There is a lot of Frozen in my life right now. This might be a cry for adult conversation or television targeted at people over the age of 5. Whatever it is, I’ve found myself appreciating the themes and messages in Frozen and have compiled a list for your reading pleasure.
Spoiler alert: The song “Let It Go” is no where on this list. As I previously posited, you might love it after the first few listens, but after you find yourself singing it in the shower for the 419th time, it becomes much less amusing. Get out of my (very limited) brain space! As much as I love my daughter’s sweet singing, after hearing her screech it out (with the wrong words) countless times every day, it starts to wear on you.
1) Frozen portrays love more realistically than other Disney movies.
A common theme in Disney movies is “love at first sight” and whirlwind romances where people fall madly in love very quickly. I’m inclined to think love is portrayed this way, at least in part, for convenience in a 90 minute movie. But I also know that love seems so much more romantic when it is reckless, unrestrained and unabashed. We all know (Don’t we?) that’s not how it works. In today’s “Bachelor” culture, I’m starting to think people may actually think that’s what love looks like. I certainly don’t want to give my children such unrealistic expectations, or have them make lifelong relationship decisions based on an elated feeling after a handsome stranger returns a lost shoe, or gives you a rape-y sleep kiss. (I didn’t say you could kiss me, dude. I’m in a magically induced coma and we’ve never met. Get up off it.)
I don’t some of their first impressions of romantic love to set unrealistic expectations. I don’t want them to miss out on true meaningful human connections and imperfect but genuine love because they’re waiting for a grand gesture or great romance.
I want my kids to know that in real life, love comes from truly getting to know someone, finding out what is most irritating about them, and then deciding that other people are more irritating. That’s real love. In Frozen, Anna meets Hans, immediately “falls in love” and becomes engaged. In what seems to be an interesting commentary on other Disney movies, all of Frozen’s main characters completely disagree with this decision. Krisftoff brings it up numerous times by questioning her judgment, since she’s the kind of person willing to get engaged to someone she just met. Elsa refuses to “bless” their union for the same reason. Anna spends most of the movie trying to justify her rash decision with “true love,” despite all the other characters constant jabs that mock the notion of “true love” between strangers. The message, even before any of the predictable plot twists, is that “love at first sight” is irrational.
2) Frozen reminds us that all people are not good people.
Big surprise, Hans ends up being a bit of a sociopath, which most of us should have picked up on the minute he proposed to a woman he just met. Ever met a guy genuinely willing to commit to marriage after a first date? If you have, he was probably later featured on 60 minutes after it was discovered that he had 4 wives in 4 different states while simultaneously running a Ponzi scheme that kills kittens. It doesn’t add up, y’all.
I like that the antagonist in Frozen is a real person. He’s not a witch, or a beast, or a sorcerer; He is a real person with ulterior motives and aspirations of power. He uses Anna, lies to her and manipulates her. While I hope this never happens to my kids, it certainly could, which is why I don’t mind them seeing it happen to a movie character.
I’m all about protecting my children’s innocence, to a certain extent. I’m not interested in exposing my children to harsh realities before their little brains are ready to process them, but I also don’t mind the idea of them knowing that all people aren’t good people, and some people lie. Sure Hans is mean, and says hurtful things to Anna, but that’s real life. People won’t always tell you the truth, and it’s not a bad idea to guard your heart. One of the best ways to do this, is to avoid getting engaged the same day you meet someone. Also, rigorous background checks.
I’m sure I’m coming across as a cynic here, and I’m ok with that. If you think I’m too cynical, you probably also think Beauty and the Beast is romantic, a movie where a woman is held captive, developes Stockholm Syndrome and lives happily ever after with her captor. We can agree to disagree.
3) Frozen shows us that true love does exist.
I’m not dead inside. I do believe in love and happy endings. The final reason I like Frozen is because it shows us that true love does exist. It’s not a prince coming to save you, it’s not romance saving your life and completing you. Elsa accidentally freezes Anna’s heart and only an act of true love can save her. This is when she must quickly return to Hans for a kiss, because true love’s kiss heals all. Unfortunately, she finds out Hans is just a youngest child with delusions of grandure and no real affections or plans for marriage beyond spousal homicide. It’s a rough breakup.
A selfless act from Anna and the true love that exists between sisters is what finally saves her. True love does exist, between family and friends, and yes, romantic partners with whom we’ve invested the time and energy to get to know. True love requires self-sacrifice, it is not selfish or self involved. True love is not about how it makes you feel, but about how you want the best for the other person. Olaf, the lovable dope of a snowman, ends up offering the most insight, saying that true love is putting someone else’s needs before your own. That’s a message I can get on board with, even if the messenger has twig arms and a carrot for a nose.