Frozen has become a worldwide mega-hit, but the animated movie, characters and plot are not Disney’s best by any stretch of the imagination. Even the songs – besides the inspirational Let It Go – have stiff competition from The Lion King, Little Mermaid and other classics. Now, Mayim Bialik has used her blog and The Big Bang Theory fame to criticize the film and raise some points about the messages Frozen conveyed. Whether one agrees with the sometimes out-there actress/neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik does provide food for thought and echo some traditional Disney Princess criticisms.
Bialik’s post on the blog Kveller (to kvell means be happy or proud) was called “Why My Sons and I Hate the Movie Frozen.” Besides acknowledging that she does not like musicals, which is interesting for fans of Beaches, a musical in which she sang but must regret. Her criticisms fall into three categories – the antifeminist plot, the anti-men aspect and the way the female characters look.
The sister’s desire to marry the man she met – the idea of a children’s movie featuring people looking for mates – is Bialik’s first issue. She said she has “had enough already with this finding a man business in most every kids’ movie.” That does seem to be a common theme for many movies period, but camaraderie and belonging are important lessons for children whether it is as a couple or fighter in Mulan, to the pack in The Lion King, as a family in Mary Poppins, or with friends in the Toy Story series. Finding love and friendship is a universal theme, whether for kid flicks or adults. It also seems important to her character in The Big Bang Theory.
Her second issue is that the prince/male hero turns out to be a scheming conniver. Some may view this as male-bashing (which Mayim Bialik did), but others found it refreshing to show that not every Prince is “charming.” It showed that not every Disney Princess and Prince might live happily ever after.
The third point raised in the blog is the most salient. Bialik criticizes the way the Frozen characters are drawn, but her criticisms have nothing to do the specific movie. She notes that the men have human proportions, but the women have Barbie doll proportions and “ginormous eyes.” She felt the females looked like dolls, ignoring the obvious that they are drawn also to sell dolls, figurines and such. Today’s movies are all made with merchandising in mind. As for the ridiculously large eyes and Barbie waists, they have been present in all the Disney Princesses, with the ocular exceptions of Mulan and Pocahantas, whose eyes were given some ethnic characteristics. The Disney men are often drawn as brawny brutes, like John Smith and Gaston were, but do not look like many men encountered in real life either.
This post is not the first time Bialik criticized the Disney cartoon culture. In an earlier blog about a Big Bang Theory episode where the female characters dressed as Disney princesses (Bialik was Snow White) she noted that “Not all girls like to dress up as princesses.” She indicated that the “princess culture” was derived from “historical misogyny, the overwhelming inundation of commercials, children’s television shows, and marketing which advertisers give us no choice but to process and consume.” It would help if she realized that that consumer culture and advertising is what gives her the big bucks from The Big Bang Theory.
Mayim Bialik has had an interesting journey from her early days as a child actress playing the young Bette Midler in Beaches and starring in the sitcom Blossom. Like Natalie Portman, Danica McKellar and Jodie Foster, she went on to college. Bialik attended UCLA, where she earned a B.S. in Neuroscience, Hebrew studies and Jewish studies. She then went on to earn doctorate in neuroscience, like her The Big Bang Theory character Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. She also became an Orthodox Jew and a vegan as an adult, besides getting married, having two sons and getting divorced.
While her resume is impressive, that does not make her an expert on Disney culture beyond sharing her opinion and maybe those of her sons. However, her blog sometimes raises interesting – and definitely articulate – points about Frozen and the princess culture. Whether readers agree or not, they do make interesting reading.
By Dyanne Weiss