WARNING: contains spoilers for the 2013 Disney movie Frozen.
Much virtual ink has been spilt already over Disney’s most recent animation ‘Frozen’, how beautiful it looks, its catchy songs, its lovely depiction of sisterly affection, its message and subtext, etc.
Having heard so much about it, I was half expecting it to be good but not as special as everyone was making it to be. I was the same with Toy Story 3: after being told so many times I was going to cry at the end, I totally didn’t. I would have cried had they all died in the fiery pit but the end? Touching, but not tear-jerking for me. I know, I am a hard-hearted woman.
For once though I reckon the hype was justified. I loved Frozen; it was wonderful from start to finish. My only (finicky) complaint is that I dislike Idina Menzel’s voice so whilst I enjoyed Let It Go as a song, I found Idina’s voice too harsh, especially on the lower/nearly spoken bits, which means I can’t listen to the song unless the movie is playing. It’s just not an enjoyable experience; whereas I could listen to the Tangled music all day – and I might have to, since Little Girl loves the songs and wants to listen and sing to them a lot.
The story touches on so many interesting ideas and as a parent, I was particularly struck by one thing in particular: Elsa and Anna’s parents’ were the absolute worst. Their response to Elsa’s powers: appalling. I understand their fear; I really do. But their decision to isolate the girls from the world after the accident pretty much gave both of their daughters the worst upbringing ever, and prepared them not one bit to deal with anything the world would throw their way. It’s not to say that both sisters didn’t have any agency in their fate but they were shaped by their confinement in such a way that they did not learn the tools one needs to make healthy decisions.
Despite the fact that the trolls very clearly stated that fear would be her worst enemy, Elsa was raised in a climate of fear. She was instructed to keep herself separate in order to protect others and only learnt to fear her powers; she was hidden away ‘until she would learn to control them’. When would that be exactly? How would this happen, unless some specific proactive action was taken by her parents to help her face her powers head-on?
Anna, on the other hand also suffered terribly from being kept away from the outside world. Her parents might have had good intentions but they left her completely unprepared for life and without the means to discern people’s intentions. As can be the case with naive sheltered girls, Anna thinks herself in love with the very first man she meets, and he turns out to be a very astute manipulator and abuser. I’m not saying it happens every time, but if you don’t know any better, you are an easy prey for this kind of person. I was impressed at how the myth of ‘love at first sight’ was dealt with in this movie, considering Disney’s own past record. I also liked that it clearly showed that manipulators and abusers rarely look like villains, often they are the nice guys of our communities.
We all want to protect our children from harm. It is a most natural instinct. We see what we consider to be the world’s ‘bad influences’, and we have good intentions. Unfortunately, often we overemphasize the perceived threat the world poses and we seek to protect our children from it instead of preparing them to live in it.
I want my children to make good choices as they grow older. But I also want them to make informed ones, and sheltering them from bad influences will not stop them from encountering them. Certainly, fear should never be the motivator behind any decision I make as a parent.