13-year-old band geeks and musical theater nerds for whom it speaks TO THEIR SOULS about growing up, discovering yourself, keeping secrets, not fitting in, wanting friends, going through puberty, discovering your sexuality, finding out men suck, etc. If I had been 13 when this movie came out I'm pretty sure it would have been my life-long framing device for everything that ever happened to me.

Next time you watch it for the billionth time with your kids, pay attention to gloves -- people wearing gloves are all keeping secrets. Anna and Kristof wear MITTENS. Elsa wears gloves when she's keeping her magic a secret, and pulls them off and throws them to the wind when she's decided she's coming out. Hans wears gloves when he's lying to Anna; takes them off when he confesses his evil scheme; puts them back on when he goes out to continue his lies.

There's also some nice motifs with doors (which you probably noticed, because of the song and all) and also reflections and mirrors. Whenever Elsa is trying to confront the reality of her powers (and hiding them, or facing them, or fixing things), she sees her reflection, which I think is a callback to the original Snow Queen story, in which there is a magic mirror.

Also, everything Elsa predicts in "Let It Go" turns out to be incorrect - I'm never going back, the past is in the past, they'll never see me cry, etc.

(I also remain convinced, having going through frame by frame, that Wandering Oaken is gay married with children.)

I've seen this movie a lot of times, guys.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2014 [65 favorites]


My best friends have their Frozen obsessed daughter in Disney World right now for her 5th birthday. They have been posting pics for days the parents are clearly having nearly as good a time as the 5 year old. 52 films in, Disney has learned some stuff.
posted by DigDoug at 9:12 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've just spent an hour or so on Let it Go trying to work out some of its music tricks/ideas and here's a few speculations. Maybe there are some music theory MeFites that can correct it if wrong or may find it interesting.

There are two tonal centres in Let it Go, the verse's F minor and the chorus's A flat major. Any song about indecision/split between two worlds or states of mind (or perhaps for little people, the split between adult and child worlds) is going to look for ways to dramatise this idea.

Some of the indecision in Elsa's mind is dramatised by the alternation between the B flat minor chord at the end of the first line (at 'not a footprint to be SEEN') and the B flat major chord used at the end of the second line (at 'it looks like I'm the QUEEN'). The thirds in each case are emphasised by both the minor and major chords being preceded by a suspended fourth. This is probably a mega bittersweet long-term ear worm and certainly catches your attention from the first few hearings.

The structural prominence of this B flat chord, though, seems to be threatened later, after the chorus, when we seem to fall down a chromatic trapdoor back into the storm, on the words 'let the storm RAGE ON' which is sung over a C flat chord (a semitone higher than the B flat). That's why the ear feels that just after that line the song is musically and emotionally out of control for a few very exciting moments, before she pulls it back, violently and through sheer force of will, with the famous (and song-defining) 'cold never bothered me anyway' line.

That line is sung over stop-time (no instruments) for ultra-dramatic impact just like the first 'let it go' was. It also ends on a low, almost lascivious, deep, breathy, narrow-eyed chest-voice on the A flat note ('anyWAY'), which contrasts with the octave higher A flat we had heard earlier as a pure, idealistic tone on the word 'GO!' This is singing and text and speech inflection working very tightly with the musical build up and release of tension.

You get another dramatisation of Elsa's thoughts by way of an upwards registral octave shift in the verse - she sings 'couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I TRIED' and the phrase ends on a low F (the vocal's lowest and most desolate note). Three bars later she hits the octave higher F on 'don't let them SEE', so the difference between private dark thoughts and public approved ones is shown.

This 'SEE' is also the first appearance of a major third in the vocal. The first verse of Let it Go avoids using any major thirds in the melody and holds them back until now, the 'SEE' and 'BE' of 'don't let them SEE' and 'always have to BE'. The melody is also like a sarcastic playground chant for these lines (she's imitating the voice that tells her what to do), in contrast to the natural speech sound of the first lines which are all close intervals.

I have heard that they altered the script massively as a result of this song's direction and power.
posted by colie at 9:14 AM on November 26, 2014 [60 favorites]


dry white toast: "I guess a lot of it comes down to girls being far more able to relate to two girl/lady princesses then a clown fish."

It's also really unusual to see a movie about how the strength of female relationships -- sisterly or otherwise -- can conquer everything; how women's love for each other is stronger that fear, stronger than rage, stronger than romantic love. There are vanishingly few movies about female friendships ("buddy comedies" with men are many, as are war movies where men bond; with women, not so much), and even fewer about the transcendent power of women's Platonic love for one another. But I think an awful lot of women actually experience their female friendships and relationships as enormously powerful, important, and central to their lives -- especially if they're adolescents. There is almost nothing in pop culture that reflects the deep, profound, and loving bond I have with my sister. There is almost nothing that respects the sort of best friendship I have with my BFF of 20 years (except for "Beaches" *sob sob sob*).

And I'm in a book club of 8 women, which is literally a thing pop culture loves to make jokes about, middle-aged ladies in their wine-drinkin' book clubs, but these are the women who leave work in the middle of the day to come to the emergency room to take my kids until my husband can get there. These are the women who throw each other surprise parties for late-life college graduations. These are the women who pick up each others' kids at school when there's an emergency, drive each other to the vet to have pets put down and ugly-cry, who carried one's family through her mother's very sudden diagnosis of cancer and death 8 weeks later, cook in each others' kitchens, show up to clean each others' houses when there's a baby and a judgmental mother-in-law is coming. Husbands are great and all, but a spouse can only carry so much; it's my book club that carries me through the terrible shitstorms of life and the wonderful glorious moments. And to most of pop culture, we are a joke. They're like, "Ha ha, these ladies get together and drink wine and bitch about things!" and not like, "Wow, these women organized two solid months of meals and daycare pickups, delivered supplies to the hospital, and organized a funeral; these women help each other pee after surgery; these women take care of each others' kids on a moment's notice; this is kind-of amazing."

But Frozen recognizes and celebrates the incredible power of women's love and support for each other. So FUCK YEAH I love this movie. Anna and Elsa's relationship are a lot more true to my life than almost any other women I see on screen, and in most female-friendship movies, SOMEBODY DIES (Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Thelma and Louise). Frozen is a female-love-conquers-all, romance-can-wait movie WITH A HAPPY ENDING. So few movies take women's inner lives seriously beyond the love-and-romance theme. I love the shit out of this thing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:16 AM on November 26, 2014 [121 favorites]


"Look, the market for block ice just isn't what it used to be, ever since we lost the Weasletown trade, the economy is through the floor. Our constant war with the Summer Isles - they're not cheap, either. Where Hans keeps scraping up these armies and armadas to pursue his claims to the Crown, I'll never know, and the rebel factions who want him as King are always a worry. Well, we're in something of a mess, financially, and, I'm sorry, we need to sell the sleigh. Also Sven."
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:28 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


My dad wrote musicals for a living, so I grew up with this stuff.

Unlike some Disney movies where the songs are just kind of pasted in as extra entertainment, Frozen is a proper musical.
You can tell because the songs greatly further the plot, and give you insight into the characters in the elegant way you can't do in other media.

It's also incredibly well crafted at every level. I wouldn't mind watching this with my toddler daughter a few more times.
posted by w0mbat at 9:28 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


"LIBRE SOY! LIBRE SOY!" - Our 5-year-old daughter, ALL DAY LONG.

I've realized I have this song, or at least the melody, running through my head about 15% of the time I'm awake. It's a world-class earworm.

colie's musical analysis of that song is really interesting. If you had to boil the whole movie down to just 2 seconds - the ones our daughter re-enacts more than all the rest put together - it's when Elsa tosses her hair free from the braid so dramatically as the song hits that emotional peak.

I can't think of any other media moment in recent memory that seems to capture so perfectly the little-kid desire to just BE who you are and do what you want to do, RIGHT NOW AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Throw off the shackles of parents/teachers/civilized society constantly telling you what you can and can't do.

I wonder if this is something that strikes girls more deeply? All I know is that our two-year-old has started doing the gesture and howling that fragment of melody already.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Frozen was lovely, had a great message, and I get that the songs added to the scope of its popularity, but man, I wish eight-year-old me could have seen Brave. Little me would have lived and breathed that movie.
posted by redsparkler at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


My six year old daughter recently told me that Frozen is just not cool anymore, and my three year old son seems to finally have recovered from his debilitating crush on Elsa. Their new jam is the late 90s Disney cartoon Recess. The both LOVED Big Hero 6.

The songs of Frozen permeated every part of my life. I couldn't even walk out of a room at work without someone singing "okay, bye". Let It Go was stuck in my head for most of the last year. I'm glad to finally be approaching the tail end of that.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2014


If you want "Frozen, The Later Years", check out Elsa & Anna's story arc this season on Once Upon a Time. Hint: Mommy and Daddy weren't embarking on an innocent diplomatic mission when they boarded that fateful ship.
posted by persona at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I emerged from the rock under which I live a few weeks ago and saw this for the first time. (And I mean a *real* rock - I'd never heard "Let It Go" before.)

So I guess I'm a year behind all y'all now, as I'm still in the EARWORM EARWORM LET IT GO THAT PERFECT GIRL IS GONNNNNNNNNNNNNNE mode.

(and it was really weird hearing Elder Cunningham's voice coming from an adorable snowman.)
posted by Lucinda at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2014


I generally despise Disney and all it stands for, HOWEVER...

The other night we were watching Tangled, yes Tangled, and when it was over my 7 year old turned to me and said, and I quote, "I like Repunzel because she sets goals and is different from other princess movies because she doesn't wait for the prince to save her, she goes out and accomplishes her goals."

So, if that is the message that is getting through to my little girl by watching that crap, then Tangled it is!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:50 AM on November 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


My dad loves cartoons* and I grew up having seen every single Disney movie that reached a cinema hall out in Malaysia in the 1970s. I haven't enjoyed any of the recent ones, Pixar et all have been providing solid competition. Would love ask Dad what he thinks of the latest. The last one he and I went together to see was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Perhaps its time to go again...



*Called home at 4.30pm to request mom to tape Popeye at 5pm for him since he'll be home late from work ~ "Wait till your Father gets home" had an entirely different meaning for us = comics and cartoons!
posted by infini at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Childless model millennial here, and I was all about the Frozen up UNTIL 'Let It Go.' There is such a dissonance between Elsa's speaking voice and Irina Menzel's growly belting voice that for me THAT was the end of the story-driven-by-song and the beginning of the marketing-phase-in-which-we-introduce-what-you'll-be-buying-for-Christmas-this-year. I was so surprised to read that the same actress was both singing and speaking. It felt like it was breaking Sondheim's chief rule about the song serving the story.

Then again, I have memories of being eight and standing up on the coffee table SCREAMING at the end of My Fair Lady because she should have left him, damn it*, so maybe I'm just doomed to strong feelings about musicals other people love.

*I was RIGHT and George Bernard Shaw would agree with me, so there
posted by theweasel at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


So much hype around Frozen and Let It Go supposedly being some great new

I've been noticing this sort of Disney hyperbole for decades now. No doubt, it was going on when I was a kid with the likes of 101 Dalmations, Bambi etc, but being a kid, what did I care? I was just into it until I wasn't anymore.

When I first noticed the hype was the Little Mermaid -- adult friends really getting all serious about it as relevant cinematic art (or whatever). I finally tried to watch it, got maybe fifteen minutes in, then excused myself and went for a walk or something.

Bluntly, I think it's a parenting thing. You reach a certain age. You either have kids of your own or you're committed to an extended family that has a pile of kids running around. It changes your cultural concerns ... and so on.

But one thing I personally can't get past is my root distrust of the Disney brand and the greedy needs of the shareholders. Or to quote a rather brilliant T-Bone Burnett song ...

"But between you and me, they were really dupes of the Wicked King, Who wanted to rob the children of their dreams."
posted by philip-random at 10:14 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Frozen's message resonated not just with ice wizards, but also with oneiromancers, augurers, psychopomps, enchanters, thaumaturges, and warlocks. And it did much to alleviate the resentment that sea witches have felt towards Disney since The Little Mermaid.

While my process of coming out as an ice wizard was different in many ways from Elsa's, the movie still struck me right where I live.
posted by kyrademon at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2014 [15 favorites]


To see the derogatory ways ice wizards are typically depicted in children's media one need look no further than the FPP immediately preceding this one
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


Childless, feminist straight guy here. Boy do I NOT GET the big deal about Frozen. The popularity of Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and their ilk totally make sense to me. They both hold up well for kids and adults.

The "guy" part is probably why you don't see why Finding Nemo (father looks for son; mother dead) and The Incredibles (mostly father has adventures to save his family) are in a lot of ways less relatable, because they are yet again the same story that you see again and again. Part of the big deal about Frozen was that the story was different -- about women who make their own plans and do their own things and move the plot along. (Tangled -- which I didn't actually like as much, and whose ending I thought was atrocious -- was slightly better than other similar movies, but was about one woman doing stuff with a guy who was essentially equally-billed. Two women is unusual.)
posted by jeather at 10:35 AM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't get why Let it Go made it so big, when the same movie has Love is an Open Door. The latter is, like, ten times as fun.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 10:40 AM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Let me talk about
it for just a second, from the perspective of my daughters. Any time we
go to the store, It's
Let me please look at all the Frozen toys!
It is hard to say no. Parents will always
go the extra mile for their kids.
Someone at my house will always love Elsa or Anna or Olaf, and it would
kill
me to see my girls disappointed... so we keep shopping and watching.
Please, think of the children as you critique this movie.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:46 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Frozen makes for a pretty wack superhero movie.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2014


I don't get why Let it Go made it so big, when the same movie has Love is an Open Door. The latter is, like, ten times as fun.

Best Disney song about sandwiches.

(IIRC the Gaston song does not explicitly mention them)
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


My daughter is a huge Elsa fan (like soooo many other four year olds). Elsa was the first 12 inch doll we got her. Recently, I bought her an Anna to give her Elsa some company. Anna promptly "donated" all of her clothes to Elsa. Poor Anna.
posted by drezdn at 11:06 AM on November 26, 2014


Could be worse.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not just girls, but girls with AGENCY. Not just a princess saved, but a princess saving.

See, it felt to me like there was still a lot of "I need to get married to a strong man" messaging in Frozen. Anna falls in love with a guy after one dance, basically. I had been primed for some strong feminist messaging, so maybe those old Disney tropes stood out like a sore thumb to me, even though they were more mingled with women with agency than Disney usually bothers with.
posted by dry white toast at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2014


My daughter is a huge Elsa fan (like soooo many other four year olds). Elsa was the first 12 inch doll we got her. Recently, I bought her an Anna to give her Elsa some company. Anna promptly "donated" all of her clothes to Elsa. Poor Anna.

All three of my girls prefer Elsa to Anna. I think she's like the cool older sister. Either that, or they get drawn into the movie to empathize with Anna's plight, and part of that plight is adoring her older sister.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2014


I think Anna was the breakthrough choice for Halloween this year.
posted by colie at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anna falls in love with a guy after one dance, basically.

And everyone else tells her it's a terrible idea. And when she does finally kiss Kristof, he ASKS PERMISSION first.

There are bunches of less good tropes in the movie, but I think that as general Hollywood fare goes, this is in the top grouping.

I don't know why I feel so compelled to defend the movie, which I liked a lot but didn't adore. And I really loved Beauty and the Beast, despite all its problems.
posted by jeather at 11:23 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


See, it felt to me like there was still a lot of "I need to get married to a strong man" messaging in Frozen. Anna falls in love with a guy after one dance, basically. I had been primed for some strong feminist messaging, so maybe those old Disney tropes stood out like a sore thumb to me, even though they were more mingled with women with agency than Disney usually bothers with.

The entire movie was set up to push back on this trope. The movie put it on the table to make you think it was going in that direction, but then it spent a lot of time showing how it was a super awful idea, revealed by the fact that he actually wanted to kill her. The movie sets it up to tip it on its head, punctuated liberally throughout the movie with harsh criticism from her sister and also Kristoff, whom she does end up being with in a much more realistic fashion. The movie also goes out of its way at the very end to show that Kristoff and Anna were moving pretty slowly and it wasn't based on a notion of "true love" but by commitment and sacrifice that grew through the tough circumstances of the movie together. It's an old Disney trope, but the "twist"at the end was that they smashed it to smithereens.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:33 AM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


"I've just spent an hour or so on Let it Go trying to work out some of its music tricks/ideas and here's a few speculations..."

I'ma let you finish, and those are some really well-thought out points, but as powerful as the song may be in musical terms, nothing beats the emotional heights hit the moment when Elsa throws the comb and gives herself a makeover. I mean, I get how sexing her up is problematic, and I wish the ice dress wasn't so bare-leggy, but every time I saw it all I could feel was the entire audience, male and female, giving a collective daaaamn!
posted by Mchelly at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


All three of my girls prefer Elsa to Anna. I think she's like the cool older sister. Either that, or they get drawn into the movie to empathize with Anna's plight, and part of that plight is adoring her older sister.

My daughter and all her cousins prefer Elsa, too, and it boils down to power - Elsa is older, she's a Queen, she has super-powers and she's used her powers for her own goals: she has a snow-monster, she can make castles and clothes, she can fight badguys and everyone has to order their life around her. Those who betray her are punished, those who are supportive of her are rewarded. She's like Doctor Doom without the narcissism.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you had to boil the whole movie down to just 2 seconds - the ones our daughter re-enacts more than all the rest put together - it's when Elsa tosses her hair free from the braid so dramatically as the song hits that emotional peak.

I see little girls of all ages and races reenacting this moment at the entrance to the walk-in produce fridge at my local Costco pretty much every time I go there. So cute.
posted by town of cats at 12:05 PM on November 26, 2014 [10 favorites]


Elsa is definitely the more popular character. My 6-year-old though, who is really empathetic (sometimes too much) always liked Anna better. I'm not dissuading that, especially since it means that there aren't any arguments over who gets to play Elsa when her friends come over.

I agree with whoever it is above that said that it is a big deal that it's about sisterly love, and that there are 2 girls who are the main drivers of the plot. I was groaning when Anna went to get a kiss from Hans, and pretty happy with the ending.

It's not a perfect movie, but it's a hell of a lot better than Mermaid.
posted by sauril at 12:33 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


> "I see little girls of all ages and races reenacting this moment at the entrance to the walk-in produce fridge at my local Costco pretty much every time I go there. So cute."

that is the most adorable sounding thing ever
posted by kyrademon at 12:37 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


but as powerful as the song may be in musical terms, nothing beats the emotional heights hit the moment when Elsa throws the comb

... which is the point when the music restates the identical chord progression from the melancholy first verse, but this time ecstatically reconfigured with full-mega backing, tempo acceleration, rhythm pounding and then doubling, a screaming high vocal with hardly more than two deranged notes in it, and a whole extra bar added for suspense, before the enormous battering ram of LET IT GO comes back like a hydroelectric dam being blown up.
posted by colie at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


I see little girls of all ages and races reenacting this moment at the entrance to the walk-in produce fridge at my local Costco pretty much every time I go there. So cute.


Or you can do like ours did and grab handfuls of crushed ice from the basket of sodas by the register at the local market and start flinging.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:55 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Colie, I want you to teach me everything you know about music. Thanks!
posted by Fleeno at 1:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I've just spent an hour or so on Let it Go trying to work out some of its music tricks/ideas and here's a few speculations..."

Good analysis. I freely confess one of my flaws is that when I hear another song with that I-V-vi-IV chord progression I mentally dump it on the Long Island-sized pile of other songs that also have it, and mutter about lazy songwriting. I shouldn't always do that.
posted by kurumi at 1:24 PM on November 26, 2014


So, if that is the message that is getting through to my little girl by watching that crap, then Tangled it is!

Man, if you're going to read Girl Power tropes into Disney Princess movies, Tangled is light-years better than Frozen.1

In Tangled, Rapunzel gets shit done.
She sets a plan and, barring a few minor setbacks, accomplishes it, even though they only armed the poor girl with a frying pan.
Rescue the "hero", defy the witch, win over the enemy (a horse, but hey).
All of her actions are aimed at progressing forward, and not being a victim of circumstance.
Also, at the end, they take pains to point out that Rapunzel ruled the kingdom wisely and _eventually_ got around to marrying the dude.

On the other hand, the Frozen princesses just muddle through.
Elsa spends 18 years doing ... something. Certainly not learning how to master her abilities.
And the minute one thing goes wrong, she gives the whole thing up and runs for the hills.
Then, at the end, when she could actually do something, anything, to save the kingdom, she does nothing, basically letting Hans control her destiny.

Anna isn't any better, she spends the entire movie being rescued (by Hans, by Kristoff, the trolls, even the snowman has to save her).
Hell, the only thing that saves her from an arranged marriage is a fainting spell.
In the climatic scene, she just sacrifices herself rather than, I don't know, hitting someone with a frying pan?

In Frozen, the princesses basically just react to events. Rapunzel makes events react to her.
I know which one I'd rather my daughter admire.2

tl;dr The reindeer is the true hero of Frozen.

1Except for that one scene, which basically undermines the entire movie that came before it...
2Disclaimer: My daughter isn't that fond of Tangled, there are several scenes she finds a bit scary.
posted by madajb at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I couldn't get past the fact that Elsa spends basically her whole childhood trapped in a single room with no one to talk to. That much solitary confinement would drive anyone mad, let alone a child with a lot of brain and personality development left to do, and yet she somehow does not emerge as a semi-feral lunatic without social or language skills.

Why yes, I do have an almost pathological inability to suspend disbelief. Why do you ask?
posted by Existential Dread at 1:40 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


The entire movie was set up to push back on this trope. The movie put it on the table to make you think it was going in that direction, but then it spent a lot of time showing how it was a super awful idea, revealed by the fact that he actually wanted to kill her. The movie sets it up to tip it on its head, punctuated liberally throughout the movie with harsh criticism from her sister and also Kristoff, whom she does end up being with in a much more realistic fashion. The movie also goes out of its way at the very end to show that Kristoff and Anna were moving pretty slowly and it wasn't based on a notion of "true love" but by commitment and sacrifice that grew through the tough circumstances of the movie together. It's an old Disney trope, but the "twist"at the end was that they smashed it to smithereens.

Yes.

Also has anyone noticed that 'he's a bit of a fixer-upper' is an Ask Mefi thread in song form?

I'M NOT SAYIN' YOUR GONNA CHANGE HIM
COZ PEOPLE DON'T REALLY CHANGE

and

PEOPLE MAKE BAD CHOICES
WHEN THEY'RE LONELY SCARED OR STRESSED
posted by Sebmojo at 1:44 PM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


up UNTIL 'Let It Go.' There is such a dissonance between Elsa's speaking voice and Irina Menzel's growly belting voice that for me THAT was the end of the story-driven-by-song and the beginning of the marketing-phase-in-which-we-introduce-what-you'll-be-buying-for-Christmas-this-year.

The funny thing there is Idina Menzel does the speaking parts for Elsa as well. Kristen Bell does the same for Anna. I think all the leads both speak and sing their parts.
posted by eriko at 2:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


when I hear another song with that I-V-vi-IV chord progression I mentally dump it on the Long Island-sized pile of other songs that also have it, and mutter about lazy songwriting

Finding something new and structural (in the looser sense of the word rather than pure music theory stuff about secondary dominants and voice leading etc) that a songwriter achieves with a limited palette definitely appeals to me. Let it Go is an example of how some tweaks to the expected chord formula and a melody that sounds as if based on natural speech patterns but also tightly controls tension within its shape makes for songs that go straight into the brain. It is a moving target, however, and even the people who wrote Let it Go will likely never be able to write Let it Go again.
posted by colie at 2:19 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not only can Elsa create life and destroy the ability for your nation to grow crops, she makes a pair of ice skates, which means she can make finished metalwork, which means she's one wave of the hand away from several tank divisions.

Seriously. Melificent ain't got nothing on Elsa. About the only Disney character as powerful as Elsa is the Genie from Aladdin.
posted by eriko at 2:20 PM on November 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


So many people up thread mention how important this movie is because of two female main characters. As if this is special and should be celebrated.

No. It should not be special and it should not be celebrated.

It should be the norm.
posted by Vaike at 2:26 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


In Tangled, Rapunzel gets shit done.
She sets a plan and, barring a few minor setbacks, accomplishes it, even though they only armed the poor girl with a frying pan.
Rescue the "hero", defy the witch, win over the enemy (a horse, but hey).
All of her actions are aimed at progressing forward, and not being a victim of circumstance.


...except for the last third or so of the movie, where she gives up and goes back to her abusive fake-mom. And it isn't any belief in her own rights or self worth that leads her to finally defy the witch, but discovering she is actually owned by a different family. Oh, yeah, and she has no part in the rescue at the end, where Flynn is rescued by other people. Oh, yes, and it's the guy who decides what she is going to look like and what is going to happen to her magic, explicitly invalidating her choices.

Tangled starts great. It ends suckily. Frozen is far, far better -- they not only deliberately call out and reject the Disney trope of instant love and devotion, they also briefly set up and reject a *second* level of dependence on romantic interest, where they briefly show Kristoff and fake out that he'll be true love. Instead they assert that the love between women, sisters, and friends is as important or more important than the love of a man. Oh, and Elsa gets to keep her powers, not get them taken away forever from her for her own good.
posted by tavella at 2:39 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


dry white toast: See, it felt to me like there was still a lot of "I need to get married to a strong man" messaging in Frozen. Anna falls in love with a guy after one dance, basically. I had been primed for some strong feminist messaging, so maybe those old Disney tropes stood out like a sore thumb to me, even though they were more mingled with women with agency than Disney usually bothers with.
And it's a terrible, terrible mistake. IMO, the audience (and especially young girls) are really supposed to identify themselves with Anna, not her older sister. Disney pulled out all the usual tropes to inform the audience that they/Anna had found Mr. Right, who was Perfect, and Rich, and a Genuine Prince!!! ... and then the story turns and we discover, some of us for the first time ever in life, that he is also a lying sonofabitch who only wants one thing from Anna/us (but since it's Disney, and aimed at children, that one thing is ruling a kingdom).

THAT plot twist was freaking amazing. Disney has never done that before. When Snow White was released, the Bad Person Pretending To Be Good (old hag with the apple) was like the poster child for Do Not Touch diseases. In Beauty and the Beast, we learn to hate Gaston before he even shares a scene with Belle. In Frozen, however, well... girls who grow into pubescent pre-women on dates with boys are going to face Princes like that, and I'm glad most of them going forward for a while will have seen this movie.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:46 PM on November 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yes, it was definitely the moment that lifted it into a different sphere. It had been a pretty good and enjoyable movie before that. How to Train Your Dragon was the same for me. It had been an enjoyable and pretty movie for me up to close to the end, but there were two moments that lifted it above; the moment where it acknowledges that Toothless isn't just a dog-equivalent to bring self-actualization to Hiccup, but an intelligent being who was mistreated and is owed an apology for that. And when Hiccup isn't perfectly all right at the end, but has a permanent injury that symbolically reinforces the idea of Toothless and he as partners and equals, each helping each other overcome their limitations.
posted by tavella at 2:52 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


One of the things that I liked about Tangled is that Rapunzel was wicked smart. She was always the smartest person in the room, actually. They played her insecurities realistically (or at least didn't totally ignore them), but it was also her intellect that allowed her to untangle the clues to her real identity. It was actually an understated virtue throughout most of the movie, which seemed to put precedence on her goodness as an individual, which is how it should be. It's better to be to be good than smart, but Rapunzel was good and smart.

And at the end of the day, she wasn't saved by the prince. She saved the male protagonist (or they co-saved each other, anyway), and in large part due to her social ingenuity and intellect, and also her inherent ability. It's ironic that she was the one to be saved initially, yet did much of the saving throughout the movie. You see this in part too where she encouraged all of the "bad guys" in the tavern to pursue their dreams, which they actual do. Rapunzel was the main hero , although for most of her life she had been an unknowing victim.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:09 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd like to take issue with one statement in the linked article (with the note that I am a HUGE fan of The Dissolve in general, especially since a goodly portion of The AV Club decamped to their shores):

> "Frozen gives no early indication that Hans isn’t what he seems, and it feels a bit unfair to have him turn villainous with no warning."

No early indication? The fact that he is manipulatively lying to Anna during what is supposed to be their big love song is kind of a clue. I mean, yeah, it's reasonably subtle and you could be forgiven for missing it on a first pass, but I caught it and went "wait ... hey!" when I saw it, and in a piece that's somewhat a critical analysis of the film, it's probably something that should have been picked up on.
posted by kyrademon at 3:13 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's a great movie (the Little Mermaid is my favorite; it's so much better for character development and plot and songs and humor) but I'm just so greatful that Frozen has supplanted all the other Disney princesses for my daughter and that she has totally forgotten about playing 'marry' with me, which for her meant putting on a fancy dress and kissing on the lips (she was three and I'm her mom so while creepy, not THAT creepy). Even the 'courtship' between Hans and Anna involves having silly fun together instead of a lot of swooning and eyelash batting like you see in the Little Mermaid and earlier.

My 6-year-old though, who is really empathetic (sometimes too much) always liked Anna better

Aw, it's like she's rooting for the underdog! I really thought Anna would be the more popular one for kids; she's way more relatable. But most kids want to go with the alpha character.
posted by kitcat at 3:23 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


For the record, anyone interested in 26,000 words of fanfic which semi-redeem Hans, introduce Elsa to a (really adorable) female love interest, and also incidentally do a really clever riff on The Wild Swans, I would recommend this.
posted by nonasuch at 3:41 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "... introduce Elsa to a (really adorable) female love interest ..."

Curse ... you ... already 11:44 PM here ... must resist ... must ...

Dammit.
posted by kyrademon at 3:44 PM on November 26, 2014


On the other hand, the Frozen princesses just muddle through.

That's why, personally, I'd put Frozen over Tangled. "Women can be amazing and perfect and brilliant (and have to be, to win)," is kinda less relatable and subversive and important than: "Young women can be confused, screw up, but grow and pull through (without men)."
posted by fleacircus at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Vaike: "No. It should not be special and it should not be celebrated."

"Is special" ≠ "should be special"

No, it should not be special. But our real, imperfect world, it is special.
posted by Bugbread at 4:19 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Married, middle-aged, no kids, so we've never seen Frozen and never will. But that goddamn song is inescapable. So I've decided that it is sung by the Snow Queen in Oglaf (NOT SAFE FOR WORK - did I not say this was Oglaf? Some people will click on anything).
posted by Ber at 4:24 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


I still haven't seen it.
I still haven't seen Tangled.
Guess I'll go spend some more of my money on NOT MY KIDS!
I am amazed at the number of adults I encounter who are way to old to be Frozen.
It makes me sick.
I assume, risky-I know, that Frozen is just another Disney tale of "Be Yourself, and everything will be fine."
I don't believe in that philosophy. I think it is dangerous thinking. Dangerous!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2014


"Frozen gives no early indication that Hans isn’t what he seems, and it feels a bit unfair to have him turn villainous with no warning."

Oh come on, that was jaw-droppingly awesome. It had to have no warning in order for it to work effectively. It's also an "in your face" game changer of traditional narrative expectations, rather than a subtle "oh this is different for Disney" kind of approach. This is why I think they were taking the trope subversion thing very seriously, because they did it oh-so right in order to be maximally effective.

I love that this is a Disney movie with an honest to goodness twist in it. It made me want to watch more Disney movies for the first time in a couple of decades.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not only that, but they had some nice misdirection in this movie. The villain was supposedly the conniving Duke of Weasletown, and it helped keep you from suspecting it was someone else.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:51 PM on November 26, 2014


Oh, yes, and it's the guy who decides what she is going to look like and what is going to happen to her magic, explicitly invalidating her choices.

Yup, like I said, that one scene that undermines the whole movie.
If the movie had stayed the course, it could have been great.

(Also, it doesn't, or at least I don't recall, any earworm songs, where Frozen has at least 2, 3 if you count the snowman song).

But Rapunzel is still a great heroine stuck in a not-so-great movie.

they not only deliberately call out and reject the Disney trope of instant love and devotion, they also briefly set up and reject a *second* level of dependence on romantic interest, where they briefly show Kristoff and fake out that he'll be true love.


No, they don't. The "twist" is that she lives happily ever after with the _second_ guy she meets.
That's hardly a big revolution.
posted by madajb at 4:54 PM on November 26, 2014


That's why, personally, I'd put Frozen over Tangled. "Women can be amazing and perfect and brilliant (and have to be, to win)," is kinda less relatable and subversive and important than: "Young women can be confused, screw up, but grow and pull through (without men)."

That's fair.
I just wish we could get a Disney Princess who is an honest-to-god kick-ass heroine on a quest.
posted by madajb at 5:04 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


So many people up thread mention how important this movie is because of two female main characters. As if this is special and should be celebrated.

No. It should not be special and it should not be celebrated.

It should be the norm.


I totally get where you are coming from. It's like that Chris Rock routine where he goes after people who celebrate what should normally be the case anyway, as if staying out of jail or something is an accomplishment.

In this case though, I genuinely feel something more than irritation or ambivalence for those who step up to the plate to create more balance in culture that will make media a better place for my daughters growing up. It's more akin to celebrating the end of a long struggle, like a war or something. We do celebrate people who go to measures to balance something that was previously wrong. They make medals and everything.

Whether or not Frozen rises to that level of social recognition is certainly a discussion, but I don't think it's nothing. And it's okay to be excited about changes that weren't the case just a short while back.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:11 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


QueerAngel28: "Guess I'll go spend some more of my money on NOT MY KIDS! "

I totally rented Frozen because I wanted to see it. Not because my sons did (although they did enjoy it). So if you're wondering about how to spend some more money on NOT YOUR KIDS, consider renting and watching Frozen.

tavella: "they also briefly set up and reject a *second* level of dependence on romantic interest, where they briefly show Kristoff and fake out that he'll be true love. Instead they assert that the love between women, sisters, and friends is as important or more important than the love of a man."

madajb: "No, they don't. The "twist" is that she lives happily ever after with the _second_ guy she meets."

???

Did you miss that whole chunk of the movie? Starts at 1:19:13 with Kristoff saying "She's with her true love" (referring to Hans), only to be given a "you've gotta be kidding" look by the reindeer. The "Kristoff is the true love that will keep her from being Frozen" thing is explicitly restated at 1:19:59 with Anna saying "I need to get to Kristoff" and Olaf saying "There's your act of true love!" The point is further driven home at 1:25:56 when Anna and Kristoff find each other, and Anna is torn by whether to wait for Kristoff to kiss her, the act of true love that will save her, or for her to save her sister instead. And then it culminates with her thawing at 1:27:15, showing that the act of true love wasn't Kristoff's kiss, but her sacrificing herself to save her sister.

That makes like 10% of the movie where it is not just implicit, but explicitly stated by characters that romance is the act of true love that will save Anna, only to fake out and show that it's actually an act of sisterly love and sacrifice. Did your version of the movie just...not have this part or something?
posted by Bugbread at 5:17 PM on November 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


Obligatory: Frozzen: a Passion Play
posted by happyroach at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2014


So many people up thread mention how important this movie is because of two female main characters. As if this is special and should be celebrated.

No. It should not be special and it should not be celebrated.

It should be the norm.


But it isn't, and until it is the norm, giving positive publicity to shows that have more than one female lead -- or a non-white lead, though Disney isn't great at this -- shows that, yes, movies about characters who aren't straight white guys can do well commercially, something that apparently people in Hollywood disbelieve. Celebrating movies that diverge from the mostly white male casting is a step on the road to making them the norm.
posted by jeather at 6:36 PM on November 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


.Bluntly, I think it's a parenting thing. You reach a certain age. You either have kids of your own or you're committed to an extended family that has a pile of kids running around. It changes your cultural concerns ... and so on.

Bullshit, but excellent social psychology sounding bullshit.
I don't have kids. I don't know kids. I am no more committed to my extended family than I was as a kid myself. And I saw Frozen on a plane and loved it, and now play Let It Go on YouTube at work.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:13 PM on November 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also wonderful: "I'm a chicken with the face of a monkey!"
posted by wenestvedt at 7:15 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


One more of the Disney tropes that Frozen breaks is the idea that if girls are basically good and do what men want them to, their dreams come true. And I think that's an important one.

Cinderella works hard, not only doing the household chores but sewing her own ball gown (though the bad girls, the ones who don't deserve a Prince Charming, ruin it). She and Snow White both cook and clean and don't complain, they're humble, and neither one of them rebels--Cinderella was told she could go to the ball, Snow White only leaves her wicked stepmother when she is literally driven out. Ariel, who does rebel, gets punished for it by losing her voice to a witch and has to be saved from her own poor choices by Eric and her Dad. Even Belle, my own favorite, rebels against marrying the town jock and ends up with a killer library, but she is still a good daughter who sacrifices herself for her Dad, so not exactly a problem child. (I have never seen Tangled, but really want to after reading about the heroine in this thread)

I was worried about Anna, when I saw Frozen, because in the beginning of the movie she is just too sweet and happy and obedient all the time--pretty much a Mary Sue. She isn't mad at Elsa, she just misses her. And she does everything she's told to, right up until the day her sister is crowned and she has some independence, whereupon she immediately makes incredibly bad decisions, like wanting to marry the first man she meets and declaring her sister would never hurt her despite her sister basically hurting her every day by ignoring her (which was not Elsa's fault, of course, but Anna doesn't know that).

So I was really glad, although of course outraged on Anna's behalf at his conniving, when her Prince turned out to be a monster. Sometimes young girls fall for the first guy who shows an interest in them. Sometimes, even though everyone else sees them as pretty and lovable, they don't value themselves enough, so they hurry into relationships. And even when everybody tells them a guy is wrong for them, they make excuses because they want to be in a relationship rather than be alone. It is good for girls to know this is a Thing.

In Frozen, we don't just see this happen, though, we see the aftermath, too. Which I like because Anna has bounced back, and is doing just great without the jerk, and though, yes, there is another guy in the wings, she is taking it more slowly this time to make sure there is something of substance there. Plus, she has seen how this guy is in good times AND bad, so she knows he won't cut and run when things get tough, and she has even (sorta) met his family, and his pet, and knows he treats them well.

But what's even BETTER a is that Elsa is doing just great without any guy around, and she hasn't had to change who she is to be happy (another thing girls do too often, usually to please a guy). Which is why, I think, so many kids, and girls in particular, like Elsa. Because she does rebel, and strike out on her own, and is even a little selfish in that she pretty much abandons the kingdom because the people don't love her, so screw them.

Elsa's message is, look, I tried to play by your rules, but that's not me (Elsa sorta reminds me of Arya in that way, though of course not so ruthless and vengeful). She only comes back to fix her own mistakes (freezing the whole town) because she doesn't want anyone else to suffer, and to repair her relationship with her Sister. And when she does come back, she does not go all meek and wear the gloves, either.

So Anna and Elsa are both flawed, but they learn from their mistakes and they are strengthened by their bond with each other (rather than rescued by some guy), which is not a message we see in a lot of girl buddy movies--mostly because, as noted already in the thread, we don't have nearly enough girl buddy movies.
posted by misha at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2014 [14 favorites]


It can be interesting to see how people focus on and/or ignore parts of movies to get at what they think the message is. Frozen is not my favourite, but you have to skip quite a bit of the actual narrative of the movie to make it the faux-feminist hoodwinkery that occasionally pops up in these sorts of threads. Or, for that matter, ignoring all the stuff Helen does in The Incredibles to rescue her husband and keep her family together to complain it's another movie about a man's adventures.

My biggest problem with Frozen (other than what did Elsa eat in her snow palace?) were the trolls. Even their song, though cheerful, had terrible lyrics. They were the worst.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:45 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


If by the worst you mean fantastic then I am totally with you, fellow MeFite!

THIS QUOTE ENGAGEMENT IS A FLEX ARRANGEMENT
AND BY THE WAY I DON'T SEE NO RING

fuckin genius right there

Also the segue from haha funny song to omg anna gonna die is masterful; watch it.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:48 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


what did Elsa eat in her snow palace?

Ice goddesses don't need your petty food to sustain themselves.
posted by tavella at 7:55 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


My biggest problem with Frozen (other than what did Elsa eat in her snow palace?) were the trolls. Even their song, though cheerful, had terrible lyrics. They were the worst.

I did not like the trolls very much. I think they were supposed to represent the misguided but well-intentioned extended family. They weren't supposed to be perfectly benevolent creatures, although they did have the power to heal. In a sense, this was another social obstacle to navigate in finding the best life direction, rather than the ones that society forces on us.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:55 PM on November 26, 2014


we don't have nearly enough girl buddy movies.

Frozen is Disney's Thelma and Louise.

Except the sleigh crashed in the canyon without any of the protagonists in it.

And that might make Olaf Brad Pitt. Or Sven?

posted by SpacemanStix at 7:59 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


philip-random: "I've been noticing this sort of Disney hyperbole for decades now. No doubt, it was going on when I was a kid with the likes of 101 Dalmations, Bambi etc, but being a kid, what did I care? I was just into it until I wasn't anymore.

When I first noticed the hype was the Little Mermaid...Bluntly, I think it's a parenting thing. You reach a certain age.
"

I think you're wrong about the reasons. I think it's actually a few different phenomena that you've unconsciously rolled into one ongoing phenomenon.

The first is that Little Mermaid was the first successful fully-animated movie (as opposed to Roger Rabbit) after a decade-long slump for Disney. It's not that people were hyping Disney movies but that you didn't notice it, it's that Disney was fucked and nobody cared about its movies. So when Little Mermaid came out and people said it was good, that was a big change for a Disney movie, and hence people discussed it a lot. Then, of course, there was a lot of hype for Beauty and the Beast because people were saying "Hey, maybe the Little Mermaid wasn't a fluke. Maybe Disney's back!", so, again, people discussed it a lot.

Now, I'm not saying that Little Mermaid was actually good. Personally, I kinda hate all the Disney movies from that era. I'm just saying that the reason for the hype wasn't "people become parents / reach a certain age".

So the hype train kept up while Disney was making decent movies, but then it started tailing off. Do you remember the buzz and hyperbole about Hercules? Atlantis: The Lost Empire? Treasure Planet? Home on the Range? No, because it didn't exist. This isn't because people stopped "reaching a certain age", it's because of the rise of Pixar. Disney was in a bit of a rut, and then this upstart comes in making really good movies. People love an underdog! So people start talking all about that. Boosted by the fact that they are pushing the boundaries of computer graphics, each looking better than the last. Plus the drama of Steve Jobs vs. Disney. Parents could get excited about discussing it. Apple aficionados could get excited about discussing it. Tech geeks could. Disney haters could. There were lots of reasons to talk about Pixar beyond "parenting/certain age".

And now Disney has 1) taken over Pixar, and 2) started making good non-Pixar movies. So you have a second "Disney's back!" phenomenon. Plus you've got an increasing societal interest in feminism, and Disney's movies are starting to reflect that, so people are talking about how this can be a good influence. So right now it's "parenting/certain age" plus "Disney's back" plus "Disney is making feminist film". Plus all the folks who like musicals (and there are not a whole ton of new film musicals).
posted by Bugbread at 8:03 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Greg Nog have you seen the 20,000 word fanfic that addresses that exact point?

Oh my god, it's the Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality of Frozen.
posted by jcreigh at 8:13 PM on November 26, 2014


Also the segue from haha funny song to omg anna gonna die is masterful; watch it.

I did. I disagree.

And as far as the trolls know, Anna's engaged to marry the love of her life. But no, they have a pet human and she's a woman, so let's marry them off! Does she want it? No. Does he? Not out loud. Does that matter? Of course not! Her commitment to another? As irrelevant as her desire. I'm more surprised by people who don't find it objectionable.

The extended family thing is apt, but even the pushiest extended family usually manages to not actively plan, stage and almost hold a wedding even while the two participants actively resist until they are trussed up and forced to the altar.


Ice goddesses don't need your petty food to sustain themselves.

Well, she loves chocolate. Maybe she just should have utilised her Ice Magic.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:22 PM on November 26, 2014


Hmmm. When viewing the classic Walt stories - Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty - did you ever notice how ineffectual and powerless outside of being simply a male the princes are? Cinderella, especially - he's simply a genetic donor for his fathers will! Yet the viewer is constantly put at Cinderella's feet, literally, from the mice's point of view.

I dunnow about you, but if princey-poo is a shitweasel, I get the impression Godmother would supplant the line of succession but quick... but the other end of that is that Princey-Poo, who could command "marriage" on anyone he pleased, decided he wanted to know and love the person he married, and take his time doing it, and Daddy has to fucking deal with that.

All I'm saying is that the classic Disney Princesses and their attendant Princes may not be as reprehensible as advertised, considering the time and place.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:35 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


gadge emeritus: "The extended family thing is apt, but even the pushiest extended family usually manages to not actively plan, stage and almost hold a wedding even while the two participants actively resist until they are trussed up and forced to the altar."

If the two had gotten married, yes, people would find it objectionable. Or if he wanted to get married, but she didn't, and the family was like "Who cares what she wants, Kristoff wants to marry her!", then people would find it objectionable. But as it is, it's just a "comic relief characters being stupid to both sexes in the same way" thing, which isn't enough to even get most MeFites het up.
posted by Bugbread at 8:46 PM on November 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


And as far as the trolls know, Anna's engaged to marry the love of her life. But no, they have a pet human and she's a woman, so let's marry them off! Does she want it? No. Does he? Not out loud. Does that matter? Of course not! Her commitment to another? As irrelevant as her desire. I'm more surprised by people who don't find it objectionable.

The extended family thing is apt, but even the pushiest extended family usually manages to not actively plan, stage and almost hold a wedding even while the two participants actively resist until they are trussed up and forced to the altar.


That's, as McBain would say, the joke.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:12 PM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Childless, feminist straight guy here. Boy do I NOT GET the big deal about Frozen."

Same here (childless, feminist, straight guy, also middle-aged) and I thought the movie was great.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:23 PM on November 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


That makes like 10% of the movie where it is not just implicit, but explicitly stated by characters that romance is the act of true love that will save Anna, only to fake out and show that it's actually an act of sisterly love and sacrifice. Did your version of the movie just...not have this part or something?

Sorry, perhaps I quoted too much.

I was responding to this specifically:
"they not only deliberately call out and reject the Disney trope of instant love and devotion"

I understand the "sisterly love" aspect of the ending, but to suggest that Kristoff isn't an instant 'happily ever after' just seems wrong to me.
I mean, there's the classic meet-cute, the flirtatious banter, the slow realization that they really like each other.
Sure, Hans is a redirection, but anyone who's ever watched a Disney movie knew Kristoff was gonna be the guy.
posted by madajb at 1:28 AM on November 27, 2014


So...where do we rate Mulan? Because I (30-year old single guy) love the shit out of that film. And I always felt as though (of the Disney films I've seen, by no means all) it probably has the strongest, or perhaps just the most overt, relationship with feminist themes. But it seems to fall through the cracks. Maybe because it was produced during Disney's mid-90s dry spell?
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:09 AM on November 27, 2014


This is a wonderful pairing of movie and drink, in case you were wondering.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:38 AM on November 27, 2014


I rate Mulan very highly. I was never a Disney-obsessed kid, but as a grownup Mulan and Lilo and Stitch (which also features sisterly love) are movies that are very dear to me.
posted by PussKillian at 5:47 AM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or, for that matter, ignoring all the stuff Helen does in The Incredibles to rescue her husband and keep her family together to complain it's another movie about a man's adventures.

The Incredibles was a movie mostly about Mr. Incredible, and in general shared the sitcommy trope of "disaffected suburban dad hates his job and is uninvolved in his kids' lives, does something really stupid which totally competent mother who used to say how she wanted to keep working but now does all the family stuff without complaint had to fix". Mr. Incredible set the plot off and is the main protagonist. (And compare what Violet wants -- a boy's attention -- to what Dash wants -- to run fast.) And we hear Frozone's wife once, but never get to even see her.

It's definitely not the worst movie about this, but it is not a movie with two female co-leads, or even one male and one female co-lead.
posted by jeather at 6:11 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Frozen gives no early indication that Hans isn’t what he seems, and it feels a bit unfair to have him turn villainous with no warning. Anna inhabits a comedy of manners in the film’s opening section, but Jane Austen wouldn’t approve of such reckless characterization.

It's amusing that the author reaches for Jane Austen as, I think, generic-great-writer, because Austen's Persuasion contains exactly the same utterly un-foreshadowed heel-turn in a major character, Anne's cousin Mr. Elliot.
posted by yoink at 7:34 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bugbread: which isn't enough to even get most MeFites het up.

I like your MetaFilter better, as it doesn't always resemble the one I read.


sebmojo: That's, as McBain would say, the joke.

That is the joke. I just didn't find it funny, and thought it odd that completely ignoring Anna's engagement was treated as a cute foible rather than an at least annoying overstep. The trolls as a whole felt poorly handled, to me, but their big song-and-dance number had a message I found objectionable, even with the little forced nugget of wisdom about people making bad decisions for understandable, universal reasons.


jeather: but it is not a movie with two female co-leads, or even one male and one female co-lead

That's wrong in the movie I saw, because Helen was clearly a lead in that. But then, in the same movie, Violet talking to a boy was about having the confidence to let herself be seen and stand tall, not a reductive stereotype. So it seems pretty evident that I can place this particular opinion in the same category as the people who call the film Objectivist based on misunderstanding what the villain's master plan is, as if the villain's plot can even represent the message of the movie.


In the end, there was a lot to enjoy in Frozen, I just had problems, mostly adult-perspective problems, about it, many along the lines of the very first comment in the thread. The trolls were just the worst part for me.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:17 AM on November 27, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm liking the movie more the second time around, but it feels more like an origin story for Elsa the Wizard than the sister-love fable it's being celebrated as. I really want to see the sequel where she's allowed to be a superhero instead of the anxious teen confused by her powers.
posted by biddeford at 9:39 AM on November 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Violet talking to a boy was about having the confidence to let herself be seen and stand tall, not a reductive stereotype.

But why is the way for her to be seen and stand tall talking to a boy? The goal itself would otherwise be fine (though "shy girl finally shows her face" isn't exactly an original storyline, though I appreciate it was about finally using her natural talents and not getting a makeover).

it seems pretty evident that I can place this particular opinion in the same category as the people who call the film Objectivist based on misunderstanding what the villain's master plan is, as if the villain's plot can even represent the message of the movie.

I guess I could also offensively mischaracterize your opinion of the movie, but instead I will just think we took different things from the same movie. The Incredibles wasn't a bad movie or an actively misogynistic one, but I stand by that it was mostly about a disaffected suburban father doing things and setting the entire plot in motion, which is very different and much more common than a story about two sisters doing things and setting the plot in motion.
posted by jeather at 11:13 AM on November 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


Why do we like "Let it Go" so much? A music theory-based analysis here: Elements of Frozen Theory (ossia: Über ein besonders merkwürdiges Lied aus As in einem Disneyfilm)
posted by gemutlichkeit at 12:05 PM on November 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


... perhaps the song’s greatest formal card trick. Elsa sings what is, lyrically speaking, the final line of the bridge, but over the chord progression of the verse!

Yes indeed. I don't think even the Beatles hit on this idea in their constant 'what if?' quest.

This beautifully subtle variation, a luminous allusion to the Dorian mode, offers an alternate escape route. Elsa may not be ready to embrace A-flat major full on just yet, but the glowing D-natural in the verse’s eighth chord shows her that there’s more than one way out of the gloom.


It's not just a way out of the gloom - it's a risk. But this is what I was trying to think through, less eloquently.
posted by colie at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2014


Trivia time: In Japan, "The Incredibles" is named "Mr. Incredible".

(Also, "Up" is named "Old Man Carl's Flying House")
posted by Bugbread at 2:17 PM on November 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


madajb: "I just wish we could get a Disney Princess who is an honest-to-god kick-ass heroine on a quest"

Well, there was Brave. though I'm sure someone will be along shortly to proclaim that the message or tone wasn't perfect.
posted by pwnguin at 4:36 PM on November 27, 2014 [12 favorites]


I was just going to say the same thing. Brave is really, really different from almost every other Disney/Pixar film in its treatment of women and its general plot construction. I don't think there is even a villain just obstacles and threats.
posted by humans are superior! at 10:53 PM on November 27, 2014 [5 favorites]


I freaking loved Brave. I loved that it focused on a mother-daughter relationship, which is not usual at all.
posted by Tarumba at 8:04 AM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hell, Tarumba, it's unusual for the mother to even be alive. Aladdin, Snow White, Beauty & the Beast, obviously Cinderella... And when the mother is alive, that's largely out of symmetry - Sleeping Beauty's mother is a token appearance, while her father is part of the plotline.

There are many childhood stories that begin with removal of both parents, which has some significant psychological impact for the child audience (both freeing and frightening), but it never struck me before that if only one parent is missing, it's the mother.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:03 AM on December 2, 2014


IAmBroom has a point. I've noticed for years the riskiest profession in animation and anime is to be a mother. Korra for example is kind of odd in that both parents are alive.

There's good narrative reason for this of course; removing an element of support and requiring characters to be more independent, but it's kind of creepy and at its extreme, like in UP, implies that women are more valuable in their absence, and not even adequate to bring up a child.
posted by happyroach at 9:30 AM on December 2, 2014


And quite plausibly, because stereotyped thinking believes male characters are more important, so if only one parent is present...

The exception that proofs this rule: Toy Story. Both parents are present (if not on-screen much), but the mom has the majority of interactions with Andy. In fact, hints suggest strongly that (Rot-13'ed spoiler) Naql'f zbz jnf Wrffvr'f bevtvany bjare jub nonaqbarq ure.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:09 PM on December 2, 2014


I'm way late to this movie and the many threads on Frozen and even late to this latest thread, but I gotta get out some thoughts. Long story short, I watched Frozen FOUR separate times in as many days. So I have a pretty good take on the plot and characters, not to mention the songs still playing in my head.

The centerpiece of the film is "Let it Go," a song about self-empowerment and fuck-the-haters, and in and of itself it's fine. But it doesn't fit the movie at all. At least, it doesn't fit Elsa at all, a character who is self-confident for about 12 seconds as a kid until she--accidentally--hurts her sister with her powers. After that she's fearful. She's afraid that everyone will find out her secret, and this fear builds up for years.

Then it does happen, her secret is out, and then we get "Let It Go" and Elsa saying "to hell with it, I'm me. The world can deal." Ok, fine.

But not fine. Every scene after this she's back to Scared Elsa. I know, I know, she's afraid of hurting Anna, but isn't that the obstacle that character should have to overcome? Shouldn't that be her arc? But no, she goes back to being afraid, and she becomes not so much a tragic heroine as just a kind of boring loser. "Let It Go" is an anomaly to Elsa's character; at no other point in the film is she anything but cold and/or frightened. Anna is the true star and heroine of the film and has actual agency.

Oh, and the animation, voice acting, direction, etc. are top notch. It's a beautiful looking film if nothing else.
posted by zardoz at 7:46 PM on December 5, 2014


zardoz: "But not fine. Every scene after this she's back to Scared Elsa. I know, I know, she's afraid of hurting Anna, but isn't that the obstacle that character should have to overcome? "

Well, technically, she saves Anna by doing the one thing she was afraid to do. But this is a bit like saying Pontius Pilate is the true hero of the New Testament.
posted by pwnguin at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2014


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