Summary: James Bowman reviews Disney’s Frozen, looking beneath the animation to show how it reflects the changing nature of women in America. That makes the film even more interesting — to people interesting in the New America rising on the ashes of the America-that-once-was. Better or worse? You decide.
Film review of Frozen:
“Frozen in Ideological Time “
By James Bowman.
American Spectator in the
issue of 14 February 2014.
Posted with his generous permission.
…The very concept of “seriousness” as applied to the arts hardly has any meaning now, ever since — as the Times’s film critic A.O. Scott announced nearly a decade ago — “children’s entertainment has become the cornerstone of the American movie industry, not only commercially, but artistically as well.”
But cartoons and the cartoon-like dominate to the extent that they do not only because so much of the movie audience today is made up of juveniles but also because they are the means of re-mythologizing the culture along progressivist lines with the help of the sort of fantasy known as ideology. Star Wars was a big part of that effort, of course, as was Star Trek.
Thirty years ago when I was a teacher, I once assigned a class to do a presentation on someone each pupil regarded as a hero. One boy gave his talk on Captain James T. Kirk. I made him go away and re-do it on someone real, as I thought he was mocking the assignment; but I wonder now if, even then, he simply had no better idea of heroism. Certainly you would be surprised nowadays if any child didn’t assume that what was wanted was an account of his favorite superhero. Real heroes, being no longer politically correct and gaining no advantage from their mere reality, can no longer compete with the fantastical kind.
The job that has been done on girls, while less well-recognized has been no less thorough than that which has been done on boys. Princesses are to girls what superheroes are to boys: objects of admiration not in spite of but because of their unreality. Recently Harrod’s teamed up with Disney to introduce a Disney-world-style “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique” to London — “a magical beauty salon,” according to Disney, “where any little girl can make her dream of becoming a princess come true.” That should tell you something about the Disney concept of truth. Tanya Gold of the London Sunday Times fulminated against the move as a politically retrograde step, but she must not have seen many Disney princesses of recent years. Now they don’t just look pretty until Prince Charming comes along. They’re more like “Princess” Leia of Star Wars, their faux-royalism mere camouflage as they doff their tiaras to lead the revolution.
The latest example comes with Frozen, which is similarly a tale of disenchantment masquerading as enchantment. Getting real would truly be a momentous step for Disney if real meant real, but of course it doesn’t; it means getting ideological.