Note: This is written in response to a very LDS-focused article, and I myself am a devoted, practicing Mormon, so this is written from that perspective. It’s not necessarily accessible only to people who share my faith, but it is unapologetically LDS in nature.
There’s a lot of hubbub the last couple days about this article, written by Kathryn Skaggs, aka “A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman.” Her blog post is called: “Frozen: Not Gonna ‘Let It Go’ When Movie Advocates Gay Agenda,” and its point is summarized in her words as:
“The gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into Disney’s movie Frozen not just as an underlying message – it is the movie.”
She then writes 3500 words supporting her thesis.
My issues with what she wrote fall into three major categories. One is a bit petty and relatively unimportant, so I will mention it only in passing. The other two are completely unrelated to each other, and I hope they will be read in that way.
Before I get to those, let me give a little background. I have read exactly one thing Kathryn Skaggs has ever written, and this article is it. I have no preconceived notions about her. I have a good friend who is a friend of hers, and another good friend who apparently reads her stuff regularly. I don’t. As such, everything I am writing applies only to this piece. I am not making any judgments about her as a person, or as a Mormon, or as a mother and grandmother, or as anything else. I am making judgments about what she wrote, but I think you’ll find that they are much less judgmental than her words were.
Okay, let’s deal first with the least important quibble: this article is really poorly written. There are numerous sentences that I can only make an educated guess as to what she is saying. Her poor use of punctuation, especially her overuse of commas, makes it a chore to try to read it in any natural flow. She misuses words, both common mistakes (“loosing” instead of “losing”) and uncommon ones (she refers to the “demonetization of homosexuals by society” when I assume she means “demonization”). I generally try not to be too much of a writing snob, because I know that everyone makes mistakes, but in this case, the poor writing makes it harder to understand her point, which makes it a problem.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to my main issues with Skaggs’ post. As I said, they fall into two main categories, which are totally unrelated:
- I think she’s wrong to say that the “gay agenda … is the movie.”
- I don’t care at all for her attitude towards all things related to homosexuality.
First, let’s talk about the “gay agenda.”
When I had been on my mission for just a few months, my dad was called as a bishop for the first time. A month or two later, we had the October 1996 General Conference. As I watched that Conference, my first as a missionary, I was amazed that nearly every speaker was talking about missionary work and my calling as a missionary. I actually felt bad for the 99.5% of the Church membership who were not currently missionaries and therefore had nothing to learn from Conference.
Then I got a letter from my dad, and he commented on how everything in General Conference was about how to be a bishop and how to deal with all the things he was dealing with. Can you believe his nerve? Thinking that my General Conference was for him?!?
Of course, the truth is that two people can listen to the same talk and get completely different messages from it, depending on their situations and biases and mindsets and needs and a host of other factors. My dad needed bishop stuff, and I needed missionary stuff, and we both got what we needed.
Art is the same way. When a person consumes art, the impact depends on that same huge list of factors. When I watch the movie “42,” for example, I see it from the point of view of a white man who loves baseball and the Dodgers and whose best friend is black. The impact on me is very strong for a few of those reasons, but it’s probably totally different than it would be for a black man or someone who is not a baseball fan. It’s probably a ton different than it would be for a virulent racist. Same movie, created by the same people. Different impact on different viewers.
So to say that the only way to interpret “Frozen” is as a “gay agenda to normalize homosexuality” is by definition false, as is any statement that definitively tells you the only way to interpret any piece of art.
Is Kathryn Skaggs really saying this is the only way to interpret this movie? Not in those exact words, but here are the words she does use:
The gay agenda to normalize homosexuality is woven into Disney’s movie Frozen not just as an underlying message – it is the movie.
If you are seriously clueless as to what I’m talking about then it is imperative, particularly for morally minded parents, that you read this post and open your eyes to the homosexual agenda, and the principles advanced to promote it, that undergird Frozen….
When mainstream society comes to the point where it celebrates that which is contrary to the commandments, taught in a movie presumably made for children, by awarding it the highest accolades within its culture, and good parents don’t perceive it, but rather endorse it unwittingly, we are in serious trouble. And you can bet that those we have to thank are laughing themselves all the way to the bank, while mocking the religious ignorant.
If you feel you’ve been duped by the surface story of the movie Frozen, try not to feel too bad. The way, in which Frozen wraps up the false doctrine perpetuated throughout the film, is as skillfully done as I have ever seen it, which makes calling it out and not being labeled crazy difficult.
And on and on. I like that last one a lot: Don’t worry if you’ve been duped; they did a really good job of it, and it takes someone as smart and insightful as me to point it out to you.
Skaggs goes on to list “a brief summary of only ‘some’ of the gay messaging found in the movie Frozen, intended to advocate the homosexual agenda to legalize same-sex marriage and normalize the practice.” I won’t list them here. For some of the points on her list, I can absolutely see how her interpretation is one possible valid view; others seem like a stretch to me. But my point is not to say her interpretation is not valid; what is invalid is her assertion that the “gay agenda” is the only way to view the movie, and anyone who doesn’t agree has been “duped.”
I’ve seen friends and strangers say that they saw symbolism about dealing with autism, learning disabilities, shyness, abuse, and countless other things — for as many people as have seen the movie, there are probably roughly that many interpretations.
Why does this bother me? Because this sort of thing perpetuates the culture of “no matter how hard you’re trying to be a good parent, there’s something you’re doing that you think is perfectly innocent that is actually ruining your children and proving that you are a terrible person.” This culture is especially destructive to mothers, and as a husband, it ticks me off. Skaggs’ article comes across as holier-than-thou — please remember that I am judging what she wrote, not her as a person — and the last thing good, honest, hard-working LDS moms need is someone telling them that they are screwing up their kids.
One final thought on the “gay agenda” in the movie. Skaggs writes:
Oh, and did you happen to catch the gay partner of the guy up at the lodge selling supplies to Hans, in the sauna with their kids? If you blinked, you probably missed it.
I doubt that you blinked and missed it. When I watched the movie, I thought, “Wait a sec, what was that?” But instead of sitting down and writing a screed about those darn liberals at Disney trying to sneak something in, I looked a little closer. And I think you have to jump pretty far to reach the conclusion that the family in the sauna is Oaken’s gay lover and their children. Oaken refers to them as “family,” not “my family.” When he says, “Yoo hoo, family,” I hear that as, “Yoo hoo, generic customer family whose names I do not know and I therefore refer to as ‘family.’” If he said, “Hey dog, get out of here,” we wouldn’t automatically assume that the dog was his.
Then look even closer at the actual family in question. Know what I see? A husband, a wife, and their three children. Here:
I mean, what is more likely? That the adult man and the adult woman are the parents of the three children, or that the adult woman is actually a large-headed child and the adult man is actually the gay lover of the shop owner and what they do for family togetherness is come sit in the sauna with Daddy 2 while Daddy 1 works in his shop?
Issue 2: Attitudes about homosexuality
Throughout Skaggs’ post, she doesn’t seem to make much attempt to distinguish between homosexual feelings and homosexual behavior and the push to legalize same-sex marriage. As I have said, I don’t see how any of this applies to this particular movie, so I won’t be referencing the movie at all.
Same-sex attraction is not a sin. The definition of “homosexuality” is “sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one’s own sex.” So, put another way, it is possible to be a homosexual — that is, have sexual desire towards your own sex — and be a worthy member of the Church.
The Church recently created an excellent website called “Love One Another: A Discussion on Same-Sex Attraction.” When I read that, I can feel the love that the leaders of the Church have for all people. I love this statement:
The Church’s approach to this issue stands apart from society in many ways. And that’s alright. Reasonable people can and do differ. From a public relations perspective it would be easier for the Church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That we cannot do, for God’s law is not ours to change. There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing — and what needs to change — is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.
When I read Kathryn Skaggs’ article, I don’t feel the sensitivity and thoughtfulness that our leaders have said we need to have. I feel like there is judgment, political indignation, and condescension.
As members of the Church, we could all do a better job of loving one another regardless of which commandments we struggle with.
And that includes me being less judgmental of those who struggle with the commandment to love one another. Mind blown.
So I am not judging Kathryn Skaggs. I am saying that I think her opinion about Frozen is off-base, and more to the point, I think the way she expressed it is frustratingly counterproductive.