"Whoa dude, let it go." "I can't, these lyrics make no sense and have little to do with my story! What were they thinking?!"
If you love Frozen, Elsa, and Let It Go, I advise you to turn back now. I'm gonna get ranty and I know how in love people are with this movie so if you don't want to hear any criticism of it, you probably oughtn't read this. I'm also pretty sick of this song (THEY'RE PLAYING IT AT MY JOB EVERY DAY NOW! I can't escape!), but I'll try not to let that make me too preachy.
I think this song is actually the opposite of admirable the more I listen to it. It seems fun and glamorous when you only listen to the words on a shallow level, but when you dig deeper and read into the meaning, it starts looking a little more ugly. Are you surprised? After all, she's finally letting go of all her pain and oppression! But my question is... WHAT oppression? Half the stuff Elsa sings about never happens. Let's take a basic look at the lyrics themselves and why they don't match what actually happens in the movie, then we'll delve into my problem with what this song promotes.
I think the Frozen filmmakers were so desperate for people to connect to Elsa and their movie they decided to use lyrics they knew PEOPLE would like to hear, because the message is so generic and universal, rather than ones that actually have any connection with Elsa. Let's look at some:
Be the good girl you always have to be
- Elsa IS a good girl and no matter what skintight dresses, slinky heels or sexy makeup she wears, she always will be, but this has absolutely nothing to do with hiding in your room or staying calm around people.
Can't hold it back anymore
- Of course she can. She just doesn't have to anymore.
Idon't care what they're going to say
- She does care, we see clearly later, but even so, what people has Elsa ever been around to *not* care about?! Her parents are dead. I find it rather cold and un-Elsa like that she means her own sister, saying she doesn't care what she thinks about this shocker or Anna's feelings.
They'll never see me cry
- Yes, we do. But as for this vague, imaginary group of people Elsa seems fixated on, I'm not sure why she says this. Nobody would care about seeing Elsa cry. And why would she? What does this have to do with her powers getting loose?
That perfect girl is gone
- Related to the "good girl" line, but this one I hate more. Elsa, listen to me: NOBODY ever expected you to be "perfect". That was YOUR choice. Don't blame other people for how you choose to see yourself. Again, nothing to do with hiding her powers. You'd think she was one of those kids horribly pressured to become an Ivy League student and become President or something. And oddly enough, Elsa IS pretty perfect naturally- she was a perfect daughter and big sister, and might have been a good queen had this all not happened.
But OK, Elsa, whatever makes you feel special and oppressed, I guess. I'm mostly joking but Elsa seems to have this victim complex where she sees herself as being totally persecuted for "just being herself", when this never happens at all in the movie.
And yet again, that makes no sense. Now, if Elsa's paranoia had been true and the people HAD tried to hurt her, these lyrics would make more sense. But they didn't. They literally just stood there the whole time. Where is Elsa getting all this? I think all those years alone may have done her worse than I thought because she seems to be just projecting here.
I have noticed many people, if not all of us to a degree, like to feel different. Many like to feel like we don't fit in and other people are narrow-minded and won't accept us. Western society has definitely developed and encouraged a victim complex because it makes us feel like special snowflakes who are just so unique and different from everyone else and have it hard. I could be wrong but maybe Disney is aware of this. This song completely speaks to people who see themselves as outcasts- even though likely none of them are- or martyrs (if you're watching this movie in a first world society I really highly doubt you are). Which is manipulative, but I blame the people more than Disney for just using that to their advantage.
They're trying to make Elsa's "concealment" seem like an emotional thing or whatever, when it's only a physical thing. Physically holding back her powers. That's all. Elsa has nothing to hide about her personality or opinions (that we know of, anyway). This seems rather dishonest to me. I get Disney cares mostly about marketing and making people like them enough to make money, but really? At least Rapunzel's songs were actually relevant to her personality and story, whereas this is one big "See how easy to relate to this song is, even though it has NOTHING to do with hiding superpowers which no human being has! Please buy out our Frozen merchandise!"
But I think my biggest problem is the selfishness. Yes, for all I used to say how selfless Elsa is, now that I can look at this movie without so much hype in my eyes, I'm noticing all the I, I, I and me, me, me-ing going on during Let It Go. Elsa informs us she no longer cares. Not just "what they're going to say", she suddenly no longer gives a wig what happens to her own people, even her sister. That's pretty cold-hearted. I understand she's happy now, but is one's own happiness more important than the welfare of others?
It doesn't help that during the Reprise she keeps pinning the blame onto Anna- basically saying "You did this! You made me feel this way! That's why I can't be happy and free!" What happened to responsible Elsa?
Then there's the extremely defiant "AH DO WHAT AH WANT!" tone to the song I had a problem with even when I was still on the Frozen bandwagon. Again, I don't feel like this is characteristic of a prim and proper princess at ALL, but worse, this is the last thing we need to be teaching kids- telling them to give the finger to doing what is morally right because you don't feel like taking duty on anymore. It was unfair Elsa had to hide away (although for some time it was still her own choice so you can't entirely blame her parents), but she's not a helpless victim of oppression. She wasn't enslaved, beaten, or verbally abused like some of the other girls were. She had a happy life with her parents (and if A Sister More Like Me is canon, both girls managed to have fairly happy
childhoods without each other).
On a lesser note, while I admit Elsa's dress and hair are beautifully done, does she really need to be so... sexy? This to me uncomfortably echoes Grease where adorable, modest Sandy is only accepted by the cool kids once she wears a gallon of makeup, dons skintight sharkskin pants, smokes and sings seductively, kind of saying there's something wrong with being modest and ladylike, as if it's being "repressed". I cannot believe people think Merida's completely harmless redesign is "sexed up" but a princess wearing a sexy, tight, leg-showing dress with vampy makeup swayin' dem hips is fine. Either both should be considered wrong or neither.
Anyway, the whole scene is portrayed as powerful independence and self-acceptance (which I don't really agree with personally anyway- I think we should strive to NOT accept our shortcomings but rather overcome them and become kinder/stronger people. Now I step off my soapbox...) but it's just glamorized self-centered rebellion, which is exactly the opposite of what kids need MORE glamorization of. Celebrities do this EVERY SINGLE DAY and people ALWAYS criticize them, yet apparently nobody saw the same thing in this melody that romanticizes over caring only about yourself and throwing away responsibility and doing what's right. I also don't see how this is empowering when no one is around to see it. It's not brave to say "screw you!" when you're only saying it to an empty room.
I don't hate Elsa or this movie, but I strongly dislike the message of this song. I think it's odd- it directly contradicts Anna's message of true, self-sacrificing love, which makes the movie look rather muddled in a very Brave-esque way in terms of the center theme. Why do we agree selfishness is bad but turn right around and revel in it when it comes in the form of a catchy pop song? Anna did that and she gets ignored for it most of the time, except- of course- when she sacrifices herself to rescue everyone's Favorite. That's kind of sad.
And before someone says it, no, I won't "let it go"!
TL;DR you could just read this to avoid my ranting: link
It pretty well states my exact problem with Tangled/Rapunzel also, though that's OT.