My Two Cents from Disney’s Loose Change

Recently, my brother and I watched Disney’s latest film, Frozen. We both enjoyed the laughs, the story, the characters, and even most of the musical numbers. But there was one line given in passing by an unnamed character that stuck in my head. “No one ever really changes.” It caught my attention because it seemed at odds with the message emphasized in every children’s movie I could remember; that some people do change. It left me asking, as a Christian, what did I believe about personal change?

First of all, I find it very important to start with Scripture before opinion. This said, I find that scripture is very clear about people changing. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Not only can people change, but He desires us to change (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and offers us warning of what lies ahead if we refuse to turn away from sin (Proverbs 29:1, 28:13).

We can observe for ourselves that we are continually shaped by our choices and experiences. We are in many ways unrecognizable from who we were before being saved. And our thoughts and actions continue habituating us to either obey or disobey His will. We know we are to do everything to the glory of God and all that is not done in faith is sin (1 Corinthians 10:31, Romans 14:23). And so learning the value in serving God through trial and triumph is part of the process of our sanctification; of becoming ever-better versions of ourselves.

As part of the church – the bride of Christ – our pursuit of improvement (sanctification) stems from a righteous conviction. Our salvation is different; it is literally becoming a new person – a change of identity through rebirth in the Spirit via the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice and the grace given us therewith. Believing salvation can be attained through any amount of self-improvement instead of this rebirth is simply a misguided and dead-end approach to salvation.

Not unlike the hero(ine)s in Disney’s Frozen, our characters develop before the eyes of many as we face conflict. As you look back at you turning points and how you’ve both changed and stood firm, consider whether what you see is glorifying to God. Ask yourself if your reason for doing these things was for His glory, and if that was the only reason. By this you may know that you are changed and are yet becoming who you want to be.

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5 thoughts on “My Two Cents from Disney’s Loose Change

  1. Sensitive observation, but nothing new for Disney. They seem to specialize in making things “stick” in your head whether your conscious of it or not. As children seen to be the main target audience, it’s concerning. Thank God for his spirit who allows us to discern the sublime amidst the spectacle of Disney magic. I recently saw the movie with some children and had the same reaction as you. Have you reviewed the lyrics to “Let it Go”? I ‘m not sure if this was the one sung by the main character on her frozen stairway to heaven, but its rather telling:

    “Let it go”

    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 tried
    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
    Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back any more
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
    It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
    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!
    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
    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
    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

    • I appreciate the compliment, but I feel I should just clarify one point of good story-telling. Fiction, by definition, isn’t all true – but what makes the work of great fiction writers like Tolkien, Lewis, O’Connor, etc. is their ability to make the stories they tell ‘real’. And a key in that is the establishment of characters with relatable traits whose thoughts and actions follow seamlessly from who they are and where they find themselves. Disney, particularly in recent films such as Tangled and Frozen, does an exceptional job of this. It’s hard not to love the heroes and heroines because, though they aren’t actual people and live a completely different life than our own, we can connect to certain basic human emotions and struggles (heartbreak, pride, longing, betrayal, etc.) that they experience so realistically that, for a moment, we forget we’re watching a movie and we are there experiencing the very same thing. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for this, but I prefer “magic”.

      Regarding the song “Let it Go”, by itself it offers a pretty poor, immature message. But it was never meant to be sung alone. In context of the story, it was an emotional reaction to ultimately failing after years spent trying to honor the lesson of her dead parents (which turned out to be a poor lesson) and trying to protect her sister. And the reckless freedom declared in the song, if you’ll recall, was only a short-lived dream as she was soon informed that she couldn’t just live wild and free as she wished and let those she loved be happy without her. Personally, I loved the song. The vocals were powerful and the scene painted by the transformation of the castle and her dress dug right into the heart to deliver the pure emotion that perfectly represented how her character felt and let the audience experience the same feeling. In a word, it was real. And I think a song displaying a wiser, more mature approach to the situation simply wouldn’t have made sense for her character in her position. That doesn’t make her right, but it does make her human. And without her having to face her demons at their worst, with all the imperfection natural to someone in her place, I think she would be far less relatable as an example and the story would have lost a significant part of its power and value.

      Frozen, like many stories, has some strange and ill-fitting messages mixed in among the many beautiful characters and lessons displayed. But if one is going to make a good story and maintain the “magic”, some major theme must reflect a real and meaningful principle to the audience. Using the example in my post, despite a character saying that people never really change, the people in the same story really did – and in a beautiful way. And even in stories where the anti-hero or tragic hero doesn’t change – they had the choice and the chance to do so. There’s a reason why; it would make for a pretty terrible story if at no point a character faced conflict and had to make choices about who they were going to be. The idea of a person existing and never meeting a hardship that forces them to question and/or alter their beliefs and character is so foreign to us that it’s ridiculous.

      So it does take a bit of discernment to weed out the nonsensical messages thrown in to many Disney films (among other stories). But this shouldn’t take away from the fact that they’re great stories that can be both edifying and entertaining to watch with an appropriate amount of careful reflection on what it teaches. I hope you still enjoyed the movie and thank you again for reading my post.

      • Your response does build up a reasonable context of justification. I agree that the troubling elements within Disney productions happen within predictably accepted and rote scripts, and are thus pragmatically anchored, and thus realized. These are often not clearly perceived as gratuitous in this way. However, what Disney does is to purposefully embed disturbances within it’s narrative script. This procedure allows discordant elements to enter one’s consciousness subliminally especially amidst it’s increasingly sensational productions. Fiction, of course, has the objective of suspending disbelief which, by itself, raises some interesting questions with regard to animation. Notwithstanding Disney’s cinematic “magic” purposefully overshadows that old “magic” of suggestibility, that speaks below the threshold of conscious awareness. From your original post, “But there was one line given in passing by an unnamed character that stuck in my head. “No one ever really changes.””. Let’s recall that this movie is targeted at young children who are not even thinking abstractly yet. Disney presents flawless, emotion laden, trauma dramas designed for children, of ever increasing spectacular natures. It’s relatively recent merging of fantasy and reality should give thinking people pause. The more visually overbearing it’s films become the more effective become it’s subliminal elements, and the more visually insensitive and predictably scripted become its audience.

  2. Another great read.

    Questions of salvation aside (which you dealt with expertly in your 2nd last paragraph) do you believe it is possible for people to change for the better without the aid of the Holy Spirit? Not so that they may be saved, but so that they may begin to do good deeds for humankind.

    • I appreciate that.

      Good question; I’ll offer my immediate thoughts but admit that I’ve not given this much prior study. The short answer is no, I don’t believe people can change for the better without the Holy Spirit. My defense is as follows: 1) feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, fighting for equal rights, etc. are almost universally referred to as “good deeds for humankind.” But let’s recall that our goodness comes from God working through us. If the “good” deeds we do are not done for God, I submit they are not, actually, good (Romans 14:23). If one serves his fellow man because “it makes him feel good”, “he feels responsible”, or whatever without recognition of God; he is in a sense still benefitting humankind, but this says nothing about being or becoming a good person. God can and has used the actions of wicked men for the betterment of his people.
      And 2) The Holy Spirit moves in us while we are yet sinners to call us to God – no one is without the Holy Spirit, though not everyone recognizes Him. That said, if our goodness stems from our relationship with God, then if we never recognize and accept the Holy Spirit – we can never become “better” people, regardless of how great of humanitarians we grow to be.
      I hope there’s some truth in these words that will be of use to you. Thank you again.

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