If you are currently in charge of a young child, you will not be surprised to learn that the Disney film Frozen has captured the hearts and minds of the grade-school set, to the box office tune of more than $1 billion worldwide since its release in November of 2013.
You might also know that the earworm-inducing track “Let It Go” actually beat out Pharrell’s relentlessly catchy “Happy” for Best Original Song at the 2014 Oscars. There are a few reasons why that might have happened, although, unfortunately for us, none of them have to do with Pharrell’s humongous hat, which is so awesome it now has its own Twitter account.
(Kevin Mazur/Wire Images)
Disney Animation’s official YouTube video of the song alone has had nearly 190 million views to date, which, if nothing else, teaches us the advantage of showing our children where the “Refresh” button is on the computer so they can play the song over and over and over again, while we parents lock ourselves in the bathroom and stick lobster forks in our ears just to make it stop.
Ha ha, I’m sorry. What I really meant to say is that “Let It Go” seems to have become an anthem of sorts for children who are entering their tween years, and with good reason.
Frozen is purportedly a Disney-fied version of the fairy tale The Snow Queen, but what it actually does is use a dead parent/estranged sibling story line to aim straight for the minds of kids who are trying their best to figure out how to grow up and deal with what life throws at them on the school playground.
Kudos, Disney. You’ve killed Bambi’s mom all over again.
Let’s play armchair psychologist and think about why this video has become so popular, other than giving kids the power to dramatically Broadway-belt a song at a decibel level that rivals a jet engine:
1. Was it something I said?
The main story line in Frozen hits kids where it hurts. The tale of an older sister who shuts herself away from her younger sister is all too familiar to anyone who grew up with a sibling. And if you ever lost a friend who, for reasons you couldn’t quite understand, didn’t want to play with you anymore, you can relate. Not that I would know.
2. It’s about Girl Power.
Queen Elsa and Princess Anna fall into the category of do-it-yourself, not-your-mother’s princesses, except when Anna is all moony over Prince Hans.
And even after Elsa accidentally hurts Anna during their reunion, Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa. Because sisterhood. I’m sorry; I think I have a speck of dust in my eye.
3. It makes transformation and being true to yourself look awesome.
Kids who are old enough to really appreciate Frozen and “Let It Go” are growing and changing at a rate that makes their heads spin. They’re being told how to behave and what not to do every minute of their young lives.
“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 …”
Some of them are afraid of change and what comes next. Who wouldn’t love a nice, loud song about loving yourself the way you are, of getting rid of the fear that once held you back before your therapist advised you to stand on your own two feet and launch your writing career? I mean, who wouldn’t love a song about empowerment?
When Elsa runs away to the snowy mountaintop to sing “Let It Go,” kids see a young woman shake off the bonds of her fear and shame — not to mention her tied-back hair and her frumpy outfit in a move that would make Beyoncé jealous — and transform into a drop-dead gorgeous, confident, independent Ice Queen right in front of their very eyes. That’s incredibly powerful. Even a grown woman might be able to relate to that, as I move into a new chapter of my life. I mean, as we move into new chapters.
4. It’s secretly a huge “neener-neener” to parents.
After you’ve taken out a second mortgage to pay for the parking and the movie tickets and the sodas and the popcorn and you’ve settled into your theater seat next to your child, take note of a particular line in “Let It Go” that might sound faintly familiar to you.
As Elsa sings about leaving her past behind, she dramatically flings off her cape. And as the song reaches its climax with Elsa standing on the balcony as a new day dawns, she looks dead-on into the audience at us parents, we who spent our hard-earned money on the very entertainment our children are now enjoying, and declares:
“The cold never bothered me anyway.”
If you’ve ever gotten into an epic battle with your kid about putting on a coat when it’s cold, you’ll suddenly understand what Disney is doing here. It’s fomenting dissent among the troops. You can almost hear the parents as they walk out of the theater with their children, saying, “I don’t care what Elsa does when it’s wintertime! Elsa is fictional. You need to wear a coat.”
So that’s why “Let It Go” is on constant rotation in our children’s mental jukeboxes. The song has inspired scores of covers and parodies. And here’s a really great version that should be on your own permanent rotation: