Is It Better to be Powerful and Alienated or Playful and Loved? Thoughts on Disney’s Frozen

disney-frozen-anna-elsa-new-designLike most little girls in America (the world?) today, my daughter is obsessed with Frozen. Now I know we throw around the word “obsessed” quite a bit, but there truly is no better term to describe the utter devotion and attention paid to this new Disney franchise. I’m not sure which of the Arendelle sisters’ is the best loved, but in my house the winner is Elsa.

There are several reasons for this preference: Elsa has powers, she sings the best song, and she looks a great deal like my daughter’s godmother, who’s long blonde hair both of us covet. But, I think there is something more to it than beauty, music, or being able to freeze those who are bossing you around…like your beloved mother telling you it’s time for bed.

Elsa is interesting. She not only has a magical power that separates her from others, but that power gives her the ability to create. While Anna is certainly optimistic and courageous, she lacks the force (and practical sense) of Elsa. If I had to chose which character my daughter should emulate, it would be Elsa, flaws and all, because of what she represents: agency, creation, independence, and strength. When she realizes that true love is the key to the control over her power, she is truly a model heroine.

Whether or not we prefer one sister to another, I feel that it should be stated that finally, FINALLY, the plot of a Disney movie has less to do with the rescue or seduction of either sex by the other, but rather is about such difficult topics as being truly different from your community, mastering emotion, making connections, and sacrificing oneself for another. While the film is far from perfect in its portrayal of both men and women, it is a giant leap forward. In the end, Elsa is able to be powerful, playful, and loved, and isn’t that what we ultimately want for our daughters?

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Thanks to rotoscopers.com for the image.

4 Replies to “Is It Better to be Powerful and Alienated or Playful and Loved? Thoughts on Disney’s Frozen”

  1. This is a super interesting post. Elsa is probably my favorite as well. She has depth and is complicated. I love that at the end she learns to accept and control her powers, trust people, and open herself up. She is also remarkably selfless in the lengths she goes to in order to protect Anna and her subjects. (However, I personally think Elsa does not have much practical sense or strength, not because she is weak per se, but because her fears & mental illnesses prevent her from thinking logically throughout most of the movie, and her ingrained fear of self basically cripples her and destroys any chance she has of finding strength in her identity–until the end, of course, thanks in part to Anna.)

    I think that if I had a daughter, I’d love for her to have Elsa’s very admirable ability to endure and to rise above, but for the most part I would hope she would emulate Anna. Anna is open-minded, loyal, and has a strong sense of self and much more emotional maturity than I think most people give her credit for.

    Most of all I’m just hoping that, if I have a daughter, she doesn’t have to go through years of self-hatred and depression like Elsa did. Maybe since I went through a bit of that with being gay, I can see too much of my experiences in Elsa’s (and maybe that’s why I love Anna so much for accepting Elsa exactly as she is).

    ANYWAY, clearly I’ve thought about this too much and have gone on for far too long. I totally respect your opinion, agree with a lot of your statements and obviously love both of the characters. I enjoy hearing people’s opinions about characters, especially when they’re a little different from mine. Makes for good conversation. Thanks for an insightful post! 🙂

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  2. I love your comments about Elsa, as she is a character that I love because I finally see a character who reminds me a lot of myself. Some of the characteristics I see in her, however, are the ones that I often wish I could change in myself. The feeling that the solution to the problem is to hide it until it goes away or to leave and isolate oneself to avoid it is a little worrisome. The opposite is true of Anna – she decides to confront her sister’s issue head on. While Anna’s naivety is how others prey on her, the growth she sustains during the course of the movie is commendable. For whatever reason, everyone in the kingdom of Arendelle decided that because the “different” princess needed to be hidden away and isolated while she grew up, so too did the “normal” princess (and I use “different” and “normal” loosely because they are the general suppositions of the society in the movie). While Elsa was isolated by choice, Anna appeared to be isolated by force. She never experienced anything outside the walls of the castle to even know how to handle reality. It is the same as watching romantic comedies every day and expecting that all romances flow as smoothly as the ones that you see on the screen. As Anna goes out into the world she is a little too trusting of others, but Elsa represents the other extreme of not trusting anyone at all, which is not necessarily better. Anna also has a will and determination to not let the obstacles in her way stop her from what she has set her mind to do. Also – props to her for ultimately falling for the hardworking, honest and caring guy, even though he wasn’t the suave, fancy, rich man in town. Just because a guy isn’t Brad Pitt doesn’t mean he isn’t the right guy to have by your side as you travel thru the ups and downs of life.

    Ultimately, I think there are both admirable qualities in both Elsa and Anna, as well as lessons to be learned from both. Be strong and selfless, open to new ideas, but don’t fail to rely on common sense and determination to get through life, and continue to grow each step of your journey. Disney finally created an opportunity for women to have a dialogue with the girls in their lives that there are ways to be strong and feminine, that character and integrity are important, and that life is not always about marrying a Prince.

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