Just to Throw In My Thoughts on the “Let It Go” Controversy

I’ve already written a bit about Frozen, but my Facebook feed is still getting littered with posts about the film, especially the “Let It Go” song/sequence. It seems like no one can agree what Disney is really trying to say here, and people are getting all kinds of bent out of shape about the the song, or about other people getting bent out of shape about the song. After taking a look at this Buzzfeed post today, I felt like I needed to share some thoughts. (P.S. I recommend 2, 4, 8, and 10 out of all the covers in the BF post.)

So let me say, first of all, that I don’t care what you think about the song or Elsa’s transformation. You can think whatever you want. Here’s what I think:

Elsa has lived her whole life so far pretending to be something she’s not, and this has caused her an immense amount of heartache. She lived in fear every day that an integral part of her was monstrous and was capable of destruction: of her family, her kingdom, her future. She was pressured by society to hide what made her different, and this isolated her from everyone, including her loved ones. This caused her to shelter her heart and mind from the need for human love and friendship. Basically, she grew up believing that there was something wrong with her, and that she would never be whole, right, or at peace.

Does any of that sound okay, like the way someone should live? Does it sound familiar?

Because it sounds familiar to me.

Does anyone go through the ages 12-19 without feeling this way? Does anyone make it through their twenties without feeling this way? Does anyone never feel this way at any point in their life?

No. I feel like it’s safe to say that every human in existence has felt, at least once, that they don’t belong and they have to hide who they really are.

So, let’s take a look at some lyrics.

A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the Queen

Okay, so far so good. This is no different than how she’s felt for most of her life, right?

Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried

Alright. Now we’re getting somewhere. She couldn’t stop pretending anymore…she let people see who she really was.

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

Here is how she is used to living…hiding. Pretending to be perfect: to be exactly what society wants her to be. But now, she’s lost that control, and everyone knows that she’s not actually what they wanted her to be.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
What they’re going to say

Hey there, character revelation! Did Elsa just realize that she has no control over what others think of her? That she can’t deny the gifts she was born with? That she doesn’t need people in her life that make her feel like she’s wrong, and that it’s okay to let go of those people?

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

What’s that? You’re going to shake off all the years of oppression and fear that you’ve felt? Do I have the audacity to tell you it’s not okay to feel free from fear? Of course not, because the struggle to overcome fear is the center of every epic human battle. No one wants to keep fear in their life.

Okay, here come some of the most controversial lyrics:

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

“No! My children will automatically think that rules are bad and they should rebel against everything!”

Calm down, people. If we look at what Elsa has been through her whole life and put these lyrics in context, it’s fine. Society has put her into this little box of their idea of a perfect princess/queen. So she breaks out of the box. She tests the strength and limits of her powers. She doesn’t know what’s going to work for her, so she needs to have some trial and error to find out what is right and what is wrong. She can’t have any rules for her new self until she sets them up on her own. She is shedding the rules that society wrongfully imposed upon her, taking away her freedom to choose. She is free from her former fear and oppression.

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

Elsa is deciding for herself who she wants to be. She’s letting go of expectations. She’s finding harmony with what is natural to her. She is forming a solid foundation from which to build her new self, a foundation that will stand despite the storm society may throw at her.

I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

She’s done with what’s happened to her. She recognizes she doesn’t need that in her life, and what she does need is to move on. She’s not going to dwell on what made her miserable. She’s just going to pick up and go.

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn

Does this sound like another Idina classic to anyone else?

I kinda wonder why people didn’t freak out about the meaning of “Defying Gravity.” After all, it says that love comes at much to high a cost. Why do people not have a problem with that?

I think the simple answer to that question is that Wicked is not aimed at children, and it’s not accompanied by a drastic costume change.

All I have to say about that is, yes, let’s all impose our own personal standards for living on everyone else around us. Oh wait, doesn’t that sound like totalitarianism? Well, shoot. Oh, it also kinda sounds like what Elsa just fought to get over.

It’s fine for you to have your own feelings about this song, this character, this dress, and this film. I don’t want to make you conform to my definition of the perfect interpretation of this song. I’m just going to let it go and see what you make of it for yourself.


One response to “Just to Throw In My Thoughts on the “Let It Go” Controversy

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