Recently it has been claimed by various LGBT groups that the Ice Queen from Disney’s record breaking (and pretty damned good) Frozen is actually an analogy for homosexuality. Although I see that the OSCAR winning song “Let it Go” may be a wonderful “Coming Out Anthem” that there are other more insidious downsides to this supposed analogy.
The interpretation certainly has traction, after all, Elsa’s powers alienate her from other, more “normal” people. She cannot control it and hides away from the world out of the fear of hurting others. When her powers are revealed at her coronation she is met with fear and even threatened with violence. Not so different from being “in the closet” and being “outed” to an unwelcoming world.
Also, the most famous song of the show, “Let it Go” is pretty much a power ballad of letting go of the past and being proud of who you are, with lyrics such as “[…] the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all”, “I’m never going back, the past is in the past,” and my own personal favourite, “here I stand in the light of day”. It does, undeniably, recreate a lot of the feelings of empowerment and freedom that come with coming out of the closet.
But, my problem with this particular interpretation is that if Elsa’s magic is all about homosexuality then why is it a harmful power? When someone hides the truth about who they are, most of the time they are the only person that ends up in pain. But, in the first fifteen minutes of Frozen we are shown Elsa nearly killing her sister with her powers. Moreover, when Elsa is “outed” as an adult her power runs out of control and throws an entire country into eternal winter. Even if the analogy was a deliberate choice of the filmmakers and writers, what kind of message would come across? Would it teach younger viewers that what makes them different also makes them dangerous? (I’m looking at you, X-Men…!) Also, (SPOILERS) the resolution of the plot is that Elsa learns to control her power through her love of her family. (END SPOILERS) Surely if Disney wanted to make an analogy for equality, the resolution would be that the people of the kingdom comfort Elsa, accept her for who she is and tell her together that they’re not afraid of her. Of course, that doesn’t sit quite so neatly in terms of the film’s narrative and probably wouldn’t sit too well with a younger audience.
“Let it Go” is an excellent Coming Out Anthem, as well as a brilliant song in general. But, in terms of the rest of the film, I don’t think Elsa really serves as a good analogy for homosexuality. So, she’s single but if that’s how people see Homo sexual people then we’re opening a whole other can of worms…