Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Actually, No, I Don’t

Kaitlin Mahar

Unlike most people I know, I’ve never seen Frozen. It’s not because I’ve been busy, broke, or couldn’t find a properly-working link to watch it online. It’s because I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to listen to the soundtrack on a loop. I don’t want to go to the special karaoke edition playing “in select theaters near you.” I have absolutely no clue why everyone keeps asking each other “Do you want to build a snowman?”

Frankly, while many friends have tried to assure me that it’s very progressive for Disney – one even went so far as to call it “feminist” – I have to disagree. To me, it looks like just another Disney princess movie, and I genuinely don’t understand the hype.

Even before its premiere on Nov. 27, 2013, feminists spoke out about Frozen’s negative portrayal of women. As blogger The Feminist Fan Girl wrote, “Disney… makes stories about the same thin, wide eyed white women over and over again, while missing out on any opportunities for diversity.”

These attitudes were further supplemented when the head animator of Frozen, Lino DiSalvo, said that animating women is especially difficult because they must look beautiful no matter what emotions the characters are displaying.

But feminist opinions aren’t the sole reasons why the movie doesn’t seem worth seeing – I could deal with them if the movie actually had a good storyline. In comparison to the story Frozen is based on, The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson, the movie looks like a watered-down, anti-female story. The Snow Queen tells the story of a poor village girl, Gerda, who ventures out to save her (male) best friend, Kay, who has been kidnapped by the Snow Queen. Gerda succeeds in defeating the Snow Queen and saving Kay completely on her own. Knowing the background of this story and comparing it to Disney’s version, you’d never know that Frozen is the same story.

While some changes are acceptable, like renaming characters to make things easier for younger fans, others are completely wrong. Frozen tells the story of Princess Anna and her sister Elsa, who has magical, wintery powers that she can’t control. Elsa accidentally puts their country into a state of perpetual winter, and Anna, who can’t fix any problems by herself because she only knows the comforts of being a sheltered princess, goes out to find her sister with the help of a brawny mountain man, his reindeer, and an asinine talking snowman. Now, in what way could that possibly sound like Anderson’s The Snow Queen?

Frozen not only sends a message that women constantly need to be saved and helped, but also that anyone and anything, even a talking snowman named Olaf, can fix a problem better than a woman. Don’t think that the point about Elsa having zero control over something remotely complex is going unnoticed either. Disney’s message about women being incapable of handling any kind of power or responsibility shouldn’t be overlooked. Of course, the movie has some good features – from what I’ve heard, the soundtrack is killer, so good that one of its songs, “Let It Go,” has received an Academy Award nomination for “Best Original Song.”

And I’ve been told that there are messages of self-love and not agreeing to marry a guy minutes after meeting him, both of which are also understandable. However, I don’t see what would earn this movie the title “The Best Disney Movie in 20 Years,” as I’ve been told many times by friends, peers, and the media.

Overall, nothing really seems that special about Frozen, which is why the hype is so confusing. Whether or not you see the movie is completely your call, but don’t be so quick to call it the greatest movie ever.