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Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(6), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7060086

Storm Power, an Icy Tower and Elsa’s Bower: The Winds of Change in Disney’s Frozen

1
Department of Sociology, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD 21157, USA
2
Hastings College of the Law, University of California, 200 McAllister St, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA
3
Member of the State Bar of California, Monterey, CA 93940, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 May 2018 / Revised: 25 May 2018 / Accepted: 25 May 2018 / Published: 31 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Psychosocial Implications of Disney Movies)
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Abstract

In Disney’s box office sensation Frozen (2013), Elsa conjures powers rivaling those of Zeus, which is an echo of the shifting gender dynamics at the time of the film’s release. By independently creating offspring Olaf and Marshmallow through whirlwinds, Elsa’s parthenogenesis (virgin birth) evokes wind-driven pollination, allowing her to circumvent any male role in creation. However, Elsa’s autonomy clashes with the traditional gender hierarchy, which is reinforced by a cultural context replete with latent symbolic meanings. Examples include both carrots and carats as phallic symbols, eggs as representations of the procreative potential that is appropriated by men and devalued in women, gender bias in perceptions of magic and enchantment, and the value of the nubile nymph over the tempestuous termagant. The normalcy of male dominance likely drives the resolution of the plot, in which Elsa learns to wield power in a non-threatening manner. In addition to having implications for gender roles, Frozen also portrays a mélange of gender symbolism through Elsa’s snowmen creations, which function as an expression of the storm of controversy surrounding the subversion of binary conceptions of gender. In the end, Frozen serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in an unattached female as the ultimate potentate. This content analysis suggests that the film reflects fears surrounding the maelstrom of societal changes including expanding fertility options and the re-conceptualization of gender identity--pressing issues likely to sustain Frozen’s relevance. View Full-Text
Keywords: Elsa; Kristoff; Olaf; Marshmallow; Let it Go; enchantment; applause; engagement ring; diamond; gender; snowmen; wedding toast; bullroarer; fireworks; witches; magic; standing ovation; fertility; parthenogenesis; gender nonconformity; non-binary; storms; family jewels; snowflake; feminism Elsa; Kristoff; Olaf; Marshmallow; Let it Go; enchantment; applause; engagement ring; diamond; gender; snowmen; wedding toast; bullroarer; fireworks; witches; magic; standing ovation; fertility; parthenogenesis; gender nonconformity; non-binary; storms; family jewels; snowflake; feminism
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Dundes, L.; Streiff, M.; Streiff, Z. Storm Power, an Icy Tower and Elsa’s Bower: The Winds of Change in Disney’s Frozen. Soc. Sci. 2018, 7, 86.

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