Frozen’s Subliminal Message

Personally, I love Frozen. I am a sucker for any Disney movie with beautiful animation, an amazing soundtrack, and phenomenal Broadway-based cast. However, I also find Frozen to be pretty empowering for young girls. A disney princess whose journey in the film is to find and accept herself and her family? Heck yeah, sign me up. While I could honestly go on about Frozen for the rest of eternity, what I actually want to talk about is this Yahoo Shine article about “The Real Message Behind Let it Go”

For those not familiar with the movie, Let it Go is the movie’s gem, the culmination of Elsa (the “Snow Queen”) finally “letting go” and unleashing her powers while belting (and is sung by Idina Menzel so obviously it is sublime). During this scene Elsa literally transforms from afraid and dowdy  to confident, building a castle and a fierce-ass dress out of ice and belting like the fierce queen she is.

The Yahoo Shine article does not agree. It says that “as far as I can see it, [the actual message of the scene] is this: “Get it, ho.” I am under suspicion that this article was only written so that wordplay could be used, because the claims that the author, Beth Greenfield, “refuse[s] to accept as ‘feminist’ and ’empowering’ more tarted up, over sexualized crumbs” are honestly ridiculous.

The entire article takes issue with the fact that Elsa’s transformation takes her out of “her perfectly lovely green gown” and “into a sparkling, off-the-shoulders, breast-hugging confection” and “a boatload of makeup.” You can take issue with Elsa’s new outfit all you want, but really, who cares? Why do her new outfit and makeup choices change your opinion of her as a character? Do we really have to suddenly lose respect for a girl who is finally coming into her own and accepting that she has the power to carve her own life just because she’s singing in a fine as hell gown that shows off her legs? The argument that Elsa’s transformation is “anti-feminist” and a bad influence on young girls because her outfit is revealing is inherently anti-feminist. Women need to be valued for their personhood, for their will to face their fears and grow their abilities, not how much makeup they’re wearing or if their dress hugs their fucking breasts.

Not only in the eyes of this article is Elsa’s outfit inappropriate, but how dare she also strut like “a Victoria’s Secret Angel on the runway, swishing her hips with the exaggeration of a seasoned drag queen.” Obviously, Victoria’s Secret Angels and Drag Queens do not live up to the standard of women we expect our daughters to be. Her “formerly innocent face” is now makeup clad. She is no longer the clean pristine girl that we need young women to grow up to be. Who Elsa chose to be after living in fear of being herself is too slutty.

While all of this is infuriating enough, the kicker for me of this article is the beginning of the penultimate paragraph:

“Why? Who’s it for?”

It’s for her.

Why is it impossible to believe that Elsa could want to be alone and also wear an extravagent dress and makeup? The article begs Disney to “break its heroines free from the male gaze” but Elsa doesn’t even have a love interest in the movie. There are no males in her ice castle. Elsa looks fine as hell for herself. Because she is strong and fine as hell. This article put her in the male gaze. These expectations of what a woman has to be are what has confined her. This article is everything “Let it Go” is not. The female oppression does not come from how Elsa chooses to express herself, it comes from people telling her that her choices are not acceptable.

One thought on “Frozen’s Subliminal Message

  1. Andrea

    I could care less about Elsa’s physical transformation, or the ludicrous comments about how this whole thing is somehow linked to gay causes.

    But I do have a big problem with this movie and in particular the theme song. I heard all the hooplah about this movie and it’s empowering ground breaking messages, I expected to like it. So I was shocked at just how uncomfortable I felt watching this movie, my response was visceral, like a was watching a wolf in sheeps clothing. I was so disgusted that this movie and Disney’s huge marketing budget managed to convince droves of men, women, and children that this movie was not only good but somehow amazing!

    Here are my thoughts;

    This song is the worst anthem for girls ever written. The lyrics themselves, the character delivering them, the context in the movie in which they are delivered…it’s all crap. How it has managed to dazzle even educated adult women is beyond me. I can only attribute it to the power of the delivery of the song.

    Elsa has literally just created a huge mess, turned her back on everyone, even those trying to help her, deflected her responsibilities, and completely isolated herself, and is basically giving a big middle finger to the rest if the world yet we are all excited because this is somehow a good message for girls? Really? What part? Would that be turning inward? not caring about others? Running away from your problem? Oh i know it must be that you don’t have to follow any rules?

    Is this really the kind of behavior we want our girls embracing when the going gets tough? Run away from your problem and isolate yourself?

    No! How can anyone with half a brain find this song empowering?

    This song is nothing more then teenage angst, not resolution to that angst. This song is about feeling lost and alone. Yet we are celebrating it like it is the answer. It’s like celebrating an addict neck deep in their addiction, rather then their recoverery. Even if one wants to see an optimistic (though weak) overall them to this movie, this song, both in context and in lyrics does not embrace even the positive aspects of the film. It is Elsa in a downward spiral before she sees love not isolation is the key to happiness and control. Yet we celebrate this song as if it is positive. I don’t get it. Is everyone really that blind?

    Perhaps if Elsa had scenes where we saw some character development and self reflection we could see how she processed and worked through these feelings. But Elsa is pretty hateful the whole movie (she doesn’t even choose to go back to her kingdom to fix things, she is captured) and only softens in about the last thirty seconds when she watches Elsa turn to ice in front of her. Then honestly it felt more like guilt then love that caused her to weep on her sister.

    And too that point if Elsa weeping on her sister helped melt her, then how come child Elsa weeping on child Anna didn’t help melt Anna then? And if love was the key to controlling her powers then how come she couldn’t control them as a child when she was undoubtedly full of love? And if the trolls are “love experts” how come they wouldn’t have informed everyone of this a long time ago. Clearly love experts would know what years of isolation would do to a young girls heart.

    For a movie that markets itself on sisterly love, and female empowerment and even managed through marketing to convince the world of these two things; it severally lacks in both. A movie about sisterly love for starters would benefit from actually showing more sisterly bounding. Not only does this movie stink at story telling and leave many plot holes and have severally underdeveloped characters, it’s biggest sin is managing to convince people in droves that it’s actually really deep and meaningful.

    Wake up educated women of the world, Disney’s manage to dumb down your intellect. Wake up and stop allowing yourself to be victimized by the powers of Disney’s marketing machine!

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