Frozen (2013) was released just shy of 2 years into me being the parent of a daughter. I was at the height of my determination that the princess-industrial complex was not going to dominate her childhood.
Over the course of the next year, I saw Frozen merchandise everywhere – plenty of pink, or pastel shades, with imagery in the style of the typically passive Disney heroines of old – and this confirmed what I always suspected: Frozen was just more of the same gender from the House of Mouse. After doing their best to Princess-ify Pixar’s Brave when it came to merchandise they’d gone full blown princess again at the source.
Eventually, a year or so later we finally watched it. While I was not one to encourage princess culture, princesses weren’t banned – and I thought it was good for both of us to go through the Disney Princess catalogue together.
Reinventing Disney Princesses
I was stunned. Frozen wasn’t the film that the merch presented. It had proactive, complex characters, with a plot that was full of action and spectacle. Disney had subverted their long held princess stereotypes, all tied up terrific movie (with great songs!)
In Elsa, I couldn’t resist a ‘princess’ (actually Queen) with superpowers. And far from being sick of “Let it Go” I think it’s a stunning moment in a brilliant character arc that’s straight out of the pages of the X-Men.
Afterwards, I asked our (then) 3yo daughter if she like Anna or Elsa best. Her answer was surprising 😅
As it is, turns out I’m far more of a fan of the movie than she is. Now age 7, the princesses she likes Wonder Woman, Leia, or Nausicaä (of the Valley of the Wind).
Which is fine with me.
Frozen II – bring on the movie, not the sexist merch
I don’t know whether Frozen 2 (II?) will be one of those sequels that lives up to the promise of the first or not, but I’m more than happy for them to give it a shot.
Only this time I hope the merchandise represents the true nature of the characters and story, and not the tired old gender stereotypes the people who sell t-shirts and lunch boxes want to peddle.
Frozen II (2019), Dirs: Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck. © Disney