I am sure if you have not already seen it you have at least heard of Disney’s new movie, Frozen, that is still in box offices today even though it is already out on DVD. It is said to be one of the best movies Disney has ever come out with next to the movie Finding Nemo.
Why is this movie so popular? As it is just another movie about princesses which Disney has made plenty of. Is it because for once a knight in shining armor is not needed to rescue the damsel in distress at the climax of the movie? Yes, probably. This movie is being raved about by a multitude of sites like the New York Village Voice in saying things like, “…since Frozen stands as the triumphant culmination of a decade-long process by Disney to revamp their princesses for today’s audiences, and to offer girls stories as legitimately empowering as the countless ones Hollywood makes for boys” (Schager). While I do believe that Disney made a notable leap with the movie Frozen, there are still many instances in the movie that undermine a woman’s ability to be independent and still gives the message that a guy is necessary for happiness.
Now this movie is definitely no Snow White or Sleeping Beauty where these princesses solely rely on their knight in shining armor to save the day. There is no focus on a woman’s need to do domestic chores like there is in Snow White and Cinderella. Disney made a big step at the climax of the movie when Anna decides to run towards her sister, Elsa, who is about to be killed by the evil Hans to save her life and away from her “true love” Kristoff knowing that very well may be the end of her life (Elsa freezes Anna’s heart accidentally and the only way to thaw it is with an “act of true love”).
However, all I could think about was that Kristoff was still a very intricate part in saving the day. He rushed her back to the castle to Hans, who she thought was her true love and could unfreeze her heart. He took Anna to his “family,” the gnomes who told her how she could be saved but not before assuming Kristoff and Anna were a couple. The biggest play on what unintelligent beings girls/women are is in the development of the relationship between Hans and Anna. They meet at the coronation and talk all night and decide after knowing each other for hours they were to get married because they were so in love. The concept alone is so ridiculous to any person and yet Anna is unintelligent enough to believe that it is real love.
In one of the final scenes Hans reveals his true intentions that he only asked Anna to marry him for her rights to the throne because he had 12 brothers in his way for the throne in his country and everyone knew that Elsa was not a social human being and trying to court her would be impossible. He then leaves Anna in a room to freeze and tells the rest of the castle Anna is dead but they said their marriage vows before she passed. He then goes to find Else to kill her so he can be the king of Arendelle (Frozen, 2013).
He is so malicious in the above scene, and talks down to her like she is nothing more than a silly, easily tricked, fragile girl.
Even though Disney focused on the sisters saving each other they were still incapable of doing it without a man’s help (Kristoff) and they are also easily tricked and manipulated by the dominant gender as they show with the development between Anna and Hans. As we discussed in class on March 3rd, 2014 on Representing Identity, Identity is, “The representation of social groups on television that establishes the norms and expectations we have for particular categories of identity” (Zimdars). Disney just could not push the norms and traditions of gender to far for fear of upsetting their audiences members, because in taking men completely out of the hero role in their movies would be completely opposite of anything Disney has ever done. Like we have talked about in class multiple times they are trying to push through the barrier of the typical women role in media and they did make a great stride with Frozen, but they can not push too hard in fear of being rejected by society.
The problem I have with this is that these are the messages we are sending our siblings and future children, that no matter how much we have progressed in the decade Disney tried to cultivate a new princess image there are still restraints that will probably always be there. According to the article, Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films. “The accumulated experience [of media exposure] contributes to the cultivation of a child’s values, beliefs, dreams, and expectations, which shape the adult identity a child will carry and modify through his or her life” (Towbin, Haddock, Zimmerman, Lund, Tanner p. 20). We are instilling the same beliefs in children that the “sexist” early Disney movies carried when we watched them. The article goes on to state that men are always portrayed as, “…the rational, ambitious, smart, competitive, powerful, stable, violent, and tolerant characters” and that has not changed at all with the movie Frozen. Hans is competitive in a sense that he is competing for Anna to get to the throne faster. He outsmarts Anna by tricking her that he was really in love with her, and is clearly rational enough to know that you could not possibly fall in love and want to marry someone within hours as he rudely throws in her face at the end of the movie. He is also very violent leave Anna to die and seeking out Else to kill her. Kristoff is also shown as the rational one who tells Anna that she is crazy for wanting to marry a man she just met, he is ambitious in his very masculine job of a mountain man who mines ice, and he is very smart and tolerant of the fact that Anna is in love with another man.
Anna and Elsa are both depicted as the complete opposite of these qualities as I have already talked about briefly. They really fail at their attempt to cultivate a Disney princess to match our society today with Elsa’s character. She is completely incapable of controlling her powers to create ice and snow throughout the entire movie until the end this includes injuring Anna when she is younger and creating a giant snow storm over Ardenelle in the middle of summer which gets worst based on her emotions much like a hormone-ridden pre-menstrual female. Anytime she gets upset, fearful, or angry she has no control over her powers, including when she froze Anna’s heart and sets the snowstorm on Ardenelle.
In the video above it proves all of the points I made in just one scene of the movie. Elsa is so unaware of her powers she did not even know that she had started the ice storm; she has a flashback of hurting Anna when she was younger and she loses control of her powers three times in that one scene which led to freezing Anna’s heart. Not only can she not control these powers she has no idea how to reverse them once the incidents occur.
Women are very much still portrayed as emotional, unintelligent, incapable, weak, and fragile characters in this movie, which is why I question where the progression is short of maybe tweaking the typical princess story line. The message they are giving to young girls is still the same and the fact that this movie is being celebrated as if we have moved mountains and progressed so much startles me because it is such a small progression and people are satisfied with it which inevitably means the desire of company’s like Disney to push the limits even further are going to be at least partially diminished.
Buck, Chris, dir. Frozen:Hans Betrays Anna (Movie Scene). Dir. Jennifer Lee, and . Disney , 2013. Film. 29 Mar 2014.
MrHDmovieclips, . Frozen-Anna Saves Elza Clip . 2014. video. Youtube.comWeb. 29 Mar 2014.
Prince Hans of The Southern Isles, . Frozen:Hans Betrays Anna (Movie Scene). 2014. video. YoutubeWeb. 29 Mar 2014.
Schager, Nick . "The Triumph of Frozen, the First Disney Princess Movie About Girls Rather Than for Them." New York Village Voice. (2014): n. page. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.villagevoice.com/2014-02-05/film/frozen-the-best-disney-princess-movie/>.
Skyde67, . Elsa Hits Anna Freezes Heart (Spoiler Alert). 2014. video. YoutubeWeb. 29 Mar 2014.
TANRISEVER, Aytekin. Frozen Anna meets Hans Elsa's Coronation. 2014. video. YoutubeWeb. 29 Mar 2014.
Towbin, Mia, Shelley Haddock, Toni Zimmerman, Lori Lund, Lori Lund, and Lori Lund. "Images of Fender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films." Journal of Feminist Family Therapy. (2008): 1-44. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1300/J086v15n04_02>.
Zimdars, Melissa. "Representing Identity." 3 03 2014. Address.