Sunday, March 20, 2016

Meh Max: Dreary Road

I’ve been debating whether or not to write this for a while. At first, I thought anything and everything I could’ve said about this movie could be summed up on Twitter. Then I figured that a TwitLonger post would do the trick. Then I figured it wasn’t worth it, but my frustrations wouldn’t leave me alone. And so, almost a year after its theatrical release, I’m laying down the gauntlet once and for all:

I don’t think Mad Max: Fury Road is all that good.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s awful either. A lot of talent went into it, even though I maintain that it’s a sci-fi version of the Fast and the Furious franchise. It’s well-acted, albeit in a hokey and cartoony way. There are plenty of cool ideas, even if most are superficial. And I definitely enjoyed it. But all of that skirts around the issue I have with the film, one I think so many people are forgetting: nuance.

I’m not against dumb, loud, cartoony fun. The Avengers, after all, was a non-stop adrenaline rush comprised of exactly that, and it’s one of my favourite, pure action movies. But part of that’s because it knew what it was trying to be. It wasn’t striving to be greater than the sum of its parts, and it had no real message save “teamwork defeats all evil”. But Mad Max: Fury Road tried to have a message, and while I applaud it for that, at the same time it’s so poorly-executed that I’m still baffled.

For those not in the know, Mad Max: Fury Road is the story of a former police officer named Max Rakatansky. He lives in a post-apocalyptic Australia and suffers from PTSD due to the deaths of his wife and children. During one of his moments of reflection, he’s captured by a group of warlords, taken to their den, shaved from head-to-toe and used as a blood-bag for…reasons. It turns out that their leader, Immortan Joe, enslaves women and controls his government right down to the allocation of water. When he discovers that his slave driver has escaped, taking his slaves for the ride, he sends his army after them. Of course, Max gets caught in the middle of this, a long chase ensues, explosions occur, weird-looking warriors appear, it’s pretty much a live-action hybrid of Trigun, Twisted Metal and a Roadrunner cartoon.

In case you haven’t noticed, the premise of this movie is dumb and confusing. But whatever, it’s a catalyst for the action and thrills, something I’d normally be fine with. But Mad Max: Fury Road isn’t only content with that, oh no! It also tries its hand at a feminist message, which, again, would be fine…if it didn’t come off as the most shoehorned nonsense I’ve seen in a Hollywood action movie. But it is.

Now, I have nothing against feminism. I’m a feminist. I believe that women are too frequently maligned. I believe there’s an underlying patriarchy that favours men over women. And I believe this patriarchy is damaging to men and women-alike.

That said, I also believe that life’s messy and complicated, and that nothing has an easy solution. Acknowledging that there’s a patriarchy is one problem, and recognizing that it’s unfairly disproportionate is another. However, ignoring that the system’s run by people, all of whom are flawed and multi-faceted, won’t fix the problem. Because even they deserve some credit.

This is where, I think, Mad Max: Fury Road fails. It acknowledges there’s a power imbalance, but the details of its execution are shallow and lopsided. The patriarchal component, for example, is one-dimensional. Immortan Joe has no depth or real character outside his physical appearance, and his war-boy henchmen aren’t much better. They all come off as the frequently goofy stereotypes you’d expect from a 12 year-old’s perceptions of feminism. And while it might be amusing to see men portrayed like living cartoons, it’s not clever writing because it lacks nuance.

Conversely, the women in this movie are portrayed as saints. They have no flaws, they’re impossible to tell apart, and while Imperator Furiosa might be an awesome fighter, you never get a sense that she’s much of anything. I never once connected with anyone because I never had reason to, irrespective of how hard the movie tries. And when I can’t connect with the characters that I’m supposed to because they aren’t written interestingly, well…what am I supposed to do?

And this is why the movie really falters. I can ignore the fact that violence is an inherently masculine concept, as there are ways of using that to make a commentary on society if done well. I can ignore 
the stupidity of the premise, as I’ve seen better films with stupider ones. I can even ignore the over-abundance of explosions because of how much effort went into the stunts. But when has over-stereotyping men ever helped the cause of women? If anything, it only makes it worse!

It’s especially bad because the patriarchal system in the film has no motivation for why it does what it does. At least in Avatar there was a semblance of nuance. The humans weren’t taking over Pandora, they were mining a rare mineral to fix the Earth’s economy. There was a reason for what they did, real stakes. You can argue effectiveness, but that much can’t be denied.

Before you say it, yes, it’s totally fair to compare Mad Max: Fury Road to Avatar here. Because both are messy movies that ham-fist their messages. The only difference? Avatar isn’t hiding anything, while Mad Max: Fury Road is. And yet, one is heavily-criticized for being “generic”, while the other is hailed as a “masterpiece”.

I’m not sure people realize how much of an impact film can have as an art form. Not only in its appeal, but also in shining a mirror back at society. And how many people will look at a breakdown of the patriarchy, which is incredibly damaging, in a serious light when it portrays men as one-dimensional warlords and sex slave owners? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to show a perpetuated system so ingrained in society that even its moderates are following it without even realizing? Wouldn’t that hit home harder than what we actually got?

It’s additionally frustrating because many fans are also claiming it trumps most of Hollywood’s yearly blockbusters. This drives me crazy: yes, Mad Max: Fury Road is a beautiful-looking movie. But it’s nowhere near as clever as people are claiming. Even the weakest of the MCU is more coherent, and that’s saying plenty considering that Thor: The Dark World exists! And please don’t tell me that the movie is using minimalist storytelling so as to not spoon-feed the audience information, because exposition is sometimes an important part of movie storytelling.

Finally, I’m tired of being redirected to internet think-pieces when I ask fans of Mad Max: Fury Road why it’s clever. Isn’t that NOT why I came to you for an answer? What’s so undeniable that you expect me to accept that the movie’s brilliant? If you’re so insistent that Mad Max: Fury Road is so great, then why not explain why yourself? If you’re making the claim, then you have to back yourself up when challenged.

Whatever, film is subjective. I won’t pull a Bill O’Reilly and stop you from enjoying what you enjoy, that’s not my goal. I simply don’t think Mad Max: Fury Road’s anything special because it lacks nuance. That’s far more harmful to its message than if it had nuance. And isn’t that what really matters? Aren’t we better than this?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Disney-ana Jones?

I’m not really an Indiana Jones fan.

It’s not like I don’t get the appeal of the franchise, mind you: they’re well-made action-adventure movies. They’ve even, alongside Star Wars, gone on to inspire one of my favourite animated movies, aka Castle in the Sky. But, be it a combination of exhaustion, frustration and discomfort, that one time I tried watching Raiders of the Lost Ark on the bus ride to my Grade 12 graduation trip I fell asleep before the third-act (or tried to, since I hate sleeping on moving vehicles.) The bits and pieces of its immediate sequels that I’ve gathered from TV didn’t interest me either. And while I’ve yet to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I’m pretty sure I’d be equally disinterested in it. I don’t like MacGuffin chases, which this franchise thrives on.

This past week, Disney announced a 5th Indiana Jones movie set for July 19th, 2019. It’ll once again star Harrison Ford and be directed Steven Spielberg, the latter of whom is one of my favourite directors. This should sound like great news, especially since Disney managed to bring back Star Wars from the dead last year, but it’s been met with a lot of skepticism. People aren’t sure what to make of this announcement, even making jokes about the new film. I have to ask: why is that?

For context, let’s rewind back to the Summer of 2008. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was heading to theatres after a 19 year gap since the last film. People were hyped. It seemed like Indy would wow yet again; after all, he’d never truly let people down before, so why now? What could possibly make this film worse than the recent Star Wars movies?

Critically, nothing serious. The movie still fared decently, earning a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 65 on Metacritic. But audiences were split on it, with some enjoying it and others calling it horrendous. To date, it remains the worst-received movie in the franchise, taking Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’s spot from 24 years prior. Clearly, something went wrong here, but what?

Simple: management.

I don’t think it should be any shock in hindsight that the film disappointed. I know people like nitpicking details, particularly Shia Labeouf, but I don’t think it was the actors’ faults. They were working with they had, and since film is a collaborative process, one where anything can go on any level, I doubt they’re solely to blame. Nor do I really fault Steven Spielberg, who, ignoring that this was the time period between Catch Me If You Can and Lincoln where his films were okay at best, has come out to state that his heart wasn’t fully in it while directing. In truth, this was George Lucas being George Lucas yet again, and that people didn’t see the warning signs after three disappointing Star Wars prequels baffles me. I wasn’t surprised then either! Considering how frequently I’d heard people complain about Star Wars since I was 9, and knowing that Lucas had a hand in the Indiana Jones franchise, I was amazed people were expecting another masterpiece to begin with!

But whatever, we can argue if it was fair to overhype expectations another day. The point is, Indiana Jones wasn’t suffering because it was past its prime. It was suffering because the higher-ups no longer cared. For Spielberg, it was a favour to a longtime friend of his. For Lucas, it was another attempt at making money off of nostalgia. And for everyone else, it was another example of how blind optimism can be dangerous.

Fast-forward to 2013, when Disney announced that it’d acquired Indiana Jones from Paramount Entertainment. People were skeptical, since this was around the same time that Disney had acquired Star Wars. As time went on, and rumours kept surfacing about another Indiana Jones film, I remained on the sidelines. I was neither for nor against this decision, as, like I said earlier, I didn’t really care for Indiana Jones. Star Wars was what concerned me, since I was in my anti-Star Wars phase brought about by the internet’s snobbery. I wasn’t concerned that Indiana Jones wouldn’t live up to its roots, I was more concerned that Star Wars would pander to older fans so as to “atone for its prequel sins”.

Sufficed to say, I shouldn’t have been concerned. Not only had Disney already made excellent use of its Marvel acquisition, but Star Wars: The Force Awakens ended up being a lot of fun. It may not have been what I’d wanted, but it at least showed that Disney did care. So for them breathe new life into Indiana Jones wouldn’t be that much of a stretch.

And this is why I’m confused over the reaction: it’s Disney. They’re not George Lucas, they’ve proven twice already that they can handle big-name IPs with respect and care. Is their business strategy motivated by greed? Yes. Am I pleased with every decision they’ve made? No. But they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

As for the claims that Harrison Ford has “lost his touch”, get out of here! He may be in his 70’s, but he can still act. He played a convincingly older version of Han Solo in the latest Star Wars movie, and that’s a role we haven’t seen since 1983! If he can do that, I’m sure he can do justice to an older Indiana Jones. Especially now that Disney owns his character and can find people to use him responsibly.

So yes, the news of a new Indiana Jones film doesn’t bother me. Here’s hoping that the MacGuffin chase in this new film is one I actually care about, or I might end up bored like I was the last time.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Frozen Dilemma

Internet, it’s time we had a little talk. *Grabs the collective body by the ear and drags it to a private space*

This is Frozen. I’m sure you need no introduction, as it’s only one of the highest-grossing movies of all-time. It won 2 Academy Awards, one for Best Animated Feature, the other for Best Original Song, and has permeated its way into pop-culture in 3 short years. It also has one of the most well-known Disney songs ever, although we’ll cover that later. And yet, despite being perfectly competent, you keep acting like it’s a blight on humanity.

In all seriousness, Frozen has taken lots of unnecessary flak for existing. Complaints are all-over, such that it’s impossible to not have arguments last pages upon pages online whenever it or Disney are mentioned. There’s even a good chance this’ll be an incredibly popular blog entry, although I’m not guaranteed that quite yet. Regardless, its review boards are flooded with jerks and trolls, people down-vote it because they can, it’s a sore topic. In other words, it’s the new Avatar: a film that’s maligned so frequently that its actual flaws are overshadowed.

The backlash is starting to drive me crazy. I initially tried ignoring it, thinking it’d go away. Then I tried arguing in its defence, thinking that’d make it better. Then I tried laughing at the detractors in hopes that their ignorance would cheer me up. None of that worked, so I caved and decided to write this.

To be clear, I’m not saying that Frozen is untouchable genius. It’s not. I have my own gripes with the film too, and if you don’t like it for legit reasons, power to you. This rant is directed at the insane backlash the film receives for reasons it doesn’t deserve. In fact, I’m gonna look at the 7 most common ones and explain why I think they’re nonsense:

It sucks because it’s overrated.

This is the most-common, and least-compelling, of the complaints thrown at Frozen. It rears its head most-frequently on YouTube and IMDb, and it can be best explained as follows:

Frozen sucks!”

How come?

“Because it’s overrated!”

And why’s it overrated?

“Because…it sucks, okay?”

So it sucks because it’s overrated, and it’s overrated because it sucks? Got it! Actually, I don’t get it at all.

“How come you don’t get it? Are you really that blind?”

No, it’s because you danced around my original question and didn’t answer it.

“Of course you’d say something like that, Frozen lover! You’re blind to its problems.”

Of which you’ve yet to mention in any significant detail. You’re doing great here.


Yeah, that’s what I-


*Sigh* I give up.

In case you think I’m exaggerating, I once had a debate on YouTube with a guy who thought I was, and I’m not kidding, “licking Frozen’s balls” because I enjoyed it.

Then there’s the more “sophisticated” (read “pretentious”) group who states why Frozen sucks with nitpicks that have no bearing on overall quality. Reasons like “where did Elsa get her powers from?” and “who ruled Arendelle in-between Elsa and Anna’s parents’ deaths and the time that Elsa became of age?” To the former, I ask where The Cave of Wonders in Aladdin came from, or why the prince in Beauty and the Beast was cursed for ten years for acting like a typical 10 year-old? These are complaints that don’t affect the overall experience, and no one asks them because “those movies are classics!” As for the latter, it’s the same deal: not important.

Of course, none of this matters because people claim that “Frozen is a clichéd, overrated piece of garbage” without realizing that clichés aren’t inherently bad, or that the word “overrated” isn’t synonymous with “terrible”. Then again, no one stops to think about the former or the latter. Especially the latter, as everything popular is “overrated”. Speaking of which…

It sucks because it’s so popular.

Ah yes, the “it’s popular, therefore it sucks!” argument. I’d make a Condescending Wonka joke if I could.

This is even dumber because plenty of great stuff is popular. Star Wars is popular, and it’s great. Studio Ghibli is popular, albeit less so, and it’s great. The MCU is popular, and it’s, arguably, great too. Being popular doesn’t make something bad, especially when it’s popular for a reason.

In Frozen’s case, there are two reasons: one, it’s a Disney movie with two princesses, hence double appeal to girls. And two, it’s really clever, as most Disney films are. I’d add that the soundtrack is also really catchy, but most Disney musicals are. Basically, Frozen tapped into a market that liked it, told others it was good and got them to like it as well. It’s not rocket science.

But aside from the whole “it’s popular” argument, so? I’d rather this movie be popular than, say, Michael Bay’s Transformers films. At least with Frozen there was thought behind it, unlike Bay’s constant desire to throw explosion after explosion in your face because, “Story? Vas dos?” At least Frozen has subtext.

Besides, part of the reason it’s so popular is because people keep talking about it. It’s the snowball effect: you push a snowball down a snowy hill, and chances are it’ll get bigger. This is a fact, as it’s never not happened in the history of snowballs. The fact that you’re complaining means it’s getting attention, leading to more people seeing it and complaining in-turn. In fact, there’s a good chance a lot of the complainers haven’t seen it. I should do a poll at some point…

You can complain all you want, but Frozen will only go away once people stop talking about it.

It sucks because it made more money than far better movies.

God forbid!

This one’s not even quantifiable. It’s simply illogical: a movie made a lot of money, more than it might’ve deserved, so it’s bad. I’ll address the first part of that claim with the same counter-claim I used in the previous complaint: that’s your fault, not the film’s. Movies are a business ruled by money, so any returns generated are a direct result of public interest. The higher the gross, the more people went to see it. The more people went to see it, the more bragging rights its marketing has. This is how Western media has worked for decades, folks!

It’s also really subjective because plenty of movies make lots of money at the box office. Remember Fifty Shades of Grey? It made tons of money. Remember the Harry Potter movies? They made tons of money. Even Avatar, everyone’s favourite sci-fi punching bag, cracked a billion dollars worldwide in less than a year. Money is money, not quality. If a Michael Bay film can be hugely-successful and still suck, then so too can Frozen, which is an actual good movie.

I know why people are really mad. They’re mad because the film outgrossed Disney’s previously highest-grossing animated film, The Lion King, in a shorter amount of time. While this is surprising, I’m not bitter at all. The Lion King is a great movie, but it’s not the high-pinnacle of perfection fans have made it to be either. It too was flawed, and, in some ways, an overblown phenomenon, people have simply forgotten that over time.

Also, grow up. Not only is it everyone’s fault that Frozen became so successful, but it’s not even that bad. Like I said, I’d much rather Frozen be successful than, say, another one of those cruddy Transformers films. Disney deserves a new property to milk dry after all of their hard work, right? Right?!

Tangled is better.

This one’s most-common amongst Disney fans who are fed up with Frozen’s popularity. The complaint here is that Tangled, a less-popular Disney musical that came out in 2010, is superior, yet doesn’t receive credit. I can definitely relate to the “underdog” mentality, having grown up one myself, but it doesn’t add up when you consider how popular the film is online. IMDb has it at a 7.8/10, compared to 7.6/10 for Frozen. It might not seem like much, but that .2 difference is huge!

Personally, I’m not convinced either. Tangled didn’t impress me. Not only did its songs underwhelm, but it didn’t take advantage of the CGI format it was converted to last-minute. Yeah, the film was originally going to be traditionally animated, yet was converted to meet Disney’s then “CGI every other year” policy that accommodated films like The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh. I enjoyed it, but nothing about it screamed “classic”.

In contrast, Frozen made excellent use of CGI. The pan-shots of landscapes, the zoom-out when Elsa flees in panic, the zoom-in during Elsa’s show-stopping number, these are all playing to the medium quite well. Does it cut corners to save money and time? Absolutely, and you can see that. But it doesn’t matter when the story’s that investing, does it?

Besides, Tangled can’t be an underdog if it performed as well as it did. The film made close to $600 million, more than double its budget, and is still well-loved compared to 2009’s The Princess and the Frog. The latter has fans too, but not nearly as many. If anything, that’s the real underdog, not Tangled! (I’m not sure why that one doesn’t get its dues for revitalizing the Disney musical.)

I’m not sure what else to say: is it a shame that Frozen overshadows other Disney films? Yes. Does that mean it’s suddenly not good? No. And it shouldn’t have to. After all, no one complains that The Lion King overshadows other Disney films from the 90’s, right? Of course not!

The Wind Rises is better.

This one’s the most-annoying as an anime fan.

I enjoyed The Wind Rises. A lot, actually. However, in the greater pantheon of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, it’s really a 3/4 star movie, right next to Porco Rosso and Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s a little too long, many of its side-characters are shafted and it’s so unconfident in its message about war that it revises it frequently and still falters. It’s fun and insightful, but I wouldn’t put it in the director’s top 5. Frozen, on the other hand, I’d easily slot into the top 10 when it comes to Disney’s endeavours. Then again, I already wrote about this on Infinite Rainy Day.

I think part of this complaint has to do with the Oscars. Both films were nominated in 2014 for Best Animated Feature, and yet Frozen took home the trophy. I didn’t mind, seeing as I loved Frozen and was happy to see a Walt Disney Animation Studios film finally win an Oscar in that category, but many Otaku were furious. “How dare a crappy Disney movie win against Miyazaki’s crown achievement?! This is an outrage!”

For one, I’ve already stated what I thought of The Wind Rises. And two, Miyazaki’s crown achievement was Spirited Away, and that already won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Miyazaki’s glory days, in my opinion, are behind him, such that I’m somewhat relieved he’s retired and not completely soured his name (not that I would’ve minded another film from him.) So insinuating that this was his “crown achievement”, when I think he’s done better, strikes me as odd. Unless everything Miyazaki makes is his “crown achievement”, in which case…you’re entitled to your opinion.

This reeks of a bigger issue, that being entitlement. Ignoring the elitism that much of Otakudom reeks of when it comes to anime and Western animation, Studio Ghibli fans, particularly Miyazaki fans, are kinda bratty and assume that everything they make deserves every award imaginable. They’re the anime-equivalent of “rich, white people”, and it’s sickening. Not everything they make deserves an award “because it’s Studio Ghibli”. In fact, not everything they’ve made is even good (remember Tales from Earthsea?)

Besides, not only does Miyazaki already have two Oscars, but his last movie doesn’t automatically warrant an Oscar simply because it’s his last movie. That’s entitlement talking. And I think Frozen’s better overall. Simpler, maybe, but better-written and more cohesive. I have problems with it, particularly its third-act twist, but never underestimate a Disney musical.

Then again, arguing this online is immediate grounds for pointless arguments, like the one I mentioned in the beginning of this rant, so it’s not worth it.

Let it Go!” is the most-generic Disney song in existence, and yet people can’t stop singing it.

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen…”

Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you said “most-catchy Disney song in existence”…

I sympathize the most with this complaint because the latter part is true: “Let it Go!” is everywhere these days. It’s at parties, karaokes, sing-a-longs, Disney shows, the likes. It even made its way to the camp I worked at last Summer via a special needs girl who kept singing it every single day. And yeah, it’s kind of annoying that it’s so immensely-popular.

But you know what? It’s a good song. It’s fun, uplifting, catchy, even somewhat empowering. Let’s face it, it’s a giant middle finger to societal expectations in the most Disney way ever. That takes guts, and they pull it off with ease. Then again, when your show-stopper is sung by a shared actress as Elphaba from Wickedand even carries similar themes

I’m not sure why it’s considered “generic”. I know Adam from Your Movie Sucks compared it to Katy Perry’s “Firework”, stating that it’s equally as obnoxious, but I like “Firework”. Is it cheesy and badly-sung by Perry herself? Yes, but it’s empowering. And that’s kinda the point.

I also don’t think “Let it Go!” is as bad, say, “Gold” from Pocahontas, or as stupid and annoying as “The Morning Report” from The Lion King. In the pantheon of Disney songs, you can do a lot worse. You can probably also do a lot better, hence why I think people are so mad, but I’d rather a song that tells conventions to go screw themselves top the billboards than a lot of the other nonsense that gets overplayed on the radio. And yes, it topped the billboards right after it came out. Go look it up.

That said, while I desperately think that people are over-reacting to its popularity, I understand the frustration. “Let it Go!” is definitely overplayed. And I definitely think there are better Disney songs, even in the film itself (like “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”) I also understand the backlash it’s received from people singing it poorly, as I get that a lot with how my family frequently butchers “There Can Be Miracles” from The Prince of Egypt (which, like “Let it Go!”, I don’t even consider the best in that film.) Still, if you expect people to stop singing “Let it Go!”, then you might as well stop singing a million other popular songs. Like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and everything The Beatles wrote, it’s a part of pop-culture, and it’ll likely remain that way until Moana comes out and has its own show-stopper.

People are calling it “empowering”, when it’s actually not.

This is an argument that was originally perpetuated by Tumblr, what with their liberal extremism and insistence that everything be progressive. It’s kinda grating when Tumblrites initially bemoaned Frozen for being misogynistic, only to briefly praise it during release before criticizing it again for not living up to its talks of empowerment. I think that’s a perfectionist mentality, and it gets on my nerves. As such, I think it only fair to deflate the bubble with an insistence that they get over themselves. Seriously, it’s ridiculous how a movie doesn’t get a pass unless it meets every entry on the social justice checklist.

I’ll be the first to admit that Frozen isn’t breaking new ground with its message of female empowerment. At least, by non-Western, non-Hollywood standards. Feminist empowerment stories aren’t new, and Studio Ghibli has been championing a lot of Frozen’s themes since the 80’s. Still, for what it’s worth, being a movie from a system that still places white, male heterosexuals in the dominant position in its mythos, one that champions two Disney princesses and the relationship they share, is pretty gutsy. Notwithstanding that this is the same company that correlates love with marriage as its grounding ideology.

So yes, Disney making a film about sisterly love is revolutionary considering their résumé. Is it new? No, but when is any storytelling idea “new”? Is it bold? Yes, but only because the whole “women need men in their lives to be complete” narrative is somewhat narrow-minded. But the fact that Frozen is attempting this at all, let-alone succeeding, is already quite empowering. Especially when neither of the protagonists are the disaffected warriors or overly-quippy heroes we so frequently champion in blockbuster entertainment.

Then there’s the subject of Elsa’s arc being one of acceptance. Remember how I said that her big song, “Let it Go!”, was basically a middle-finger to societal expectations? Some people have taken that as a song about embracing who you are, be it a minority, gay, trans or someone with a disability. When you think about it, Elsa needs to first accept who she is before she can manifest her gift properly. And that acceptance comes through her trusting her sister.

I think this is completely lost on the proclaimers of this particular jab. For one, Elsa and Anna being sisters is crucial. I know there are those who think nothing would matter if Elsa and Anna were man and woman, and they’re right…because it’d ruin the underlying message. Frozen wouldn’t have worked without its sisterly love theme. And two, expecting perfection from art is like picking clothes from a catalogue and not wearing them. Art isn’t a box, you can’t pick and choose from a checklist if you don’t know what you’re doing. That a movie can’t live up to your unrealistic ideals isn’t its fault, it’s yours.

Besides, Disney isn’t gonna have an openly-lesbian couple. It’s not possible due to their target audience being everyone, even stuffy, homophobic adults from ultra-conservative families. That Frozen got away with what it did is, quite frankly, astounding, and I hope this trend of feminist progressivism continues into their next princess film. Judging by what we know of Moana, I’m sure it will be.

Ultimately, you don’t have to think that Frozen is progressive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t.

Anyway, I’ve defended Frozen enough for what it is: a good, clever film that doesn’t deserve the hate it gets. It may be flawed and over-exposed, but that doesn’t mean it warrants the extreme backlash its received. I only wish its detractors would simply, as Elsa says herself, let it go.