Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Articles: "Feminism" in Disney's Frozen and The Snow Queen

So I was full of lies when I said I wouldn't talk about Frozen anymore. Once Upon a Blog has really been cooking these last couple weeks, churning out really thought provoking articles on feminism, "feminisim," and blatant sexism in Disney's Frozen and other movies.

1) Disney's Ugly Princesses (Just Kidding. Being Pretty is a Requirement.)

There has been a lot of internet outrage when Lino DiSalvo, the head of animation for Frozen, claimed it was really difficult to animate women:
 "Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.”
Basically saying that it is more important for the character to be pretty than to express a range of emotions realistically.

This also brings back the conversation of how similar both the heroines in Frozen look like Rapunzel. I didn't realize how much until Once Upon a Blog showed this:


Ridiculous. It is like they did a test poll of what the most appealing face was and are cookie-cuttering it. OUAB has more thought provoking analysis. She also follows it up with a part 2: The Good Thing About Comas and Sleeping Princesses (?!) aka Ugly Princesses Not Allowed Pt 2, in which she explores the internet's outrage further, and branches out into the rest of the Disney Princess canon. 


The Snow Queen by Julia Griffin

This post might be my favorite because it examines the false feminism of Disney's Frozen ("Look! We have TWO heroines!") with the very real portrayals of female strength in the original "Snow Queen." OUAB discusses The Feminist Fangirl's post about why she is not supporting Frozen because, in the original, not only the protagonist, but 99% of the supporting cast are strong women of different ages and types: The Robber Girl, The Robber Girl's Mother, The Snow Queen, The Princess, The Garden Witch, The Lapland Woman, The Finland Woman, Grandmother, and the Lady Crow. It would have been a fantastic opportunity for Disney to showcase all kinds of female physicality, not just the cookie cutter princesses above. OUAB's post focuses not so much on ranting against Frozen, but as a on a lament for the original, and the lost opportunity there. 

(Though if you want ranting, the Feminist Fangirl post is fantastic!: "That Disney feels it’s necessary to take a female driven, female dominated story and cut it down to one princess protagonist with a dashing male helper/love interest, is honestly disgusting and one of the most blatant examples of Hollywood’s lack of faith in women in recent memory." Go girl! )

Also check out this really great blog post by Laura Athena: The Snow Queen: Visions of Female Strength for a great analysis of the women in "Snow Queen" (though the formatting makes it a bit difficult to read).


OUAB, as am I, is intrigued by the new trailer, which focuses on the sisters, and she discusses how few tales of sisterly love there are in fairy tales. The main protagonists are usually princess and prince, or sister and brother rather than two sisters. I can now sort of see how it is "The Snow Queen" again, only the Snow Queen and Kai are combined into one character: Elsa. However, it does not excuse the above article's point that they are lauding themselves for having two lead female roles, when they cut down a cast of 10 female roles and replaced them with male love interests and sidekicks. 


  1. I am very disappointed that Disney decided to rewrite one of my favorite fairy tales completely. I don't mind adaptions (disclaimer -- my adaption of The Snow Queen, CROWN OF ICE, comes out in Dec. 2014 from Month9Books) but this film, while probably charming and fun, completely subverts Andersen's tale. I hope that viewers will be spurred to read the original story after they see FROZEN, but I'm afraid they will be very surprised if they do.
    Andersen's tale is so multi-layered, mysterious, and magical -- I wish that had been captured in a movie made by a major studio. Alas, we get a "comedy adventure" instead. Maybe someday someone will truly immortalize this beautiful story on film. Until then, I will re-read Andersen's tale!

  2. Really insightful post - now thtat the film has been released, it has even more problems than just the trailer and DiSalvo's thoughtless comments. Real issues with agency, choice and consent:

    1. Really awesome and comprehensive analysis! Thank you for the link!