A few weeks ago, we went to the cinema to see the Disney animated movie, Frozen. It was a family outing, a special occasion because we rarely go to see a movie on the big screen because of the expense.
We left the ordinary world behind, and for a couple of hours we sat in a line, our eyes glued to the screen, our fingers dipping every now and then into our boxes of popcorn.
When the lights went up at the end of Frozen, my girls said, “Wow! That was good! Thank you so much for bringing us to the movies.” Just looking at their delighted faces was enough to make me feel all warm and joyful inside.
Of course we discussed Frozen for days afterwards.
“I like the bit where…”
“What did you think about…”
“I love that song…”
“Do you think Frozen is as good as Tangled?”
We talked about the various themes including the beautiful one of sisterly love, and how true love involves sacrifice.
Personally, I thought the movie was a little dark in places. One of the main characters was isolated from everyone, even her sister, for much of her childhood. That is so sad. I can just imagine the tears we would have cried if this theme had been used in an adult movie. At the time of viewing the movie, I had wondered if any of the children in the cinema would get upset because Elsa spent her life alone. But I didn’t witness any crying kids so I guess they didn’t think about this as deeply as me, or never having experienced it, it didn’t touch them in a real way.
We discussed the costumes of the various characters, especially the slinky blue dress Elsa was wearing in the ice castle. A dress is a dress. It was the change in attitude that led to such a dress that was more important. We had a great talk about this, initiated by the girls. I wasn’t out to give them a lesson in modesty. They don't need one.
And after a few days and lots of talking, Frozen fever died down to a manageable level and we began speaking of other things.
Then one day I was browsing the Internet and came across more than one article ‘exposing’ the hidden dangers in Frozen. What hidden dangers? I thought. It was just a family movie. But apparently some of the song lyrics contain things we wouldn’t want our children to hear, let alone sing along to. And there is the whole question of whether Disney snuck in some homosexual references. Was the store keeper gay? Perhaps Elsa was too. Why did she reject all male attention?
“Don’t let your children watch Frozen!” warn many people. They go on to say such things as: “You will be putting them into moral danger. We have to be vigilant otherwise such companies as Disney will start to portray the gay lifestyle and 'marriage' as normal. We have to let Disney know we won’t put up with such things by protesting and boycotting Frozen.”
I thought about all this very carefully and I do think we have to be vigilant about what we expose our children to. At the same time, I don’t want to get so suspicious I am looking for evil everywhere and not enjoying the beautiful.
Does Frozen contain immoral elements? Is it subtly telling our children that gay 'marriage' is acceptable and 'normal'? I don’t know. If it does, it all passed under my radar while I was watching the movie. As far as I know, my girls never noticed anything either. I hesitate to discuss the possibility. They are innocent. Frozen was very black and white for them: It was an enjoyable family movie. And that’s the way I like it.
I don’t want to be too suspicious. I want to think the best of people. I want to enjoy the fun and beauty in the world around me. I want that very special day we spent in the cinema watching Frozen to remain a precious family memory. “You took your kids to see Frozen? How could you? Don’t you understand the hidden dangers?” No, I don’t want such comments to spoil an innocent day out.
Am I naïve? Should I be more alert for my children’s sake? I wonder.
It seems to me that once we become familiar with evil, and know what it looks like, we recognise it everywhere. While we remain innocent we are safe. It passes over our heads and is unable to hurt us.
Even if my children become aware of such hidden messages in movies, I don’t think this means they will inevitably interpret them as many people might predict. They will try to make sense of them within the framework of their own experience. They are only going to understand the true meaning if someone informs them.
My children know right from wrong. They listen to the Church and to us. Movies don't have more authority than we do. We all know there is no such thing as Disney princesses. We also know there is no such thing as the gospel of Disney.
I guess we will be buying the DVD version of Frozen when it is released, despite all those articles I read. I also guess I will never see the movie in the same light ever again. I’ll be watching out for those supposed hidden dangers. I won’t be able to help myself. Yes, the innocent pleasure of a family movie has been ruined for me. But I’m not about to ruin it for my daughters.
I’m sure many people will disagree with me. That’s okay. I hope there are many people who feel that way. We need vigilant people in the world, keeping evil on its toes, because of course I could be wrong. After all, my opinion isn't worth much. But if anyone is going to avoid Frozen then they will also have to avoid Tangled and The Lion King and Despicable Me and many other children's movies. And books too and poetry and songs... Just Google 'subliminal messages' and you will see what I mean.
Or don't Google those words. You might lose your sense of peace if you do. And the devil will have us where he wants us. Those messages aren't important. I'm not going to focus on them. Instead I am going to enjoy my popcorn and the delighted looks on the faces of my children. Nothing is going to spoil those very special moments of family joy.
"You took your children to see Frozen?"
"Yes, I did. We enjoyed it immensely!" And I feel all warm inside as I remember the smiles on my daughters' faces.