Stereotypes in Disney Movies: Frozen
‘Frozen’ is a 2013 animated musical film produced by Walt Disney Studios and based on the Fairy tale book “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. Frozen has shown an evolution in Disney Films when shattering the princess or fairy tale stereotypes, yet it still presents some disney clichés. First of all, I am going to talk about how Frozen stands out of the ordinary by not following the typical disney movie standards then I am going to talk about how, even though Frozen breaks the stereotypes, still follows some other stereotypes.
‘Frozen’ shatters disney stereotypes
Frozen differs from any other fairy tales, and it does not present the typical stereotypes found in other disney films like Cinderella or Beauty and The Beast. As a matter of fact the first reason why Frozen is different from all the other disney films is that the main story revolves around the relationship of two sisters (Elsa and Anna) and how they handle their relationship. Both of them happen to be princesses which is a first for Dinsey. The problem in the film is not triggered because of a specific villain like for example Jafar from Aladdin or Scar from The Lion King. The adventure starts when Anna discovers Elsa’s power which leads Elsa to run away leaving Arendelle in deep snow. Moreover, the movie focuses on the love between sisters, family and not between a prince and a princess. The second reason why Frozen does not hold any typical disney stereotypes is because the main villain, who wants to take Elsa’s place and become king, is quite handsome. In fact, villains in disney films are always portrayed as ugly individuals like for instance Jafar from Aladdin or Ursula from The Little Mermaid unlike Hans who looks like a handsome traditional prince (Appendix B). However in the beginning of Frozen, Hans does not seem to be a villain, in contrary, he seems to be nice and kind, hence the beautiful look. Until the end we don’t doubt that he is a bad guy because we tend to associate ugliness and darkness with villainy. The third reason why Frozen is different is because Princess Anna ends up falling in love with Kristoff, a not very good looking man (compared to Hans and other Disney princes) and raised by trolls (Appendix C). Usually, Disney princesses marry a handsome prince which is not the case in Frozen. Even Elsa does not fall in love at all in the movie. The fact that the villain is handsome and the good guy (Kristoff) is sort of ugly breaks this pattern of “beauty is good”. The fourth reason why Frozen shatters the Disney stereotypes is that marriage is perceived in a complete different way. The story starts exactly when Anna announces to her sister, the queen, that she wants to get married with Hans. In reaction to that Elsa claims that “you can’t marry a man you just met”, this quote is repeated later by Kristoff. This is something unlikely for a disney film because all the other disney princesses married their prince from the first time they saw him (Cinderella, Jasmine, The little mermaid and so forth). The last reason why Frozen is different is that it supports feminism. Not only that Anna does not rely on Hans to save her sister, she goes alone to the north mountain to talk to her but also at the end of the movie, Elsa is saved by Anna (when Hans is about to stab her with his sword, Anna sacrifices herself). Therefore, we have the image that woman is the saviour and not the man.
Stereotypical moments and characters present in Frozen
Even though Frozen has been proven to break most of Disney stereotypes when it concerns the story or the perception of love, some other problematic incident/ character stereotypes still appear in the movie. The first one is that Elsa and Anna posses the same beauty features as all the other disney princesses: big eyes, skinny, small nose and lips, long hair and young (Appendix A). This beauty stereotype is harmful to society. Natacha Maheshe says in her article “How media affects the way beauty is perceived” (2013) that media shows a specific way of how to look beautiful which leads people, men and women, to strive “to look like the beautiful models they see on tv”. The way Disney portrays its princesses shapes our perspective of beauty. As previously mentioned, the main villain is handsome which breaks the thinking that “beauty is good”. Nevertheless, the other villain (The Duke Of Weselton) who is trying to kill the queen, is portrayed in a less attractive manner by having a big nose, by being old, bald (he wears a toupee) and short (Appendix D). This portrayal of the bad guy leads people to think that ugliness is associated with a bad personality. The third stereotype is like all the other princesses, Elsa and Anna don’t have an occupation, besides being a princess and a queen. Their specific and only skill is to sing, which is the case for all the Disney Princesses (Justin Zwiebel, 2013). Princesses allow us to think that not only beauty but having a talent in singing are a prerequisite to become a princess. The fourth stereotype which is a problematic incident is that Elsa and Anna’s parents die in the beginning of the film like in most of Disney movies: The Lion King, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and so forth (Justin Zwiebel, 2013). The last reason why Frozen still follows the Disney stereotypes is that even though the whole story is based on sister’s love, Anna’s main goal in the movie is to find herself a prince and get married to him. Thus, this desire to find a one’s true love remains in Frozen.
In conclusion, Frozen shows a high evolution in the making of disney movies especially that the main story is about the importance of family. The movie breaks all the typical stereotypes that Disney seems to have in all its movies. Nonetheless, some stereotypes remain like for example the beauty and age range of the two main characters but also their occupation and singing talent. Disney has shown an evolution also when it released the movie Brave or The Princess and the frog, yet it still has a long way to go in order to remove all its stereotypes.
Maheshe, N. (2013). How media affects the way beauty is perceived. Retrieved from:
Zweibel, J. (2014). We did an in-depth analysis of 21 disney female leads. Buzzfeed. Retrieved from: http://www.buzzfeed.com/justinezwiebel/we-did-a-census-of-all-the-disney-female-a nimated-characters#.gugeZx8rw