By this time last year, Disney’s film, Frozen had already enchanted long lines of little girls, as well as little boys and grown ups. And rightly so. It deserved the admiration. The film also got its fair share of negative attention, with some critics accusing its creators of an anti-Christian agenda. Some even claimed that Queen Elsa was a lesbian simply because she didn’t fit in and didn’t have a current love interest.
I don’t know if Queen Elsa was a lesbian or if Frozen had any kind of ideological agenda. However, there was something in Frozen that disturbed me, a brief moment, but something blatantly obvious and clear, and I can’t get past it. It’s found in eight words of Elsa’s ballad, the Oscar nominated “Let it Go”:
“No right, no wrong, no rules for me.”
Now, I’m a music snob. I can’t really handle any of those Disney songs unless they’re particularly lovely, like “Once Upon a Dream,” or dripping in the nostalgia of my toddlerhood, like “Circle of Life.” But the “Let it Go” scene in Frozen was intense, perfectly choreographed, so badass and in your face and fun — I really liked it. So much so that I even bought the song on iTunes. So when I first noticed those lyrics, I tried to talk myself out of being concerned. I said to myself, “she’s not really rejecting morality. They’re trying to emphasize Elsa embracing her uniqueness, using her talents and powers even if they intimidate people, and not being afraid.”
But here’s the thing. You can describe the strength of Elsa’s character without using the words, “no right, no wrong, no rules for me.” These words have a clear meaning, and they mean a very different thing from what the rest of the song says. In eight words the ballad goes from being acceptably humanistic to relativistic. This is not a subtle or conspiratorial issue: “Let It Go” is the Frozen theme song, its words occur during one of the most poignant and dramatic moments of the entire movie.
Those parents who notice may think that these words will be overlooked by their children. Let me say this— your children know the words, and they’re listening to them at their most formative time.
It’s precisely these kinds of messages that tend to be the most confusing for a child. The singer/performer Iggy Azalea’s song “Fancy” is easier to warn children against. Her whole manifesto is obviously sleazy. But Elsa? Elsa is a strong role model. Most parents have zero qualms about their children emulating Elsa and I don’t blame them. Eight little words are easy to disregard.
But those words stick. And they are heavy words. They equate self-actualization and confidence with the rejection of objective morality. This is an extremely common trap in our culture and we know it — I think we just assume it will stay out of our children’s movies.
It’s there. It’s real. And it’s obvious. I’m not saying don’t watch the movie. I’m just saying be aware. Think about it, talk about it, and explain to your child the danger in those eight words. Be blunt — let them know what “no right or wrong” can actually mean. They will understand if you tell them.
At the end of the day, Elsa is helping to form our children. That means she may be giving them self-confidence and courage — but she may also be teaching them one of the oldest lies of human history.