I am a sucker for Disney Princess movies. I am also a feminist. These two things tend to clash. Kind of a lot.
So, I really wasn’t surprised to get into a heated discussion with a feminist friend about Frozen.
I’m not going to reiterate the argument here, and I’m not going to defend the necessity of a love story remaining at the heart of a Princess movie (Brave was a Pixar movie, and doesn’t count as full-on Disney Princess, IMHO). What I am going to point out is something interesting about Frozen and Disney which gives me great hope for pop culture in the US.
There is nothing, NOTHING in a Disney movie that is not considered 100% Safe. If it’s in there, it must be as non-controversial as possible. It’s gone through the kind of wringers and checks that OSHA only wishes they could muster. This stuff is mega-super, appeal to lowest common demoninator, sparkly spectacle, family safe.
Then, take a look at two things Frozen does. There’s a girl in there with superpowers. She’s born with them. They’re hers. She wasn’t cursed into them. She wasn’t given them by abusive males, or evil females who wished to get her into mischief and harm. It’s just part of who she is, and she has to learn to deal with it It has been judged okay by the guardians of cultural safety that for a girl to just be powerful…just because. This is kind of new.
The second thing to notice here is obvious, but it’s that the sisters save each other. Yes, there’s a male assist and eventual love, which I’m good with. I like a love story. But in the end, the sisters save each other. There’s some plot flaws in there that I won’t go into, but the big thing is that when it comes down to brass tacks, it’s the girls who drive the action and the main plot, from conflict to resolution is driven by the relationship between the sisters, not the relationship between Hero and Heroine.
This has not only been deemed safe for a blockbuster to do, it’s proven to be highly profitable. That’s kind of new too. We haven’t seen that since the 1930s when folks like Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis dominated Hollywood.
That also is really, really interesting.