What is my daughter learning?

So far Emily and I have seen Frozen 3 times.  And listened to the CD about a million times.  At least.  We have 5 Frozen books, one dress up dress and we have named a little snowman that we already had Olaf.  Emily is obsessed with Frozen.  (Keep in mind I am still not a fan of cold, so while the movie was cute, I prefer all things warm and tropical as a rule).

The first time we saw Frozen I was over-analyzing if Em would make it (she asked to leave a few times), if she would get scared (she sat on my lap and was not thrilled when the mean giant snowman appeared), and what she would and would not retain (especially Disney’s desire to off the parents in the first few minutes of every movie).

But she loved it and was singing the songs right after we saw it for the first time.

The second time we saw it I started thinking and by the third time, I had sociologically analyzed the entire movie.  And it seems to me that Disney used this movie to contradict all its earlier movies.

Spoiler Alert, in case you have not seen it…

Princess Anna has lived her life locked in a castle (a la Rapunzel but less restrictive, a bit) and estranged from her sister Princess Elsa.  Eventually, since their parents have been conveniently lost at sea, Else is crowned Queen.  Coronation day brings people into Anna’s world and in true Disney fashion, she falls in love at fist sight.  Disney is the master of seeing/meeting/loving all in 3.5 seconds.  So Anna falls in love and it is true love and they want to get married.  Hand in hand they run to newly crowned Queen Elsa who says, “You can’t marry a man you just met”.

You can’t marry a man you just met!!!???

Seriously?  Isn’t that the plot line in EVERY OTHER Disney film?  Cinderella?  Snow White?  Sleeping Beauty?  I mean come on, The Little Mermaid teaches us that women only need to attract a man with looks to fall in love, marry and live happily ever after.  She doesn’t even need a voice!

So it was refreshing to see Elsa refuse to bless the marriage.  But it does make me wonder if Cinderella and her prince are still happily married…

This is repeated several times in the movie.  More than one character is astonished that Anna plans to marry so soon and chastises her for wanting to marry a man she just met.

What is Emily learned from Disney?  is she learning the “Happily ever after” routine?  Is she learning that good always wins?  Is she learning that look are more important than brains?

As we read the Frozen book now, Emily relates to the material.  She tells me that she would be very sad if she could not play with Sidney every day (Elsa isolates herself to protect her sister).  She tells me how much she loves er sister (the movie is all about the relationship between sisters, no brothers are mentioned).  And she laughs over a shared love of sandwiches.  The other day she asked D to marry her and after their “ceremony” they danced and she sang “Love is an open door”.  Other than that, she has not really mentioned anything about marriage.  But I know on some level she has internalized it.

 

Eventually Emily needs to learn all about true love.   And heartache.  I want her to know that love is not a Disney movie.  But maybe Frozen has changed that.  I met D in may.  When I brought him to meet my parents in August, I distinctly remember telling my mother I was bringing a guy home for a friend’s wedding but that it wasn’t going anywhere. We were just having fun, a casual relationship, you know.  Nothing major.  It went somewhere.  It must have been at least a year before I started thinking about our relationship as something permanent.   I want that for Emily.  I want her to meet someone and NOT immediately think (know?) it is forever.  (pet peeve of mine, when someone tells me they meet someone and know immediately they want to marry that person.  to me that just means they are desperate and want to get married, that the other person is really irrelevant…  To me (not judging just to me) it sounds so desperate!  Ok, hopping off soapbox now.)  I want her to take the time to get to know someone and let love grow gradually, not immediately.

But more I want Emily to understand the importance of love, family , respect, etc.  Disney is great.  Disney is critical to a girl’s childhood, but Disney is pretty warped too.  His need to eliminate parents in the first few minutes…  his seemingly hatred of sibling relationships (Cinderella’s stepsisters, The little mermaid’s sisters, Scar and Mufasa, etc…)… The way he stresses the importance of exterior beauty over interior beauty or brains….  Hopefully D and I are doing a good job of raising the kids in way that they can appreciate the fun of movies like this (because we have definitely mastered the musical appreciation!) and still keep a good head on their shoulders.

 

sidebars – perhaps you don’t recognize the child in the pictures above.  yes, that IS Emily.  Didn’t recognize her in jeans and a sweater?  Don’t worry, no one else does – this girl loves her dresses!  And, yes, that IS a Frozen book she is reading.  We only (only!) had 4 or 5 Frozen books, but we had an afternoon snowstorm so I popped into Barnes and Noble on the way home really quick.  Our afternoon snowstorm consisted of all three kids coloring in the front of the fire and then reading stories.  This winter has brought so many snowstorms that we are going to need several more bookcases!

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