NOTE: Spoilers below!
So ever since I saw Frozen last weekend, I’ve been raving about it to all my friends. It totally blew me out of the water and has made its place among my favorite Disney movies of all time. I love media that challenges unjust social norms!
Here’s 5 reasons why Frozen is such a progressive movie:
1. Challenges Traditional Theme of Marriage
Princess Anna meets Hans for a night, decides to get engaged, and asks her sister, the Queen, for permission. Her sister Elsa says it best: “You can’t marry a man you just met”. Whoa, wait, so Sleeping Beauty, it doesn’t make sense to marry the first guy you see? And Ariel, you’re going to sacrifice so much just to be with a guy you haven’t even talked to? The plot of Disney princess movies has traditionally been along the lines of this: girl meets boy and bam – they are in love and get married. In Frozen, the notion of marrying someone you just met is ridiculed and no one marries anybody, showing that happily ever after for a woman doesn’t have to look like marriage.
2. Women Find Strength From Within
After her secret cryokinetic powers are exposed to the entire kingdom, Elsa runs off to the mountains alone. There, she lets go of her fear of what people will say and unleashes her magic powers to create a magical ice palace. Outside the confinements of society, Elsa finds beauty in herself and frees herself to test her limits. She ultimately takes a stand for who she is and wants to be. Elsa’s self-empowerment suggests the ability of women to find in themselves the power and courage to break the limitations of society’s expectations and rise up to showcase their abilities and talents.
3. Portrays Women Outside the Box
Disney princesses have been consistently rendered as elegant, graceful, and soft-spoken whether they are singing to animals, twirling in ball gowns, or lying in bed passively waiting. Princess Anna defies this stereotype as she is outspoken, straightforward, clumsy and altogether just plain awkward! She’s running into horses, tripping over things, and even almost falls into the water! She’s not afraid to blurt out to a man that he’s gorgeous in their first encounter. She’s also aggressive – fends off a wolf attack, chucks a snowball at an ice monster and leaps off a cliff. Anna’s loud and strong voice throughout the movie represents women as proactive and not having to be “perfectly poised”.
4. Depicts Men Partnering with Women
There’s been talk about how “men can’t be men” and even claims that feminism is why the US isn’t a leader on the global stage. So what’s awesome here is that Kristoff represents a man who isn’t threatened by a strong woman like Anna but actually partners with her. He has enough self-confidence both to call Anna out on her poor choices and to admit when she is right. Throughout the movie, Kristoff represents a man who is neither a contender nor a doormat. He is an equal, partnering and supporting Anna.
5. Highlights the Ability of Women to Solve their Own Problems
When Anna gets struck by her sister and can only be saved by an act of true love, the conclusion she jumps to automatically is that she has to be kissed by her “true love”, Hans. When Hans turns out to be a phony, it’s Kristoff that is left to do the deed. That’s when the plot twists and Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister Elsa from Hans. This act of true love unfreezes her heart and Anna is able to live again. Here, Disney challenges its traditional storyline where the princess is always saved by a prince. Anna is depicted as a princess in distress that has the power to save herself and her sister. At no point does any man have to save a damsel in distress. In such a way, Frozen showcases women with the capability to solve their own problems without the help of a man.
So for these main reasons, Frozen is probably the most progressive Disney princess movie ever. There’s still work to be done, such as challenging its all-white cast. But overall, Frozen has done something noteworthy and is a remarkable movie of the Disney princess genre that deals with the traditional constricting stereotypes and assumptions of women.