Why Disney’s LET IT GO Is a Bad Song

A Disney song has always been there to move the story along. It can define a character or delve into their motivation, or further the plot. Of course, it’s also designed to stick in your head so that you will love the movie and rush out to buy the soundtrack!

Fair enough.

But I also happen to feel that any song that plays in a children’s movie should be socially responsible. The content of the lyrics should promote good behavior, sound principles, and motivate the listener to be better in some way. I speak of songs sung by the protagonist, or hero, and not the villain. A song sung by a villain is designed to explain their reasons for being nasty and the bad ideas within the lyrics are shown to be wrong when the villain gets his or her comeuppance in the end!

elsa-singing

So why do I say that the song Let It Go from the movie Frozen is bad? I know I’m going to be in a minority on this but I feel if people actually read the lyrics instead of just singing along with the tune, they just might begin to see some problems.  So let’s begin.

Let It Go was written by Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Emanuel Kiriakou and is  Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Walt Disney Music Company. I obtained the lyrics from Google Play Music and trust that they are accurate. I will show the lyrics one stanza at a time, analyze, then move on to the next stanza:

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

Things start off well with Elsa simply surveying her new surroundings and comparing them to her inner turmoil. Which is admittedly great and understandably so!

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

Again, Elsa is honestly expressing her feelings about her treatment at the hands of her parents. Being told not to use her powers and then hiding her away from the world because of one accident was a knee-jerk reaction taken to an extreme level! Bad parenting doesn’t begin to cover this situation.

We begin to see a hint of the problem when Elsa callously flips off the line ‘Well now they know’. Yes they, her subjects, do, as their entire land is frozen, live stock and crops are dead, businesses are ruined, and if this was the real world, many are likely to die due to being completely unprepared for such a drastic change in the climate.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore

This signature line from the chorus is the one sung heartily by everyone, even little children. But what are these lyrics actually saying? The idea is that when you can no longer handle a bad situation, let go (or lose control as Elsa does) no matter what the consequences are to yourself or others.

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway

And this is perhaps the worst part of this song! Slamming the door in the face of the problem is not going to solve anything. Not caring while being aware of the bad situation caused by one’s decisions and cruelly saying ‘let it go on’ because ‘it doesn’t bother me’ is again not a lesson to teach small children!

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

Here Elsa has run away from her problems far enough to make them seem small and trivial, when in fact they are big and impactful. She is happy to be safe while everyone else is still in great danger.

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!

So now that her powers are ‘outed’ she chooses to see just how much damage she can do with them instead of seeing if she can fix things and prove everyone wrong about her. We need to know and accept what is right and wrong and adhere to certain rules to have a safe and working society. Someone who feels ‘free’ from these concepts inevitably hurts others.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

Now Elsa decides not to face her issues but bury them deep inside her and simply let the world go on without her. She is also okay with the world having to deal with the mess she left behind, just letting ‘the storm rage on.’

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past

The past is never ‘in the past’ until there is a resolution to whatever the problem is. That is why we have coined the term ‘closure’. People spend serious time and money on trying to deal with traumatic events in their past so that they can have a better future. Elsa is in effect ceasing to live.

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!

Elsa should never have been made to feel that she had to be perfect, nor that the way to achieve this was to hide who and what she was. But to decide to be, in effect, a bad girl, is not a healthy alternative!

Lastly, this final line is perhaps the most damaging lesson this song teaches. That if something doesn’t bother you, who cares about anyone else? Loving, caring, and well-adjusted people care about others, even if those people have made mistakes that hurt them or don’t seem at first to appreciate the effort.

This song seems to say that if you are treated poorly, become as bad as the abusers. Whereas I think we can all agree that the better path is to take the high road and rise above the crowd.

elsas-attitude

Does this look like a good attitude?

Conclusion: It should be noted that Elsa endured horrible treatment by the two people who should have loved and protected her, her parents. The damage that this would do to a young child is incalculable! So perhaps we can understand her position. But I put forth that her song is that of a villain explaining the reasons for doing what she does, and certainly not a song of empowerment. Remember that the Ice Queen in the original book was a villain and I don’t think Disney intended Elsa to be viewed as well as she has been, but has just run with it for merchandising dollars.

Why this song is held in such a high regard is that somehow Elsa has been cast as a suppressed victim who has every right to act as she does. And she doesn’t act well! In fact, she accidentally freezes Anna’s heart, and instead of trying to help, creates an Ice Monster to remove her from her presence. This monster then goes on to immediately try to kill Anna. I guess that didn’t bother Elsa either?

Also, many fixate on the ‘sisterly love’ angle of the movie, but again, I contend that there is no sisterly love, just one sister’s love (Anna’s) for her sibling (Elsa), which is not returned.

Now that we have analyzed the lyrics stanza by stanza, I would like to recommend that you consider Anna as the true hero of Frozen and consider looking to her as a role model for your little girl or boy, and not Elsa, even if she does have a catchy song.

FUN FACT: Note the shape of the balusters in the railing in the above picture. Does the repeating shape remind you of anything? It resembles the chest insignia of Wonder Woman, the ultimate symbol of female empowerment. Coincidence, or subliminal message?

Monday Topics: Best of Disney – Characters

W E E K     T H R E E

BEST OF DISNEY

Our friends over at Love Our Crazy Life have asked some of their blogging friends (like me) to participate in a Blogging Challenge. So for four weeks in April, on every Monday morning, I will be covering a different Disney-related topic. You can click the link above to find all of the other participants and their entries. Enjoy!

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Top Five Best Disney Characters

A good thing about Disney movies is that they are populated with great characters. You can cheer them on and delight in their life journeys. Some even touch your heart and stay with you for a lifetime! But who are the best of the best?

Please check out my Top Five List of the best Disney characters, and my reasons why:

Number Five – Mickey Mouse (The Little Guy)

Mickey Mouse

Photo Credit: Disney’s PhotoPass CD

The underdog has always been an endearing character in history. Charlie Chaplin certainly took his Tramp persona to unprecedented levels in the silent era of film, and in so doing spawned a long line of imitators–of which Mickey Mouse is certainly one of the best!

Mickey led the world out of the Depression. He taught our children how to be nice. And he showed us all that good guys don’t always finish last. He was the little guy who never gave up.

What really endears this mouse to my heart is that he never puts himself first. In a world where selfishness and Me-ism seems to be the norm, even celebrated, Mickey just keeps on showing that when you put others first, that’s when you gain real happiness!

Number Four – Uncle Remus (Song of the South)

Uncle Remus with Children

Photo Credit: Copyright 1958 Walt Disney Productions

At a time in history when there were many justifiable reasons for hatred and resentment, one African-American man decided to show unprecedented love. No matter the skin color of the child in need, he was there with a story to make everything better again!

Song of the South is presently ‘banned’ from release due to alleged racism in its content, but I see a very different story within this important film. I see an older man of color respected and relied on by his former owners, a leader amongst his own people, and a person who shows just how big the human heart can be. Uncle Remus is a man everyone in this present world needs to meet and learn from!

James Bassett deserves better than to be robbed of his due for his portrayal of such a pivotal character in the Disney canon.

Number Three – Anna (Frozen)

Anna from Frozen

Mention the Disney movie Frozen and everyone will immediately think of Elsa, the Ice Queen, who finally learns to ‘let it go’ and be her true self. Sounds good on the surface, but have they actually seen this movie? We have a person who damages her own Kingdom, runs away instead of staying and trying to fix things, abandons her duty and her sister, almost kills her sister (twice!), and basically adopts the attitude that it’s not her problem anyway. And this is a woman for little girls to look up to?

Anna, on the other hand, has no negative qualities. From childhood, she desperately tries to make a connection with her sister. Even though she is alone and rejected for years, her love never cools. When the Kingdom is in trouble, she steps up. She tries again and again to save her sister. And in the end, she is willing to die for someone who has done nothing to deserve such a sacrifice. This is a woman for everyone to look up to!

Just because a character has a hit song doesn’t mean they are one of the best Disney characters. Billions at the box office doesn’t do it either. Anna is one of the best Disney characters because she exhibits qualities that we all should strive to emulate!

Number Two – Baymax (Big Hero 6)

Baymax

“Hello. I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion.” Those who dedicate their lives to serve others, like nurses, are to be commended and respected. And although Baymax is a robot who was programmed to serve, we learn as his story unfolds, that there is more to him than computer code!

Two things emerge about Baymax during the film Big Hero 6. He will bend over backwards to do what he is asked by a ‘patient’ up to the point that it would harm them. Then he refuses to comply and explains why. Secondly, at the end of the film, we see that he is willing to lay down his own life, or terminate his program, to save others. Again, self-sacrifice is a big part of why Baymax is on this list!

“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate this character?”

Number One – Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

Mary Poppins

Practically Perfect in Every Way. Using the word ‘practically’ means that there are a few things, or at least one, about this Nanny that could be better. I guess she is a bit full of herself, but in a prim and proper way! So why is this lady number one on my list of the best Disney characters?

First, she is selfless. She has given up a life of her own to serve and protect the children of the world. We find hints that she loves Bert and could pursue a relationship with him, but not without compromising her mission. So she goes on alone.

Secondly, her love of children is strong, but she can never have any of her own. In the final scenes of the movie, we see her shed a tear as she has to leave yet another set of children whom she has come to love as her own. Imagine going through that pain each and every time you accept a posting, knowing that you will have to leave!

Thirdly, even though she is a bit of a bossy flossy, she usually lets her hair down and joins in the fun.

Oh, and Supercalifrajalistic makes her expialidocious. And who else can you say that about?

Bonus Character – Herbie (The Love Bug)

Herbie 53

Just look at that face! Adorable and plucky, this little VW Beetle probably has one of the most endearing personalities of any Disney character. Whether it’s bringing two people together, winning a race, foiling a plot, or falling in love himself, Herbie does it all with a ‘Meep Meep’ and a ‘Vroom Vroom’!

Perhaps no other character better personifies the no-quit spirit. He has been sabotaged, stolen, ripped in half, and heart-broken, but never has he been beaten! Sometimes it’s the smallest amongst us that have the biggest hearts.

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Be sure to check out all four of my posts in this series of Monday Topics:

Topic One – Disney Essentials

Topic Two – Disney Tutorial

Topic Three – Best Of Disney (You are here)

Topic Four – Looking Back at Disney