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A Conversation With a Six-Year-Old Boy About 'Frozen,' Princess Movies, and Female Heroes

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | December 26, 2013 | Comments ()


2013_frozen-wide.jpg

Me: What did you think of Frozen?

Kid: It was awesome. It was so awesome. It was my favorite movie ever.

Me: Really? I think it was one of my favorite kids’ movies, too.

Kid: I really loved Olaf [the snowman, voiced by Josh Gad], but I thought it was going to be a peaceful movie, but Daddy, it wasn’t a peaceful movie.

Me: No, no it wasn’t. Why did you think it would be a peaceful movie?

Kid: Because I just thought it would be about the snowman and the reindeer, and they’d just be walking around la de la de la.

Me: Because that’s what you saw in the trailers?

Kid: Yeah, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was really exciting. And it was funny. Lots of parts were funny. Definitely, right?

Me: Yes, it was really funny. But did you know it would be a princess movie?

Kid: No, I thought it was just going to be a peaceful snowman movie.

Me: Would you have liked that better?

Kid: No, I would still like a peaceful movie of a snowman and a reindeer, but I like this more. I would like a peaceful movie and a war movie. But, mostly I like war movies where they fight for peace and a happy ending. Everyone loves happy endings, except for people that vote for bad guys. But not many people vote for bad guys, right? Because ‘bad guys’ even have ‘bad’ in their name.

Me: Right. Exactly. What would you say that this movie is about?

Kid: Well, it’s about a snowman, and the freezing cold, and frozen stuff, and people who are trying to get warm, and safe from the Queen (Idina Menzel), and about the Queen just trying to help instead of getting ice everywhere, and she wanted to get away from everyone because of her powers. She hurt some people with her powers, and she didn’t want to.

Me: Right. Who did she hurt?

Kid: The Princess (Kristen Bell), who was her sister.

Me: Was her sister mad?

Kid: No, but the Queen went to the castle that she made out of ice at the top of the mountain with her powers, because she wanted other people to stay away from her power.

Me: Did her sister, the princess, listen?

Kid: No. She tried to go to the castle to tell the Queen not to make the city icy anymore.

Me: Did the Queen listen?

Kid: No, because all she wanted to do was keep people away from her powers. Hey Daddy, ask the question, ‘Did Olaf (the snowman) melt?’ That’s an important question.

Me: OK. Did Olaf melt?

Kid: No. Another good question is, ‘What did Olaf like?”

Me: What did Olaf like?

Kid: Warm hugs. And he also liked summer, and that was really funny.

Me: What did you think of all the songs?

Kid: That was great, too. They were pretty songs. [They really were. Idina Menzel has an amazingly soaring voice that filled up the entire screen.]

Me: Do you normally like princess movies?

Kid: No. Not normally, because there’s no war in them, and I like movies that have war in them, and not walking around and stuff.

Me: Do you think girls would like Frozen?

Kid: They might like it, but they might not. But they would definitely like Olaf.

Me: Why do you think they might not like it?

Kid: Because there was lots of war.

Me: Why wouldn’t girls like war? Do you think that girls like Star Wars?

Kid: I don’t know. Some of them, but girls can be like boys, and boys can be like girls. Some boys might not like Frozen because some boys don’t like war.

Me: That’s true. So, girls and boys would like Frozen equally?

Kid: Yes.

Me: Who do you think the hero was in Frozen?

Kid: I think the hero was all of them, except the bad guys. But, well, the princesses were the actual heroes, but they were all good people, except the bad guys.

Me: Do you think it was unusual that the princesses were the heroes?

Kid: Well, it was a little unusual, but not very much.

Me: Why do you think it was unusual?

Kid: Because most of the time, boys are heroes. Like Superman, and Spiderman, and Captain America, and Hulk. Those are all boy heroes, but not Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman is a girl hero, but most heroes are boys instead of girls.

Me: Do you think it was cool that the girls were the heroes instead of the girls?

Kid: It was cool.

Me: What would you think if the only movies you ever saw had only boy heroes?

Kid: I would think that was bad, because girls are heroes, too. Boys and girls should both be heroes. They’re both nice, and they’re the same things, except that they’re called different things. They’re all humans, and they all live together.

Me: Do you think that it’s important that, when your sisters are older, that they can see girl heroes in movies?

Kid: Yeah. And boy heroes, because both are really good.

Me: If boys saved the girls all the time, what do you think the girls would think?

Kid: They’d be a little mad, and a little sad. Or mad-sad.

Me: Why do you think that?

Kid: Because it’s important for girls to feel good, and it’s important for boys to feel good, too.

Me: I think that’s very true. Do you think that, if girls only saw boys as heroes in movies, that they would think that they couldn’t be heroes, too?

Kid: Yes, and that’s wrong, because girls can be heroes, too.

Me: Did you like Frozen better than Monsters, Inc.?

Kid: Yeah, it was pretty much my favorite movie.

Me: Do you think your sisters would like Frozen when they are older?

Kid: Yes.

Me: Why?

Kid: Because the girls are the heroes, and I think they would like the snowman.

Me: I agree that they would like that, and that they would like the snowman. Did you know that in most movies that were made before you were born that boys almost always saved the princesses?

Kid: No, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know anything about that.

Me: Do you think that it makes Frozen an important movie because it is different?

Kid: Yeah, it does. Because everyone should be together, and all be heroes.

Me: Would you recommend Frozen to other people?

Kid: Well, I wouldn’t tell them they have to see it, but I would tell them that it’s a really good movie and they can see it if they want.

Me: Thank you for answering all of my questions.

Kid: Thank you for asking me all the questions.








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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Mstrx

    The movie has a terrible message for both boys and girls.

    On face value, it is good that it depicts women with agency to act for the good.

    But if film is finally going to transcend stereotypes, it should transcende ALL stereotypes.

    Despite this, the movie portrays men as idiots (the old man), evil (Hans), a punching bag (Hans) or as unrewwarded for virtue (the blonde guy who's name a I forget.

    In other words, why did Disney take pains to define the women as good and all the men as evil, stupid, un-rewarded punching bags.

    Why not portray a woman as evil?

    In the end, the good blonde guy IS rewarded, but with what? A new sled? THAT is supposed to encourage boys?

    Considering that it depicted women as good and men as bad or stupid, the LEAST Disney could have done would have been to make the blonde guy the recipient of love (with deliberation not suggestion, for this is a movie for kinds, not a plot with subtle themes).

    After this sexist trash was over, I had to remind my son that men are good, men are not stupid, men should not be punched by women (or men by men or women by women or women by men) with humor. And that if it were not for men, we would still be living in grass huts.

    Next time, Disney, show a few evil women, or make at least one man be good and virtuous and rewarded (not just a dead father).

  • DG31

    I thought this was kind of cute and funny until "Do you think that it makes Frozen an important movie because it is different?" Then I thought this dad had an agenda and was leading (well, obviously) the conversation. Sometimes the princess just needs to be saved. That's not this story, but that doesn't make this movie any better or worse or more or less "important". It's a storytelling and art form with a positive message, not a political or propaganda platform.

  • asherlev1

    I'm not tearing up, THERE IS SOMETHING IN MY EYE OKAY.

    A+ parenting right there.

  • Tara dSL

    Great interview with a charming little boy! I wasn't sure what to expect with Frozen, and I was quite pleasantly surprised. For me, the only thing that could have taken this movie from great to truly outstanding would have been if Elsa and Anna were drawn to look a little more like real people. Make them slim and pretty if you must, Disney, I get it, but why the ridiculous tiny waists and freakishly huge eyes?

  • Dave Minella

    Yep, that's pretty much exactly how I would have answered those same questions.

  • Krissie

    This kid is awesome...

  • kbenton

    Aw man, there you go and give me just a little spark of faith in humanity's future.

  • malechai

    I recently had a convo with my 3 year old niece:
    Me: Who's your favourite TV or movie character?
    Leah: Cinderella!
    Me: Why?
    Leah: Because she's a princess and she's pretty and she wears pink!
    Me: .... I don't know what to do with this.

  • IbeLizzy

    Loved it! I was so skeptical about the movie but I went to see it just because of this review.

    Am I crazy or did I actually see a couple of Arrested Development references in the movie? Like the line, "We finish each other's.... sandwiches!" And a chicken dance that looked very similar to Lindsay's.

  • Linzer

    I noticed the chicken dance too!

  • HJ

    Wow, you have an amazing kid there. You must be doin a helluva job parenting. I hope my boys turn out as cool and intelligent as this. :-)

  • RhymesWithSilver

    I'm sorry, but women have been saving men for a LONG time in children's movies, even Disney movies. In half of them, he saves her at the end because she saved him FIRST.

    Flora, Fauna and Merriweather saved Prince Phillip.
    Ariel saved Eric first.
    Belle saved the Beast first.
    Jasmine saved Aladdin first.
    Nala held off the hyenas.
    Megara saved Hercules.
    Pocahontas saved John Smith.
    Esmeralda saved Quasimodo first.
    Mulan saves Li Shang AND China.

    See also: Eowyn, Eilonwy, She-Ra, Valeria, Red Sonja, Xena, and a LOT of other warrior princesses and generally badass girls who were common enough 30 years ago, but we seem to have forgotten this in the present moment. There were proactive, intelligent female characters in just about everything I watched as a child, from My Little Pony and Care Bears to "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal". So let's not pretend women have just been sitting around waiting to be saved in all fiction prior to 2000.

  • foolsage

    Sorry to quibble, but of the heroines you listed, none were filmed 30 years ago as far as I can tell.

    Ariel launched the modern Disney heroine idea 24 years ago. Well, Eilonwy predates that by a couple of years, but then few people saw The Black Cauldron. Belle, Jasmine, Nala, Megara, Pocahontas, Esmeralda, and Mulan all came after Ariel, and are all cut from the same cloth as Ariel (i.e. strong-willed and more independent than previous Disney heroines).

    Flora, Fauna, and Merriweather were sidekicks to Philip; they armed him and set him up to kill the villain. Sure, they helped along the way, but a) they weren't heroes, and b) they weren't princesses, so c) they weren't warrior princesses. They didn't do anything more heroic than Maximus, the horse from Tangled, and they weren't sexualized any more than the horse was, really, for that matter.

    The stuff you describe watching as a child is all relatively modern, culturally speaking. If you looked back a couple of decades further, you'd find it increasingly difficult to find mainstream action heroines. They've existed for a long time, true (e.g. Red Sonja, as you noted, who's almost 80 years old in written form), but they were pretty damned rare until quite recently.

    So I agree that women haven't been sitting around waiting to be saved in all fiction prior to 2000, but then I DO think that they largely were sitting around, so to speak, prior to 1985 or so. Damsels in distress were still the norm when I was a kid. I'm glad it's changing. There was no Xena when I was growing up, and no She-Ra, and Eowyn wasn't in the Lord of the Rings cartoon by Bakshi, though she did have a small part in the old animated version of "The Return of the King". It took her another 21 years for us to get a truly badass version of Eowyn.

    What seems like a long time to you doesn't seem like that long to me. ;)

  • Athena Pallas

    I was born in 78 and loved female heroines as a small child, there were others than those listed that their own tv series or shared the spotlight with men such as Bionic Woman, Isis, Police Woman, Charlie's Angels, Honey West (60s private detective), Emma Peel from the Avengers, Leela from Doctor Who (Sarah Jane, Tegan, Liz Shaw, Romana, Ace and others) Laura Holt on Remington Steele, Wilma on Buck Rogers, Sheeba on Battlestar Galactica, Nancy Drew, Spider-Woman (she had her own cartoon and Marvel did make a concentrated effort to promote her with the cartoon, underoos, and the like), more from comics like Supergirl, She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel were favourites of mine back then too as well as Storm and later Kitty Pryde and the strong female casts of NEw Mutants and New Teen Titans),

    Going back to the early days of film, the silent era we had action heroines with Mary Fuller, Helen Holmes, Ruth Roland, and Pearl White.

  • greg

    what's your point

  • foolsage

    Hi Greg! Are you stalking me? While I'm flattered, it's also a little creepy.

  • greg

    Hi foolsage
    No I am not stalking you
    I stumbled onto this article, read one of your comments. I found myself intrigued but a little confused about certain things. What is your definition of a long time? Why are the three fairies sidekicks and not the main characters? Do we need to bring up past mistakes if they are being repeated less and less as time goes on?
    If the mistakes are still being made, how do we solve them?

    If you feel uncomfortable about my responses, just say the word and I won't respond to you anymore

  • foolsage

    I'm not uncomfortable; I just found it odd to have a reply almost three weeks after I wrote something. ;)

    RhymesWithSilver brought up the issue about how common feminist heroes were more than 30 years ago, so I replied to point out that the examples chosen were all more recent than that. My bigger point was that things have changed; there are far more strong role models for women today than there were when I was young.

    The three fairies are sidekicks because they assist the hero, but they have relatively little agency and aren't very important to the plot. You could tell the same story without them, in fact, with minor adjustment. You couldn't however remove Philip, Aurora, or Maleficent.

  • Nat

    I. Love. Xena. So. Much.

    That show has defined my entire life.

    Related note, I don't like including people like Red Sonja in my list of badass intelligently written female characters because she was very much written in the perceptions of feminism in the 80's. Namely that to be a strong, liberated woman inherently meant that you were a man-hater and needed a big strong Arnold to show you not all men are evil (especially hilarious since Arnold's character in the movie is quite the asshole).

  • foolsage

    Red Sonja was created by Robert E. Howard in 1934. The movie was very loosely based on some books which in turn were loosely based on the short story in which she first appeared. Anyhow, yes, the film was very 1980s-influenced.

  • TK the Other (de-lurking)

    Thank you for mentioning Eilonwy. I need more people to read the Chronicles of Prydain!

  • The Mama

    Your kid is awesome.

  • Girl power! Seriously though, with two girls of my own (who both enjoyed the film), I just loved the way things worked out. My son loved Sven even more than the snowman.

  • Uriah_Creep

    So do you whip out a recorder everytime Little Rowles says things, Dustin? 'Cause that could get a little creepy.

    (Seriously, though, this review was awesome.)

  • L.O.V.E.

    Just got back from seeing this with the daughter. A few thoughts:
    Overall an excellent movie for both of us,
    Could probably have benefited from one less song,
    The twist (no spoiler) on how the heroine saved the day turned a cliche on its head and it was very well done,
    The (voice) acting, singing and animation were first rate,
    The Queen and (especially) the princess were a bit tooooo skinny even for Disney style,
    And the best was a theater full of little girls saying "ooohhh" in unison.

  • kirivinokur

    Agree. The singing and animation during For The First Time in Forever were phenomenal. And Do You Want To Build A Snowman, probably just 10 minutes into the movie, had me welling up.

  • Jelinas

    I DIE OF CUTE.

  • Nunchucko

    As a 28 year old father of a 22 month old girl, I LOVED THIS MOVIE TO PIECES. More like this please, Hollywood.

  • Target_Blonde

    Please thank your son for me, he's given me the perfect closing for all future job interviews.

    "Thanks you, Ms. Blonde, for answering all our questions."
    "Thank *you*, Job Interviewer, for asking me those questions."

  • alannaofdoom

    I want to hug this post and everyone in the comments and everyone everywhere ever.

  • MJ

    I love this. Quite awesome, and your son sounds adorable. Thanks for sharing.

  • marigi

    Oh boy, I hope my kid will be as smart and fun like this. Of course, that would make me pretty obnoxious because I'd be bragging about him all the time, but it would be worth it. Best review ever!

  • RipCity

    i brag about my son already and all he can say is dadadadadadadadada lol

  • jennp421

    I've been pretty psyched about the reviews for Frozen - I was barely tracking this movie and now I want to go see it as soon as possible. As I recall, your son wasn't a huge fan of Brave (neither was I) so I'm glad to see this has his approval.

  • But not many people vote for bad guys, right? Because ‘bad guys’ even have ‘bad’ in their name.

    THAT. Right there. ALL the truth. ALL OF IT.

  • Tyler Brown

    Well if that wasn't the cutest thing I've read today. Thanks for making me smile. Give the little one a high five for being so perceptive and awesome with his thoughts. Pat yourself on the back too for raising him into those thoughts too. ;)

  • CaribbeanLaura

    I concur Mr. Rowles, Lil Rowles is pretty awesome. Your wife has done an awesome job!! (k I'm sure you had a little to do with it ;) I can only hope that I can raise my two year old to be the kind of boy and man who knows that both boys and girls can be heroes, actually that both boys and girls can be anything they want.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    This is just the best thing ever. And your kid is the best kid ever. And you guys are the best parents ever. And I'm going to be all gushy and sincere all day now, because of you.

    THANKS, OBAMA ROWLES.

  • Jamie Dello Stritto

    SPOILERS, Axl, GAH.

  • Replica

    Axl. <--DELIGHTED this lives on. We have a unique opportunity to name the twin Rowleses (if I didn't miss that day already).

    Also - I think that my two Kids should see this movie. Because he has now convinced me that they WILL like the snowman, and I am assured that he did not melt.

  • emmelemm

    That ("Axl") really was a stroke of genius, by someone - I know not who. May it never be gone from the annals of memory.

  • feelsgoodman

    Your kid is the opposite if everyone that's wrong with "Lights Camera Jackson" and I love it. I have so many problems with people telling kids what to do, your kid just seems to look at the world unfiltered and with so much joy. Kudos.

    This is my favorite review.

  • Jifaner

    This also had one of the best cartoon shorts before it. Who doesn't love classic Mickey and 3D hijinks? Well done, Disney. I was so sad the movie was over after a brief 1 hour and 25 minutes. It was just wonderful.

  • JGSOLID

    I posted this earlier today. I think it may be more relevant here.

    My 4 year-old nice asked me just this morning why every animated feature (she used the word toon, SUPERCUTE) has "all white people and no us". When I mentioned The Princess and the Frog she rolled her big ol' eyes and said, "She was black for only a little bit, for the rest she was a freaking frog, and they are green and don't have hair." I thought it was adorable, of course its also true. I am writing this from my job in the control room of a television station and midway through this comment we started playing Undercover Brother. I shit you not, I am tearing up as I finish this.

  • Betty Boo

    That's a little bit racist. To judge a movie based on its race.

  • L.O.V.E.

    I know. Undercover Brother always has that effect on me too.

  • IngridToday

    Has she seen Mulan? Although it's a little unfair she's shoved in with all the Disney princesses and generally shown wearing a dress not her armor.

  • JGSOLID

    She owns everything, she normally loves every Disney, Pixar, Ghibli film. I was wondering if she had a moment of clarity or heard something at preschool. I took her to see it Friday and she loved it. Is going to see it again tomorrow. None the less it was unsettling to hear a little girls concern.

  • Ben

    Or Pocahontas or Aladdin or Lilo and Stitch?

  • RobynRobotron

    I had forgotten about Lilo and Stitch and the strong female leads. I'd also forgotten about how sad it is when Stitch goes out and says "I'm lost". :-(

  • Hollyg

    I watched both Mulan and Lilo and Stich this year, and my fucking god, they DESTROYED me. Five minutes in, when Mulan is singing about not being able to be the "proper lady" her family wants her to be? Lilo and her sister fighting? Stitch saying he was alone so he built a family for himself? Puddle of tears in m living room floor.

  • Ben

    Lilo and Stitch fucking kills me. It's easily one of Disneys best films.

  • foolsage

    Mulan's a heavy hitter, in terms of Disney heroes. She freaking saved CHINA. However, she did so while pretending to be a man, so that JGSOLID's niece's point remains.

  • Davis

    Yes but it was based on a already exisiting character did you want them to change it for the film? And she's still a woman it's like princess and the frog where she was a frog for most of the movie.

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