WARNING: VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY HARSH FROZEN CRITICISM BELOW!
For a long time, people have been begging Disney to have a canonically LGBT/q*eer character (that wasn’t a sidekick or the villain) in one of their animated films. Considering how Disney is known for hiring LGB (not sure about the T) people for voice work and other behind-the-scenes work, it’s only fair that they should represent one on-screen as well.
For awhile, people wanted an original LGBT character, but now it seems that people want a pre-established character to be so.
Recently, people have been tweeting at Disney to make Elsa from Frozen LGBT (preferably a lesbian) in the sequel, with the hashtag #giveelsaagirlfriend.
And to be honest, I don’t think that hashtag is going to work.
See, the thing about Frozen is that it’s the epitome of safe. I’m sorry, but it is. The plot is simplistic, the dialogue is childish, it doesn’t delve deep into serious themes (like how Big Hero 6 dealt with the death of a loved one and how to cope with it, or how Zootopia dealt with societal prejudice, or how Tangled dealt with abusive relationships, to name just a few), the characterization isn’t that complex; even the animation and design looks really flat compared to other Disney films that came out recently. It’s not really ‘feminist’ because, for a movie about two sisters, Anna and Elsa aren’t happy together for most of the film, it has a muddled message on ‘not needing a man’ (when Anna hooks up with a boy who had to save her life a lot throughout the movie), and Elsa being single isn’t that revolutionary when we just had Merida the year before and Honey Lemon and Gogo the year after. It’s a safe, marketable movie meant to sell merch and make people happy. You notice how literally EVERYONE seems to relate to Elsa? It’s because she’s an empty shell; she has such scant characterization beyond being depressed and anxious and has things happen TO her (not making any real decisions by herself, beyond staying away from Anna because she feels that she’s too dangerous); and her powers as a metaphor is so vague it can be seen as a multitude of things, from mental illness to disability, to, yes, being q*eer. (The fact that she’s white and skinny and pretty helps a lot.)
So really, do you think Disney is going to risk losing money out of one of their biggest franchises by making Elsa a lesbian or otherwise q*eer? Probably not. Frozen is successful because it is basic; they can’t be TOO progressive with it. Elsa is simply too marketable for Disney to take risks with her. They’re taking advantage of the fact that she’s so relatable.
Besides which, I really, really hate how, if a woman is single in a Disney film, she HAS to be q*eer. Men can be single and no one will raise an eyebrow, but the minute a woman expresses how she doesn’t want to get married, suddenly she must not be straight. I have no problem with people headcanoning the heroines as having a different sexuality, but I don’t like how society as a whole sees single Disney women this way.
So, okay, maybe Disney should make one of their characters q*eer anyway. After all, shows like Steven Universe have been proven to be popular despite (or perhaps because) of their LGBT representation, Disney shouldn’t have to worry too much about backlash. But still, I think they’re going to do it with a character they’re allowed to take risks with. And who might such a character be?
Why do I say this? Well, for starters Wreck-It Ralph was a successful Disney movie that is (eventually) going to have a sequel, but hasn’t been marketed to death like Frozen has. So Disney is allowed to take a few risks with this character.
Secondly, Wreck-It Ralph, unlike Frozen, is VERY progressive and much more layered. I plan to do a separate post on it, but basically, Ralph is a man consigned to the role of a ‘bad guy’, and while he isn’t necessarily ‘pure’, and is a little rough around the edges, he still has a good heart, and would do anything for his friends (even die for them). He is an outcast, and it’s well established that people actually dislike him for who he is, and they have to overlook their prejudices and accept him. He rejects riches and living the good life, he’s fine having some recognition and friends. And, despite being big and burly, he’s actually very caring and sweet, not falling into a macho man stereotype. (Seriously, watch the movie. The differences between it and Frozen are like night and day.) So not only is he a well written and unconventional character, why wouldn’t he be q*eer? It could certainly tie in with his narrative of a man taking life who had to deal with stigma and had to take life one game at a time very well.
I think Disney is allowed to be riskier with this movie, and Ralph is a fantastic, well-developed character that can pull it off. Granted I’m not sure if it WILL happen (and I think ultimately Disney should just make an original LGBT character), but I think WIR would be better for representation than Frozen.
I guess ultimately, we’ll have to see what will happen. Maybe Elsa WILL be revealed to be LGBT in the sequel and they’ll write her sexuality in effectively, who knows? But for now, I’m keeping my expectations really low, and I still think Ralph would be a better choice at any rate. But that’s just how I feel at any rate.