Let's get this out of the way. I love "Frozen." It is probably my favorite Disney movie since "The Lion King." It holds a special place in my heart as the first movie my daughter (3) has ever sat through. It holds an even more special place as the first movie my daughter has sat through 3 times. So let's talk about what I love about it first. Spoilers ahead for those who haven't seen the film.
For too long in movies, true love has been something that a princess must obtain. And not just obtain from anywhere, obtain from a man. It is a gift he gives her. In early Disney Princess mythology it was as literal as a kiss. The prince wakes Sleeping Beauty with a kiss. The prince saves Snow White with a kiss. Ariel has to earn her legs by getting Prince Eric to kiss her. So when in "Frozen", after accidentally getting iced in the heart by her Ice Queen sister, Princess Anna must race back to her "True Love" (whom she had just met a day or so earlier and has had 0 quality time with) to get his magic, lifesaving "kiss", I rolled my eyes. Here we go again. The music was amazing. The story of Anna trying to connect with her sister was captivating. And now it had all been reduced to another "dude saves the princess with a kiss story." But then the writers threw in the first big twist.
Anna's "true love" turns out to be an opportunistic douchebag who just wanted to marry her because she was a princess. He was never in love with her, and his kiss would have been lame anyway. But now Anna is going to die unless she finds an act of true love! Luckily another gentlemen, the kind and attentive Kristoph is galloping down the mountain and across the frozen fjords to lay a big smooch on Anna's lips before she turns to ice! Oh well, at least Anna spent more than a half an hour with Kristoph before he became her only hope for salvation. I had still hoped for more… and then more happened.
Opportunistic Douchebag goes after Anna's older sister, Queen Elsa, with a sword intent on killing her and usurping the throne. Anna sees this about to happen and turns from a quickly approaching Kristoph to go and save her. Suddenly we all realize what has been happening the whole time. This isn't a love story between Anna and Douche Canoe. It isn't even a love story between Anna and Kristoph. This is a love story between Anna and her sister! In her final moment Anna sacrifices her life to save her Elsa. True love is her gift to give. And through it, she is saved.
Bravo! Genius! Empowering! I was honestly moved to tears. Here is a movie I can show my daughter over and over again. It has depth and thought behind it. It is beautiful. But wait, the movie isn't over.
After Anna is resurrected by the giving of love, not the receiving, and after the fjords melt and the endless winter is ended, everyone is standing around on a boat having a nice time. Suddenly, Douchenozzle Liar Prince is found on the deck. After being properly restrained, I am sure he will be punished according to the law of the magical cartoon kingdom. Anna and Elsa have reconnected and all is well in the world. Aaaaand then Anna punches Prince Doucherton of Douchetonia violently in the face sending him flying into the water. Everyone smiles in the movie. Everyone laughs in the theater. My daughter laughs. I sit silent.
Stick with me here. Aside from being a princess, there is nothing inherently female about the character of Anna. She is human. She wants love. She wants to connect with her sister. She wants companionship. All of those character details are non-gender-specific. If Disney had wanted to, Princess Anna could have easily been Prince Adam. Aside from changing the key of a few of the songs, they wouldn't have even had to change the script. Well, except for violently punching a member of the opposite sex in the face. They probably would have to change that. What if, at the end of the movie, the opportunistic Mrs. Douchette had been found on the deck of the boat, defeated and readily available to provide contextual closure to her part of the plot line, and the beautifully written, rendered, and character developed Prince Adam had proceeded to punch her directly in the face? I doubt there would have been as much laughter in the theater.
Look. I know I'm being a bit nitpicky. And really, it is just another part of the movie that will inspire conversation between my daughter and I. And I realize there are hundreds of other examples of female on male comedic violence in movies that I have probably enjoyed and not critiqued in the past. It's just… it's just that "Frozen" is so good, and so smart, and so wonderful, that the one, completely unneeded punch in the face took me out the world that Disney had worked so hard for the previous two hours creating. It wasn't necessary, and it sent the wrong message that violence against men is a joke - which it isn't.
I still love the movie. I still think Disney is working hard to move the idea of "princess" from one of entitlement to one of empowerment. That is wonderful, and I support it. Maybe just do it without needless, non-self-defensive punching of men in the face - even if they are horrible, lying douchebags.
Love, Dad (John)
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PS: I probably don't need to say this again, but I really do love the movie. I think it is spectacular. I just think the punch warrants further discussion. Please feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments. I don't have a monopoly on being right :)