The Widdershins

Feminist Monday: The Not-So-Shocking “Frozen” Phenomenon

Posted on: April 7, 2014

The power of sisterhood reigns!

Good Monday, Widdershins! Many apologies for the brain freeze last week. I hope you enjoyed the blast from the past that Chatblu put up! (Thanks, Chat!)

I don’t know if any of you are keeping up with this, but “Frozen,” Disney’s Oscar-winning animated feature, has now become the 10th top-grossing movie of all time…and the number one animated movie of all time, surpassing “Toy Story 3.”

For the first time in forever, “Toy Story 3” is no longer the highest grossing animated film of all time. With its opening in Japan this weekend, Disney’s “Frozen” has taken the top spot and pushed its worldwide box office to an estimated $1.072 billion.

The two-time Oscar winner, which was released in the United States and Canada in late November, joined the billion-dollar box-office club in early March. The movie is running in 36 countries, including South Korea, the United Kingdom and Germany.

I pay attention to these pop culture phenomena mainly because I am curious to see how they are portraying women. In the case of “Frozen,” I feel the movie gets an A+.

SPOILER ALERT: The movie has been out for six months, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I apologize for any spoilers you may read here. If you are okay with knowing more, follow me now as I examine the new, feminist 21st-century Disney princess portrayed in the film.

“Frozen” is a story of two princesses living somewhere in the icy Netherlands. The older sister, Elsa, is born with an amazing power: to create ice and snow at will. When she is young, she and her bubbly younger sister, Anna, delight in Elsa’s abilities; but as they play one night when the Northern Lights shimmer above, Elsa accidentally strikes her sister’s head with a bolt of power. Anna is rendered unconscious, and the king and queen rush to the trolls to heal her. The troll king warns Elsa and her parents that fear will be Elss’a greatest enemy, and that if Elsa strikes Anna in the heart, it could be fatal because “Only true love can melt a frozen heart.” The king and queen, sobered and terrified, decide to separate Elsa and Anna in order to prevent Elsa from harming her sister again. And, in order to alleviate the trauma she endured, the troll king erases all memory of the incident – including Anna’s knowledge of Elsa’s powers.

The princesses, once so close and loving, become cut off from each other as Elsa is locked in her room all day and all night, and Anna doesn’t know why. They grow up lonely and isolated, even weathering the death of their parents without the consolation of each others’ company. And then, it’s Elsa’s coronation day. The gates of the castle are opened for the first time in many years – and two things happen: A handsome prince steals Anna’s heart, and Elsa’s powers explode in a spectacular way, causing her to understand that she cannot run from who she is. It is at this point that she sings the anthem, “Let It Go,” which has over 175,000,000 views on YouTube, realizing that her parents were wrong to try to suppress and hide her abilities. Unfortunately, she still feels she must be isolated from all human contact in order to protect them from her. This includes her sister. She builds a beautiful castle of ice and slams the doors to the outside world. (No, I won’t say what happens next. Watch the movie!)

In the world of “Frozen,” the stereotypes of the Disney princesses are turned upside down. Anna is not allowed to marry the handsome prince she just met, and that turns out to be the right decision; “True Love” doesn’t mean that prince’s kiss, but the unbreakable bond between sisters; and the power of women, sexual power included, cannot and should not be feared, but should be embraced, nurtured and celebrated. In other words…say hello to the post-1950s world, Disney! It’s only taken you 60 or so years, but you finally got there.

Is it any wonder that a movie celebrating the power of women and a more modern view of love that “Someday My Prince Will Come,” has become so popular? Not in my mind.  I just hope that Disney learns the lesson of “Frozen” and presents its next set of princesses as positively as this film does. It’s about time growing girls had strong role models to watch on film. And maybe the success of this movie will give rise to the writing of more empowered, realistic women who aren’t just pixels on a screen. As Cate Blanchett said during the Oscars, “Yes, Hollywood, movies about women do make money.”  I think “Frozen” has proved that point beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is an open thread.



15 Responses to "Feminist Monday: The Not-So-Shocking “Frozen” Phenomenon"

Disney took a first few steps with “Brave”, when Merida bested her three suitors in archery. They are getting there.

I just heard of this movie last week, from my son’s autistic friend. I’m really out of touch when it comes to modern pop culture, the music, movies, tv. I read about a few movies a year and go to see one or two. When laker was little, he saw a lot of the cartoon movies. This one sounds interesting…a lot different than the Little Mermaid, which had the opposite message (do whatever you have to do to get the guy).

I agree, Chat. “Brave” was pretty good…but still, it ended with her coming back and doing what her mother wanted her to do. She never got to be her own person. It was about a B- for me. But still, “Brave” was very successful as well. I loved her curly red hair too – very un-Disney!

Haven’t seen the movie, but of course I’m familiar with “Adele Dazeem“.

Oh now this is funny. A Federal judge ruled that MoveOn can keep their billboard up in La, criticizing lil booby’s not expanding Medicaid.

@3: Baby steps, to be certain, but a start nonetheless.

@MB I’ve seen it, my grand-daughter loves it, and I liked it too. We watch the video together.

I do have a technical question for you though. How does Idina manage to get the “belting” sound without damaging her voice? (Don’t try that at home, children. Seriously.)

I also hope the young people watch Idina, because she is living proof that beauty is healthy, athletic, and non-anorexic. She’s just gorgeous. And believe me folks, to sing the way she does and not harm your voice beyond all repair, you are, indeed, an athlete.

How odd, my comment didn’t post. I wonder if other people have had this issue.

What I said was…Mary Luke, Idina is gorgeous and strong indeed! Her technique is basically, stick it in her nose and support like hell. I used the same technique to produce a straight tone for my church gig when I had to sing like a boy. 🙂 The thing with me was, I used head voice, which she really doesn’t. She can’t sing above a certain note without shrieking. But hey, the anthem is great, even if I don’t like her voice much.

Fredster, I’m very happy that MoveOn.Org won that suit! Neener Neener, Bobby. And SoCal, go rent the movie if you want. It’s good clean fun.

mb@9: I did have to kinda kick up my heels at that decision.

@9 Thank you, MB. You are, as always, so funny. “stick it in your nose and support like hell”. 🙂 The thing is, occasionally I pick up a hint of a head tone listening to her, and I want to pull my hair out in frustration because I think she does have potentially a beautiful voice if she wanted to learn to use the right technique.

I agree with you, it’s a great anthem, and a visually beautiful film, and not violent, so little kids can watch it. But I have visions of an entire generation of ruined voices because they will try to imitate her and know nothing about the “support like hell” part.

At last! “You can’t marry someone you just met today” from Disney!

@1 Chat, did you hear about the brouhaha when Disney came out with a “Brave” doll a few months ago and tried to glam Merida up by straightening her hair, putting sparkles on her dress, and adding a lot of make-up? There was such an outcry they had to make a second run of dolls which looked like the real Merida.

Idina is amazing, love her singing. We are watching the latest White House concert, a variety of women singing soul. Aretha, Patti, some young soul singers and Melissa Etheridge. A lot of talent in that room.

Mary Luke, I remember that! These stupid corporations just can’t stop trying to put women in their place, can they?

@14 Really! That’s our place, corseted and gussied up so we can make those men happy. Oh, and they took away Merida’s bow and arrow when they made the first Princess doll! They literally disarmed her! We can’t have any princesses who can defend themselves…gotta wait for that prince!

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