I, like most of the nation, am enamoured with Disney’s newest epicness, Frozen. This fantastic tale is not only artfully drawn, it contains within its many layers a lesson, well, actually several profound lessons in it.
Spoilers abound. You’ve been warned.
NO ONE ASKS TO BE BORN DIFFERENT.
As a parent, one of the things I’ve heard the most (and honestly, what I remember the most about being a kid) is wanting to be just like everybody else. Elsa is born (as far as we know) with her powers. She didn’t ask for them, and it really looks like no one thinks very much of it until her ‘difference’ causes—and unintentionally so—an issue in her family.
As little Anna is being healed, the troll and the parents come up with a plan to help Elsa hide her gift. I believe everyone involved had the best intentions, but in the process of ‘protecting’ her little sister from herself, they instilled in Elsa a sense that she was wrong, that she was dangerous, and that the only way to ensure nothing ever happened again was she never be true to herself again.
And again, I believe they meant well, but the isolation, from servants in the house to moving her out of the girls’ shared room, and the mantra-like ‘Don’t feel it, conceal it’ only reinforces the notion that this part of her, this not-so-small part of her very being should never be shown. And that, ladies and gentlemen, only breeds fear and self-loathing, which is contrary to what I think they were attempting to do. Which is why, when it finally does come out…
FALL OUT CAN BE EXPLOSIVE
Inevitably, when you ask someone to suppress something long enough, they eventually act out. I’m certain there’s a clinical psychiatric name for that, but it basically boils down to emotional fall out. For some people, it’s excessive promiscuity. For others, drug use and/or suicidal tendencies. But it always happens, and if you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to see it bubbling on the surface.
Elsa’s coming out gives her the opportunity to embrace her gift, because she’s moved away from the people she’s convinced her gifts would hurt. What she doesn’t realize until later, of course, is that her isolation isn’t exactly an isolated event, and she’s left the very people she was trying so desperately to protect in quite the predicament.
And in the midst of that are people like the Lord of Weaseltown who are certain, and loudly so, that her newly (but not new to her) gifts are instantly a danger. Even when he slips on the ice that is created as a barrier between Elsa and her detractors, he blames it on her, that it’s her ice that caused him injury, and he takes no responsibility that his negative reaction to her unexpected show of power directly caused that spray of ice he fell on.
(In fact, he spends the duration of the movie being a loud, whiny martyr. All the way up to the end, where he claims his neck hurts and he needs a doctor.)
LOVE, LOVE IS ALL WE NEED
Is there a love story? Most indubitably. Is it the end all be all, following the stereotypical Disney Princess is a damsel in distress formula? In part, yes. But does it save the day? Nope. Not one iota.
In the story of Frozen, Anna is saved by none other than, well, Anna. Despite the fact that true love’s kiss was just a sprint away (and he was sprinting towards her!), when it came down to braving the backlash or standing up for her sister, who was rather ready to die, thinking that she had already killed her sister, Anna broke her icy fate by demonstrating that an act of true love is accepting and loving Elsa just the way she was.
There was no “I’m going to stop this power-hungry crazy guy, but you have to promise to never use your powers ever again”. No, Anna, who spent the entire movie trying to reconnect with her sister, stands before the not-so-nice guy, away from the ice guy, with the understanding that this is most certainly doom, be it by sword or curse.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is true love, indeed. It’s in the aftermath of that show of love that Elsa figures out that love was still hers to have. And without sacrificing that part of her that made her different. Even better? They celebrate her difference in a giant finale!
The point is simple. Different isn’t bad. And we need to find a way to celebrate the differences, not draw lines to keep us apart. If nothing else, understanding that other people may not think, believe or act the way you do does not mean you have to condone their differences. Just means you understand that they are as different to you, as you are to them.
And if we’d approach each other with grace and love, instead of anger and hate, just think of the world we could build.