19 Things Cosmo Got Horrifically Wrong About Frozen

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This morning I saw a blog post about Frozen that was called 19 Things That Make No Sense About ‘Frozen.’ I was expecting it to be really interesting, axiomatic, and insightful, but instead it was trite and petty. But I shouldn’t have expected much–it’s Cosmopolitan after all. Still and all, I couldn’t help but form a verbose response, point by point, addressing each one. So here goes, Amy Odell, let’s do this.

1

Winter powers. Really, really powerful winter powers. She’s like a fucking Winter Goddess/Enchantress. Snow, cold, ice; get it together. Did you even watch the movie?

2

Because there’s an intrinsic relationship in most fictional magical worlds between your emotional state and the outcome of your magic. It’s a kind of “you put in what you get out” deal. I like to think of it as an analogue for everyday life–if you go into something with a negative attitude, you’re more likely to have a negative experience. Think Kiki’s mom’s potion spoiling in Kiki’s Delivery Service because she was emotionally distraught (the entire movie is about this, really). Or Harry Potter’s Patronus.

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Magic is a practice of the mind, so your emotions are going to greatly affect whether or not you light a fire in your fireplace or blow up your house.

3

The gloves don’t. They’re a magic feather. See above about how magic is a practice of the mind and is linked to psychology. Apply the placebo effect to that, and there you go.

4

I’m beginning to suspect that you’ve never seen a fantasy movie before, Amy. That may be a leap of logic on my part, but I’m going to roll with it because you seem to fundamentally misunderstand exactly how these universes work. For a long time, humans thought that the heart was the center of everything that we were. Like, for a long, long, long time. Did you know that Egyptians used to pull brains out of the dead and discard them because they thought they were worthless junk? Weird shit. Anyway, since people basically thought this way for thousands of years, the notion of the “heart” being where the “soul” of a person lives kind of seeped into our culture. We know better anatomically, but our language still reflects this symbolic relationship between the heart and emotions (“she has a big heart” “you broke my heart” etc.)

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This idea is especially common during fairy tale settings, and to see it reflected in a world of winter magic and stone trolls should be surprising to literally nobody. Anatomy has never mattered to fiction, least of all one with a reindeer that acts like a dog.

5

Good question. The impression I got while watching the film was that magic in humans was pretty rare–and if it’s not super rare, then it’s stigmatized (as evidenced by how every human seems to react to magic in general.) The Trolls, on the other hand, seem to be inherently magical creatures, and have a more normalized relationship (RING-A-DING-DING, we’ve hit upon one of the major moral themes of the movie!) with magic. Still and all, it’s not ALL the trolls who know, it’s their religious leader. Even among magical creatures, he was something of a specialist. It’s kind of like how a doctor actually knows why you’re sick, but your friends keep telling you to try oil pulling.

6

Another good question–actually better than the previous one. It may even be a genuine plot hole. Mostly I think it has to do with the aforementioned Magic Stigma. As for why Elsa’s parents know about them when nobody else does, a plausible explanation is that they’re royalty and have access to greater knowledge because, duh, they’re royal. Also, it’s bad form to be the king of a Magical Disney Country and not know all of your magical residents. I mean, otherwise what do you do if someone shows up with a poison apple?

7

Heheh, you’re a fashion blogger, I get it. Well done! That was funny.

8

I don’t know where you live or what you eat, Amy, but typically in most places in the world that are any measurable distance away from the equator only have a limited time in which to plant, cultivate, and harvest food–particularly in any period set before globalization (I.E. basically any setting before the 1950s). This food is supposed to last you through the winter months. In a place like wherever-the-fuck Elsa’s Kingdom is, winter is, you know, kind of long; therefore, the window for growing food for the year is significantly shorter than it is elsewhere. Late frosts can be damaging to crop yields, and even in this day and age farmers spend most of their time focusing on when to plant to time their crops properly to avoid frost. So when a random full-blown magical winter shows up with no end in sight sweeps the nation, yeah, it’s a cause of some alarm.

9

Another decently good point–but her “love” (if you can actually call it that) with Kristoff is way more measured. She learned from her previous experience. Note that she’s not asking him to marry her right away. She’s eased up on the gas. She’s moving more slowly. She still has the eagerness of youth, sure, but she’s not leaping into making bad personal decisions over this guy, which is a far cry better than whateverthefuck she was thinking previously.

10

Wow, okay, um, I guess I can explain this one to you. This is a Disney movie, right? A modern one at that. They’re trying to illustrate that Magic Powers (personal quirks, mental illness, introversion, homosexuality, ANY sexuality, [insert whatever you want here]) aren’t to be a cause of stigma and fear, but acceptance and understanding. Is it realistic? Probably not–but neither is shooting fucking ice out of your fingers. It’s a movie, it only has so much time, and it can’t devote months and months to showing people eventually coming around to understand magic better. This is for children, after all, and we’re trying to teach them to not suck.

11

BECAUSE ONE OF THE MAJOR THEMES OF THE MOVIE IS ABOUT HOW STIGMATIZING AND SUPPRESSING WHO YOU ARE EVEN IF YOU’RE DIFFERENT IS A BAD THING. Holy Christ. It’s there as a foil–it’s to set up contrast for the character development and the ultimate ending tone of the movie. Also Elsa’s parents kind of made bad decisions.

12

I don’t know, and I think you’re literally the only person who cares.

13

I googled “How old is Anna in Frozen” and they told me she was 18. 18 and awkward because of not being socialized. Furthermore, one of the OTHER major overarching themes of this movie was that it wanted to go against the typical Disney trope of True Love being the Boyfriend/Girlfriend->>>Marriage thing. It wants to highlight how that line of thinking has problematic elements. Furthermore, Anna is young and stupid. She made bad decisions in a panic because, duh, that’s what we do. She trusted a total stranger too much and it ended up badly. And then it ended up goodly. Because it’s Disney, and “sad ending” isn’t in their vocabulary.

14

We don’t actually know that for certain. They’re the only magical ones in the movie because it wasn’t important for there to be any other magical people. Maybe it’s the advent of a whole new magical age, and Elsa will found a Magic School for Gifted Youngsters. Maybe all the other magic people are in hiding because of the ignorant, superstitious attitude that most of the commoners seem to have.

15

OH MY GOD IT’S MAGIC. Please, for the good of the rest of us, never watch another fantasy film ever again, I’m begging you.

16

If you’ve ever owned a small business or known a small business owner, you’d know that the successful ones are obsessively watching market trends so they can keep a barometer on how their business is going to last in the long term. “Magical Winter That Came Out of Nowhere And Has No End In Sight” is probably at the top of Kristoff’s “If This Happens My Business is Fucked” list.

17

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18

Hey, Amy, did you ever read The Odyssey? I’m not trying to be a douchebag here, I’m actually curious. If you haven’t, that’s fine, John Green did a really fantastic Crash Course on the poem. The Odyssey is about many things, but one of its major themes is about how difficult it is to end a cycle of violence–you kill one guy for revenge, and his family kills some of yours, and then you kill some of theirs, and it goes on forever until everyone forgets why they were feuding anymore–they only know violence. More examples: Romeo & Juliet, The War of the Roses, Hatfield & McCoy feud, and it’s a major reason why it’s so difficult for Israel and Palestine to reconcile. A non-violent solution not only fits into the general direction that children’s entertainment seems to be taking, but it’s also the politically sound decision. The last thing a country that was recently thrown into economic, military, and political turmoil needs is a bloody war (something that it seems to be on the brink of if the Duke of Weselton is any indication.)

19

I’ll give you that one. The intro was a complete non sequitur. But I also liked the song, so eh, fuck theming.

Why *some of you are shitty allies

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I don’t frequently go to war on words. Those that know me know that I’m a very loud and staunch defender of the First Amendment. That’s my country’s Freedom of Speech thingie, for you non-United Statesians. As it sits, when it gets right down to it, I think you should be able to bark whatever ignorant drivel you want without fear of government reprisal; however it’s important that we (as a society) use our freedom of speech liberally in order to smack down bullshit when we see it. We are our own regulatory force, and there’s a kind of beauty in that.

That being said, I’ve reached the conclusion that the lot of you need to stop using the word “some.”

What? Oh. I guess you expect me to give you more than that. FINE.

I follow a lot of social critics on social media. A social critic– also known as a social justice warrior by their critics (it’s like critiception in here)– is someone who spends their time deconstructing patterns and trends in our culture looking for problematic messages and implications. You might recognize them as radical feminists, womanists, black power advocates, transactivists, and intersectionalists. Things like this tend to crop up around them:

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A friend of mine posted that photo on her Facebook timeline a month ago. I thought it was brilliant. It reduces homophobia down to its fundamentals, highlights its ignorance, and adds a meta layer of feminism in there. If I were to critique it personally, it’d be that it’s too simplistic, but it makes for a great starting point for conversation. Unfortunately, this is where the insidious word “some” rears its ugly head.

“It is also making a generalization on the way men treat women…while this thing brings up some interesting and significant points, just as it fails by being misogynistic, it fails by not having the phrase be ‘the way some men treat women.'”

If you engage in or frequently observe conversations about social inequality, you’ll see that they’re a ripe breeding ground for this kind of statement. You may find yourself having flashbacks right about now. It’s okay, I’m here for you, and we’ll get through this together.

Let me make something perfectly clear: when you insist that someone prefix a criticism of social behavior with the word “some” you are wrong. And also a douchebag.

Here’s why:

1. You’re derailing the conversation and making it all about you, you, you.

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Fact: The Cookie Monster was involved in several social justice programs until, in 2006, it was discovered that he was in it just for the cookies. He lost his supply and had to change his name to The Veggie Monster to save face.

First of all, you’re derailing a conversation about a negative social behavior by refocusing the talk on the “good exceptions.” Why do we need to talk about the N% of people who don’t engage in the critiqued behavior? You’re not homophobic and you don’t creep on women? Congratulations. Here’s your cookie. Now sit down.

2. You’re mistranslating the subtext.

Secondly, if you read social criticism statements as blanket generalizations in which someone is trying to envelope the entirety of a group (whites, men, cis), you’re reading it completely backwards. You want activists to put the word “some” in their sentences? Great! Lucky for you, they already did!

What?

Yeah. It’s there. You just can’t see it. It’s hiding out in this invisible place called the subtext. Here, let me wave my magic wand and reveal the subtext for you:

“Porn* is exploitative of women, and is inherently damaging to our** collective view of masculine and feminine dynamics.”
*to be read as “the mainstream pornography industry.” Writer acknowledges that there is a narrow fraction of pornography that is arguably respectful/empowering to women, or at the very least is debatable and not blatantly as evil as its industrialized counterpart.
**excluding those who don’t watch mainstream pornography, or any pornography at all. “Our” as a collective refers to the way porn infiltrates our society on a basic level.

Learning to read sentences this way greatly changed my perception of social criticism. “But,” you say to me, “Why should I expend intellectual energy revealing subtext when the original statement could be written to say what it actually means?”

You may not realize this, but you’re already expending that energy, you’re just wasting it. You’re going out of your way to read the sentence as “all porn,” “all men,” “all white people,” “all cis-gendered people.” There’s no “all” to be found in these statements. YOU are putting it there. If you’re already going through the effort to see subtext, why not actually read it the right way the first time? Plus, if every social criticism had to add parenthetical statements to clarify their generalizations, anything longer than a sentence would become unreadable. The footnotes would become an essay. All to make you feel better about yourself while preventing actual conversation.

3. Nobody’s talking about you.

“I want to make clear –I’m a sociologist, sociologists work on the basis of generalizations– what I say is not true for every male. But what I say is true for patterns of masculinity.”
-Dr. Gail Hines

I’ve felt for months and months that dismissing valid criticisms of social behavior by enforcing the prefix “some” is problematic, but I couldn’t figure out exactly why until I listened to this lecture by Dr. Gail Hines. In that short statement above, Hines blew my brain wide open, like Zombie No. 1 from The Walking Dead.

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It’s like someone’s opened up a third eye or something in my forehead!

Hines was kinder than most in that she went out of her way to emphasize that she’s speaking in generalizations. And the truth of the matter is this: you can’t talk about social inequality on a large scale without making generalizations. You can’t. Who are the main oppressors of women? Men. Who are the main oppressors of people of color? White people. Does that mean that if you’re a white man that you’re going around actively oppressing black women? No. Exceptions are taken as a given in sociological generalizations.

But what’s even more important is that these criticisms aren’t about people, they’re about patterns of behavior. 

Being aware of this can mean the difference between being offended by what someone says and being able to actually talk about unhealthy social behavior. When you begin to look at these criticisms as attacks on things people do and not people themselves, you can have a little conversation with yourself. “This is about homophobic behavior and misogynistic behavior. Do I engage in this behavior? No. So this is not about me. Now I can talk about this with the full understanding that it does not apply to me, and yet there are people who do this.”

I understand it can feel alienating and a little uncomfortable when someone calls out a group to which you belong for behavior that you don’t participate in. And, to be honest, I don’t expect someone who doesn’t care about social inequality to give two shits about this. If you don’t care about racism, sexism, and deconstructing systematic inequality, you’re not going to devote energy to making subtle subtext distinctions.

However, if you claim to be an ally to the systematically oppressed, if you think racism, sexism, and exploitation of the vulnerable is wrong, then you are being a bad ally by thinking this way.

4. Okay, so what do I do about it?

All the way back up there in Number 2 I talked about pornography. Why did I pull that non sequitur? Because that was my most recent social inequality blind spot. In every conversation about the harmful nature of both the porn industry and exploitative porn itself, I went out of my way to try to make the conversation about sex-positive and feminist porn. Eventually, I realized that I was wrong in thinking this way. So here are ways to be better:

  1. Don’t tone police social criticism, even if you disagree with it. If you disagree with an aspect of a statement, debate it directly, don’t try to change the conversation into a back-patting party about how you don’t behave that way.
  2. Don’t assume that a statement is lumping ALL people together without exception unless it explicitly says so. Conversation –true, productive conversation– is about meeting people halfway. Someone making a critical statement about white people, men, or something else has already put through the effort of making a statement. The least you could do is read it in the best possible way.
  3. If someone DOES lump a group together without exception, walk away. This kind of person can’t be reasoned with.
  4. Recognize that nobody is obligated to do all the thinking for you. Nobody is obligated to educate you. Nobody is obligated to consider your feelings. If you truly want to be an ally, you won’t burden the people you’re supposedly advocating by making them walk you through every step.
  5. Sometime, at some point, somebody is going to say something that you disagree with outrageously; however, this isn’t an excuse to engage in problematic behavior. Examples: lecturing women on sexism, lecturing people of color on racism. That’s not your place. Walk away. Trust me, there’s no way to make yourself look worse than to tell a black person that they don’t understand the fundamentals of racism like you, The Educated White. Drop it. If it’s really so bad, someone else who’s qualified will probably carry that torch better than you ever could.

The freedom of speech is an amazing thing. Don’t abuse it.