Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Let It Go. I Mean, REALLY, Let It Go.

Apparently "Frozen" is being heralded as the "gayest" Disney movie yet. Okay, okay, heralded in some corners and vilified in others.

I first became aware of this theory after I followed one too many links to an LDS blog where the author went OFF on this delightful movie and our culture in general.

The post takes approximately 45 minutes to read because it essentially analyzes every scene from the movie, with particular venom reserved for Elsa's "Let It Go." She also cites about 14 critics who came (joyfully) to the same conclusion. Not only are there "gay themes" in the story, but she concludes that Else herself is probably gay. They whole magic-powers thing is a just a cover for a hey-baby-I-was-born-this-way agenda. 

Because Frozen has become such a once-in-a-generation phenomenon, it has already begun to be studied in various contexts to try to put together some kind of magic formula for creating the mega-hit. What some preliminary studies show is that people of all walks of life feel like they can relate on some level to Elsa. Everyone has had times when they feel outside the normal, when the pressures of regular life become too much, etc. etc. Elsa is real and flawed and vulnerable and people relate to that. She also looks like a Barbie doll. Which, you know, a lot fewer people can relate to.

To all of this I say: don't you usually find what you are looking for?

It is pretty clear from the tone of the sister's piece and other links within the piece that she has already decided that modern America is going to hell in a handbasket, and that no possible good can come from any part of our culture. She envisions a vast entertainment conspiracy designed to primarily make us comfortable with homosexuality; that is wasn't just a subtext in the movie open to interpretation by some, but an actual plan to propagandize the children of the world, especially little LDS children with crazy-big hair and feathers. I'm guessing she doesn't let her grandkids watch Bert and Ernie at her house either. 

My first (and subsequent) experience with the film, Frozen, is very different. In fact, I think when viewed through a lens of looking for what is good and uplifting, there are gospel principles to be gleaned. There are gospel principles to be gleaned everywhere if we seek them and cease to be obsessed with evil. I'm not advocating complacency against true darkness, mind you, I'm just advocating seeking after that which is light and good.

So, to the movie.

1.  I love Disney's recent trend away from romantic love and a shift toward familial love--Rapunzel, Elsa, Ana, Meridah--these are all women that girls can look up. Besides learning about the importance of family, these women are all very strong and independent. Mulan and Belle are their predecessors, not Cinderella or Snow White. For this reason alone, Frozen is a stand out movie with TWO strong women.

2.  That earworm song contains the line that some have seen as problematic, "No right, no wrong, no rules for me! I'm free!" But what they overlook is that this show stopper is not the climax. . . it comes right at the beginning of the rising action. Elsa isn't singing THE TRUTH, she is singing her truth in the moment. Just fifteen minutes later into the movie she sings "I'm such a fool, I can't be free . . ." realizing that her previous assertions are all wrong. Nothing in the story is righted until Elsa finally confronts what she has done, faces her fears, and overcomes all her doubt with love. Isn't this repentance? Elsa's only refuge from the "storm inside" is to love, not to run away and shun all the rules.

3.  We are all unique and special. Sometimes these differences can seem like a burden. They can seem like things that put us outside the norm and make us ashamed. But when we bridle our passions and fears with love then we find we can still be ourselves, but we can be our best selves. And while, yes, this is a message that resonates strongly in the LGBT community, it is a message that can resonate powerfully with anyone who has ever felt they are on the outside looking in because of their differences. Ana's cheerful optimism about loving her sister regardless of what she learns about her is an important message about charity.

4.  Romantic love is secondary to selfless love. In addition, romantic love will fade unless it is coupled to selfless love. The sweet little trolls in the movie are often overlooked as a silly plot device, but I dearly love their song. "We're not saying you can change him, 'cause people don't really change/All we're saying is that love's a force that powerful and strange/People make bad choices when they're mad or scared or stressed/Throw a little love their way, you'll bring out their best/True love brings out the best." Wow. There is truth in that. Big truth.

"Frozen" is all about the transformative power of selfless love. Is there any message more at the heart of the gospel than this? This is the definition of conversion. It is at the heart of understanding the Atonement. 

I know that our society contains darkness and evil. Every society in every time has. I'm not sure that we are any more wicked now than we were once upon a time. The same vices and darkness have always been available. But light and goodness is available to us too. We just have to seek after it and share it. 

And sometimes, you know, we just need to lighten up. . . to, you know, let it go.


Melanie said...

Yes, I agree, you'll find what you're looking for. I really like your reading of the film. When I first saw it I really liked that it was selfless love, not romantic love that saved the day. Although the main characters are princesses, in true Disney fashion, it wasn't a prince who came along and made everything right.

Now, I'm just so dang sick of the movie and the music. Even my 30+ year old friends are obsessed with it. The overkill has ruined the move for me.

Sherry said...

Love this!

Kimberly Bluestocking said...

I read about that woman's "LGBT conspiracy" take on Frozen before I saw the movie for the first time (or the second, or third), and every time I see it I can't help thinking of that possible spin on the story. I can easily see how people might reach the conclusion she did, but I disagree that hers is the only possible interpretation. I sometimes wonder what I would have made of the film if I hadn't heard her theory first.

Ultimately, I've reached similar conclusions to yours: regardless of what Elsa's powers represent, the film's ultimate message isn't about breaking rules and turning your back on the world, but about loving and accepting others. If you're true to yourself in a loving way, the people who matter will embrace you and not care about your differences. As you say, that's a theme that just about anyone can relate to.

That's my optimistic take on it, anyway. The cynic in me also notes that most little girls want to be Elsa not Anna, even though Anna is the happier character from start to finish and ends up with a sweet boyfriend. Apparently none of that appeals nearly as much as cool powers and a gorgeous dress (complete with train--which, realistically, most of us would trip over at least once a day if we wore one, right?).