so much more than a fairy-tale
It’s not often that animated movies with a dominate white cast have such strong political and social messages. Actually, many movies featuring princesses have a man as the focal point and he is usually seen as the rescuer and savior. Frozen 2 however, was pleasantly surprising. From lessons for white people to messages for boys and men, they explicitly demonstrate accountability in diverse ways.
Racism permeates the fabric of our society, it is a permanent stain on our culture and has been so since slavery. Today, many still believe that we are in a post racial society which is mainly a result of electing a Black president. However, we are far from the end of racism because it is both structural and systemic, now often rearing it’s head in subtle ways. The same goes for sexism in terms of subtly, regardless of the position of power a woman occupies, she often finds herself proving her competence. Or, she finds herself surrounded by men who are insecure and intimidated by her power. Then there is the pay gap that still exists and privileges of white manhood where their power and authority are automatically respected with no receipts, whereas women and folks of color gotta be “degree’d up” (yea, I make up words sometimes but you know what I mean) to even get a “seat at the table” (def listen to that song by Solange). My friend and former college roommate described this well…
“I’m tired of the mediocrity (and subparness) of white men being praised and allowed to flourish while the rest of us gotta wake up and have a PhD in pissing excellence to even be allowed in the room. Meanwhile, Chad can run the meeting even though he ain’t got nary a qualification besides his caucasity” -Luvvie Ajayi
Frozen II addresses these isms in a profound manner. The four lessons you can learn, centered around women empowerment, sisterhood and diversity and inclusion with a sprinkle of male vulnerability. All of which are powerful lessons for white people, women, as well as boys and men.
1. Women are strong and powerful leaders (which is why men are threatened by us – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssIbKlOUwbA)
Like in in the first movie, the film centers a female character, Elsa, who has magical powers. However, Frozen II takes it further with the second character, Elsa’s sister, Anna. Having two strong women leads in a film targeting children is powerful. Often, strong women leaders are depicted as the exception not the rule. Furthermore, to demonstrate the power of women Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff acknowledged her power and in one scene stated “I am here – what do you need”. He asked what he could do to be helpful to her as opposed to trying to take over and save the day himself. Again, in many films, especially with princesses, the man saves the day and ends up being the focal point. Kudos to the writers for this change.
2. Men got feelings too
Kristoff pronounces his love for Anna in a declarative song sharing his nervousness about his love for his partner. These feelings are often not shared by men or boys and actually is viewed as weak. Especially, in the Black community, part of the culture encourages being a “play boy”. On the contrary, overall women are often portrayed as love struck and head over heels. Frozen II told boys and men that their feelings matter and that its OK to express them. As a mother of a young Black male it’s important to me that he feels OK to feel. Also, in another scene Anna apologizes to Kristoff for something and he says “its OK, my love is not fragile”. OMG! I just about jumped out the seat and hugged the screen. Insecurities in men often rear their ugly heads in their relationships with women. They don’t want women “showing” them up and it’s all a part of the socialization they’ve endured. So, having Kirstoff tell his partner that love is not fragile is huge and sends a message to boys everywhere that you are still a “man” even when your woman is in charge.
3. Take Accountability and Act
In this sequel, the sisters go on a journey to find out the truth of their family’s past, for Elsa it was life changing as she felt she had a bigger purpose. Initially, I didn’t know where the plot was going because it started by painting this negative image of what seemed to be indigenous people. The story their community was told was the indigenous folks were brutal and became violent, betraying the good and innocent white people who had been nothing but good to them. So, of course my eyebrows were raised but when the sisters discovered the not so pretty brutal and dishonest history including how they acquired their land/wealth etc., they didn’t believe it to be honorable. They knew their family’s past was wrong and they wanted to do better, no excuses. Clearly, Elsa nor Anna were directly responsible for the actions of their ancestors, but they chose to take responsibility because they recognized the privileges they enjoyed in present time was a direct result of a horrible past that their own grandfather inflicted. They took action and attempted to correct it. America can learn so much from that…
I recently attended the annual national conference with the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) where one of the opening speakers talked about owning our past in the U.S. and how other countries have acknowledged their wrongdoing and makes it plain to those who visit their communities. America on the other hand puts up a facade to appear to be better than we are, as if we’ve never done any wrong. This is obviously far from the truth and much of the wrongdoing harms us still so much today, literally impacts people of color standard of living, women’s pay and is simply a matter of life and death. We need to make it plain, own our history and tell the truth in order to create and sustain positive change for everyone.( https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/bryan-stevenson-it-s-time-change-narrative-around-race-and-poverty)
4. Be your sisters keeper
Look, we know that many folks in power are white men so women must come together in order to rise to the power and authority we deserve. We need to have each other’s back and take other women with us. Frozen II demonstrates so boldly, the power of sisterly love. In one scene, Anna literally chases Elsa into fire! love ya sis, but I may not run into no damn fire for you, I’ll call for help though! LOL but they exchange a powerful short conversation demonstrating such loyalty:
Elsa: “you can’t just chase me into fire”
Anna: “Then don’t run into fire!”
Elsa also passed the crown onto Anna, no problem. She identified her purpose and lifted her sister as she passed into the next stage in her life. We must do the same. Be willing to provide resources to your fellow sister. Her light does not dim yours and actually together our light shines brighter. We each have a purpose and they are connected to one another. You lose nothing by sharing wisdom and resources with other women. Actually, women supporting women is how Black women are the largest group of entrepreneurs and are the most educated group in the U.S.! I am where I am today directly because of the support of other women. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svrqm_n6Dc0)
So, adjust her crown too.
While we are living in cruel, uncertain times, it’s not the first time and likely won’t be the last. What Frozen II does is demonstrate the power of choice each of us has. The choice to believe in us, to hold others and each other accountable, to lift each other up. Go forth, be brave, be bold and live up to your full potential both personally and professionally.