We've been using Disney's Frozen and the song "Let It Go" in some of our English classes at school this last week.
I like to dig into the background of the literature we use, and while I was doing so I noted a bit of momentary controversy. Some of the Christian community have claimed that both the film and the song are promoting homosexuality/bisexuality.
Naturally, many of the homosexual/bisexual community were only too happy to pick up on that and claim the song as a new anthem.
Pardon me for drifting off-topic for a moment, but I remain nonplussed by the use of the word, "gay", as a euphemism for homosexuality/bisexuality. "Gay" was once a corollary to the Japanese word 「派手な」(hade-na), "showy, ostentatious, dramatic, flamboyant". (And I wonder about the similarity between "gay" and 「芸」(gei), "arts/literature/crafts".)
The current use of the word in English presents a conflation. People who are "creative" are supposed to be "liberal" in their attitudes towards sexuality, particularly their own sexual behavior.
Hmm. Historically, much of our "greatest" art and literature has been produced in such an environment. By scare-quoting "greatest", I don't mean to disparage our cultural legacy. The kind of art that crosses cultural borders and endures history does tend to be born in the furnace of internal conflicts. And "liberal" sexual attitudes do tend to lead to internal conflicts. But they are not the only factors.
But there is another kind of "great", and the predominance of creative work is born in many kinds of trials, tribulations, strivings, conflicts, troubles.
There is much that is dramatic that is not at all about "coming out of the closet of sexual repression".
There is much that is romantic that does not involve sexual adventure.
There is more to both life and love than sex.
(Sure, queue somebody famous saying, "There must be, but I don't know what," I suppose. Woody Allen? I don't remember.)
Sure, the classic animal responses to stress are fight, flight, and sex. But sex is only one out of three there. And none of those are the correct general human response. One of the traits of the human animal is supposed to be sometimes reacting to stress by thought, and by behavior guided by rational thought.
Okay, I've ranted about the conflation. Someday I want to rant about the negative impact of that conflation on social and private dialog, and on our relationships and behavior. Today, I just want to say that conflating things with sex is not necessary.
When I first heard "Let It Go", the lyrics bothered me. Too many people I know spend too much of their lives repressing the wrong things, then break out of that repression, but fail to break out of the real self-oppression. But the final line of the song provides he counter-balance. The storm does matter for Elsa after all, and so does the cold. And I don't think the listener will be deaf to the irony in that line.
Put in context of the plot of Frozen, if "Let It Go" were intended to be a metaphor for "coming out" sexually, it is provided with a stiff warning that coming out is not the ultimate solution.
As members of the Disney crew who produced the movie have noted (quoting other artists and authors from pretty much every era), once you publish, the work of art takes a life of its own. People should interpret it according to their own ideas. That's part of the purpose of art.
But I don't think Elsa's differences have to be interpreted as a metaphor for a different sexual orientation. There are many ways people are different from each other, and there are many social influences that work to try to get us to suppress our differences.
And simply suppressing our differences is not good. Quite the opposite. We need to look at our differences, acknowledge them, embrace them, and put them to good use. Those differences are what makes the world go 'round, as the saying goes. And they also are important parts of what makes us as individuals tick.
I will note that I'm a little ambivalent about the ending of Frozen.
Part of me wanted Hans to find out his love was not real by actually kissing Anna. Then he could have been a bit less treacherous, maybe found a more positive way to help set Anna and Elsa up for the act of true love.
I generally like plots to work out so that people can be forgiven of their mistakes.
Then again, in Frozen 2 (Unfrozen? I'm sure the stockholders are going to insist on a sequel.) maybe a plot twist as ex machina as in Frozen can bring Hans back to prove he's not such a bad guy after all. This is Disney, after all.