Why I'm Not Letting My Girls Watch Frozen II (Opinion)
I am one of those dads that previews the content their children view before they are allowed to watch it. As a fiction writer, I am hyper-aware of how fiction can shape and change us, so as a precaution, I check it out first.
Let me first say, I'm not an anti-Disney freak, at least not yet. I sit down with my girls (two and four years old) and we'll watch Pixar, Mickey Mouse, Beauty and the Beast (the cartoon, not the lame live-action trash) and Darkwing Duck.
However, I watched Frozen II with my wife last night, and came up with some problematic themes that I'm not comfortable with possibly influencing my kids.
First of all, I am not a Broadway guy. I am an Expendables guy. The fact that I don't get into the Broadway style of the movie doesn't have anything to do with this opinion. I watch my wife's stuff frequently and can appreciate it without enjoying it.
I'm looking at you, Newsies.
Second, in the vein of "Let It Go", Frozen II has a female vocal that plays constantly through the movie, and therefore forever in your mind. I can't get it out.
Please get it out.
Third, the movie itself is rushed in several parts. The beginning of the movie sets the conflict pretty well by introducing the voice only Elsa can hear, then Elsa does something that freaks some spirits out, and disaster strike Arendelle.
Let me just say, the lack of panic in that mass-evacuation was on point. Let's hear it for the people of Arendelle, huh? Their town is getting ripped apart by magic and everyone is simultaneously getting out of Dodge without trampling one another. They also just hang out on this cliffside for the duration of the movie. That's discipline, people.
Overall, it feels that the plot of the movie is secondary to the themes, which are mostly presented in the music.
(My hat is off to the musical performers, by the way. There were some powerful vocals and excellent voice control on display in this film.)
My main issues come down to the themes. One of the primary storylines is that of Anna destroying a dam that is somehow preventing the Eskimos of the magic forest from having access to magic. The issue with destroying the dam is that it will also release a tidal wave that will wipe Arendelle off the map.
The sisters are rightfully horrified that Arendelle, which stands for freedom and democracy, would do such a thing to another people. However, they have no problem with destroying the dam in the vein of "doing the next right thing," and thereby destroying Arendelle entirely. Even the guards who have spent their lives defending the dam get cool with wiping out Arendelle alarmingly quickly.
I find this attitude a little concerning in the current climate, where people are accusing the United States of behaving counter to its stated mandate and declaring that it should be destroyed. It's an extreme reaction to this problem, and would probably lead to devastating consequences. Eradicating the old world to make way for the new sounds great in drama and theory, but in practice, you get revolutionary France and Communist Russia.
And holy cow, is this movie dramatic. I get that it's meant for girls, but come on. The 80s love song went WAY over the top. This movie is meant for those girls that break up with a guy and immediately burn everything he ever touched.
Burn it all.
Now we hit the major issue I had with the film: the lesson that it teaches. Throughout the movie, Elsa is encouraged and empowered to stand alone in her power, following the voice that only she can hear. This movie is all about female empowerment.
Now, on the surface, I don't have a problem with that. I think fiction exists as a medium to help people through real-life problems by giving them solutions acted out in a simulated environment.
My problem is the way Elsa is empowered. First of all, she is constantly isolating herself. She keeps telling Anna to get lost. Guys and girls, everyone needs a support structure. You need family, friends, mentors and a sense of purpose to keep you going. Leaving all of that to go find yourself just isolates you from the herd and makes you vulnerable, and since none of us boast magical ice powers that can actually bring dead things to life, maybe this isn't the example you want to follow.
But hey, you want to be separate from any kind of reinforcements or aid, then you do you.
Elsa's primary song, "Into the Unknown", is all about her leaving her previous paradigm to follow the voice in her head and resolve the dissatisfaction she feels. This one in particular makes me angry, because of the lesson people will draw from this.
There come times in everyone's life, multiple times, where they feel dissatisfied with the way things are. Maybe they got married and thought things would be different. They graduated college, joined the Marine Corps, changed careers or had kids. They coasted the wave of the new for a while, then things started to stagnate a bit.
He doesn't buy me flowers anymore. I'm not getting the job I thought I would get. I'm not being treated with honor, courage and commitment. These kids won't shut up or let me sleep.
Please let me sleep.
The lesson taught by Frozen II is that if you are dissatisfied with your life, then to keep yourself from dying internally, you should undertake whatever kind of risk necessary to become satisfied. Leave your family, risk your life, change your hairstyle and just follow the voice in your heart until you're a confident, stunning vocalist brimming with barely contained power.
Girls, is your husband or kids not satisfying you anymore? Leave them. The "temporary" damage to them will wear off and you'll be free in the meantime. Besides, didn't Elsa save Arendelle with her power once she was freed? That'll totally happen with you.
Do you look out the window of your cubicle (If you have a window. I didn't.), and feel trapped by your 9-5 job with benefits? Get right up, chuck your paperwork and access badge in your rotund supervisor's shocked face and stride out of there, hips swaying, waving your arms at automatic doors just before they open like Elsa did when she was blasting ice pillars upright.
This is terrible advice.
Those who succeed in life are those who power through these periods of stagnation. Come on, our culture is rife with examples of this. The Tortoise and the Hare, the geek who becomes a CEO, every motivational video involving a gym trainer: they all say the same thing.
Don't be inspired by a scripted, contrived, artificial story into believing that the only way out/forward is burning all of your bridges and changing everything. I don't want my girls believing that that is their only or best option. I want them to be steady. Weather those times of drama, and make coolheaded decisions that won't damage everyone around you.
Take a minute, breathe, pray about it, get some advice (from successful, happy people, not divorced and bitter Linda) and you will most likely come to the really annoying conclusion that the best thing to do...is just to keep doing what you've been doing.
This one's gonna make people mad, because it runs counter to the self-care doctrine running through our society. I'm okay with disagreement, but if someone want to get nasty and call me names, we'll do it in a DM so that person can be heard, but not spread drama into a public forum.
There's enough drama going around online, right?