The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I'm the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in;
Heaven knows I've tried
Don't let them in,
don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know
Well now they know
It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!
These are some of the lyrics to the ubiquitous anthem from Frozen. The second time we saw this movie was on a Disney Cruise. When the moment for this song came, half the theater began singing along. And while I agree that a Disney cruise is 'preaching to the choir', I also think there is something about these words and the point they come at in the movie that has captured the imaginations of so many. If you have not yet seen the movie, the words will be out of context. Although, I would be curious to hear responses to these words without the benefit of seeing/experiencing the whole movie.
It is difficult for me to go back to that second naivete and try to read these words without the plot line of the movie playing out in my imagination. Yet, I think what the words give voice to are moments when we feel like we cannot be authentic or be our true self. We hid something away. Our Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Bisexual friends have done this for a long time. They have felt controlled by the reality of judgement and violence. Beyond that, I think we all have things about ourselves that we hide from others. Even people who post everything to Facebook are still hiding somethings, perhaps even trying to write a narrative of their life that even they do not fully believe or understand.
We also have moments when we are forced to hide. Maybe because of fear. Maybe because of past experiences. Maybe because we are uncertain or unclear about who we really are. And in those moments, even if we are surrounded by a thousand people, we still feel alone. Or as Elsa sings, "A kingdom of isolation...and it looks like I'm the queen." We've all been there. Feeling alone; feeling misunderstood and a case of mistaken identity.
As I said in my last post, like all Disney movies, on one level Frozen is about identity. Elsa, for good reasons, believes she will not be accepted by others for her powers. Her powers have hurt others and the linger grief that has caused her has totally dictated the narrative of her life. Take a quick exit ramp with me and connect to another popular movie, Spider-man (Toby Maguire version). Early on Spider-man is trying to figure out his powers and his uncle gives him some great advice, "With great power comes great responsibility." The two are interwoven. Elsa believes she cannot fully be herself with others around. I know of very few people who don't at one time, or another, in their lives question both who they are and who they are in connection with others.
So we do conceal and we numb ourselves (usually through addictions or medication or food). Yet, Elsa needs to understand that her powers and her relationships (especially with her sister Anna) can co-exist. It is not easy. The easy path would be to stay in her ice castle brooding and believing that she cannot have both her powers and her loving relationships to others. In some way the modern dilemma has always been how much of ourselves do we "let go"? Of course, some discretion is good. We don't need to over-share our whole lives. But we also cannot be so closed and contained until one day we burst.
Perhaps this is too much credit/analysis/over thinking of a cartoon. But I believe that stories are one of the ways we communicate, really communicate, what is valuable. In the 1980s movies about wealth dominated the box-office because we truly worshiped money. In the 1990s movies about friendships started to balance that as a generation of latchkey kids started having disposable income. Now, movies like Frozen and the Hunger Games trilogy cause us to reflect on what is entertainment and identity in cultural systems. I believe God works through creativity. God works through art, poetry, music, and movies to help us hold a mirror up to ourselves. And if we are willing to stare into that mirror, seeing dimly at times, we may just find wisdom that truly is a trace of God's grace.