Saturday, January 9, 2016

Why I take Issue with Elsa's Storyline in Frozen



There are multiple blog posts about why Frozen sucks or why it is amazing but I have not yet come cross the reason Elsa's storyline bothers me. Let me just get this disclaimer out of the way for those who take a strong stance: up until this point I felt neutral towards Frozen. I enjoyed aspects of it and thought the sisters saving each other was a nice touch. (Although Angelina Jolie did a better job of this concept in Maleficent.) I found some songs incredibly boring and they did not live up to the artistic geniuses who wrote them. I took issue with aspects of the story  but in other ways I celebrated it. The main reason I was excited about it was because it featured Idina Menzel from Wicked.  Frozen was a blip on my screen until my children were watching it for a third time recently and I was suddenly hit with what was nagging me at the back of my brain and creating a bothersome itch.

Did Elsa really "let it go"? If she had truly lived within that sassy mantra she would have been fine being herself. If the cold never bothered her anyway, she should have allowed herself to live up in her icy castle, after fixing the frozen winter on innocent people who did not share her sentiment. She would also have not felt guilty about being who she was and thus would not have lashed out at her sister. She would not have conformed to society's standards of a "healthy well adjusted person" who leaves the doors and windows open at all times and enjoys dancing at parties. Instead, she would have gone back to her frozen castle on the hill and enjoyed a visit from a close person or two who had a hankering for an ice experience.

Elsa's story arc seems to suggest that living independently is wrong and that social solidarity is the only way to live a meaningful life. It's a conservative stand point. A mantra that sings we need each other to "fix each other and round us out." While I would agree that we can add to each other's lives and sharpen each other, humanity also becomes worse around each other. Case in point; Nazism...and there are many, many other horrid examples from history when groups of people were actually WORSE for the world at large. People compete. Group influence begets cultural standards that are dangerous.

On the flip side, some of our brilliant activists were staunch loners or even agoraphobics. Many of our notable writers and prophets who warn us of the damage we are causing to the world or ourselves are Hermits. Away from the crowd they can perceive issues that the sheep can not. Why is the independent loner never celebrated? Why must she be fixed- and I emphasize SHE because men sometimes do get their independent story lines and can be the grouchy old man everyone adores or who saves everyone at the last minute because he is some lonely wizard, but women often do not get the same justice.

I do not take issues with extroverts or those who truly need others to be healthy. I do, however, take issue that this is the constant message of society. If I respect those who need people, I also ask for respect for those of us who need less people in our lives to stay grounded.  People can be horrid influences. There are ways to grow and become while still being an introvert. We can choose our influences through past authors or distant online friends. We are still part of the world, it's just a different way of being.

If Anna was the truly loveable sister everyone claims she was, she should not have expected her sister to want to be a people person. While Anna was naive and sweet at some points, she also never really dealt with her grief. She is the perfect example of someone who has no depths. Which is fine, but why is this celebrated as the ultimate heroine? She has to go through a traumatic rejection, from a frivolous relationship, that frankly is more minimal then the rejection her sister has experienced her whole life, to finally choose her sister in an act of self love. What would be TRULY feminist if both sisters could have been WHO they truly are. Their growth within themselves could have happened by that acceptance of each other and allowing each other to be different.

In the end, the movie bothered me because I felt it ended up stigmatizing people who enjoy being alone. Apparently anyone who lives alone is heartless until they have learned their lesson from someone more extroverted to "come out of their shell." The truth is in the middle. We need both warm fire (Anna) and ice (Elsa) in our world. I prefer cold to heat. The cold where I live gets drastic enough to kill off many rodents, pests and bugs. It has it's merit. It can also be dangerous in excess. But so can heat. Some people prefer heat and heat enables many wondrous activities, but out of hand and in excess it can do immense damage too. Just ask any ardent apocalypse believer who is looking forward to the end of the world with secret glee. According to them the earth is going to burn which probably contributes to why there is not much concern for global warming in many religious circles*. So fire= world destruction. Ice= world destruction which has already happened in our ice ages. To celebrate one over the other in a moral lesson seems futile to me.

If you have watched Frozen did you see this in the storyline before? If you are an introvert or can relate at all to Elsa how did it make you feel? If you could relate to Anna how did that make you feel?

* Do not take me mentioning this stance as in support of it, but it is something I grew up with in certain religious stances.
**I know I'm a little late to the game to talk about Frozen but it ties into recent thoughts about being alone and happy with it. I am healthier with less people around me and whenever too many people are around I get sick and am less of a well balanced person. However, I absolutely love my tribe and am very thankful for them. See Hermit Label for more.

Maybe Anna would have had a better story if she could have viewed Han through this lens? Maybe she should have been the one to let it go...

2 comments:

FlutistPride said...

I completely disagree with your point. Elsa shut herself out of the world due to fear, not due to desire. She rejected others before she could be rejected despite the fact that she did want to step out and be with others. This is a defense mechanism I use myself in a variety of situations. The character of Elsa reminds me of a repressed extrovert rather than an introvert. See my post "Don't let them in, Don't let them see" for more information. I am an extrovert that can heavily relate to Elsa because I felt like I had to hide that part of me. My temperamental identity shifted from melancholic-sanguine to melancholic-choleric to choleric-melancholic to choleric-sanguine, from INTJ to ENTJ to ENTP, and from 4w5 sp to 5w3 so to 8w7 sx. As a writer, I felt like I had to fit the mold of what a writer should be in order to not be disregarded as a shallow wannabe. When I search "extroverts are" on the Internet, I get things like "annoying", "shallow", and "stupid". The character of Elsa is a representation of pretending to be something that you're not and transitioning into self-acceptance by letting go of a stifling guise. For me, it was pretending to be introverted in order to the gain acceptance and approval that I needed. In the end, Elsa did embrace who she was; the social solidarity that followed was just a nice after-effect.

Kmarie Audrey said...

I know there are many interpretations of Elsa out there...many of which I could see from differing perspectives including yours. This was simply mine:) I do take issue with the points I stated as our world is often more supportive of extroverts...at least in my community. I have rarely found people who think extroverts are annoying but I am wondering if you are finding that way because some vocal introverts are writers perhaps? Both extroverts and introverts can be annoying but I find it weird that someone summarized that so generally so I wouldn't take that to heart. You are your own sparkling individual. I like how you see Elsa and I find it an interesting perspective! I am sorry that your experience has been that way. It sounds wounding.:( I think your extrovertism has a lot to offer the world:)

I don't think social solidarity is a nice after affect...it can be but why is that focused on in most of society's dialogue? People can be just as happy with less social solidarity...I still feel that the movie stigmatizes people who like to be alone...my husband found this that basically stated what I did- which was funny as I thought maybe it was just me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpmKW10d_TU lol of course, its simply a cartoon that can have us all taking issues...I was using it to make a point that was on my mind it was the most accessible example I had at the time:) If you love Elsa and feel she gives you a deep meaning for your personality I definitely can respect that:)
Thanks for your thoughts:)