Here’s the great part of being Dad to a little girl: I can now publicly admit to sitting through animated Disney movies. None of you guys can give me any flack for this either because...well...daughter. Plus, any Dads who say you’ve never done the same for your little girl are liars. Just sayin’.
Now, this is not to say I’m raising a little wannabe princess who, like Anna in Frozen, believes she’ll meet a guy and become engaged in the same night.
Thus far, my little girl seems more like Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, much to my wife’s chagrin. She still plays with dolls, sure, but her favorite game is running around wielding Nerf swords to pretend-lop Mommy & Daddy’s heads off. I consider this a good thing. If zombies are ever to take over the world, at least I can rest easy knowing Little Miss can handle her biz.
Admit it, Dads of the world, you’re jealous.
Yet this past Sunday, rather than watching the latest Walking Dead episode, I found myself plopped on the couch with wife and daughter to see the much-anticipated Frozen. Regardless of the point I made to begin this rant, any of you who know me well already realize I would’ve watched Frozen anyway. I might be a movie snob, but Disney puts out some fantastic films.
So how about, Galv, I hear you saying. What’s the verdict already?
Voiceovers? Sorry, what’s that? You say Kristen Bell voices one princess, the other by Idina Menzel, (or Adele Dazeem, depending on who you ask)? Uh…yes, please!
Story? Weeeeeeellll…Let me say Frozen doesn’t hold up to other Disney films in this department, namely Tangled.
Before I go there though, how about those songs in Frozen? They were (mostly) great, right? In fact, there is the slightest chance I might have possibly, (but definitely did), give the wife an encouraging nudge to “Let It Go” come this Halloween as Princess Elsa did during said fantastic song.
Roll your eyes all you want, ladies. Welcome to man-dom. I’ll be your tour guide.
Seriously though. Tell me you guys out there didn’t think the same? This chick goes from put together, I’m proper as can be, to watch me transform into the most seductive, wild, and smokin’ hot Ice Queen you’ve ever seen.
And that’s the problem I have with it.
That’s right. Pump the brakes. We’re not headed down Misogyny Road here.
Nope. We need to take a detour down Daddy Avenue. Suddenly these portrayals of scantily clad/seductive female heroines and dumb bimbos make Daddy wonder what Little Miss’s brain is processing by viewing all this.
Now, in my college years I would’ve applauded the exploration Queen Elsa is discovering. Why? Because as any young man with hormones buzzing through him will tell you, such girls are easy targets. Explore away, Elsa, you Scandinavian bombshell, I think it's a great idea! What’s that? You want me to accompany you into your glittering ice castle of wondrousness to help you through this experimental phase?
Sure. Why not? I got nothing better to do.
But now, as a husband and father, living this complete reversal of fortunes, you can imagine my fear. In a number of years such dogs (as I once was) will come hounding at my door. And you can be certain I will run those mongrels off with more than a couple of Nerf swords. That’s just one lesson I’m taking from Frozen.
Elsa is this way because her parents made her feel different. They locked her away with no one else for companionship, made her feel ashamed of her power, and this Ice Queen status is the result of that. Can you just imagine how anyone else in a similar scenario would react?
Aaron drifts off to imagine another Disney princess stuck in a ladderless tower with infinitely flowing blonde hair…
No? Me neither.
Again, I’m all about Elsa exploring her newfound freedom and being honest about who she is, but why does she have to be so, for lack of a better word, sexy about it all? Yes, I realize we’re talking about a Disney film and I just used the word sexy. But why can’t she just be powerful and put together? Why is it only once she becomes seductive that she learns to embrace the power within her?
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with women/girls expressing who they feel themselves to be, even if it means becoming a seductive Ice Queen. Hardly. I’m saying Elsa’s transformation feels like telling girls they have to become a different person to do so. Is Elsa’s new Ice Queen status a mask to cover up her insecurities? Sure. And Disney did a good job covering that by later revealing Elsa is not nearly so confident as she claims to be when confronted by her sister.
Oh, Princess Anna. The stereotypical ‘OMG! I just met this guy just this morning and wow! LOL! He’s soooo amazing!’ Side note: How many times did she use the word “totally” while singing Open Up The Gates? I counted three on the first watch. Why does she have to sound so…dumb? Why do we allow this stereotype of idiotic girls to continue? I don’t want my daughter growing up to use the word “like” and “totally” in every sentence uttered.
Where are the smart, sensible, animated heroines? Why not more stories like Belle in Beauty & The Beast, or Mulan in…Mulan? I dunno. Call me crazy. I prefer my female protagonists strong and smart.
That’s not to say such female protagonists can’t still be feminine. Rapunzel in Tangled is a great example of this. Sure she struggles a bit with leaving her tower, and doesn’t do so until Flynn Rider comes along, but I got the vibe it didn’t necessarily have to be Flynn that made her leave. It could’ve been almost anyone to give her the little push she needed to run off for a closer look at the floating lights.
In fact, my favorite part about her and Flynn’s relationship is that Rapunzel doesn’t need him to (forgive the Jerry Maguire pun) complete her. It worked out that way, sure, but she never seemed overly reliant on him. In fact, she bails him out more often than not.
I also think Tangled handles balancing femininity and strength well.
What I loved about how Rapunzel handled her situation is that she doesn’t let the same fear stop her from exploring what she wants and who she really is. She also didn’t need to become something else, or take on a different look, to accept that.
And my favorite part is when Rapunzel first leaves the tower. She’s celebrating one minute, beating herself up the next for fear of disappointing her assumed mother. That’s fantastic. From talks with a lot of women in my life, (I’m talking family and friends here, people. Don’t think I’m stepping out on the missus.), this seems to me a point many women struggle with. How to not disappoint their loved ones?
(Hint: Guys carry these fears too, ladies. We’re just more inclined to shrug off said worries in the interest of keeping up the all-that-is-man facade. So I guess we’re like Elsa too, only we can’t pull of the smoldering look nearly so well.)
I guess the morale of these two stories is you can lock a girl away, but you at least need to let her keep a chameleon. You know...if you want her to have any kind of conviction about who she is and all.
There goes my theory heroines didn’t need anyone to be strong…
Curse you, Disney.
Author. Actor. Rascal.