Have you heard about the religious nuts condemning the Disney blockbuster Frozen because it supposedly promotes lesbianism and the “gay agenda”?
The rub seems to be that Frozen is a story of female empowerment, which is always dangerous territory for fundamentalist zealots. Frozen focuses on the sad separation and redeeming devotion shared by two sisters, Anna and Elsa, neither of whom walks into the sunset with some brawny lug. Instead, our heroines joyously ice skate together into their future!
Idina Menzel has cemented her rep as the go-to balladeer of girl power by adding Elsa’s Oscar-winning anthem “Let It Go” to Elphaba’s unforgettable “Defying Gravity” from Wicked. Internet tributes and parodies abound. I’ve written my own grumpy ode to the new earworm: “Turn it off! Turn it off! Don’t play it for me anymore.”
Lesbian subtexts can be detected in many books and movies. No one has been more avid in digging them out than we lesbians ourselves, who until the last few decades have been deprived of depictions of our lives. Frozen includes themes of isolation, misunderstanding and passionate attachment that have been explored in lesbian literature. It hardly makes the film a propaganda vehicle, however, as those themes have appeared in a wide range of story-telling over the centuries.
The zealots’ imputation of lesbianism in Frozen is not grounded in a search for clarity or connection. It is rooted in the worst fears of women-loving women as secretive, sinister and sick.
Critics suggest that Anna and Elsa’s love is a little too intense. They jump to the conclusion that Disney is using Frozen to recruit child viewers to become gay and to — horror of horrors! — be tolerant toward others. They seem most threatened by the profound empathy Frozen elicits from viewers, especially their kids.
A related irritant is what they perceive as the disobedience and independence of the sisters. Elsa exuberantly declaring, “No right or wrong, no rules for me — I’m free!,” must be very disturbing to anyone with a conservative mindset. What I gather (from reading way too many of their comments) is they fear the independence of their own children, of losing them to what seem to be alien values.
All these factors show a level of fear and paranoia that is as damaging as it is pathetic. How insecure must you be in your own family and relationships that you see only subversion in an animated, heartfelt tale of love and self-sacrifice between sisters? You need to let it go, folks, please.
I hope the criticisms of Frozen are the isolated rants of a few cranks whose attitudes are fading. I’d like to think the recent death of Fred Phelps, “pastor” of the infamous “God Hates Fags” Westboro Baptist Church, signals the end of an era.
Meanwhile, audiences have spoken. Frozen has made over $1 billion at the box office and is selling briskly on DVD. Its success, along with that of other female-centered films like The Hunger Games, may usher in a new era of women-oriented movies.
Who knew we’d get a new Disney classic with feminist impact? Who doesn’t love Anna and Elsa and the adorable Olaf? Who hasn’t shed a few tears or found themselves singing along with Idina Menzel? Don’t fight it. Let it go!
Editor’s Note: With ticket sales for Disney’s Frozen breaking the billion dollar mark the weekend of March 26, it has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time and one of the top 10 moneymakers for all categories.