Okay, this will be one of the weirder blogs I post here, but bear with me. As I was logging on to Twitter earlier today (while simultaneously wondering why I still have a Twitter), I saw a featured tweet claiming that many people are insisting that Disney should give Elsa, the elder royal sister from their beloved film Frozen, a girlfriend in Frozen’s eventual sequel, as a means to “give the LGBT community someone to look up to as well.”
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea (lord knows if you aren’t entirely politically correct these days people will write you off as a fascist and vilify you for life), I have absolutely no problems with the idea of Disney introducing a gay princess to their character lineup. In fact I think it would be interesting to see. But it shouldn’t be Elsa for two reasons: One pertaining to the social issue, and one pertaining to Frozen itself.
The first reason is that retroactively deciding to make the character gay would ultimately end up making the issue feel forced, and subsequently, meaningless. You never want to go the bait-and-switch route with fictional characters, but it’s a route people go all too often with homosexual characters. J.K. Rowling revealed that the character of Dumbledore in her Harry Potter series was gay, but conveniently only did so several months after the last book in the series had been published. Similarly, video game developer Naughty Dog, when creating the DLC for their critically praised title The Last of Us, decided to make the character of Ellie gay, even though any indication of sexuality was never previously brought up with the character.
I’m not saying these authors don’t have good intentions. But to me anyway, if you’re trying to bring up some social issue or diversity, you should probably do so from the get-go. Otherwise, it feels like they’re just throwing it in there to give themselves a pat on the back. Almost as a means for them to say “look at us! Aren’t we so great? Look at how we’re representing diversity!” If you really want to make a statement, you don’t wait until after you’re in the safe zone to do so. If Disney just decided to up and make Elsa gay now, it would just feel like another instance of “hey, look at us!”
The second reason, which deals with Frozen itself, is one of artistic integrity (I know, shame on me for caring more about artistic integrity than political correctness with movies). One of the reasons Frozen worked so well is that it’s one of the few (if not the only) non-Pixar Disney animated film that manages to successfully integrate allegory and interpretive elements into its narrative. Yes, it’s still a fun movie where princesses sing songs and talking snowmen make jokes, but there’s a stronger sense of subtext to it than in other Disney fare. And a large reason for that is Elsa herself.
It’s true, many people have interpreted Elsa’s situation of being a misunderstood outcast because of her magic to being an allegory for homosexuality. And if people interpret it that way, then more power to them. But Elsa has also been interpreted in other ways as well, with some (including myself) making comparisons to mental illness and depression, among many other interpretations.
If Disney were to simply decide to make Elsa gay, it would negate what the filmmakers accomplished with the character narratively. By deciding to overtly acknowledge one interpretation as the correct one, it would undo much of the depth of the character and story. And yes, it would even demean the interpretations of homosexuality with the character to begin with. Personally, I think keeping the character asexual makes her more interesting and universally relatable.
One of the things that makes Frozen special, and yes, one of the reasons I think it’s remained such an unparalleled success, is that it employs subtleties in its narrative, characters, and themes. It helps it to break age and cultural barriers even more so than most other animated films. If Disney were to simply have Elsa come out as gay, it would diminish the film’s themes and even the desired social statement.
Yes, it would be interesting to see Disney add a gay princess to their lineup. But it’s not something that should just be forced (again, a forced social statement is not a social statement at all). And it shouldn’t be Elsa. If Disney can come up with a great story to introduce a gay princess, then that’s awesome. But making it a retroactive thing would ultimately be cheap and meaningless. If you’re going to do it, do it right.
Elsa being asexual never bothered me, anyway.
4 thoughts on “Why Elsa Should NOT Have a Girlfriend”
Yeah, I remember thinking to myself when I learned of Ellie’s backstory in the DLC that it was paradoxically a conservative attempt at being progressive – and a token one at that. If they really wanted to push the envelope, they should have included hints of that in the main game. As it stands, they included the romantic subplot, but effectively swept it under the rug by making it so that some players would miss it entirely. After all, in order to see it, you would need the game first; it’s not a separate entity.
I have yet to see Frozen, but it looks like it might be a similar fumble if they decide to make her gay. I’m all for gay rights, and I think that if you wish to include a LBGT character, you should just go full-tilt with it (make it known, but don’t beat the audience over the head with it), and accept that some people will throw a fit regardless of what you do. Personally, I’d rather tick off the people who will be presented in an unflattering light in the history books.
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While I understand the LGBT community likely wants more characters in media to feel identified with, I feel there’s a difference between naturally having an homosexual (or whatever else) character and shoving it in for the sake of pleasing this new standard, for the sake of calling it something. I haven’t played Last of Us but I didn’t really mind it there as, at the very least, there was a build up between Ellie and her friend to develop feelings for each other, even if it was through dlc. A case where it annoyed me as it felt like poor romance was in (and sorry if this is a spoiler) Legend of Korra. The show just ends at a pretty obvious hint that she ends in a romantic relationship with the other female lead and the build up is just as poor as he previous romantic interest, as in falling in love over a day sort of thing. The only difference being this was received with endless praise just because it was an homosexual romance, when it was really poorly done. I’m sure there’s a lot of detractors to these things as there’s still a lot of homophobic feelings and whatnot, but sometimes I feel people are content enough there’s something LGBT in shows at all than an actual good LGBT character or relationship. While it brings nothing to the plot, one thing I was happy about one of the new characters in Mortal Kombat X is that he’s gay, but that’s not the only thing to his character (just like I’m often annoyed by characters whose sole purpose is to show how straight they are).
I’ll also say asexuality is hella more underrated than LGBT as a lot of people seem to not think is an actual thing.
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Well said! I completely agree!
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