DISCLAIMER: The derogatory terms used in the following post are used ironically!
Also: Spoiler alert.
You’re kidding me! Elsa doesn’t have a boyfriend so automatically she’s a lesbian, and I suppose Merida is too. Come on! This is beyond ridiculous. I have watched this movie a couple of times and read some vague reviews about it being Disney’s “queerest movie” but to be honest I just didn’t get what they were talking about. I mean, I didn’t catch any chick on chick action (maybe that happened when I was taking my three-year old to the toilet). The only hooking up I saw was Anna, falling for 2 different GUYS! Or maybe it was some lesbo-sister action. I just don’t think Disney is that twisted. It was not till I read this review that it was explained in great enough detail for my tiny brain to recognise – oh, she doesn’t need a man to kiss her and make it better so she’s a dyke.
My six year old daughter told me Frozen was the best movie she’s ever seen and I was delighted to see how much she loved it and connected to it, because I connected very powerfully with it too. Watching this movie might one day come in very handy when I have to explain to my little girl how it feels for my sister, her aunty, to live with mental illness – bipolar affective disorder. You see, while everyone else was jumping to conclusions about Elsa’s sexual orientation I was moved by how similar Anna’s experience was to my own – trying to understand the beautiful, powerful and exhilarating highs and dealing with the dangerous and devastating lows. Loving a sister with bi-polar can be exhausting.
From my own experience I can see so much evidence that Frozen is an allegory for mental illness. Was she cursed or born with it? Connected to emotions and pretending it doesn’t exist. Forced to deal with it on her own because nobody really understand what’s going on. Hoping it will go away. The big elephant in the room. The eventual incarceration. This was all too familiar.
I remember being in awe, creatively jealous of the way my sister was capable of building beautiful worlds inside her mind as real as Elsa’s ice castle, but also how frightening she’d be, like the demon snow monster, when we tried to bring her to reason. She created a havoc in our lives as real as the film’s cursed winter. There would be times where everyone in her circle would be stuck trying to undo one or other of her catastrophes, sometimes terrifying. We were undeniably caught in the effects of her curse as surely as the citizens of Arendelle, and always knowing that this was but one face of our loving, creative and wonderful girl. And always hoping that our love would help heal everything – everything.
There was nothing in the song “Let it go“that tells me it’s about liking girls but the entire last verse spells out exactly how it was when my sister gave up on holding on to her slip of reality.
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway
Let’s face it, my sister’s world of fairies and magic was a hell of a lot more interesting than the alternative we had to offer her. It’s been a long road, but just as with Elsa, my sister seems to have been saved by an act of true love. Not through sisterly love, but through the birth of her child. Incredibly she has learned to control her emotions and despite a terrible lack of understanding and support for her condition I am proud to say that my sister has not experienced one of her devastating and catastrophic episodes for nearly 10 years, or even a little one.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in Frozen 2 Elsa will leave us no room for speculation. I’d love to see a Disney wedding with two brides (perhaps even an interracial marriage). But in any case I’d just like you to have a think about what it really means to live with mental illness or to love someone living with mental illness.
There have been some kids and YA novels dealing with or touching on themes of mental illness: Crossing the Line, Saving Francesca, Froi of the Exiles, and one of The Witches of Eilenan series (sorry I can’t remember it off the top of my head). However, the story which best supports my Frozen assumption is this moving article about the popular craze for artisanal toast. Whatever the creators of Frozen were trying to do – make a film about sexuality, mental illness, or even a fairy tale about 2 sisters with none of the intense subtext that has been assigned to it, I would certainly say it has been a success, with a couple of catchy tunes to boot.