I was going to skip the family trip to see Frozen II tomorrow with granddaughters 12, 8, 8, and 3, but perhaps I will go after all. It will be memorable and a culturally central experience for them, not only seeing it with their cousins, but their favorite uncle as well. I mentioned this to co-workers today, both social workers and thus Second Wave feminists (though the younger, 40 y/o does have some Third Wave elements), and one laughingly said "What? You aren't interested in a story of a young woman whose voice has been suppressed because she fears her own power?" She wasn't being entirely facetious with that. She likes those sorts of stories, and has daughters 17 and 19. Still, it was cute, witty.
Well, links within links and you may grow weary, but I have weighed in with observations on Frozen before that you won't see many other places. I'm still proud of getting this right. I know my myths and stories, even though the movie genre is still not one I get entirely beyond my own dating era of 1967-75. I'm betting my friend is right that this sort of message was never far from the minds of the Disney people in the original Frozen. They are good at giving their audience what they want, and that includes the mothers as well as the daughters, however much adults are required to moan and deplore all things princess, for all the wrong reasons.
Yet as I have mentioned at least a dozen times before here, myths have a way of getting away from you. When you try to impose a message like that on a myth, it works superficially at first, but the longer it hangs around, in book, song, play, or movie, it takes on a life of its own, and you find out down the road that the children have absorbed an entirely different message. Among many other things, the original Frozen caught on because it had two princesses*, and even though the younger one was inferior in power, she was cuter and funner, so that younger sisters playing this game did not have to feel they were being cut out entirely. Which is what usually happens with princesses, especially in Disney. However much she may screw up and make bad choices at first, one princess gets to rule them all and tell everyone else where to get off. Princes are brought in entirely for decoration, however much they swoon over him. Aladdin is memorable, but even the Beast is memorable only before the change, and I don't count Tinkerbell as a princess, whatever the lists say. Can you remember much about any of those princes? I thought not. They are intentionally vague, being merely the proper wages for being a good princess.
Frozen II will change the mythology of Frozen retroactively, though we have yet to see how. I have a guess where we will learn it, though. Those of you who have older daughters, who were on the older edge of liking Frozen - check out what it is that they just don't like about the new version. They will likely not be able to put their finger on it at first (and maybe not ever - we don't like recognising our animating myths that much), but it will leak out over the next year, especially in conversation with each other. What they see as missing from this version will be what was invisibly important to them before. I'm betting there will be a half-dozen themes that will emerge in the comparison, few of them quite what was supposed to be so uplifting.
*The usual numbers for princesses are one, three, or twelve, though occasionally you might get a bunch of seven or nine, each more beautiful than the last.