After watching Disney’s extremely popular and highly controversial Frozen for the third time last night, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone- bloggers, movie reviewers, and Facebook moms included- needs to just “cool” down, take a step back, and examine why this movie has had so much opinionated hype swirling around it in the first place, and whether or not the concerns are justified.
As soon as the trailers for this movie were released, the whispering started. The feminists and anti-feminists were the first ones to jump all over it, because even the trailers made it clear that two strong female characters dominated the plots of this film. Right away judgments were flying. Many praised the film for following in Brave’s footsteps, proudly picturing girls who could hold their own and do things for themselves. As the movie was released and began to circulate, the overwhelming majority of those criticizing it decried its pro-gay message, claiming the entire movie was a subliminal promotion of “coming-out”, claiming split-second appearances of a gay family in one scene, and an overall message of homosexual toleration. As always, the Christians also had something to say, some finding positive themes and echoes of moralistic truths etched within the icy scenes, while others feeling the attempt to Christianize the film is a stretch. A simple Google search of the movie will reveal all of these and more debates encircling the film which has won over the hearts of the general public.
In a world that is constantly promoting immoral and questionable lifestyles, I don’t blame people for jumping all over a movie that definitely strikes out to be a little bit different than the classic fairytale. But I think that the concerned suspicion which has become all too necessary when examining new media releases may have impaired the ability of many to just enjoy something for its entertainment value, without it having to be either the Devil’s latest tool or God’s newest revelation.
Do I think Frozen promotes feminism or immoral homosexuality? No, but I also don’t think it is a pillar of Christian virtue either. While there is something to be said for making sure one does not expose his kids to something that could influence their mental formation or give them the wrong ideas about good and evil, I think it is also possible to become a bit too paranoid when screening movies. The depth and plot twists in Frozen are too complicated for the majority of kids to understand. From experience, I’ve seen that kids who love the movie know all the songs, love singing them at the top of their lungs because they’re catchy—not because they like the messages that might lurk behind them, think Olaf is hilarious, the girls pretty, and the guys cool (though not nearly as handsome as Tangled’s Flynn Rider, of course… J ). The adults are the ones who are offended, but if they stopped to look at their kids they would realize that as long as they are raising them well, in a wholesome environment, teaching them about the faith, and striving to cultivate virtue, a Disney movie with a troubled Queen is not going to turn the daughters feminist and the boys gay. It’s a visually beautiful movie, has some genuinely funny scenes, and I personally believe could be twisted, turned, and sold as either the most positively Christian film to come out in a while, or the most problematic film to become a hit. Just like the majority of animated films these days.
The problem is not the amount of kids who are watching the film. The problem is the amount of adults who are spending more time analyzing every tiny detail of Disney’s latest releases than they are on forming their kids. To be entirely honest, the majority of Disney’s princess films could promote problematic ideas in a household where virtue has not been taught. But as Catholics the educating of our children in the faith is of primary importance, and thus should already be forming the kids before they’re being exposed to any films. The beauty of Christianity is that, if one has been properly formed and cultivated in its virtues and teachings, he can turn any work of art into something beautiful, can see the truth amidst the grey areas, and appreciate it.
Am I saying that this means anything is okay, as long as kids know the ultimate truths? No, but I am saying that kids growing up in a strong Catholic environment can and should be allowed to enjoy the entertainment value of a fun, lovely cartoon without any parents feeling guilty. Parents, don’t let this become the next Harry Potter or Twilight. If you’re concerned, sit down with your kids and talk to them about the movie, listen to what they have to say. If they bring up any questions that concern you, address them. But I think you’ll find that they’ll just giggle about Olaf’s quips, scold Prince Hans for being so tricky, talk about how cool Elsa’s ability to create an outdoor ice-skating rink in the middle of the summer is, and erupt into choruses of “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” And you’ll be able to come away relieved and free to just take that worry and “let it go”.