The Many Interpretations of Frozen

By | February 18, 2014
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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.

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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:

  1. I think she’s wrong to say that the “gay agenda … is the movie.”
  2. 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:

OakensFamily

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.

Social Media is cool, no?

14 thoughts on “The Many Interpretations of Frozen

  1. Kym

    Shouldn’t we be more concerned about what God wants and accepts and not a Church?

  2. D. Rolling Kearney

    You said: “And that includes me being less judgmental of those who struggle with the commandment to love one another.”

    You may find my recent article, published on the Mormon Chronicle website, interesting, particularly this quote from Pres. Benson:

    “The world largely ignores the first and great commandment – to love God – but talks a lot about loving their brother. They worship at the altar of man… When we fail to put the love of God first, we are easily deceived by crafty men, who profess a great love of humanity, while advocating programs that are not of the Lord.”

    You can the full article here:
    http://www.mormonchronicle.com/homosexuality-and-the-gospel-a-scriptural-refutation-of-modern-propaganda/

    In other words, there is no place for judging negatively against those who warn against things they believe are advocating against God’s laws, even (and especially) when the things they are warning against are publicly construed as “loving our neighbor.”

    I happen to agree with Skaggs on this issue, although I might not if I didn’t already know many other instances where Disney is guilty of this sort of thing. For instance, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InFLnzeQjWw&. I also think that everyone is aware, by now, of the penis prominently placed in the cover art for that movie, as well. A naked woman placed in the open window behind the characters of The Rescuers? Yep. It can be seen at the bottom of this page: http://www.bubblegun.com/features/10disney.html

    One must also wonder at the statistical possibility that every female child star to come out of the Disney empire suddenly becomes a complete tramp when she turns 18. I personally believe that patterns betray more than mere chance.

  3. Shaun

    I think the same can be said to be true of ANY movie… “Toy Story Supports Gay Agenda”

    Consider this…All of the toys are different aspects of Andy’s personality as he plays with them…

    Woody- is his conservative closeted self
    Buzz- the new gay feelings he is having
    Rex- Timidity about the situation,
    Peep- Feminine side
    Slink- growing and shrinking desires
    Potato Head- The many faces he has to put on around those he loves
    Ham- His snarky repressive side
    Army men- they are just butch and sexy 😉

    It could also be said that the movie follows this progression, during his birthday party his “mom” pull one more present out of the “closet,” he quickly runs up stairs with his friends to “Play” with his new toy the fight starts. Woody and Buzz are at odds, Buzz quickly starts to win over all of Andy’s other emotions/ toys… Andy finally “brands” Buzz and writes his name on his foot, this is the point that Andy finally accepts his homosexual tendencies… The story takes a dark turn, what happens at the gas station? Walked into something in the restroom? Then the struggle over his neighbor… he fights his feelings, he is rebuffed, Sid is about to send his Buzz into space and destroy him… but Woody comes to the rescue! They make it to the van, back into Andy’s awaiting arms… The “move” is symbolic of him embracing who he is and becoming a budding homosexual…

    Trust me, you can see any movie how ever you want… you can even make Christ analogies in the same movie… Truth is, I don’t think Disney will ever make a movie that has a “Gay” agenda… Is it because they are against it? No. Is it because they feel that families should be a certain way or another? No…. Money, plain and simple…. They will never willingly alienate even 20% (made up number, but conservative to say the least) of their fan base over an ideal. If Frozen made $150m and it came out early that it had a “gay” agenda and Disney said, yes…. then it would have lost $20m-50m…
    Disney is great, but the only agenda they promote is $$$

  4. Jessie Oliveros

    I think the theme is being true to yourself, which could make the movie “about” anything. Homosexuality is in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds these days, and so it is the first thing they might think of when considering a agenda.

  5. Hope VanBennekom

    Thank you. I can stop banging my head on the wall now. I also have a point of reference for all of my friends that are now thinking because I’m LDS, I think along the same lines as the Author of the original article.

  6. SHaight

    Can’t even begin to tell you how much I love your post!!!!! Also LDS, I felt the EXACT same way about Skagg’s blog- kind of a mix of “Are you trying to be serious right now?” and “How dare she??”. AWESOME response to her rubbish!

  7. Dave

    Excellent article, you encapsulated my own feelings upon reading that horrible blog post perfectly.

    I realize that I am no better than Sis. Skaggs, she struggles with unapologetic hostility and derision towards homosexuals, and I struggle with unapologetic hostility and derision to an overwhelming majority of LDS members who live in Utah.

  8. Mckenzie

    Thank you! I nearly fell out of my chair reading the other “article”. When I was finished reading, I was mad enough that I walked away from my computer. You articulate everything I thought.

  9. Celeste

    Seriously, this is a breath of fresh air. Thank you for saying so clearly what a lot of ‘well-behaved’ Mormons actually feel.

  10. Katrina

    Beautifully written Jeff. A special thanks for supporting all the moms (and dads) out there that truly are trying to do their best not to screw up their kiddos. Its a full-time job! I’ve not seen Frozen yet (bedrest thing), but my kiddos, husband & father all loved it and thought there were several great themes and charachters they found inspiring. I remember people pointing out hidden inappropriate drawings/themes in Little Mermaid & Alladin when I was younger. I struggle to be the parent I feel is best for my kiddos, but believe me, it has nothing to do with these or any other movies created by Disney. Life has offered far greater challenges!

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