I love the Disney movies of my youth, wily feminist though I am. I’m an apologist for the marriage plots that drive them because I also like Jane Austen and Hugh Grant and I’m not about to start nitpicking because some stories feature adorable singing animals and therefore should be held to a higher standard.
Also, obviously: princesses.
Did I not care enough? Did I not twirl about pretending to be Belle, asking my mom day after day for small brown slip-on shoes that would make me, too, feel as though I was dancing through a delightful (if somewhat close-minded) French village?
But now the millennialettes (TM) have succeeded where I failed. Where perhaps I didn’t even think to try.
Yes, there will be a sequel to Frozen.
Did I not tirelessly apply myself to the cross-footed underwater swimming technique that would most enable me to mimic Ariel in her super-cool grotto as I swam around my dad’s swimming pool, coming up for air so infrequently I almost always ended those summer days with an oxygen-deprived headache?
These tiny Elsas and Annas — too old to be parented by all by the very most industrious of kids I went to high school with; too young to make me feel uncool when encountered during forays to suburban shopping malls — have defined themselves already by their persistence, their industriousness, their penchant for earworms and their staunchness in the face of animated film industry conventions.
Their inability to let it go.
If you will.
And you will.
BECAUSE THEY WILL MAKE YOU.
Basically, I’m just disappointed in myself. I mean in all of you, too. Millennials generally.
Did I not obnoxiously sing along to the soundtrack of The Lion King every day the entire summer vacation after 4th grade, until my poor babysitter began to wonder if she was being subjected to some sort of odd psychological conditioning to instill a deep-seated fear of Jeremy Iron’s singing voice?
I watched Frozen with my boyfriend one Saturday morning on the couch, which seems appropriate.
Childhood is defined by the Big Four: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King.
There were others. Hercules (hey Megara, be cooler, wait, no IT’S NOT POSSIBLE) and kind of weirdly, Rescuers Down Under (mouse Bob Hope! in Australia!), come to mind.
But really it’s the Big Four. They are the ones we watch at the ends of the most comfortable living room parties, drunk and nostalgic.
I watched these movies (all movies) aspirationally. Like all the imaginary games I ever played — we actually called them that, as in, “do you want to play an imaginary game?” Perhaps this was part of the problem? — I tried each time to loosen the grasp of my feet on the floor and fall fully into a world where many more things were possible.
Of course, when I imagine the possibilities for further storylines, I quickly run up against some constraints of the form:
- Belle gives birth to 5 hirsute babies.
- Ariel starts her own QVC line of gold-plated fork-combs.
- Aladdin and Jasmine are granted their greatest wish, a 3-bedroom starter palace.
- Nala and Simba and baby-lion (Hunter, maybe? too on-the-adorable-kitty-nose?) segue themselves into a production of Macbeth; things get dark(er).
Okay fine. We may not remember Hamlet today for its triumphant love story. But even The Lion King ends with a birth.
Frozen doesn’t hinge on a marriage plot. I mean, there’s a “marriage plot,” but it’s literally a plot about marriage, a ruse and a device that makes fun of expectations that an animated movie about two pretty teenagers must end with one or both of them married to some dude.
I totally fell for it! I mean, look how suave that guy is!
Plus his fun horse!
It’s not like I was too busy watching early ’90s MTV, I will tell you that. I have no excuses for my lack of commitment to the cause, my placid acceptance of non-canonical straight-to-video sequels starring secondary characters voiced by mimics.
I generally don’t feel super old. Typically I estimate my emotional and intellectual self stalled out at about 13.
But this sequel business, this I feel. The lack of more story, more time. The finiteness of the worlds in which I lived.