Monday, January 27, 2014

Theology of the Body in Disney's Frozen

[Warning: Major Frozen spoilers ahead!] 

My sister suggested going to see Frozen the other day. "Come on, it's a great sister movie!!" she said. Who could turn that down? Plus, I knew Idina Menzel (of Wicked fame) sang a great number, so we went. 

Well, by the opening title I was hooked, and enjoyed every minute of the film after. Aside from just being a great story with lovable characters and a stellar soundtrack, the Theology of the Body blew me away (some of which this blog highlights well)!

Recap: When Elsa was little, she had powers to create snow and ice. She and her sister, Anna, enjoyed playing around until Elsa accidentally hit Anna with her power, knocking her out and requiring a family visit to the trolls. Grandpa Troll was able to heal Anna, but warned Elsa to learn to control her powers or terrible things could happen. Consequently, Elsa's parents shut her away and told her to repress her powers so no one would get hurt. "Conceal it, don't feel it" was her mantra.

How many times has this happened in real life? Parents do not want their children to get hurt and they don't want their children to hurt others, so they use fear tactics to keep them safe. Abstinence talks are often little more than "Don't have premarital sex or here is the list of bad things that will happen to you" lectures. "Learning to control" our desires is nothing more than a phrase synonymous with "repressing our thoughts and desires." (Christopher West refers to this as the "starvation diet.") Now, I don't say this to wag a finger at parents or criticize their parenting techniques, but there are some unintended effects of this tactic. Back to Frozen, Elsa became terrified of herself and her freezing powers - she was so afraid of something horrible happening that she locked herself in her room and wore gloves so that she wouldn't run the risk of accidentally freezing someone or something. She never learned to control it or see its beauty; she only feared and suppressed it. 

The effects: When something powerful did happen with Elsa, she flipped out and ran away. Her mentality went from "I don't want to hurt anyone" to "I've hurt people and so my solution is to never be near them. I'll live by myself." She had always only seen her powers negatively: when she accidentally hurt Anna the first time, when she reacted to Anna's insta-engagement, how she had no idea how to control her powers...etc. She had been told for so long to "conceal it, don't feel it" that she looked beyond her powers' goodness. This also restrained her from being able to fix her mistake - she didn't know how, because she never saw the beauty of her power. 

When we are only exposed to fear tactics that are supposed to dissuade us from thinking about our sexuality, it can be difficult to see its beauty. Fear tactics may "work" to guard people from immature intimacy, but they are not the best option. These tactics only answer the "What should you do?" question ("No premarital sex!") - they do not answer the "Why" or question that is so crucial. Fear of our sexuality (C.W.'s "starvation diet") results in thinking that anything and everything dealing with sexuality is bad, outside of the one and only time it is good (marriage). 

But then (cue awesome TOB) ... After Elsa curses her sister by blasting ice into her heart, the trolls reveal that the only way to save Anna/Arendelle/Elsa from herself is by an act of true love. Major props to Disney on this one for not taking the "heroic prince saves the day with true love's kiss" storyline here. Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister's life after she is given a moment of choice between her "true love's kiss" and her sister. Score one for Disney! Anyway, they hit the nail on the head with the idea that true love can turn it all around, and I loved the fact that it didn't have to do with a kiss, an act that has become oversimplified in the media. It is through Anna's act of self-sacrificing love that Elsa is able to see her powers for their beauty and goodness - not something to repress, not something to use flippantly or for malicious intent, but a powerful goodness!

It is the same with real life. (If only Disney movies were real life...) Sexuality is not something that is inherently dangerous, and yet should also never be used flippantly or maliciously. It is only when we see it in the light of true sacrificial love that the "Why?" question is answered. The "What?" is still the same - immature intimacy has twisted and often harmful effects. The answer to "Why?" is no longer "because you will contract an STD," but "because you have immeasurable worth and deserve a sacrificial love that cannot be fulfilled in one night." This language of love is more powerful than the fear tactics that are so often used. Don't conceal it, feel it, learn its design, and cultivate its power, beauty, and goodness.

Thumbs up, Disney. Two thumbs up.

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